This morning I felt struck, sitting by myself, reading the Invisible Man. I had an appointment at 10—therapy—but had trusted the one clock in the house that was still behind an hour from daylight savings. Surprised to see how much time I had, I looked at my watch, and saw the hand an hour away from where I thought it was.
Nothing moves faster than the last hundred or so pages of a five hundred page book, nothing so slippery as the momentum you have built up thanks to your growing rapport with the pattern of the author’s speech. The way it works against (and then with) your brain. I was moving quickly and I wanted to get to the end. But I was struck suddenly by a need to explain myself to myself, to wade into an uncertainty and pull the loose threads of my attention taut.
I wanted to sit down at my computer and write out a page or so of a diary—much like I’m doing now—working out a confusion that had suddenly overtaken me. Now it’s not as close, now I’m not sure I could write out exactly what I felt. I have talked about it (sloppily) in therapy, I have continued with my day, I have perhaps moved past or even forgotten what at the time had so grabbed me.
But I will attempt to speak in that direction, what I was forced to leave behind when I discovered time had shifted. It was two things, I know. A suspicion, arising out of insecurity. And a confusion that seems likely to never be resolved. Two things were opposed, in my mind: the real and the unreal; I have often found myself in trouble because I have a tendency to lean toward the promise of the latter and neglect what is nourishing in the former.
I don’t know how these two situations became opposed in my mind—perhaps only that they are opposites of each other. I worried, first, that what I knew about R was somehow false, that she was deceiving me, that her “true nature” would come out and I would be undone, exposed, that our relationship would only mean future pain.
I can’t be certain why I suddenly felt this so strongly.
It seems now like an indication of a movement, a turn. A fear of engulfment, and with that somehow of betrayal, coming hot on its heels. And the second thing—the confusion—was that unresolved situation which has recently (but just as often, in the past, with another person) made it easy to listen to those fears, to follow the promise of hypothetical oblivion inside an imagined relationship which couldn’t possibly be good. But what’s imagined need not actually hinge on the possible.
A connection exists, in the circumstances, one that sometimes I think is strictly intellectual, or professional, something I can in other words safely ignore, and at other times I worry that I have betrayed. Like it was my duty (unspoken) to wait until such time as she (C) was comfortable (whenever that might be), to betroth myself before even a true confession of feeling. That’s wrong, whatever it is.
But do I actually worry this is the case or am I more afraid that my feelings will be revealed as a delusion, that I will plunged, suddenly and without warning, out of the dream I have inhabited, a dream which motivated me more than I’d like to admit?
Like the narrator of Invisible Man I am wary of disturbing my own sleep. And the dream that I’m having so seldom seems actually to be mine, or to belong to me, in the way that dreams never really do belong to us: except in the sense that what erupts from them comes from somewhere inside us.
But why does it matter what I’m dreaming—or, even more accurately, what I have dreamt—when circumstances, in my waking life, have otherwise been so good?