5 AM

Started January 3, 2004 continued October 15, 2005

I wake in the morning with anxiety and tears streaming down my face. It is largely irrational I know; I haven’t felt much this way since the waning years of adolescence. A scent, a color a taste triggers memories that exist only in dreams, and the sense of déjà vu is bolstered by the realization that the memory in one dream is of another dream years ago.

I remember years ago dreaming of falling in love. I met a girl; she had a dazzling smile; power in her presence. We held hands, we walked in parks, we tried tennis and when time passed, I fell asleep next to her only to wake up alone and realizing that the whole two weeks had passed in a single night. I dreamed that I remembered her and it seemed real.

Ever stand in the rain with the water streaming down your face? Soaked to the bone, you feel alive and vibrant. Like when you step too close to a passing car and your heart jumps and leaves you breathless. In dreaming, emotions are more pure and less conflicted. In lucid dreaming, you mistake dreaming for reality. In waking you find yourself detached and confused – emptier than before because of the wealth of a non-existent memory. Invariably you wake at five in the morning disconcerted and unable to call or talk to anyone. You sit up in bed in the dark and sort through reality feeling lonely and helpless with a touch of anxiety.

In my thirties, the days pass quickly now. Life is consumed in work and career. It helps that the days pass quicker. Never actually figuring out why we exist in college has led to an aimlessness and a meandering that work gives structure to. Before you know it, you are twenty, twenty-five, thirty, forty and fifty.

Rationally, with strength of will, there is reason and purpose in life, but at five in the morning, being in ersatz-dream-love then waking to find it gone, these are hours not devoted to rationality. The faces change, the experiences are different, but the emotions are the same. Comfort, caring, the feeling of falling in love more than being in love; going back to sleep would be the rational thing to do.

I don’t turn on the light because that would break the spell. The loneliness is more sweet than bitter, and since it has been an age since I have actually been in love, I sit with my emotions for a while.

Though it is a dream, I can remember the first smile, the glance, the touch, the kiss with nostalgia and memory. I wake and the feeling is either déjà vu or like when you walk down the street and make a passing connection with a stranger – lucid dreaming, vivid dreaming, rampant imagination, confusing memories, dreams mixed with snippets of reality. There is incoherence with a resonance and an echo of what was once lucid and now fades away. What follows is the anxiety of loss.

I turn on the light and forget what I was dreaming at all.