I had the most vivid dream the other night, the kind where I could feel every sensation in my limp body, where I twitched and perspired and curled my back so I could feel every bit of what was happening. Nick was with me in that world, and I felt a mix of pleasure and fear, but overall strange — it had to be strange — but then I lost him in the darkness, among the crowd, and looked frantically for him everywhere. And that was the rest of the dream, as we know how dreams tend to go: fixated on one thing, determined but unable to reach a goal, unable to find him. So I woke up, pulled off my mask, and immediately reached to the right side of the bed, his side, to touch his face. He woke up, and I said, “I couldn’t find you. I lost you, and I couldn’t find you. But you’re here.” I don’t recall what he said next, and he fell back asleep, and I turned over, put my mask on, and placed my head on my pillow. But I couldn’t drift back to sleep, because somehow, in that limbo, my life with Nick flashed before me — the night we met at Zeitgeist, when we spent 12 hours straight talking and drinking and smoking and explored the city through the wee hours. I recalled moments, places we went, things we said, expressions on his face. I remembered the next encounter, when we ate ramen and had drinks in a hotel bar downtown as we giggled about the strange statues in the lobby, and he told me about his mum, and his dad, and his sister, and his brother. I remembered the third time we met, when I flew to Las Vegas to spend time with him for a day, when I entered a poker tournament and was scared but did it anyway so we could share that experience. I remembered all the times in London, and Cornwall, and Cairo, and Istanbul… It all flashed before me, and as I lied in bed — in our little house in the country, with our cats napping at our feet, with my belly round and growing with our baby — tears fell, and I smiled. I reached over and patted his shoulder. “You’re here,” I said. “We’re here.” And there in the dark, I was grateful. Grateful for the things we’ve tried, for taking risks, for how we’ve failed, for how we’ve succeeded. How we’ve evolved together, but also have changed on our own. And how in some ways, we are exactly the same as we were when we met, but have created a space, a blank canvas that we constantly wrinkle and stain and tear, to grow.
I’m not sure how long I was awake and thinking in the dark, but eventually I fell asleep, the air from my CPAP machine whooshing, the cats purring, and Nick snoring.