It’s a recurring dream ever since I was a child: I’m sound asleep. Suddenly I’m high above in the sky. I stay in the air for a few seconds like in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. I realized I don’t have a parachute. Before I knew it, I’m falling, the wind howling to my ears, the air piercing through my skin. I always wake up before I hit the ground.
The one thing I brought from my childhood is my insecurity.
When I was in first grade, I lived in a neighborhood in Florida with my mom when she was on a business trip. At night, I couldn’t sleep without my mom with me, a lamp on, or the TV making some noises. I would make up all kinds of excuses so that I didn’t have to stare at the ceiling alone. It’s an overstatement really: when the lights were off, you couldn’t see or hear anything. You no longer know anything about your surroundings, and there’s something unsettling about that.
We want to know the unknown. Most of the time the unknown is unknowable, and it scares us. You are on a cliff, one step away from falling through abysmal space; there may or may not be a hand behind you to give you a push; there may or may not be a hand to catch you if you fall. Only physical things and movements were knowable, at least to me.
Every time I was left alone in that room I feel like I was free falling. Sometimes I would have that dream; I woke up sweating, my body crouched in the blanket. I looked around: I could not hear a sound; I could not see a thing. I breathed heavily; then I heard my mom making strawberry milk with the blending machine, or the motorcycle roaming outside with drunk people screaming— the noise was indeed soothing. I touch my nightstand. Then I slept to see the sun again.
My idea of safety is certainty and tangibility: I don’t want to be in the sky without a parachute; I don’t want to grope my way in the dark; I need a buffer before hitting the ground.