I got back to Senegal from Sierra Leone on Sunday, and no sooner had I unpacked my bags then I started repacking them for my return trip to New York on Thursday. The second time leaving this country is just as emotionally difficult as the first, and maybe that contributed to the dream I had last night.
In it, my parents were moving out of my childhood home, where they have lived for more than 35 years. I looked into the living room and noticed for the first time, now that it was empty, surprisingly lovely molding (that does not actually exist in real life). Then I saw two big trash bags of my sister’s and my dolls – one was filled with dolls to throw away and one was filled with dolls to keep.
I saw my Baby Brite lying near the top of the throwaway bag and panicked. My sister was there, and apparently it was she who had done the sorting. I protested that we could not just toss out our dolls – we thought of them as our babies once, and they were still alive in my heart.
My sister stoically responded with something to the effect of, “How many years must they live before they live out their years?” I started crying at how easily my sister dispensed of her youth, and it quickly turned into uncontrollable sobbing. The thought that as adults we were so distant and disconnected from our childhood selves broke my heart.
I was so upset in my dream that I woke myself up, only to feel real tears running down my cheeks. And not just a few – I was actively crying. Never in my life has that happened to me before.
I do often wake up with a lingering sense of whatever I was feeling in my dream world, and this morning I woke up feeling bereft. It called to mind the utterly gutting scene in “Inside Out” in which the imaginary friend, Bing Bong, sacrifices himself – and most tragically, also the memory of his existence – to save his beloved adolescent owner’s identity. Thinking of that made me even sadder.
It was like five o’clock in the morning so I quickly drifted back to sleep and woke up again a few hours later only vaguely holding on to the memory of the dream and its associated despair. But I’ve been pondering its meaning all day.
I heard about three deaths yesterday, and each one was somebody very close to somebody I myself am close to in one way or another. One was an older brother, one was a beloved Senegalese musician, and one was somebody “Papa” Lo knew. So I’m sure that that, in addition to my imminent departure, influenced my dreams last night.
I now want to go back to New Jersey ASAP to take a full inventory of all my dolls, hug them tightly, and assure them that I will never throw them or the memory of them away, as long as we both shall live.