I am sitting by the pool at a table for two, but the chair across from me is empty. As I look out at the ocean, I hear laughter and pool splashes and the flutter of enjoyment only experienced when paying for the luxury of a hotel room with a pool by the ocean. The temperature is hot and, I know better, but it feels like I’m breathing in salty air. I take a sip of my blended fruit beverage and take solace in the cold reprieve that washes over my body.
Water splashes up on the table, causing me to glance back toward the pool to identify the source. When I return my gaze toward the ocean, I see the wave. It hulks above the horizon in the distance and lands hard on the path in front of it. The wave is a dark, opulent blue. The sky gets darker. The wave lands so hard on the surface in front of it, the ocean and physics cause the next one, and the one after that, and again after that. I can’t help thinking the people behind me are having so much fun and seem so unaware of the danger coming our way. A seagull flies by and I notice the sun start it’s ceremonial bow to the earth. The sky is luminous and coated in a burnt amber color. As the seagull leaves my line of vision, the final wave raises up next to me. It’s taller than I can see up and wider than the hotel. In slow motion, I realize this final wave is so large I will be directly within the trough, swallowed by it.
I can feel the panic of those behind me as they realize what is happening. The wave is coming, and we are too late. I jump in the pool, all my clothes on and swim toward the bottom of it, thinking the strength of the water above me will protect me from the impact. I open my eyes underwater, and despite having to wear glasses my entire life, I can see clearly the splashes of other people jumping into the pool. The impact of the wave as it lands on the patio and the pool begins to put pressure on my chest. I can feel bubbles under the water, air as trapped as I am. I’m running out of breath and I notice a couple on the other side of the pool in the deep-end. They are holding hands. He kisses her. They are saying goodbye because we are not going to survive this experience. The current caused by the final wave making contact with the pool blurs the view of the couple, but I see their hands disconnect and I don’t understand how calm they are while the world pulls them apart.
The weight of holding my breath continues to make my chest tighter and tighter. This is when I wake up sweaty, tears in my eyes. I check the time and it’s 4am. I look at Katie, who is blissfully asleep, unaware of the battle I just lost in my dream. It’s not lost on me as I lie there how much this dream represents my anxiety about everything in my life. It’s not often that I have new and unique dreams. I tend to dream about my teeth falling out or dinosaurs. It’s also not often that taste, color, and smell are so vivid when I wake up. I’m sure it’s my brain filling in the blanks, but the blended fruit drink was so wonderful, the ocean so blue. I hope none of you ever have this dream. I hope none of you ever fall in love, get married, and subsequently be broken by gender. Mending myself has been so hard and draining. That said, I hope that if you do fall in love with someone who doesn’t conform to our societal gender norms, you find someone like me who can talk you through it. Someone who will listen to you. Who will love you when you don’t conform to their idea of what to do. Who will be patient unconditionally when you cry and have anxiety dreams. I hope you find a blog or something written that makes you feel, for even a moment, less alone. I keep looking for that for me and am so grateful in the meantime, I have Katie’s hand to hold.