(sometime in October 2016)
I’m wading in water, very murky water, holding a camera. I can barely see my skin gleaming towards the surface. The rest of my body seems to disappear in the dirty depths. I know that the creature is somewhere just in front of me, like a dark step you fearfully anticipate but only remember its whereabouts vaguely. My family and various other characters from my life are shouting and laughing on the shore, unaware that I am on the other side of the river with a monster at my fingertips.
Suddenly I touch cold scales and I convulse, but only once. I know what I have to do. I know why I’m holding the camera. Yet, as I take one more step forward, the water changes, rushing, radiating, spiraling away from a giant leviathan rising from the darkness. It is colossal, armored with thousands of shadowy scales, faintly tiger striped like the underbelly of a tropical shark. He opens his enormous, tooth-splintered jaws, speaking in rumbling thunder: Take my picture.
I swallow a deep breath, though somehow, I’m not afraid. I hold the camera to my eye. Focus. 3, 2 – underwater, the crocodile gently rams against me. The water becomes stormy as I lose my balance, anchorless. I fight my way up, struggling to keep the camera above the water. When I stand again, the crocodile is unmoved, a calm and dangerous monolith, unpredictable. I feel a little bit of fear lace through my guts, though I’m strangely level-headed. This is how it must be.
I try again, and get pushed underwater again, more aggressively this time. Churning silt fills my mouth as I flounder under foamy waves, the monstrous sentinel blurred through my choppy, watery vision. Through the flickering muteness of the water, I hear my family’s voices, far away. They don’t know.
I feel a pulse echoing from the creature, an ancient, starry resonation. I am not afraid. Though I cannot accomplish my task, I will keep trying. Okay, I think, a weak cry of acceptance. Okay.
I wake up, startled. Breathing heavily, I let my eyes refocus to the morning sunlight illuminating a white ceiling. This is the second time I’ve had this dream. I am not drowning anymore, so to speak.
My gaze stops on the watermark above my doorway, watching me like a giant grey eye.
I wonder what this dream means in the casting of my world right now. Why must I swim across this river and find a creature that seems to be sending me a message while simultaneously drowning me? Why am I unafraid, and what is the crocodile telling me?
I’m not sure, but I think he’s pointing towards the self-doubt in my life. I can’t make up my mind about my future plans. I feel like I am absolutely unworthy of anything besides restriction and iron-clad discipline. My body is not good enough to travel, or to make an impression on other parts of the world. I am failing, and time is running out.
Like anyone going through recovery from any sort of addiction, be it substance abuse or eating disorders, I feel trapped between two places of dopamine. I am caught between who I once was and who I so desperately want to be again.