I want to change.
My son is fighting turning four. Has been for a few days now. “I’m still three!” he repeats. I get it. I’m fighting turning an age this year, too. Putting him to bed tonight, he cried a specific kind of cry. All parents know it—it’s the cry when they don’t want to wake up tomorrow a different person. The day was good. Why does it have to disappear?
When I was four I could not wait to get older. In fact I could not wait to get older until pretty much now. Now I need Time to stop, and go back a year. Pull me back into the mania of realizing where I was, into the fantasies of surrender, sublimating my self actualization into another person.
Last night I had a nightmare so frightening I woke up in a cold sweat, bones chilled, heart racing. In the dream, I went to Chicago to visit a girl friend—Christine, but portrayed by Gabrielle Union. She met me at the airport and surprised me with tickets to Vegas (a city I actually hate, and the real Christine actually loves). Once arriving at the hotel, we fell asleep with eye masks but woke up to the sound of revelers dancing in the middle of the casino where our beds were. The slot machine jockeys were all a stereotypical figure.
The sky opened up and it was deep night. An unbelievably beautiful sky full of unfamiliar units of space, sparkling stars, in harmony with the sound of slot machines. I saw a red galaxy and was mesmerized by its subtle movement. Then a drum line passed through. All white male bass drumline, except they were taiko drums, and a pit appeared with a gamelan ensemble, also all white.
The nightmare begins when a single charging cable descended from a peculiar cloud closer to land. It comes straight to me. Like it was sentient. I took pictures of it because it was funny at first. The cord kept trying to plug into my phone. Then it became sinister. The cord went away and returned a different color. Pink. I ran away with Christine and suddenly we were in a southern California mission-style ranch home. We cowered in an interior garden with a complete pergola. What are those beautiful interior courtyards you see in Milan or Beirut called?
The cord returned. Kept returning. This time it would submerge into the earth and reappear from between my feet. The people in the courtyard were all complacent. I was panicking with fright so terrifying I couldn’t breathe. I kept looking for help or sympathy but realized I was the only one with a phone. They didn’t know what was at risk. Christine was now long gone. I was the only non-white person there.
A military special operations team ran into the courtyard. I was somehow relieved. Surely they were here to protect me. No. They were just taking cover from a coming storm. When I finally managed to utter what was happening—there’s something in the sky that is trying to get information from my phone and only my phone—I snapped awake.
I thought, “should I have been curious enough to let the alien lightning cable (I know I know…what an obvious metaphor) tap into my phone?” Maybe these extraterrestrials needed a smartphone to tell us something important and maybe they were just sending me the least obtrusive thing they could think of.
Why am I so terrified of letting the universe know what’s on my phone, what I do all day, think about all night, dream about, long for, search, discover, forget? In your absence, in the same way you refuse my ticket to the moon, I refuse to give over the fraction of myself represented by my behavior to make the information whole. But I want to. I want to. I want to get older. I want a different me tomorrow. I want to change. And I want to remember.
I will share this with my son. Childhood is not worth holding on to.