Grad School Dreamings

I look out of my bedroom window and dream – as I always dream – of possibilities.

It is Autumn, Fall, cutting into winter with every new morning. When it is Autumn I find myself thinking of London: thick piles of leaves on the wide boulevards of South Kensington. Perhaps also of those times I went to the Imperial College gym complex on a Friday evening. I’d head directly to the steam room, sauna and jacuzzi. One time I emerged from the changing rooms into a torrential downpour and had to cycle home across the city in the pitch black rain. Yet it neither frustrated me nor caused discomfort: on the contrary, I recall the experience as invigorating.

Or maybe I dream of other times, other places. As I wait for my qualifying exam perhaps I recall the sensation of when a former boss filled the gap immediately after a practice talk of mine. “Now, where to begin?!” And the feeling that comes when you are the only person in a room who is standing, and you are stripped bare in just a few cutting words. And it doesn’t matter if one hundred people will praise those presentations of yours that follow years, decades down the line…you will still always remember what it felt like to be publicly wounded.

Most of my dreams are not of humiliation, but of freedom. For months I have lived within the tightest, most intricate patterns. Trapped. Three multivitamin pills in the morning. Burning pungent incense until it fills my whole room. Walking across the abandoned car park on a 285-degree angle, curving past the white lines. Freedom become the rush and roar of big cities after dark. The nonchalant offering of your credit card in swanky Manhattan stores – I will hardly notice that this money is gone. That feeling when you arrived as a tourist in a new city just that morning, after a day of excitedly exploring you are now settling down at a nice restaurant to eat a good meal. Cheers for this, you want to tell the city.

Perhaps there are other ways to dream, too. When you think about that friend you hung out with one day, in an exotic city many hours away from where you are now. When you did some stuff that wasn’t too extraordinary, but just felt really good, when you left them with stronger feelings of friendship and a general buzz about life. And yet when you dream to yourself you think: it was great to experience a friendship like that…and I’ve found myself feeling those same feelings *again*…many years later…with different people. When you hear that quiet voice in the back of your head, the one that keeps silent for months and years on end, whispering firmly “These people…are *my* people.”


And I know that there will be other times and other dreams to come. Maybe not this week. Many not this year. But they will come. And I will dream some more.

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