In the first dream, Mama is dropping me to the airport, she’s driving a car that doesn’t look like ours, it looks more like the one that Stuart and Lynn drive, like the one they took us to the lake house in, and I looked back to check for surf boards, but there weren’t any, there was only Mia, their dog, who panted warmly over our necks, her drool slipping down the leather seats. Even now, I remember the car with surf boards in the back.
Mama is driving me to the airport, and I can’t stop feeling like something is different, like I am the same, but I am older to her now, she can talk to me like she would talk to a woman her age, not mine, and maybe I actually am older, because I also feel taller, and my legs are bent against the dashboard in a way that long legs bend, and I’m looking out of the window and we’re both in the same place, we’re both occupying in a similar fashion, and all I think is that she has accepted that I am an adult, and it is a relief to feel less like her child, somehow she is easier to be with now, it is nicer to be with her now, she can see me.
I’m telling her that I’m going to miss the flight, that I know I’m going to miss the flight, and I’ve been given this opportunity, Mama, and what is more humiliating and careless than missing the flight that will take you to the opportunity that has been given to you? But we are both also calm, like we are driving to the beach, like there are surf boards in the back, and maybe there actually were.
Then I am with Bhinusha. We’re in an red, Volvo bus, under a flyover, it is not moving, but we are hoping it will, and there are bright green trees all around us, and the bus has nowhere to go, so when three men call out to us from the road that is actually a parking space, we run out, and they point us to a flight of stairs leading into another plane. I am confused, I tell them that we haven’t gone through security yet, that we haven’t checked in our bags, we can’t just get into a plane, but they tell us that it is fine, it is a plane they have organised specially, and we can just walk into it.
But I don’t walk into the plane – I walk into the bus I just got out of, and all the SUSI participants are sitting here, and they look at me, because they’ve already taken the right flight, they weren’t late to the airport, to the flight that would take us back to Seattle, and this bus that we’re all in will take them to the hotel we’re all meant to be staying at, but I’ve missed the flight, and when we’re dropped off at the hotel, they’re there, but I’m still in Bangalore. And Kritika runs down the flight of stairs that leads to the lobby, and when she passes me, she looks at me as if to say, “How could you have missed the flight, and now you can’t be here”.
It is difficult to climb these stairs. My limbs are lead dipped in liquid gold, and I move them slowly over the stairs, but I am not moving, I am stuck, I don’t even know if I can walk down. I have never worn converse shoes, but I am wearing them now, and I know that that’s the only thing Kritika ever wore. I can’t believe that she has made the flight, and I haven’t. I am so careless.
In the second dream, I am with a senior from college, Maitreya, in the airport. Everyone around us is white, so I assume that we are already in the states, but we are also going somewhere in the states, and we’re waiting for our bags to arrive on the belt. He sees his bag, and leans in to pick it up, and I’m waiting for mine, but I also know that another woman has picked it up and taken it, and I can’t believe she has, because it was a small purple bag, and it was so distinct, but as I am thinking this, a line of small, purple bags approach, and I begin to rummage through one that I know is not mine, but one of them has to be, but they can’t be, but I don’t care, what if I didn’t know my bag well enough to begin with, and I am going to check all these small, purple bags. In one there is only a thin, white, satin scarf. There is something wrapped in it, but I don’t care what it is, I don’t go to check, it is insignificant.
Maitreya is leaving now. I am so late, he has already gotten his visa, because we need to get our visas at the airport, and in an elevated room behind the bag belt, I can see that he is having no trouble with the visa officer, and he picks up everything with that posture that is his, that easy, but quiet posture, and he slings a bag around his shoulder, why does it seem like he is always slinging a bag over his shoulder, and now he is walking out, and I’m saying, wait for me, but he is already out the doors, and he is saying that there will be another flight if I miss this one, but I know that that is something you only tell people who miss the first flight, there is never actually another flight, and he knows this, too, because he hasn’t even bothered to say that there will be another one like he believes it.
I reach the visa officer, and I am telling him to please hurry up, please, I am going to miss the plane, please, and I can see in my head the place I’m supposed to be at, and I know then that this flight is taking me to the MFA program I have gotten into, and there are people there waiting for me, and we’re all going for a walk, and there is marshy land around us, and I turn to a woman who is my professor, and she says that I can stay with her, everything is arranged, everything will be fine, but why am I not there? And I am thinking, how could I have not known that everything would be fine, that everything would be easy, if I had, I might’ve not done whatever careless thing I did that is going to make me miss my flight now.
The visa officer is pointing to a place on the form where I have written an incomplete sentence, and he’s smiling in that terribly condescending, helpless manner, like he is saying, “What am I to do if you haven’t even filled in the form properly?”, and he’s pointing to the incomplete sentence, I can see three commas in it, but the sentence is so small, and I know I have written something self-deprecating, and I am trying to tell him, “But I was thirteen when I wrote that, I was only in the seventh standard”, and he just keeps looking like he’s the man with the kindest heart whose hands are tied.
I don’t know what happens at the end of this one. I think I miss this flight.