I still have dreams where I can fly—not really fly, but float.
I sort of jump and I’m in the air and hover; then I wave my arms to gain height, like awkward wings or canoe paddles. It used to be a jump from my grandmother’s couch. I was tiny and terrified, my hands reaching for the ceiling and me realizing I was caught midair. It would last a few seconds and then I would fall back atop the cushions, mystified. I would try it again and again. Sometimes in dreams I could keep floating and others, it was just a series of failed attempts at kicking the air. But it felt so real. I swore I could do it. Flying became my secret ability, my superpower.
Now my flying dreams are science fiction and terrifying. I’m running from something. I’m scared. I’m willing myself to float high out of its reach. Sometimes I don’t quite make it high enough and it grabs me and I wake up. Sometimes.
I am fascinated by the difference between an older and younger me. When I was younger, I was a superhero. Now, I’m running from villains. This realization that there are negative things out there, that the bogeyman from our childhoods is simply morphing into realistic fears of perhaps being too independent, this is the difference from my youth. I’d like to think real superheroes exist to fight the villains, but we are taught early on this isn’t true, despite our desires and expectations. Dreams of having powers are dreams of being better than we are. To fly, run very quickly, or move things with our minds—all unrealistic goals, but damn how I wish it could be reality.
The reason for all the superhero talk is this: my friend Dave just got an internship at Marvel. This has been the conversation of the week, and there is a party this Saturday in his honor where we are allowed to be a superhero or a villain. To be a little bit…stranger than we are. But when Sunday comes and the spandex tights leave an imprint on my skin, I’ll have to remember that I can’t do this all the time. That I’ll have to wake up. That I can’t fly. And that the villains are still out there, waiting.
*And if I could afford the fancy shmancy costume, I’d be Supergirl, or you know, Harley Quinn (sometimes I can be the villain, too).
misanthrope: basically, a people-hater
rapscallion: villain, evil-doer