A week ago, I woke up in my bed for the first time in 2 years. Opening my eyes, my body felt a searing confusion, sore almost, as if I had just run for an infinite amount of time. Looking at my ceiling, under distantly familiar sheets and the strange smell of my old wood desk next to me, the rush of being home hit me, both with the heat and disbelief.
A week ago, I came home. For the past two years, I was living in England, my first year in Liverpool, followed by London. Yet as I woke up Tuesday morning in my own bed, it did not feel like I was away for two years, but that I was in a long, deep, vast dream.
I was in graduate school, studying for two Master degrees, doing research, learning, growing academically. But that was not all I did. I did so much more, and so much of it now feels unreal. From the moment I landed in London to the final sights of England from the sky, looking back now, I feel as if I was in a different body, where my spirit and soul embraced the possibilities of a world I never imagined knowing.
Never did I imagine myself exploring the highlands of Scotland, meeting some of my favorite film directors, falling in love with Guinness while I explored the green hills of Ireland, exploring ruined castles and monasteries, dancing the night away in the many bars of Liverpool with vodka milkshakes and whiskey sours in hidden speak-easies, eating the best falafel in Mancunia (Manchester), hearing the roars of Liverpool fans at Anfield, walking under the light rain by slanted houses in Amsterdam, losing myself in the wild streets of Barcelona, sangria in hand, reaching the top of Snowdonia on a rare cloud-less day, seeing the skies aflame with fireworks on November the 5th, sitting in Milan under the moonlight by the Duomo, basking in the beauty of Florence, eating unlimited tapas with friends to celebrate my 22nd in Madrid, realizing that Pisa is actually leaning, falling asleep at St. Peter’s Square waiting for El Papa Fransisco with our Argentina flags, fighting the gusts at seven sisters, watching a film at the oldest working Cinema in England in Birmignham, exploring old palaces in Edinburgh, enjoying the grunge of Glagow, witnessing the giants of Liverpool, scaling the old stone walls of York, attempting to swim the waters of Tyne at Newcastle, passing through the gothic arches of Oxford and Cambridge, trying all the spectacular foods of Brixton Market, witness the divinity of Hozier, jam to The Roots, exploring art in Paris, welcoming 2015 under Lisbon sky fire, getting lost in the Medina of Marrakech, basking in the sea breeze of Essaouira, marveling at the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, seeing my father shout victory at a Barcelona Game in their home stadium, remembering a dear friend at the cliffs of Moher, jumping fences to explore abandoned buildings in Berlin, learning about the painful history of Cape Town but feeling hopeful as I met activists, artists, and an array of humans fighting for justice, falling in love between the canals of Venice, eating cheese and baguettes on the riverbank of Lyon, thinking I had entered a fantasy world in Sintra, tasting Port in Porto, road tripping Catalunya with friends and peers, discussing gender in my living room in London with friends, friends who are now family.
And so much more. Across the sea, I met a big brother, best friends, warriors to which I will go into battle in the coming struggles, mentors, and a lover. But as I woke, some of it I just could not believe. Did I just do all that? This question has been crowding my mind this past week as I scroll through pictures, unpack my suitcase, and remind myself that tomorrow I will wake up in New York, not England. The question, did I just do all that?
I know I did. I can feel it, both in spirit and bone. I feel older, wiser, more myself. Across the sea, I laughed, cried, raged, wandered, got lost, found myself, and smiled as I began to say goodbye to all those I had come to love from our first hello.
It was a dream. It was real. All but a week ago, I was a world away, with people I now love ferociously, with people I now miss like I missed my bed, my friends, my family. I will forever be grateful for that gift, to dream and keep dreaming, to live and now keep living, to be and now keep being.
Now, to run, and keep on running. Now, to make dream and woke one in the same.
From this dream I wake, and I bring the dream with me.