For several weeks now I have been having intense and realistic dreams. Many of them were taking place in my grandmother’s home–a space that held the majority of my happy moments growing up. Her home was more my childhood home than my address on file with the school.

When I was twelve and went into the group home I’d spend the rest of my adolescent years in, roommates would often ask each other to describe what home looked, smelled, and felt like. Countless nights had me drifting to sleep, her place whose memory I conjured. When the rare, annual trip home would happen, I’d trace my fingers on walls and shelves, seeing what I’d remember well, what had changed, and memorizing everything else.

In that context, dreaming of her house may not seem out of place, but it is the vivid, all of a sudden, every night venture that has caught me off guard. Every morning I wake, a swirl of sadness that the moments weren’t real, and gratitude that they lived in my brain somehow.

Last night’s foray into vivid dreams had me somewhere I’d never been before, with my mother. She was frail and partly Alzheimer’s riddled, while also somehow still present too. All over this series of rooms she seemed to be living, were boxes, binders, and massively stuffed envelopes filled with photos and papers. There was no rhyme or reason to the packing and I became consumed with the quest of finding letters I’d sent to her when I was a teenager. The interactions with her were guarded (on my part… old habits and all) and sporadic. I knew she couldn’t know I was searching for anything relating to me. I was consumed with my hunt, but began to notice that I still kept my eyes trained on her… on how she seemed to morph, changing in subtle ways, minute by minute. I would pause my rummaging to stare at her–absorbing the fluidity of her presence. Eventually, I came upon a series of photos of a little girl with her red-headed cousin. I knew they should have been me and mine, but the faces were very wrong. When I couldn’t stay quiet any longer I asked her who they were.

“My baby girl and my nephew.” she answered flatly, as though this were the obvious answer and I was an idiot. This response aligned with the truth of her, but her words were not who we were at all.

The more photos I found had the same child–not me.

Never me- me who is her likeness in so many facial ways.

Finally, returning to the search for letters, I came across a bulging manila envelope with “Nora’s Memories” written on top. I looked around at the stacks and piles of snapshots mixed with chaos, and asked her “Mom, are these your memories?”

“Yes, ma’am. Everything I know.”

I had just pulled out my phone to record her, an interview I think, when I woke up. I was mad that I’d left that bizarre place, but also sad over how time there had left me feeling.

Are these strange, nightly ventures happening as my psyche processes the release of my memoir? Is it tied to the grief of losing her? I feel like I’ve been processing this book for so long, that answer doesn’t seem right… but also, then why?

Here’s to hoping a nap later has me dreaming of resting seaside. Peace-filled.