It is always the same recurring dream sequence.
At first, I am at an airport travelling internationally when I suddenly realize my passport is missing. A gut churning feeling takes over and then I wake up. Shocked, bewildered, and sometimes sweating, it takes me a few seconds to realize that it’s been the same recurring dream. Or may be a nightmare. If there is any distinction. Now I’m fully awake. It’s 2, 3, or 4 am. I reach for my phone for an aimless tour of Twitter, Instagram, email or such. But this only makes it worse. I toss and turn and close my eyes so that I go back to sleep again.
On the occasions that I do, I have another recurring dream. In this one I’m with my late father. We’re either at our old home or travelling. His physical appearance is of his 30s and 40s. Handsome and well dressed as he always was. A far cry from the cancer ridden outlook of the last months of his life. His jovial presence brings back the old reassuring and heartwarming feeling that I haven’t experienced since he passed away. We talk and walk and then I wake up and few seconds later I again realize that I’ve made another trip to the realm of dreams. I don’t remember that actual conversations but I’m somewhere between a choking sense of longing for my dad and satisfaction that I at least got a superficial glimpse of his presence. It’s now closer to 6 am. This time I check the stock market pre-open news, daily news, and start my day with going for my morning walk.
I associate all these dreams with the sense of uncertainty and longing that are two permanent features of an immigrant’s mind. As an immigrant, I consider myself relatively successful in that I have managed to adopt my new home’s native language as my primary form of communication and correspondence and have somewhat assimilated myself into the host society. Yet I go through the sinusoidal waves of longing for the life before all this happened. I’m then taken over by anger and frustration of the injustice I perceive to have suffered. I plot many superficial “Count of Monte Cristo” return scenarios in my head, watch Iranian shows, listen to Iranian music, and sometimes resort to writing as the only tool in all this emotional roller coaster that I have somewhat of control over.
Some time ago I was in New Orleans for work and I got to take a tour of one her famous cemeteries. There are various styles of old tombstone each reflecting some aspects of the life that its inhabitant lived. Some have marks of their ethnical backgrounds, personal style, profession, life events, status, and so on. Each are somewhat unique, but overall, they create a tantalizing (while heartbreaking) spectacle of an organized chaos.
Walking through an immigrant’s mind is a similar experience. A tapestry of various memories each resembling a person, struggle, experience, or a period of the life of the individual. Some sweet, some heartbreaking, each unique but yet all bonded to form one, not so harmonious entity.
And by the time the tour is ended, you’re left with more questions than answers about the philosophy of life, choices people make, and if the struggle was worthwhile. Yet you move on and get one with life. Rinse, repeat.