I recently had one of those epic, big-budget dreams. I felt like it took months to wake up. Ten months to be exact.
The dream began with my family — son David and husband Allan — hurdling through space in a tin contraption. We landed 15 hours later in a modern city-state nestled between the Arabian Sea and the Empty Quarter. We met people with exotic names like Ali, Areej, Amna, Khadijah, Khwaja, Momen, Mohamed, Rashid, Sana, Sayed, Sumita, Simi, Sabah, and Omar.
When we first made their acquaintances, our differences seemed profound. But we soon realized that they cared about the exact same things we do — good food, funny stories and safety for their families. I found these people to be very beautiful and graceful. They walked tall and proud. I walked taller when I was with them. Indeed, I was proud to walk among them.
My son went to school with some of their children and learned to speak some of their language. My husband taught some of their fellow countrymen and women to make movies. I worked as a writer at one of their finest universities.
Sometimes in this dream, we’d leave our desert island for a little while. We’d hop back inside the tin contraption and zoom to other spots. On one such trip, we landed in an ancient Nabataean caravan-city, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. Here, we learned of the unrivaled hospitality of the Bedouin people.
On another occasion, we time-travelled to the greatest monument to love ever built. We arrived at this place called Agra on the only day of the year when you can touch the real tombs of the eternally betrothed couple. Here, we learned that love binds us all wherever and whomever we are.
We always came back to our city by the sea, and we began to call it home. We had a small house seven stories in the air near the mangroves. We went swimming a lot. I became pink. We ate a lot of Origanum syriacum on pita bread. We called it Zatar, as the people of the place instructed. I began to say Shukron and Afwan. I heard beautiful singing in the skies five times a day.
Some days I wondered if I were in heaven, not in a dream. I never really quite understood where I was. The place was more complicated than I could comprehend. Things weren’t always easy in the dream, and I often struggled to find my place. Yet I learned to appreciate the lows as well as the highs.
And just as I was reaching some level of understanding about the very dream I was in the process of having — the alarm clock rang and I woke up.
I was back in my house in Vermont in the Northern part of the United States with my son and husband and my dog! There is a lake here instead of a sea. Mountains instead of desert sand. People speak my same language, and wear shorts. I do not like these shorts they wear, but I do love these people. They tell good stories, eat good food and want to keep their families safe.
I wonder if I will ever have that dream again. I have to keep those people and that place from fading away because they awakened something — or someone — in me.
By Nancy Stearns Bercaw | @nancybercaw