I woke up this morning to the sound of my phone vibrating. I didn’t recognize the number, so I let the call go to voicemail. A few minutes later, I learned that my dental appointment tomorrow had been canceled.

I closed my eyes again in an attempt to go to sleep again. The windows had already illuminated my room with a soft blue hue, but my alarm wouldn’t go off for another hour. I felt some liquids draining from my eye. I wiped them with my pillow. For some reason, I didn’t recognize the feeling. Pulsating waves of catharsis, I had always described my tears in my journal entries. But these tears were unfamiliar. I could not pinpoint a definitive cause like I could with other feelings of sadness in my life. I couldn’t identify feelings of trauma or heartbreak that could possibly evoke any sort of sentiment within me. It could be the result of the underpinning melancholy in my life, but it didn’t feel quite the same.

I had been in love in my dream. It’s ironic because I had never experienced romantic love with anyone in my waking consciousness. I don’t quite remember what happened in my dreams, but I remember it had been profound. I met someone with a degree of complexity as any other person I have met in my life, and we ran away together somewhere far away. She had black hair. She laughed like a butterfly. I don’t remember her face. I don’t remember her name. But somehow, we lived a life together. Similar to the cloud of memories in our lives, I could not recall every moment unless I direct my consciousness towards them. Nevertheless, I accepted their existence.

The feelings of attachment were eerily similar to some other feelings I have had during other summers of my life. I wouldn’t know if my feelings had merit. After all, it is hard to describe colors to a blind person. One moment ago, I lived another life. While dreams exist in all sorts of durations, my world seemed like another equally real existence. I had friends and ex-lovers with as much personality as I have in this life. I slept in a bed where I could distinctly recall the color of the fabric or the hardness of mattress. I distinctly remember the view of Beijing I had outside the Airbnb where I lived. The next moment, I am living in a different world with seemingly less advanced technology and a less interesting plot arc.

My feelings will fade. My recollections of the dream world will fade. The complex world that I had effortlessly created with a couple of chemical reactions in my brain in my sleep will stop existing because I let it fade into nothingness. I deliberately choose to let such existences fade. I had stopped writing down my dreams about two years ago because I wanted to stop attaching myself to realities that did not exist. Regardless of what accomplishments or failures I have had in another world, I still have only one timeline that I perceive as real. I could consider my dream world to be real (since I did, after all, create it), but in the end, it still exists in a lesser plane of reality.

Even so, I sometimes remember some aspects of those countless worlds I have created in my head. I could be taking a shower and letting my thoughts wander to whatever corners of my mind they wish to go, and I would suddenly be overwhelmed at the discovery of another repressed world I had created in my head, a world where there seems to be a cohesive string of events. Saddened by the prospect of another timeline of my existence, I return my attention to the only reality I have truly come to know — the reality where I can perceive the warmness of the water against my back and the stinging of the shampoo in my eyes.

Yet, in my mind, I still hold my dreams and memories in the same light.