How would I get back to shore?

happy hour

Last night I went from one dream seamlessly into the next, all of them connected somehow, until the last one. I was in the ocean, somewhere like Ross Bay or even Cox Bay, far far out. I’d drifted, floating in the water, thinking about other stuff, until I realized I was half across a wide strait, maybe the Strait of Juan de Fuca, out past the breakwaters and out of sight of anyone. No one knew I’d gone swimming by myself. How would I get back to shore?

And what now, I thought. I am out beyond my depth. Anyone’s depth. I was in the shipping lanes. There were tankers not too far away. What now. No one knew where I was.

I will have to swim hard to ever reach the shore, I told myself. I told myself I don’t even know the crawl (it’s true, I don’t. My slow kilometre, 3 times a week, is achieved, if I might use the word, by side-stroke, back-stroke, and a very inept breast-stroke). I turned back to begin the long journey back to shore and realized how deep the water was, how (suddenly) treacherous and cold.

The shore, far away, was luminous in late afternoon sunlight. I turned, I began to swim, and somehow knew I would never reach it by dark.

6 thoughts on “How would I get back to shore?”

  1. How terrifying, Theresa! My bad dreams are often about the theatre, not knowing my lines, not knowing what play it is, losing my costume. But fear of drowning far from shore is another level of nightmare. Glad you are safe and warm at home.

    1. I’ve had the ones where I’m about to give a reading, in a big venue, and I’ve forgotten my books. But this one was quietly awful. As though there was no hope. Everything due to carelessness. That I’d drifted, that I hadn’t told anyone where I’d be, that I suddenly noticed how cold the water was.

  2. I think your dream represents something that is deeply embedded in all our psyches right now. June represents month 16 in pandemic time. How indeed will we ever get back to shore?

    1. I think you’re right. It’s somehow easier to keep the anxiety and everything else at arm’s length during the day. But at night, while asleep — the fears take such strange but compelling forms. I thought of the dream yesterday as I was swimming at the pool, the last indoor swim until late September. I thought how buoyant I felt in the water, how purposeful. Not out among the tankers, seeing the far shore as something impossible to reach before dark…Thanks for your insight.

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