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 have gone 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 varieties 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 emptiness 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 real life. 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. We lived long enough with each other where I just accepted her existence in my life. It is similar to the cloud of memories in our lives characterizing our acceptance of our current reality, where we accept our past and present without the need to verify the validity of these memories in the first place.

The feelings of attachment were eerily similar to some other feelings I have had during some other distant summers of my life. I wouldn’t know if my feelings had merit. There is so little that is inherent about what I feel, so there is little use in figuring out whether or not my feelings have any basis.

One moment ago, I lived another life. While dreams exist in all sorts of durations, I felt as if this dream resembled another equally real life I could have had. I had friends and ex-lovers with as much personality as those 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. There was nothing in this dream that could have possibly indicated to me that I was not in a dream. My sense of time was suspended — with it, my need to recall memories to prove that I exist in in reality at all. Yet, I woke up in the next moment, living in a different world with seemingly less advanced technology and a less interesting plot arc. I woke up in a world significantly more boring than my dream world.

In those moments of me staring at the faint blue light peering from the window, I am intimately aware that my feelings will fade. My recollections of my dream world will fade. The complex world I had effortlessly created with a couple of chemical reactions in my brain in my unconscious will stop existing because I let it fade into nothingness. It fades on its own, but I do not make any effort to retain these memories of other worlds. 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 these worlds that did not genuinely exist. Regardless of how complex of a world I create in my dream, there is only one world that has the title 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 with a plot line that still goes on. 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.