“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
“We can never go back […] But sometimes, in my dreams, I do go back…”
I had that line in my head for most of last night. My life isn’t very Hitchcockian, no murders or hidden identities—except, I suppose, those most of us have—so it isn’t that. I have been wondering about time and place, though. Last weekend I talked to friends in Oklahoma, and thought about the woods they live near, the woods I used to live near, and the way the rain filled the forest with puddles and reflections. A few days before that I heard from a friend in California, and remembered growing close as we walked along a creek; a few days before that, I talked to a friend from my time in India. I haven’t seen Rebecca since I was a kid, and when I watched it, I suppose the death and intrigue mostly missed me. But I was caught by the opening line. I felt, somehow, that sooner or later it would make sense, that there would be places I dreamt of going back to, and couldn’t go back to, and would go back to in my dreams all the same.
There are a dozen places I’d like to live so that I could be nearer to the people I’ve grown close to. Even with moving, as so much art explores, I probably can’t go back so much as go again in a different away. All the same, when I was leaving India, and hurting at the thought of leaving the people around me, an elder told me: “You carry them all with you.” It’s a simple thought, the kind I’ve heard many times before, the kind that probably doesn’t work as clickbait. And the version of people I can carry is not the version I want, not the present companions I remember. Still, though: sometimes I feel them here. Maybe Oklahoma and California and India and Massachusetts, maybe home and valley and creek and field and hill and cave, maybe they’re all here, at least a little, at least in one way. Or maybe being here and being there and being aren’t nearly as simple, as consistent, as I so often pretend. There are so many places I’ve been that I dream of going, and can’t go to, and still, in my dreams, go back to all the same.