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Natanya Ann Pulley


My dreams are epic survival stories. Viruses and apocalypse, yes. But also: people infected with stillness, underground quarantines, so many morphing buildings, gaslighting gaslighting, vaccine breakthroughs except you have to rub rocks together and I’m doing it wrong. My teeth falling out. And those dreamwork details once so fascinating only to be muttered to a friend like And there was a ____, except that it had a _____. I was not me, but not totally not me. And ____ was there, but only kinda. I’m also having a lot of déjà vu. Not the whoa trippy kind. The unsettling kind: I know that sound but before it was a house or a forest or my blood. Like trying to remember a song though you can’t hear the tune, lyrics, or voice. Not even genre. Sometimes I worry it is not déjà vu, but something I read or watched. It happened in the real or in dream, in escape, in our horrors, this dystopia …

I’m a nester. Cocoon-er. A homebody introvert. Prime for stay-at-home living, yeah? Turns out, I was only ever okay at home because I knew everyone else was out there living in the bright and busy spaces, making things happen. So. I’m burning through craft projects though not getting better at any of them. My husband started a garden and grew the lawn lush and green. Inviting. I started anti-anxiety meds that allowed me to finish out the semester grounded enough to be useful to my students. I listen to binaural beats to stay focused, calm, creative, energetic, sleeping, deep sleeping, lucid dreaming, healing chakra soul journey fix-you-by-following-our-subscription sleeping. I take afternoon sadness naps. I answer “I’mFineHowAreYou” without thinking or I blather. I’m writing a lot. I check in on others. Post things.

I’m in the dreamway, misremembering and theta wave numbing. I’m fine, but not in the way I know fine to have meant once. I’m surrounded by caring, good people, but can’t remember the heat and pulse of their bodies. I continually hug my husband to see if he’ll get sick of it/me; he hasn’t even when I don’t let go and walk in step with him room to room. I’m not stuck opening endless doors in morphing nightmare hallways, but I’m stuck in news cycles, a taffy-pull of work update emails, and reading below the surface of all family and friend communications to make sure this isn’t the last time we’ll talk. And I worry I might not be the one having déjà vu, but another me is. And that me is taking it all in: the devastation on Dinetah, the fear when the phone rings or texts come bolting in, countless griefs big and small, the dead the dead the dead, the walking dead taking care of the dead, the profits and the sick privilege of my comforts, and how very far I am from being the kind of person I want to be in a pandemic. But I’m also okay. I’m safe.

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All images other than author photos and artist artwork ©Matthew Batt 2020