The Weight of a backstory

Last night, I woke up, drenched in sweat. I had a dream — no, not a nightmare — just a dream. A beautiful adventurous dream that ended even before the adventure started.

I don’t remember the exact details. I know I was running. I was running very fast. A bag slung over my shoulder, another in my hand, and a few levitating beside me (it was a dream).

I was running through markets and tiny streets. Jumping over carts filled with sweets and spices. Hopping over shop stairs and people alike, I just kept on going.

I kept on going until I arrived at a fork in the street and, for one fleeting second, it looked like I won’t be able to decide. Then I was off, to the left, jumping and hopping along the way.

I took the next right turn and I was at a train station. No, I was one door away from the station but I could glimpse the gleaming white train from the glass above the door. Steaming, it just stood there, ready to go. Ready to go where? I didn’t know, nor cared. All I knew was that I had to get on it. Porters and passengers, hustled around, the place was alive with energy.

I was happy. So so happy. I was going to be leaving. I picked up one bag, slung another over my shoulder and tried to lift a third one. But there were more, oh so many more. Bags, suitcases, shoppers, everywhere, pulling me back. I tried to gather them all up but I couldn’t.

The train was leaving. IT WAS LEAVING. I couldn’t believe it. I was this close to it! I could have hopped on. I rushed towards the door, tripping over all the clutter and pushed through the door but it was too late. The train had gone by the time I manage to make my way through the clutter and out the door, panting.

It had gone, leaving me here with all the baggage. And for a moment, I just stood there, out of breath, gasping for breath. Then I woke up.

The first thing I thought of was how I had missed the train and… and… I was terrified. Scared out of my wits. Why couldn’t I make it? Just for once, why couldn’t I be someone else? Someone who didn’t have to care about all the stuff and just get on the train?

It all came together then. The baggage — the bags, the cases, everything — it was my baggage. It was my backstory. It was everything I was. My responsibilities, my insecurities, my feelings. It was my past. It was what I was and what I had been my whole life. And it kept me. It kept me from getting on! It didn’t let me get on that train.

What was the train then? I ask myself. I don’t know, but it was an adventure. It would have taken me on!