To the romantics, with all my love


Madie Weaver

A screenshot taken on the other end of a FaceTime call while I tried tirelessly to stack Squishmallows on my head.

In 10th grade, I memorized “A Dream Within a Dream” by Edgar Allen Poe.

For an assignment in which we only had to recall a few stanzas—a few trivial words before reading from the screen again—I chose to capture it all. I stood in front of a room of my peers and unlocked a part of my mind tied off until that exact moment, and I reveled in the praise that I received.

I still have the poem there, locked up until I need it most. It never leaves me, nor I it. And funnily enough, the roars of my surf-tormented shores ebb and flow along with its prose.

I have always dreamed in moving colors. The vivacity that permeates from my subconscious up towards the stars has always confused me once daylight dilates my pupils.

Instead of feats of bravery or acts of ambition, I dream in stories.

Romeo and Juliet dance across my temples.

Jane Eyre traverses the moors of my mind.

Jo March traces my profile in a narrative.

Yet, no dreams have ever impacted me as those this weekend brought. Each morning, I woke up with cracked fingers and cavernous eyes, tired from the moment that sleep abandoned me. Prose became but an afterthought, and in its absence, I learned that dreams are just veiled realities.

While brilliant in their unabashed syntax, the romantics are nothing for the subtleties of Friday night family dinners. To the cacophony as familiar faces unhinge our alabaster front door, smiling with varying degrees of hunger behind their eyes.

To the nostalgia of other people’s birthdays and the age that they’ll be when I enter adulthood. To hats constructed out of cloth napkins and embellished with sheer blue ribbon, and laughter that fills one’s soul in sweet stillness.

I have always dreamed in moving colors.”

Poe will never compare to Saturdays spent in newfound corners of the constantly spinning Earth. To fresh faces, bright eyes, and technicolor antique furniture. To America and Joni Mitchell sounding from discordant corners, and to the feeling of Architectural Digest magazines as they knit themselves into the cracks in my palms.

To frozen lakes, wet grass, and the comfort of 60 degree-days. To the crescendo that exists within the darkness and to watching Little Women with hands knit together. Never letting go.

Yet, most of all, they will never be able to capture the tumult of Sundays spent inside. The feeling of fuzzy blankets on freezing legs. The every-hour, on-the-hour grounding exercises needed to simply make it through.

The panic and anxiety that materialized out of nowhere and stuck to everything around me, painting the world in colors without names. The clicking of letters on a keyboard as I type out ideas I had no intention of sharing, juxtaposed against the knowledge that this is all I have to give.

And the dreams that capture it all. Dreams of driving while half-asleep. Dreams of tears on friends’ faces. Dreams of displacement—of puzzles with missing pieces.

Particles of fine, gilded sand fall from my grasp towards the depths of this expansive sea, and despite how everything crumbles, I am strangely content. Because like the poets, I’ve realized that there are two sides to the same coin.

Like Poe, I recognize that each sadness is but a nightmare within this long-lasting dream.