This post is my answer to the above random question on ask.fm. It got too long for the answer box.
My favorite thing about where I live is a stretch of road on the edge of campus. It has residential halls, including the one where I live, and some school buildings on one side and a thick forest on the other. The only other place I've seen trees so tall is in the village where I grew up, and the trees themselves are familiar. There are even spathodeas.
You can't go into the forest because the military use it for things, and there are fences and signs warning you that you may get shot. But I like walking or biking on the path closest to the forest at night, especially when there is fog, because something about the resulting light and chill sparks an impulse to dream like I haven't done in ages.
I recently realized that, sometime in the last couple of years, I'd lost the ability or forgotten how to dream. My head used to be filled with fantastic things: ideas for stories, made-up characters and their worlds and histories, or just simple daydreams about being able to fly or spy or fight or witch myself across oceans and between worlds. While I'm loath to blame a guy or a failed relationship entirely for my problems, I can say for certain that I stopped dreaming like this sometime in the course of that relationship. I felt I wasn't allowed to want even realistic things like moving to a new city or settling down or having kids, so I suppose that put magic even farther out of my reach.
When Cris and I got together, first, I started to feel like I could dream again. Then, cautiously, I started to dream about realistic, reachable things. By that time, I'd thought that was enough. I was still cleaning myself out, healing, and relearning how to do other things, like how to like music again, how to like books again, and how to even think about writing for myself again. At every turn, I've been amazed at how much healing I still need despite how happy love is making me, at how much of what had always made me feel alive had been crushed and buried over time. It's taken this long — three years — for the seed of my own imagination to know where the sun is.
I hadn't expected this to happen here. I hadn't expected it to or known that it could happen at all; like I said, I'd forgotten all about how I used to dream. I had a gnawing feeling that something was still missing, but I didn't know it was that.
And then I came here. It felt like waking up one day in Kalsangi, cradle of so many early dreams, and walking out to see that a city out of science fiction had sprung up among the trees. I'd done what I'd only dreamed about and traveled to another time or dimension, one where real people in labs and studios were doing things I'd only read about. Some bug of magic was going to get me, here, and I was ready.
Or at least, I thought I was. It was a heartbreak that gave me my first new dream of flight.
I've since marshaled every hope against further heartbreak. But, the dreaming has stayed, and it makes me glad. It gives me somewhere to go when I can't go where I want, to be with people I miss. The little tendrils of possible new stories are slowly poking through the dirt.
And to be quite honest, it just might be the best thing I've gotten out of grad school, so far. But, that's for another entry.