The Choice

October 28, 2010
My dreams are bizarre. The topics of my dreams range from robotic rabbits to music to physics tests. However, my dreams tend not to touch upon facts. I rarely dream the truth. Except once.

The scene flickers, and the colors somehow fade and brighten at the same time, as they can do only in dreams. A twofold mirror stands innocuously in front of me. In my dreamy trance, I cautiously approach and gaze into it. What I see immediately makes me cringe.

Three different versions of me stand within the confines of the partitioned mirror. The first is young. From the short hair, tired eyes, and purple “Naperville” shirt, I recognize my thirteen-year-old self. The middle reflection looks healthy and well-rested, but wears the expression my tenth grade drama teacher labeled the “tragic heroine – Juliet – look.” While number two is certainly me from my time in Bangalore, my third image, older and reserved, is undoubtedly me from Acton.

“I can’t have three reflections!” I cry, frantically. “Which one of these reflections is me!?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” asks Acton-me, the most self-assured. “You don’t need to have an identity crisis to realize that you’re me. When someone asks where you’re from, you say ‘Boston.’ You’ll finish school here. More importantly, where would you be if your passion for observational drawing, algebra, old indie music, and Oscar Wilde stayed undiscovered?”

“I can’t just ignore the other places I’ve lived,” I protest. “Why should I believe you’re so exceptional?”

“In Acton, you have begun to achieve the confidence and ambition you always wanted. Living here gave you a jolt into reality – the reality of hard work and starting a new life,” “I” plowed on. “You even said you would love to settle permanently on the East Coast someday. How could you be anyone but me?”

“Oh, come on!” says my first reflection. “Acton? Really? You haven’t even lived there for two years! All your important memories happened in Naperville. You know so many people there that even if you showed up, tomorrow, at least five people would offer you a place to stay. You’re so Midwestern! You smile at all your neighbors and consider 40° Fahrenheit a reasonable temperature. Having your own bedroom, starting kindergarten, bringing your sister home from the hospital – these things prove you are me, the one from Naperville. It’s the place you considered home longest.”
My Bangalorean image loses no time in offering a third perspective about my debatable origins.

“Three years is a long time,” my reflection states, musingly. Everyone nods in pensive unison. “Especially when those three years are called fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. You spent your formative years in Bangalore. Who would you be if you didn’t spend high school in a class of ten, or develop that taste for fast-paced city life? Or you never grew used to a community where everyone could unhesitatingly pronounce your name? Living in Bangalore meant infrequent phone calls were no longer your only connection to extended family. Your best friend lives there, and neither of you can go a day without emailing each other. Admit it – Bangalore was transformative so you’ve got to be me.”
“No!” I exclaim. The reflections stare at me expectantly, waiting for me to proclaim a winner. “I can’t choose to be just one of you because all the things you said about me are true. I refuse to be a fragmented person with no home,” I declare, “…when I can be the result of integrating three.”

This realization triggers a change in the anatomy of my dream. The scene glimmers fiercely and the colors intensify. My mirror images cease to be separate and appear to merge together when-

I wake up.

Missing the climax of my dream does not disappoint me. It gave me an honest answer to a question I often struggled with, having lived in several drastically different locations. I am eager to see where the fragments of my old lives take me while I explore an imminent new one.

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