In this dream, I am back at my week-long photography workshop. We have specific assignments to complete for our group of female instructors. Shoot, develop, print, and mount a photo narrative by the end of the week. Storyboard it out one day, then freewrite a textual accompaniment the next. The prints are due by Wednesday afternoon, or else we fail the whole course. For some reason, I have registered to be graded in this course; for some reason, Wednesday morning arrives and I have done nothing. I find my instructors--all of them at once--and explain to them the reason for my being behind: somehow, I have just realized that for the first three days of the week, when I am supposed to have been shooting and developing, I have been teaching, three hours each day. All but one of the instructors are sympathetic. That one instructor lets their offered extension slide, but she makes it clear that she is not on board with my needing more time. I should have budgeted better, she tells me. I should have realized sooner.
I think that it's been a long time since I've had this many anxiety dreams all lined up in a row, coming in one after another like planes landing in the dark in Atlanta or Chicago or London. I understand why they're happening now: major changes are about to happen, and each day brings them home to me in different ways. Yesterday, it was my parents' calling to talk about flights for a Christmastime visit, which will be my mother's first trip to Europe and my father's first to England. I plot meet-ups for my scattered family: my brother can fly from one city, my parents from another, and yet they can all fly to London together. These details are exciting. Yet when my mother asks what I'm taking over, I go back to something like denial; even thinking about critical writing is a bit easier, right now, than returning to the process of packing and shifting.
And yet, look at this, it's also my critical writing that's (indirectly) bringing up the dreams, and not in the way I'd expect: I've finally finished drafting a piece that seems to have been in my head forever, and by this time tomorrow it will be (in what I hope will be a nearly acceptable state) with an editor, leaving me out from under it for a little while. But the more fully it has occupied my head, the less I have grabbed the camera and gone strolling anywhere; for now, anyway (and this is how I reassure myself), the more I am this kind of writer, the less I seem to be a practicing photographer.
It does not help that the temperature has, after one day of mercy (albeit rainy mercy), ascended to the 90s once again, and that the air is heavy with all the moisture we need--as rain, though--on the fields here.
And so, despite its having been a massively productive day, on which I wrote comfortably and confidently for nearly four hours and produced three times my usual word count, I seemed to be coming into the evening permeated with a sense of picturelessness. As her second Monday photography assignment, Superhero Andrea proposed taking a picture of something so close up that it's difficult to decipher, but when I looked at her picture, my first thought was that I had nothing so interesting around me today and no way of propelling myself out into the heat to find something.
But I'm giving myself up as an object lesson today: interesting things are all around you. One of the trusty oak trees outside my kitchen window all but called me out to shoot its bark at close range. Sure, it's not that difficult to decipher what it is. But there it is: a day's image, something I might not have seen without the prompt. Sometimes an image one day is all one needs to know that tomorrow will yield up another one. And the balances come with patience. I'll get them. I've always gotten them in the past.