As I was walking my dog this morning, I saw a large bush of sweet potato on the street, the vivid lime-colored leaves shining brightly in the rain. I felt my worries grow, like an aggressive tumor in my brain, like this vigorous invasive plant.
I worry all the time, and I live in this shadow of delights.
I worry about my mother. She is in her later 80s and living alone in my hometown in northeastern China, Yanji. Does she have enough money? Is she ill? Can she get groceries by herself? What if she falls on the stairs and no one notices? I wish she lived with my brother’s family.
And I worry about my brother. Does he feel content with his life? Is his wife kind to him, or mean to him (like the way my mother treated my later father)? Is he still drinking every day, like our father?
Then, I worry about my father, who passed away three years ago from Alzheimer’s disease. I worry about why and how he died alone in the hospital, without the presence of my mother, my brother, without me, without anyone, even a nurse. When I arrived at the airport of Yanji in the December morning in a heavy storm, my father had already passed away six hours before. How did he die in the cold bed, alone, in the dark? What was his last thought? Did he feel lonely? Did he look for me when he died?
I don’t have hypochondria, but I constantly worry about whether I will have Alzheimer’s disease when I become old. My blood pressure is occasionally jumping up very high when I measure it at home, and I am not sure if this is a sign of hypertension. But whenever I visit the doctor’s office, my blood pressure becomes normal, always in my disbelief. I call it inverse-white-coat-hypertension.
I worry one day I will die in this beautiful house, alone, and no one will notice for months that I have died.
I worry about my dreams and the meaning of my dreams. I have many violent, disturbing dreams, recurring with variations.
I have dreams where I perform sex with a group of men and women in many dramatic poses, all simultaneously and together, in the public. And sometimes, I have sex with my mother. Do I have these dreams because I was not bonded to my mother when I was a baby, or because I have been longing for my mother’s love for my entire life? Or does this mean I am bisexual? Or asexual? Does this mean I am sexually repressed or oppressed? The poet, Ross Gay, wrote that he had recurring dreams of having sex with his mother. I wonder if everyone in the world has dreams of having sex with their mother, but they just never discuss it.
I have dreams that I lose my dog, and when she finally returns home—with many other dogs that look identical to her—I could not identify which one is my dog. In other dreams, I open my contact lens cases, inside are dozens of lenses stacking up together, all larger than my face, and I would have to cut them with a pair of dull scissors into a smaller size, but then I find they are just plastic sheets.
When I wake up, I try to trace back to every small corner of the dreams and analyze them blindly. Whatever implications I may seek out, I will always end up worrying even more.
I feel as if I live in Crime and Punishment—only without Crime.