Last winter, my mother visited my grandpa in Nanjing. The day before she left (or maybe the day of, I'm not so sure), we had dumplings (jiaozi) to mark her departure. She made them in abundance, and we froze what we could not eat for later. When she returned, we had noodles: chow mein, or perhaps Pad Thai.
The habit of having dumplings on departure and noodles on return is something I had never noticed, a banal, Chinese tradition that makes up a small piece of the fabric of my household. But the truth is: traditions in any family don't always come as loud or as shiny as costumed dragon dances on the New Year. They're not always tied back to a specific culture, or a reason for being.
This month, we want writing and art about the traditions and quirks, big and small, that you practice within your family. Send this to us by July 15th.
Most people loathe dreaming. Some people because they fear nightmares, others because they think dreams are nonsensical. I used to have the same opinion. However, just yesterday I experienced a marvelous dream that completely turned my view on dreaming upside-down. It was a surreal, out-of-this-world adventure that I’ll never forget. Surprisingly, you can take control of your own dreams and acquire extraordinary powers!
This dream started like any other, which is to say, it made no sense. I spawned in a dank basement in the middle of pouring rain. I knew this not only because of the water dripping from the leaky floorboards above, but also from the sound of pounding rain above. A single dim lightbulb hung shakily from the fragile ceiling. I quickly escaped from that rickety room by use of a ladder that led up to a trapdoor on the wall. Shoving the trapdoor open, I breathed in the fresh air and began to take in my surroundings. It appeared that I was standing in the ceiling of an urban apartment living room. Above me was a stylish monochrome rug, a comfy cyan sofa, and a large TV, along with various other pieces of furniture. The whole thing looked like it could be on the cover of an Ikea magazine.
But the fact that gravity had reversed itself on me was a dead giveaway that I was dreaming. Now that I realized this, things were about to get interesting. I had heard from others that in lucid dreams, you can do anything. So first off, I decided that I would correct my gravity. I thought that, and, in a flash, I was teleported to the floor of the apartment, right in front of the TV. I stood there in stunned silence, shocked that it had worked. Next, I decided that I would give myself the power to fly. Closing my eyes and concentrating hard, I felt my feet lift off the floor, just a little, but it was a success! I zoomed around the living room in ecstasy. Soon, I felt like a bird trapped in its cage. I craved to soar in the blue sky! Breaking the glass windows, I flew in circles, gliding occasionally. I thought that I should increase my altitude and, like magic, I shot up another 50 feet or so in the sky. Scanning my surroundings, I saw a distant airplane and a flock of seagulls. Deciding that I should join the birds for a little evening glide, I accelerated towards them telekinetically. They were accepting of me, albeit a little surprised, when I joined their flock. The sensation and rush from flying was so real I could hardly believe it. I felt the refreshing wind on my skin, the exhilaration of speed. It’s unfair that birds can do this every day!
In that instant, I lost my focus and quickly started plummeting to the ground. It was only then that I realized how high I was in the sky. The people and buildings below looked like they were from a miniature toy set. In another instant, the vertigo from the fall started to set in. As the skyscrapers and buildings from the urban landscape below zoomed up to meet me, I knew I did not have much time left to save myself. Frantically, I tried to regain control. But to no avail. The instant I hit the hard pavement, I woke up in cold sweat.
Granted, that last moment of shock and horror was not very enjoyable, but it was worth it for the thrill of flying. It made me feel free as a bird. Even though it was only a dream, it’s still a valuable memory that will stay with me for years to come. Now I think of dreaming as an opportunity to obtain a superpower. I simply can’t wait for my next adventure!