The Dream of Ethiopian Exile 

Saturday, February 05, 2005

I had to leave Ethiopia. Before this, I forgot what happened in my dream.

I do know that there were more white people than black people in the dream Ethiopia. In the real Ethiopia, there are also more white people than you would think, people from Greece and Armenia, three generations deep in Ethiopia, who have no more links to their countries. Or, they are the result of the merging of Ethiopia and Italy. In the dream Ethiopia, there were my parents who had no business being in Ethiopia.

I had to leave Ethiopia. I went to the airport with a flimsy backpack and a large suitcase. The suitcase disappeared.

The dream Addis Ababa International Airport looked more like a fake painting of some Caribbean paradise. Flowers, sun-dappled white-washed walls. The gate was the same. In the real Addis airport, you can't just walk in. It's not like one of our airports. Everyone waits outside unless they have a ticket. In the real Ethiopia, there is a roofed space where people crowd while they wait. There was mud, too.

In the dream, I went into the airport and my suitcase disappeared. I walked down the stairs to the plane. The stairs came out of the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland. People, mostly black, walked past me.

I did not have my ticket nor my passport. They disappeared, perhaps when my suitcase disappeared. I was inside the airport and I could not have gotten in without a passport or a ticket.

I emptied my flimsy backpack on a bench. Miscellaneous rubbish. Three nail clippers. Those things are dangerous and banned from flights, I thought. Someone could hijack a plane with those things.

No ticket, no passport. But I was in, so maybe they won't notice.

I went to the tarmac. The plane I assumed was mine resembled a space shuttle. My dream recycled it from a dream of four years ago; there was another space shuttle pretending to be a plane in that dream.

No flight attendents waited at the door. I got on without a ticket. The seats - about fifteen on each side, facing the middle - already held passengers. Here and there was an empty seat. I walked past each empty seat toward the front of the 'plane' and looked at the person sitting in the neighbouring seat. Every person smiled at me but I went to see the next seat. At the front of the plane, I turned back and found an empty seat at the back, beside two little girls. They smiled at me, too.

I strapped on the seatbelt. I worried about my ticket and passport. To get to Canada, I would have to change planes in Amsterdam. They overlooked me on this flight; the Dutch might be more observant. I reassured myself that my documents were in my missing suitcase, probably already in the plane's hold. In Amsterdam, I would retrieve my suitcase and find them.

Then I woke up.

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