A long time ago, I had a rather abstract dream. I don’t have a lot of those, so at first, it was a pleasant surprise. A few minutes or hours in, one could never be too sure when it came to dreams, I found myself in the city I was born.
The streets were the same, so were the places I frequented, and so were the people. Everyone I had ever met here was in the city, and I ran into all of them. The only difference was that I was nowhere to be found. No one seemed to remember me. Not even the baristas and bartenders. I was an outsider to this place.
I was baffled, at first. Then, I felt this overwhelming melancholy. It was shocking to have never existed. I’m sure you’d feel the same way. The thing that irked me the most, that didn’t sit right with me, was that despite my apparent absence in all of those lives, in that entire city, nothing was different.
My parents were the same people. My friends acted the same way, only they weren’t my friends. The people closest to me had not changed an inch. It didn’t sit right with me, of course. Had I never affected anyone’s life enough for them to be significantly different in some way? Had I not given a quirk, a habit, a catchphrase, a memory that changed someone?
In that dream, I spent a lot of time in the city and around the people I had always known, and around some I had known for a bit. I kept trying my sheer best to find the absence of something I may have caused in the world I knew. It was a futile exercise. Everyone was the same, everything was the same, and I had never existed.
They treated me like they would treat a stranger who had suddenly become a part of their lives, who visited the same places as them, and who did the same things as them. Just this new friend from outside who was a decent addition to everything but whose presence wasn’t needed beyond that of common courtesy.
I thought a lot about it when I woke up. Honestly, I still do. I can never be too sure of how I feel about it. It stirred something that cannot be changed, however; that feeling of absolute loneliness never left me completely. On some days, even as I spent them surrounded by people, laughing, the dream was the only thing on my mind.