I can’t say for sure it was Dubai, but it fits. Some sort of tropical resort, but the size of a city. There were pools like the one in the picture right on the beach, but also strange flowing mineral formations jutting up out of the sand I had to climb over.
Embedded partway in the sand I found immense glittering green gemstones. Not faceted like a properly cut gem, but raw, irregular. Just naturally occurring somehow, free for anybody to take. I couldn’t believe nobody had before me.
On the way back to my hotel room I noticed there were small gems of all types embedded between the bricks of the sidewalk under my feet. Unable to help myself I began to pry those loose and pocket them as well. Nobody seemed to mind, and even looked at me funny, as if the gems were worthless and I was a madman to steal something so common.
When I get back to the apartment, my father is there. He asks what I was doing out there collecting gems. I told him we’re going to be rich. He laughs and says the gems are worthless, and that I should be doing my homework and otherwise preparing for school tomorrow.
I insist the gems aren’t worthless, and that I don’t need to go to school anymore because of how wealthy we will soon be. He does not believe me. I lay out my clothes for the next day. He asks where I got such nice clothing. I told him I can afford them now because of the gems.
He insists the gems are worth nothing and that I must not waste money on something so frivolous as clothing. He takes the nice clothes and lays out some plain ones, what looks like a white t-shirt and tan khakis. I tell him I don’t want to wear that. He tells me life is about doing things you don’t want to.
The next day I’m in class. The classroom is somehow embedded halfway down into the ground because the soil, with plants growing out of it, is at the same height as the bottom of the windows. It’s distracting, as you can see all the little critters scampering among the plants, going about their business.
I cannot make myself focus on the lesson. Instead I am playing Sonic 3 on some weird hybrid mini-console built into my backpack as if it was designed for stealth use at school. The teacher catches me anyway. I worry I’m in trouble but he takes the cartridge out and compliments me for owning a rare variant.
I tell him I got it online and didn’t even know it was irregular. I’m relieved I’m not in trouble though. We all go on a field trip to the forest, with a raging river running through it. I have my backpack game system here, playing the game again. Someone asks me if I shouldn’t instead be appreciating nature since that’s the point of the trip.
I reply that I didn’t get to choose the point of the trip. I didn’t choose to come, it was mandatory. The game was my way of exerting some small degree of control. over what to focus on. This way I could decide what the point of the trip was.
But the more I play, the more I realize I am just rebelling to rebel. The forest actually is very pretty, and soon I feel foolish for wasting this rare chance on a game I can play at home just as easily. So I throw the cartridge into the river.
That was evidently the wrong choice, because the river suddenly became turbulent. It grew violent so quickly that I couldn’t escape. It surged up onto the bank and swept me away, presumably to my death. That’s where I woke up.
I suppose maybe hunting for gems represents my struggle to make a living doing what I enjoy rather than just whatever work I can get. My dad is actually very supportive, I think I was just projecting my anxiety onto the dream version of him as I feel like I should be more successful by now, and he ought to be disappointed even if he isn’t.
The videogame thing? Maybe because I can’t seem to enjoy any sort of escapism without being constantly aware that it is time I could be spending on monetization, promotion, etc. I feel like I will be able to relax and enjoy myself once I am doing better but that can easily become a game of chasing diminishing returns, where I some day find myself on my death bed with a small fortune but no more life left in which to spend it.
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