The men in red coats and brass buttons were marching towards me with faces of stone. I hid under a bridge and I heard the first group stomp their way over me. My white nightgown was getting dirty along the edge and my feet were cold. They next group were headed toward me when I was scooped up, around the waist, by a long haired shirtless man, who ran silently through the woods and took me to his people. I was safe. I was with them for years, learning their language, weaving baskets, and sitting with the old women by the fire. One night a ceremony was performed. I was in the middle of many men who were dancing and chanting. It was a scared song. The embers turned into golden butterflies as they swirled around me and surrounded me with their magical glow. Their song pulsed through my body as I raised arms up into the sky and felt connected, for the first time, to something bigger than me.
I don’t know how I got there. It seemed I had been there forever but I don’t remember how. Everyone knew me. They nodded in recognition and greeting as they passed, their heads slightly lowered in respect. No eye contact was made. I was on a wooden walk way over the water. There were wooden walkways everywhere connecting the grass covered roof huts barely over the running water below. I walked out to the edge of the wooden deck to fish with an older man. Silently we stood for hours until we caught what we needed. We took the food back to the hut to cook it passing 20 or more other huts. I was in love. I can’t tell you what he looked like, but I can tell you how he felt. His skin was warm from the sun, always, even in the dead of night. His embrace was of possession but in a way that left me feeling protection at the most fundamental level. No one would ever dare hurt me there. I spent a year with them. They were my family. They were my future.
I was swimming in the lake I knew well. Swimming under the full moon that led me straight to the middle of the water where I was greeted by a dolphin. I rested my arm across her back and lay my head across hers. My body was limp and relaxed floating there with her. She lifted her head to the moon and a golden light shined down like a funnel straight from the moon to us surrounding us in a perfect circle. The golden light turned into a thousand golden butterflies swirling and fluttering around us. I reached my hand up to them, not to touch them, but to be connected to them. I was connected to the water, and the dolphin, and the butterfly, and the moon.
I was on a truck. A flat bed truck with hundreds of other women and men smashed up against each other. Our smell together was rancid as we had not bathed or changed our clothes in months. Where we were headed was to death and we all had resolved to this acceptance of our fate. All but me. I saw a soldier and I leapt off the truck running to him. I screamed at him in French and told him that there was a mistake. He knew me. They had made a mistake. He announced to the commander that it was in fact an error and I had been picked up with a group I did not belong to. I was not a Jew, I was a French woman and this was the man that I loved. But he was not. I don’t know why he agreed to my strategy. He could have easily beaten me, shot me, or thrown me right back onto the truck with the others. He didn’t. He called me “my love” and walked with his arm around me down the gravel road. He made no mention of my filth or stench or matted hair. We walked to a bed and breakfast and he took me upstairs. There I was met by a kind woman who had been heating water on the stove for me. She helped me off with my clothes and poured the warm water over me in the white tub. She washed my hair and with a soft cloth bathed my face and arms. She whispered to me that I was going to need to run, soon. She dried me, brushed through my hair, and dressed me in a soft floor length dress. The soldier was coming around the corner. I saw him out of the window. I snuck down the back stairwell until I met my father. He owned the bed and breakfast. He was a Jew too but they didn’t yet know. I kissed him goodbye, promising that I would one day come back for him. He told me no, he told me to run and never look back. I looked back to see many soldiers raiding the bed and breakfast where my father and that woman was. My bare feet ran on the gravel until everyone was out of sight. I mumbled in French that I was alive. I was alive. And I would stay free.
I was strong. I stood tall. I knew I was to embark on something life changing and profound. I knew this day was a day to change lives. I felt pride in myself. I felt strength in my being. I looked down to see my long dark gown. I reached over to the dresser top to get a scarf. It was colorful compared to my black garment. It was the same length. I gently placed it around my neck and let the sides hang to each side of my collarless neck. I felt the material between my fingers. It snagged on the callouses my fingertips bore. But I was to change things today. I was to bring peace and unity to all that were before me. My words were to be spoken for years to come from the mouths of small children and from the elders to their sons. I stood tall and raised my head to look at myself in the smoky glass mirror. I was a man. I was a dark skinned African man.I looked into my own dark and cloudy eyes. I was about to change history.
They were waiting for me. I had but a quick moment to grab my necklace before our meeting. The same smoky mirror was there at the same dresser I had stood at before. I felt the leather of the necklace as I put it over my head. It was a dream catcher of sorts with feathers and as my fingers felt the soft tips of the feather I glanced up. I was a Native American woman. My hair was black/blue long and disheveled, covereing the edges of my face. I pushed it back to see a woman with bright green eyes and a determination beyond something I myself had felt before. I turned the cast iron door knob of the old wooden door and dashed down the stairs to meet….someone.
She grabbed my hand and lifted me into the sky. There was a distinct line between the earth atmosphere and something else. She said she wanted to lift me above the line. She lifted me up and I saw colors I had never seen before. Brighter, more vibrant, colors that also had feeling and life. I felt a warm glow that enveloped me and filled me with a love that I had never experienced. I told her I didnt want to leave this place. I had already forgotten everyone I had left behind on the earth. I was surrounded by the love of something far greater. She told me that I could only feel this as a human for a few moments or my heart would explode. Then she slowly lowered me back over the threshold of the now. I reached and grasped trying to go back but she said it was not my time. It was just a promise of what was yet to come.
I looked up to her. I recognized her. She was the mother of a friend of mine. She had parted the skies. With both hands she had parted the skies and looked down on a field of her daughter and granddaughters. She just needed one glance and then she lifted her hands and the sky closed and she was gone.
She was starving in a cage. Kept there longer than a human could live in captivity, treated like an animal. She had been chained, scared, raped, and forgotten. The torture was daily. She would be sold soon to the highest bidder. I looked through her eyes and felt her empty shell of a being. Then I became me sitting wit her. I couldn’t fix this. I couldn’t help her. I was just as helpless as she was. But I stayed as long as I could until daylight woke me and I left her there alone.
She was dead. I didn’t know it at first. I thought I was watching a movie. Clips of the movie played before me on a screen. I was watching but feeling as if I were there . I was her and then I was not. I was him and then I was me. He was going to murder her. She knew it. I knew it. But there was nothing I could do. I watched her final breaths. I felt them in my own chest as the blood gurgled in my own throat. I looked through her eyes and into my own as the life left her. Then we were standing together. On the side of a hill. Next to a bridge. I was holding her hand. She begged me not to make her go down there alone to the darkness again. I stood with her. I held her hand. I told her, they would be coming soon. She lifted up and ascended into the heavens with white billowing around her. She smiled. I knew she would be okay now.
I dream these kinds of dreams every night. I have my entire life. I kept a dream journal for years. I had boxes of them until I realized I had no need to write them down. I would never forget any of them. I spend the night as someone else.I spend the night going in and out of different lives, people, sometimes as me, sometimes as them, sometimes as both. I spend one night of sleep living the life, and speaking the language of someone else. I become them. One night of a dream could be 20 years of memories. I wake up in my bed and I miss the people I knew. I miss the life that I was living. I miss the characters in my book of dreams that I won’t see again. I close my eyes and try to feel them, sense them, connect back to them, but it is just a fleeting memory. I never know where my dreams will take me. These are but a few of thousands and thousands I have had. I have stopped trying to search for the meaning. They started when I was 7 and never stopped. Sometimes they fill me with terror that lasts days. Sometimes confusion. Sometimes helplessness. One could speculate that my dreams are just manifestations of my current unsettled emotions.
I don’t believe that for one minute.