This is not about writing. On second thought, maybe it is.

Many years ago, in real life, I had a lover whom I adored. A naturalized Englishman. Red-haired. A sunrise smile. One of those thunderbolt attractions, followed by a deeper connection. If he reads this, he will know himself here. He was someone else’s husband. Neither of us had the expectation or the desire that that would change.

This was an emotional dream, not a sexual one. In the dream, I was seeing him again after many years. He was unchanged from our earlier days together, vital, vibrant and boyish at heart. The city was Chicago. It looked like Paris. We rode the train. We talked. We took pictures. I remembered with a physical memory what it was like to walk beside him.

At one point, we changed clothes in some sort of athletic shop so we could take a dance lesson. He was in a lime green track suit that looked good with his red hair. There was some complication about the lesson; I don’t remember what it was. We were back on the street, on some sort of public transportation. The trees on every street were strung with little white lights, magical. I remember pointing them out to him, an antidote to a melancholy born of a knowledge that we would soon be parting.

We were in a room, then. A room with tiered seats, all of them filled with men, anonymous, as if they were all waiting for a train. I was distraught; these were our last few minutes together. After this I would never see him again. I wondered, doubted, whether I had ever really meant anything to him.

He gave me his answer without speaking. It was in a self-help book he had written. A book with a picture of himself, his wife and his kids on the cover.  He opened the book. Deep within its pages, my name. Deeper still, hidden among a group of characters in a passage written in a Greek-like foreign language, the rest of my name. And a message, the affirmation I had been hoping for.

I woke with tears pooled in the hollows of my eyes and damp on my pillow.

Freud says that we are the dream and everything in it. If that is true, then I am a dream. I am the lover. I am the one who was loved. A love held in secret, cherished for years, revealed in the written word.

Maybe this was a dream about writing, after all.

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