02 May 2009

Dogfights and Dreams

A dachsund rolled onto her back the way one of my cats would. A French boxer sniffed her belly then stepped over her. A couple of minutes later, what looked like a Husky pup climbed onto her back. Then a white dog with spots over most of his body and black around his shoulders, paws and ears stepped to the side of the dachsund who, as if on cue, rolled onto her back to be sniffed again.

And the humans who accompanied them--all young women--chatted and giggled as clouds swirled and drifted away from each other, allowing just enough of the setting sun to blaze off the flickering ripples of the East River that lapped against the pier on which we all stood, directly across the river from the United Nations.

This scene filled me with an eerie sense of deja vu, as if I had awakened from some repetetive, inevitable dream. Those young women were all young enough to be my daughters or even--if I had lived a different sort of life in another time and place--my granddaughters. Yet somehow they seemed like the moments that immediately followed some long-ago memory.

They didn't remind me of anyone in particular--not any famous person, nor of anyone I've ever known. And save for the daschsund, the dogs didn't remind me of any I've ever known. Yet they all seemed familiar somehow.

Lately people I haven't seen in ages have appearing in my dreams. When I was a kid, rumor had it that if you dreamed about someone, that person would die.

So who have I dreamed about? Last night, it was about a girl with whom I grew up and haven't seen at least since I was a teenager. She was, if I recall correctly, a year older than me, and her two brothers were my age and a year younger than I was. They were all children of a family friend. I was particularly freindly with the one who was my age. Interestingly, he looked to me as a sort of benevolent older sibling. He used to tell me that he admired my intelligence and the ways I could express myself. As we got older, he also used to tell me, "I wish I could deal with things as well as you do."

Then, it struck me as really odd. After all, I was struggling with all sorts of things that I would not talk about until many, many years later. I've mentioned some of them on this blog. But then they were like the dangerous cargo inside a ship that could only drift from side to side or lunge forward into darkness and a storm.

One of the things he said I "dealt with" better than he did was seeing the man whom I know molested me and who, I feel almost entirely certain, did him as he did unto me. Or something like it.

Anyway, in last night's dream, his older sister said, "I wish you could have done something for him."

I can understand--and even agree with--what she says. Maybe I could have helped him more than I did.

Or could I ? If anything, I may have been doing even more to keep my own experience secret. I had repressed it so far that I almost never thought of it as a "the closet."

The boy of whom I'm speaking never quite said that the man, who was another family friend, molested him. At least I don't remember that he did. And, as I've said before, I certainly didn't talk about the ways he sexually abused me for about twenty-five years after the fact.

But my young friend did tell me that he was "really afraid" of that man. For that matter, I was, too. However, I don't think I ever told him that. The truth of the matter was that all I actually did was to be was to be the sort of kid he wanted me to be: I went along with whatever he said. Hey, I even laughed at the guy's sick and dirty jokes. Plus, I think that in some way he actually knew I was a "better" kid than his own were: I did well in school, didn't get in trouble (actually, didn't get caught) and was an altar boy. But most of all, I kept my fear of and anger toward him within me. It may have helped me to survive, but it certainly kept me from moving forward for many, many years.

What came of my young friend? I know that he'd fallen into drug addiction, and I've heard that he was doing worse things to finance his addiction. He may well be dead: Perhaps that's what his sister was telling me in that dream.

If he is, then...what? What did my anger at that man, or my anger generally do for my friend or anyone else? Whatever it did, it would have been as familiar and even more predictable than those dogs--or the humans that accompanied them--on the Long Island City pier.