There’s a place I come to quite frequently in my dreams. An open field, bare save for scattered, short trees. It’s always just at the edge of whatever place I’m in with the other participants in my dream. We’re all of us together, doing whatever the dream is about, when suddenly we emerge into this wide, grassy place. I find I never look at anything in it more than a few feet above the ground. Maybe I can’t? The sky always turns gray, moves lower, the air grows very still. But why don’t I ever look up? Maybe I know I don’t need to; that whatever I need to see is at the level of the grass, at the level of the trunks of the surrounding, stunted trees, at the level of my own two feet.
Inevitably I lose my companions shortly after overtaking the field. I search for them everywhere, yelling their names, calling out for help, calling for them– Wait for me! I’m lost! Stop and let me find you! But they never stop. I never find them.
Inevitably I meet someone in the field- usually someone quite old, quite small- who doesn’t tell me where to go, just wanders the field with me during my fruitless search. It’s nice knowing I’m not alone, but wouldn’t it be nicer to have my companions by my side once again? But once lost they’re never found. Sometimes I hear them talking, laughing, running from me. And then even my new companion is gone.
Inevitably I reach the far edge of the field and begin the next stage of the dream. Alone. And it’s scarier. And it’s darker. And things happen faster and in bigger ways.
Last night’s dream- after wandering the hills, ruts, and grasses of the field yet another night- brought me to a place I’d never been before. I’ve forgotten much of it so I won’t attempt to recreate parts I can’t commit to the page with full honesty. But of what I do remember… Where was I? I was running from someone. Or something. Or someone. Or many people. Something frightening, but I wasn’t scared. Shot through with adrenaline, but not scared. I kept on running along the edge of a valley thick with trees to my right, and a plain of nothing to my left. Just running.
I found myself driving a truck. A beast of a machine. Tall like a house, wide like two elephants running abreast. I found myself driving this truck west along the top of a wall designed for just such travel. I drove faster, faster. I wondered if this was the Great Wall of China, wondered if I could be seen from space, worried if I met people I would run them over, worried how I would ever get down.
I stopped at a guard shack built atop the wall and found myself on the ground to the wall’s north side, hiding my belongings in a bookshelf buried in a cluster of bushes. I did this when I saw one of the shelves was filled with black clothing, all my size. I knew I’d be better off dressed in those things than in my own clothes, muted though my own colors were. Better off hidden, I thought. Better off out of sight. I laughed when I saw wrapped in my new black sweatshirt were three pair of underwear, also black. Wherever I was going I was going to be there a long time!
I left behind everything I had with me, save my purse which held my glasses, my wallet, and a pen. I dumped wrappers, lipstick, unnecessaries. I stuffed spare underwear and socks down inside it and took off running again through the trees, now joined by two male companions, one younger, one much older.
Where are we, I asked them.
Korea, the older one replied. Do you know you have brought word the edge is safe? Do you know she knows it’s a united nation once again?
The “edge” was something never explained to me. “She” was the new leader of Korea. Someone I didn’t know. Some name I never heard. She was no one to me, but she was someone to someone. And by running, by driving, by racing from a place where everything fell apart to this, I had proved it was possible to connect these two points. I had inadvertently proven whatever danger lurked in the plains to the south or the valleys to the north on the left and right of that unknown wall, it was passable territory now. It could be done. Done by anyone. Even me.
And I was glad I hadn’t known where I was, or what I had been doing, or I would have been too afraid to run, to drive, to go. I would’ve known myself incapable. But as things stood I knew something good had happened and that I had really done absolutely nothing to bring it about. I’d done nothing, and everyone knew it, and yet they were content with me. I could suffer no blame, enjoy no praise. My journey was separate but parallel.
And the three of us set off running.