Many

Of course I had the Brookview nightmare this morning. 

I haven't had a Brookview nightmare in so long, I forgot what they were like. This one was so strange, so fucking obscure, so ninja-like that I hardly noticed the signs of what was coming. Do your dreams give you warnings, too? That stretch of Governor Prinz Boulevard that turns inland right before the Philadelphia Pike exit, the right turn onto Chesnut Drive from Veale Road, those are my 'Turn Back Now' signs that white people always inexplicably ignore in the movies, and I always do in my dreams, until it is too late.

What does it mean that my warning signs are always in a car, that they always, literally, lead me to that place? If your degree could only explain that to me, it will have been worth the price tag.

I dreamed that present-day me was in the car with one of the leaders of my old church. We were on our way to visit his wife in their home. We talked about the tattoo he regretted getting, and I tried to explain why I didn't regret mine. He was nice until we passed those apartments right before the bend, then the conversation turned - not mean, just serious. Then he got my age really wrong, and I realized that maybe he, or I, wasn't on the level. Then he kind of implied that I would be back again. Then he opened his front door, (the one he, in reality, doesn't live in, the one in Brookview) and I accepted his invitation to enter the bad part of the dream.

The interesting thing about my nightmares is that, even on a subconscious level, I look for the best situations - I seek something I can walk away from that makes them sting less. Like the fact that the homemade, cedar table with the wooden stirrups they were going to strap me to when they took my baby from me had pink, fluffy blankets and the exact kind of yellow and pink fuzzy slippers I like the best - the kind I buy at airports when my flight gets delayed. In the third of a second before I ran, I thought, "Well, jeez, at least they care enough to make sure I'm comfortable and warm."

Unlocked doors, an old car, a gate, sunlight, pavement. Hot, black, sweating pavement. The same pavement that is always in this dream. Pavement that laid five minutes between my house and my grandmother's. Pavement I don't ever want to know why I keep running across.

Pavement you stood on, it just was piled up alongside what used to be a road. 

That used to be the house I lived in.

There is something comforting in knowing that someone took a fucking wrecking ball and tore the source of your nightmares right fucking asunder. That nature came along and zeroed out everything you thought could never be haulted. Standing in the middle of that was a thousand times more healing than all the dreams I used to have of watching my old house gurgle and spit and drown beneath a mudslide. 

The neighborhood swimming pool. really.

Looks kind of pretty now, (don't you think, in an urban decay sort of way?) that place where my brother and I died over and over again.

And I never would have known that if it wasn't for you. I never would have had the chance to go back there and stand in the middle of that if you hadn't been willing to drive me out of your way on a whim, to help me break through a fence, to drive a car not rented in my name over my hills and far away to a place that doesn't exist anymore, except in my dreams that can no longer resolve, because the faster I run, the less real that pavement feels under my feet. Because it doesn't exist anymore.

And somehow, that has something to do with you.

Today is your birthday. The day we took those pictures was mine, in a way. You're the only person I've ever shown this part of myself to, and I'm trying to learn how to balance the person I want you to think I am against the person you now know I am. 

I know you like lemon squares and you know the smell of the dumpster I used to play in. I once watched you break yourself against a fighter's glove, and you've seen me break in two in the middle of a creek and beside a pile of old concrete quickly becoming a field of dreams.  

It means something that you, who pulled me out of what I thought I was going to be and into what it turns out I am, are the one person to cross the imaginary line I drew in the sand in 1992 between that life and this one. So, of course that line is going to blur on your birthday, because you're a part of that field, that story, that life, now.

Maybe you always were.