I have this dream. I don’t mean something I aspire to, but a recurring, night-time visitation by no less a person than Morpheus himself. In this dream I am standing at the end of a fairly short corridor. The walls are a dirty gray-white, as are the doors on either side of the hall. I know that I am only dreaming, that I can just walk away, but I feel pulled down the corridor. My mind is in a pleasant fog as I give in to the urge.
Arriving at the first door I place my hand on the dusty, steel knob. It has been a long time since this place has been visited. I don’t remember pushing, but still the door swings open and the room inside is much larger than I expect. It is in fact, a room in another building. It is one of the most revered rooms, in one of the most revered buildings in the world. Sitting behind the desk is a man that many consider the most powerful in the world. His face is obscured, it has changed so often.
Standing ram-rod straight on the other side of the desk is a soldier with silver oak clusters on his shoulders. His face is familiar, as it should be, though the chestnut hair is generously frosted with white. There are only a few ribbons on his chest; he has not seen much action. He never wanted to, but chose to put himself in that place just the same, so he might better perform the tasks to which he is best suited. There are secrets behind his eyes, so shameful and dangerous he dares not give them words. As he hands the President the report, I wonder just a little what might have been, and close the door.
At the second door I hesitate. Fear and shame grip my heart. My hand settles on ice cold metal that burns me to my core. I twist and the room is not a room, but a field. It is raining because it always does in this place, at least in our minds. My father, brother, sister and their families are all there, around a black headstone. The name on the monument is the one I chose and my father cannot look at it. I slam the door ashamed at what almost came to be.
I walk a bit further and can feel the noise in the next room. I don’t hear it, there is no sound in the corridor, but I know it is there just the same. I want to see what is inside and, as if sensing my desire, the door simply ceases to exist. The room is a club, a dark but vibrant gathering place for youth and those with wild hearts. On stage is a woman with a shock of lavender hair. She is dressed in black jeans, a black tank top and boots. Hers is the familiar face though it is covered with makeup. She shouts into a microphone and her words are gasoline on the small crowd’s fire. Behind her a band waits as she works the excited mass into a furor. She pumps her fist into the air once and a young, shirtless man with a guitar takes her place as she jumps down and high fives the people around her. I nod, and grin, and as the door reappears I think this might still be.
The next door is a chore, I know. I have not seen the room yet, and I have no picture of what is beyond, but in my heart, I know what is on the other side. With great effort I push the door, though my arm resists. The alleyway is dirty and populated by rats and one, sad creature. The creature is neither man nor woman, and his/her clothes are a tattered hodgepodge of the masculine and feminine. He/she rifles through the garbage and if there is any awareness of the young men mocking from the end of the alley he or she shows no sign. I turn my back, take deep breath and know I must never let this be.
Before the next portal my want and need well up. Tears fill my eyes. I want this door to open. I don’t just want to see, I want to walk through and the spiteful, jealous part of me demands that I be allowed though I know it is impossible. I practically break it open and the place beyond is bright and beautiful. There is a woman, full with child sitting at a breakfast table. Her face is unfamiliar, except the eyes. The eyes never change. Across the table, holding her hand is the woman she loves. They are both excited to meet their daughter. The happiness overwhelms me and I know it does not belong to me. I slam my fists on the door as it closes, wanting what can never be.
My heart is still breaking I approach the last door. I wipe the last visible evidence of my sorrow from my eyes before reaching for it. Once again the door does not wait for me. Beyond is a woman not quite yet a woman. She sits on the porch of her city apartment, wearing that face. Her family is visiting and she sits next to the man who has chosen her despite all the challenges that presents. She is still uncertain of her place in the world, but has found a kind of contentment. How can she not have with such support? Her dreams (the other kind this time) seem ready to come true, and even if they don’t this time, she’ll bear down and try again. They laugh and play making the most of the summer evening. I leave the door open as I walk away, knowing this could very well be.