Every so often, I have this recurring dream of a place from I childhood. I see this as a sign of change. I have these dreams when something is about to switch and either a new chapter is about to begin or an old chapter is finally about to end.
The dream I have is of an upstate place in a little town called Ellenville, New York. I went to camp here when I was somewhere about 10 or maybe 11 years-old.
I didn’t want to go here. At least, I never asked to. This was sleepaway camp, which meant I would be someplace with kids I didn’t know that came from from places I never heard of.
I knew others who went to camps similar to mine. They have made dear friends here. They made lifelong friends here. But me, I didn’t have this same experience.
However, I did have some good experiences. I kissed my first girl here. I had my first girlfriend here, which lasted about three days or it could have been two.
This was the first time I was ever away from home for more than a few days. I was uncomfortable. I was unsure of me and my new bunkmates, which, of course, they all seemed to know each other. Me, on the other hand, I was the new kid.
I saw things here. Good things too. I saw my first naked girl here, which admittedly, I realize my viewing was wrong —especially since it was seen through a little hole that was in the back of the older girl’s bunk where their showers were.
Somehow, someone told a few of us about this hole and somehow, no one ever picked up on the fact that this peephole was deliberately placed there by someone for just such an occasion and by God only knows who. As a kid awakening to his first view of the female body, I was grateful. As a parent however and in hindsight, I cringe and shake my head because it’s all fun and games until someone has a daughter to protect.
For some reason, a few of the older girls liked me. Some even knew that I saw them undressed and they smiled about it. They never seemed to mind.
One of them even spoke with me about it and asked if I liked what I saw, which I did.
She was one of the first girls I ever kissed; however, I was too young and too unsure of my equipment to do anything about this. She was older; and I say she was older but she wasn’t that much older. She was not an adult or anything like that.
No, I think she was somewhere around the age of 15 or 16. But she liked me. And that’s all that matters but I never really knew what to do when a girl liked me.
I suppose in my awkwardness, I assumed everyone saw me as I saw myself. I was uncomfortable and unsure. I was little and skinny. I was baby-faced and smaller than most other at my age. But I suppose in this case it was beneficial to me because, well, after all, I did get lucky in some small way.
But I digress . . .
I have this dream every so often. I am back at this camp, which is empty now. There is no one around. The bunkhouses are all empty and abandoned. The white shingles and the green trim on the bunkhouses are muted and old, chipped, and in disrepair.
The main compound was circular and the bunks were formed this way in age order, moving from younger to older.
I see myself here. I find myself walking along the pathway which takes me towards the lake.
I liked this lake. It was pretty there.
There was a tiny little beach near the lake. The sand was not fine by any means. The sand was mainly fine pebbles and small rocks, which was fine and not too much so that it was uncomfortable beneath my feet.
The water was always flat and reflective of the sunny sky.
But not in my dream.
I don’t believe I saw a reflection of the sky at all. And I’m not even sure if the sun is out. Instead, I think the sky was overcast and slightly gray.
There is a misty fog rising up from the water’s surface. Perhaps this is related to a tiny glimpse of memory I have from a time when I was up earlier than the rest of the compound. One morning, I found myself here, at the lake and standing on that little section of beach. I was alone and caught in my thoughts, watching the misty surface of the water, and contemplating this thing I called my life
I see this place as the birth of my firsts. It is a memory I have from a time when I believed I would always be different. It was painful and true; however, the dream is not a sad thing. No, I see this as a dream of realization. I see this as a sign.
Sometimes, life’s events happen. And I’m not saying this is always a sign. But sometimes, life happens and doors close. When this happens I can do one of two things. I can brave the change and look for a new door to open or I can mourn the loss and grieve the changes that happen in life.
I see this dream as a relative crossroads. I see this meaning that new things are coming my way; that I need to be open, that I cannot give in to my insecurity. I see this as a thought, which is, as if to say, “Do not let your insecurities steal another opportunity from you.”
And I see it this way because this is what happened in my childhood. In fact, I can declare several losses, which I gave away before I even tried to succeed.
I was always given to insecurity. I was always given to fear, given to shame, given to my sense of awkwardness, and because I was given to these things, I never gave myself a chance to enjoy. I never allowed myself the chance to enjoy something as simple as a single moment, like say, a kiss from a pretty girl.
And dreams, dreams are a beautiful thing.
And when I say this I mean dreams, as in our plans and hopes for our life; as in someday, I dream of owning that farm I was telling you about and opening a school.
I have dreams of doing more in my community, of speaking more, and creating more programs that help others who suffer from emotional disorders like me.
Dreams like this are important. They give us something to live for and work towards. Dreams are visions from our heart. At least, I know mine are. And I cherish them because I am the only one who can.
But as for my dream of the camp; as for the dream I had last night of me being where I was as a kid and remembering my insecurity which robbed me of the chance to have a good time; as I see it, this is my mind’s way of telling me, “Don’t let this happen again.”
This is me telling me, “Don’t be afraid to be you.”
We have this thing; we have this fear, I suppose. We have this fear that we won’t be enough, that we can’t do it, that we can’t accomplish it, and that as hard as we try, somehow, someone will see us as a fraud, —and when this happens, then we will find ourselves exposed and rejected, and above all else this was my biggest fear: to be exposed, to be publicly revealed and humiliated.
This is why I never dared to be me as a kid.
Thi is why I seldom if ever do public readings
But I’m not a kid anymore.
That kid has grown and changed and become me
The truth is no one can reject me but me.
I say this dream reminds me of this fact.