Another restless night, up and down, up and down. When sleep finally came, images and stories poured in like floodwater.
There’s a girl with a bicycle in a field in France; it is August – August, 1939. The war is just about to start, but she can’t know that yet. I know her in my dream, but in real life, she is someone I know now, a young someone who lives far away. But here she is France on the eve of World War 2.
It’s beautiful, but it feels ominous.
When I wake up, I’m trying to make sense of it. I spent almost nine months last year reading every WW2 book and watching every WW2 documentary and movie that I could find. And I had talked to my friend via text on Instagram earlier that day. So she ended up in Alsace on a vintage bicycle, wearing a vintage dress and hat as the clouds of war and genocide gather over Europe.
I am disturbed by all of this along several dimensions: the fear of impending doom, as well as thinking of all the people who were about to die horrible deaths 70 years ago this month. I’m also at least mildly disturbed any time a woman who is not my wife shows up in my dreams.
I look over to my right in the dark and my wife is there, lying on her side, breathing slowly. Well, just because I’m having a bad night’s sleep doesn’t mean she should: so I get out of bed as gingerly as I can, get my glasses and iPad off the night stand and head to the other side of the house.
I know that dreams, for me, are often my brain trying to work out various issues that I’ve shoved aside. I do worry about some of my friends; the one in my dream, for instance, is someone I worry about a lot. Because life has been hard on her, and there are days I’m not sure she’s going to make it.
She also likes to be kind of stylish and vintage, if her Instagram is any indication, so maybe that’s where that came from.
I try hard not to worry about people whose lives I cannot really impact, but I seem incapable of doing so; when I manage it, consciously, my subconscious takes over and does it for me.
Later, after getting back from the gym, there is a message from my friend. Her health situation is deteriorating. We text back and forth for about 10 minutes. Then she’s off to get some sleep, and I’m off to get ready for work.
In the shower, the shampoo is running over my eyes, so I shut them. With my eyes closed, I see her again, in a French grain field, under sunshine and tall clouds, wearing a red dress and pushing a red bicycle. She doesn’t know what’s coming, but then again, no one did, really.
And none of us do now.