As I wrinkle my forehead trying to remember the dreams I had last night, I come up with a few fleeting images – just impressions, really. My dreams, when I remember them, are usually a jumble of symbolic mumbo-jumbo, such as: I’m driving my car that turns into my living room, or I’m flying on a plane that somewhere in the middle of the dream becomes a giant house, etc. But then there are the ones that stand out still; ones that I can close my eyes now and see as vividly as the moment I dreamed them.
When I was 10 years old, I had the most beautiful dream. My whole family was at some formal event where it was night and we were dancing on a large and dimly lit dance floor. There were lanterns and streamers and flowers, and people were laughing and happily chatting away in small groups. I spent the whole night holding my partner close, spinning around and around that dance floor. I experienced for the first time this strange, intense feeling of peace and security, anchored with a feelings of happiness and belonging. “This is what love feels like”, I told myself.
When I awoke the next morning I reveled in this feeling of contentment and began to go over the dream in my head. Suddenly my happiness gave way to confusion, and then the confusion turned to shame. In my dream I had been so deliriously happy while dancing cheek to cheek all night with another man. All those names the other kids called me in school must be true. Everything that society told me I should be, I HAD to be – I wasn’t. I was broken, I was sick.
As I close my eyes and relive that dream now, there is no shame or sadness. The joy and love I felt was pure and innocent – untainted by the judgement that being different is wrong. But from that day forward I stuffed my feelings away; pretending as best I could to be like everyone else, yet struggling inside and always feeling incomplete. I went to many proms and weddings over the years, none of which compared to that simple dream I had when I was in fifth grade.
On January 21st, 2013 (Inauguration Day) I nervously stood in a long security line for the Commander in Chief Ball, surrounded by tuxes, gowns and the medal-bespangled fancy dress of our men and women in uniform. “Could this really be happening?”, I thought. Yet somewhere underneath all the butterflies there was this irrefutable and powerful feeling that this was good and right and just – that this was normal. That feeling pushed me forward and into the great hall, and then to take my husband’s hand as we walked to the dance floor.