I had a dream last night where I saw myself as a little girl. I was about nine years old, all thick-waisted and shy, just as I was then, with that long, wild hair I had, and sun-lit, summer skin. I was wearing the strange, self-selected clothes I wore as a kid – a long, thick red skirt and a mismatched long-sleeved white and blue cotton T-shirt.
I could see my young self, but she could not see me.
Although only nine years old, the girl was walking hurriedly behind her “husband,” following and trying to keep up. In the dream, it made sense, as things like that only do in dreams. I could not see him, as he was walking at a fast clip ahead of her. She looked sad, and yet she would have been upset to know even then just how plainly her sadness came across, as she was trailing him.
Suddenly, in one of those split second scene shifts characteristic of dream-world, there she was, still nine years old, but this time she was swimming in deep water.
She was all the way in the water, and yet it took me a second to realize that she was fully clothed. The long-sleeved white and blue t shirt, the long red skirt she had worn to swim in, because she was shy and ashamed, trying to cover her body. This, I remember.
But then – something made her smile – I could see her from a distance, standing chest high in the water now. I could not see what or who it was – maybe it was someone she was engaging with or a certain slant of light on the water that caught her attention – but she was lit up with joy, her smile transforming her face into one of beaming beauty. She forgot herself in this pleasure, whatever its source.
I could feel myself smiling with her, rooting for her joy.
Then, again the scene changed, and I saw her walking away, her back to me. Her long red skirt was tugging around her ankles, heavy with water, slowing her trudging progress. The edges of the hem dripped steadily along the sandy path at her feet, her long-sleeve white and blue t-shirt clinging to the same body she had wanted so very much to hide.
In the dream, my present-day self awoke for just a moment and looked at this younger me. I realized that she looked so young and even pretty then, in spite of herself. I wanted to yell to her – to break the fourth wall, or the fourth dimension – and tell her: You are beautiful, just as you are!
I pined for her youth, for her body even, those strong, sturdy legs that carried wherever she wanted. I wished that she could understand that this is all there is.
I tried to call to her. I tried to yell out, “I wish you could see yourself as I do, and see all you have!” I wanted her to know the freedom in not trying so very hard, in loosening her grip a little, in letting things be just as they are.
She could not hear me, of course.
Just then, I woke up, still frustrated that she had not heard my call. Yet, awakening, I remembered the whole dream. I suppose maybe I had heard me, perhaps just catching the echo of another dream of another self, older still than I am now.