so my bio-dad called me while i was at work the other day and left a voicemail. he mentioned that he'd had a dream about me the other night and wanted to share it with me. when i called him back, we talked a bit, and then he told me his dream.
he dreamt that he was with me somewhere, and i was both three years old and fourteen at the same time. like there were two of me, but not. but there were. ...but not, in the strange fashion of dreams. and the three year-old was mad at him for some reason.
"i'd have thought the teenager would be mad at me," he said, laughing, "but it wasn't. it was the three year-old. so i turned to the fourteen year-old and asked her to tell your three year-old self that it would be okay, that it would pass."
"hmm," i said. "maybe she was just having a tantrum."
"i don't know. but man, she was really mad at me. but it was the strangest thing, both of you looked exactly like you did at those ages. and i felt it in my heart, even in the dream. i feel it now still, actually. identical."
of course, it made sense to me on a visceral level. myself at three years old was still alive inside, and knew her heart and herself. the fourteen year-old me? she was quite dead inside, with a huge gaping hole in her memory, and wearing the thickest coke-bottle glasses of denial anyone had ever seen. she couldn't be mad, of course. she couldn't be anything.
and it struck me, because last night i had my own dream. some details are vague, and strange in the manner of dreams, but what i remember was speaking with *m*, and he was telling me about this song he'd heard someone sing earlier that day. only, i only heard his voice because he was speaking to me through my bedroom door, which was an inch or two ajar. it was some native american song, he said. he said it was beautiful, but he couldn't understand it.
and suddenly, i began to sing it. it wasn't the rhythmic, gutteral collection of vowels that you normally hear sung around a shaman's campfire. it was an actual song, in complete cherokee, and i knew it for a war song. but the thing of it is...it wasn't like anything you hear of, with the drums and rattle and pipe. this was a woman's lament, and a vow. it was a song of the hidden steel beneath the frail beauty of a spring blossom long since departed of its fragrant bloom. it was a woman's war song, telling of the loss of her love and the promise she makes to herself, as she sits in her teepee and paints her face for battle, that she will take the lives of many of her enemies who had slain him, and offer them up to Father Sky, or she will die in the attempt. either way, it matters little.
it was a sad song, a rare song that somehow i knew was not meant for outsiders' ears. which is ironic, considering i, too, would be considered an outsider. i don't know how strong the native blood runs in my veins, and yet in the dream i knew every word. i knew the voice of the woman who had sung it as if i had grown up hearing that voice from infancy.
of course, the words and melody faded before i was even fully awake. but the feeling of it is with me still. naturally, the immediate interpretation would be the simple fact i shouldn't give up on my dream, and i should die trying, striving for it. but that would be silly. in the song, the woman knew she was going to her death. but in the song, it was also certain she would put up such a fight it would become legend. i refuse to die like that, if my legacy will be failure. and so i reject that interpretation. what does speak to me, however, is that it was a woman's war song, its meaning hidden from men and, thus, from common knowledge. men being the world's self-appointed-yet-faulty keepers of lore as they are.
and i remember how *m* thought it was so interesting, so beautiful, and as i continued to sing it i only thought to myself, "you fool. you don't know the meaning beneath the melody, do you? you never have."