Last night I had a strange dream, and it's been with me all morning.
What's funny about the dream is that---as much as you know I love the 1940's, as much as I live and breathe it---this was oddly the first dream I can ever recall that took place in the era.
Right, smack in the middle of World War II. If the dream hadn't been so damn scary, I could have relished that beautiful feeling of 'living' so very vividly during this period.
The scene was---and I recall this with such clarity, the aura, the smells, the touch, the grit of it all---a huge, monstrously huge military airplane hangar which was being used as an impromptu shelter of sorts after some sort of attack. The surreal part of this was that wounded, dazed, mud-caked soldiers wandered among us civilians. Everyone was grimy, sweaty, including me. And everyone was confused and either numb or hysterical.
I remember walking and walking through this humongous hangar, lost and terrified. I didn't know where to go. I couldn't tell where I belonged. Oh, hell, I didn't belong and that scared me. I cried and I cried and I cried.
Each time stopped someone to ask for help, I met with nothing but blank stares. One soldier offered to direct me to the place I needed to go but he simply wandered off and left me.
The fear in this dream was so palpable. When I woke, I couldn't shake the feeling of loss and terror. Alone in that cavernous, strange place even though I was surrounded by thousands of people.
And then, like sun parting thunderous clouds, a woman appeared. Bright, sunny, blonde. She wore a white shirt, white pants and pretty blue espadrilles. She knew me, she'd been looking for me, she said, and was going to accompany me to the wartime stenographer pool where I was supposed to be.
I breathed deep, relaxed, and stopped at a coffee shop within the complex for donuts and java. Everything was all right. I was still afraid---horribly so---but I wasn't lost. I had direction now, I no longer had to wander in the same daze as the rest of the crowd.
On my way to the office this morning, the dream still haunted me. And, strangely---out of the blue---I began to think about writing. About my beginnings in writing. How, at first, I knew no one and I knew nothing about the business. All I brought to the author table was a little talent and a bunch of desire.
Like the dream, my initial entry into the world of writing was scary. And, like the dream, I wandered around in a huge space filled with people----SO many people---but I had no friends among them. No direction, just bumbling along, hoping to connect with someone to direct me.
Like many, I joined a handful of writing groups.
And then...then...like that beautiful, shiny lady in my dream, the gal with the pretty blue espadrilles, I made some friends. People who had already made their way around the big ol' hangar of all things aurhor-ly. The people who took my hand and led me to the places I was supposed to be. Who helped guide me through the processes, hooked me up with even more friends.
These people are dear to me, have become bright icons of goodwill in my journey. When I think of them, I'm overcome with this swelling sense of happy gratitude, just as I was in the dream to finally find a beacon in the dark.
A friend of mine often commented how 'it must be good to have connections.' To me, hearts who pay it forward to help other authors find their way aren't 'connections'. They're wonderful souls, guiding lights like the beautiful woman in my dream. They're sighs of relief in the dark, hands to hold, handkerchiefs to dry tears when something goes wrong, cheerleaders to root for you and to holler when things go right.
They are, as James Arthur Baldwin says, the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.
So...thank you, light lady from my dream, and all those in my real life who've taken my hand and helped to lead the way.