As a child, I was always building models, and drawing plans for futuristic houses and apartments. I should have studied to become an architect, but took all the wrong courses in school, then got interested in other things.
The view out the window screamed 1960’s Futurama with high-rise buildings and monorails joining them; people walking around down below on open concourses. It was his dreamscape and I was in it. The apartment furnished with white smooth leather, armless chairs and couches. With all of the teak it should have smelled, but of course, this was a dream and there was my eleven year old self, running toward me in it.
“Halle! You found my apartment in the city I imagined you living in!”
“Wow! You have some wonderful ideas here sweetie. Everything has such clean sharp lines and I love the layout of this apartment! But no cars?”
“Nope, in the future the car will be gone, replaced by public transit and high speed rail service. I think so anyway. Wait a minute, you can tell me all about it, can’t you?”
“No my dear child self, I can’t tell you what your future will be like.”
“Is it against the time-travel rules or something?”
Sitting and tucking my feet under me on his comfy-looking couch I tried to let him down softly. “No, it is more like ‘I don’t know’. In my world, it really hasn’t changed that much from your time; just way more cars and even taller buildings and lots of suburbs. You see, every choice you and everyone else makes in your time changes the way the future goes”. He sat down across from me, taking me and everything I said in. “I wish it was possible to tell you what you or your future world will be like, but you are not likely to be the person who I was, just because I am here telling you about it. You see, nobody from the future ever visited me when I was your age, as much as I wish it could have happened.”
“Oh Halle” he seemed so happy it melted me, “I had hoped that by making this future world in my dream it might bring you back, and here you are. You said before you know all about me. If that is true, then you can tell me what I should do, you know, about how much I hate being who I am.”
I so wished to find a way to tell him everything possible, but I knew it had to be short, and simple for it to stick after he woke. “You hate yourself that much?”
“Nobody understands Halle. I have to hide everything; you know, right?”
“Yes, I remember how much we wanted to tell someone, but knew nobody would understand. I know you think you are the only person in the world who is a boy and wants to do everything the girls do, but have the wrong body. Everyone makes fun of you even when you try your best to be who they want.”
“I can’t be a girl. That’s impossible; I know that. I just wish I could find out how I can be me… or who the real me is… it is so confusing sometimes and going back to school is the worst part, with bullies and boring teachers and having to watch the girls in their short dresses and heels. Why do I want to be like them Halle?” He was so desperately unhappy.
“You can’t change yourself sweetie, and it isn’t your fault, any of it. That is the most important thing you have to know. You need to trust that you are a really wonderful person. Nothing about you is wrong or bad and the way you feel is something others do share; not many, but there are others. You need to trust Gran enough to tell her how you feel.”
“I can’t tell Gran! She’ll be so angry.”
“If she does get angry, it will be because she thinks she has done something wrong bringing you up.”
“Like when we moved away from the last place so I couldn’t hang out with Heather any more. I heard her and Grandpa talking about how worried they were about me becoming a homosexual because I liked playing with girls all the time. If I tell them about this they'll put me in a military school or worse.”
I remembered how bad all of it had been. What could I tell him to help him get through the next few years without hating himself so much? His desperation was contagious, like falling down a black hole. That mental suggestion was enough to start the dreamscape crumbling away in front of me; his beautiful world coming apart, like his life seemed to be.
I called out to him, “Trust her! She loves you and when she knows how serious you are and that it isn’t anything she has done, she will do anything she has to do to make you safe and happy…. Trust her!”
He was waking up and I was left wondering if anything I or anyone might say could help him. I wondered if what we had shared in dreamtime might move him away from the terrible loneliness and pitfalls I remembered from the next few years of his life.
If I meet him again, will I recognize myself? I hope not.
(Concluded in part 3)