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I woke from a dream last night that felt so real that I swear I could feel the grass on my feet and the mist on my face. It was incredible and terrifying. While I can’t remember most of it, the ending is still vividly clear.
I got into an elevator with a group of people as we all tried to escape to the surface. We still had a lot of room in our elevator car, but the others choose to go up a stairwell that was just there for decoration and was a dead end. The elevator door closed as I called out, “Why aren’t they getting in?”
When we arrived at the surface, everyone ran out of the elevator to safety, but I stayed behind in this grassy field that was filled with hundreds of other people who were sorting themselves into groups. I was growing increasingly nervous because I didn’t fit into any of the groups. So, I stayed behind in the big open field as they went to find shelter.
The sky was dark now with mist blocking out the stars, but the moon still burned brightly enough for me to see shapes flying in the air, headed toward the direction I had come. Then a group of people came out of the shadows, a large group, who were organized and running toward the same direction as the planes shaped like witches. In the middle of that group, leading the people, was my real-life coworker DLo.
I called out to her as I joined them. “Look,” I shouted. “It’s like Mordor!”
Above the tops of the buildings in front of us, in the direction that they were running, was a fire so large that it painted the night sky with shades of orange and yellow. DLo smiled at me and said, “People need help.”
I nodded and ran along side her.
Yes. This was just a dream, but it is clearly my subconscious finding a way to talk to me and to help me process current events. I grew up very poor and had some bad things happen in my life that left me feeling raw and victimized as a child. However, there were two things in my early life that kept me moving forward and gave me hope.
The first thing was Mrs. Goff’s 7th grade American history class in which I learned about the American Revolution. I heard about people escaping their homelands because of religious persecution, people who came to this new land called “America” in order to start a new life where they could live in peace with others from different countries and different religious backgrounds without the fear of being hurt. (It wasn’t until later that I learned what happened to the native people who were here first.) I read the Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, and The Constitution, and HOPE blazed inside of me like a beacon. I was a 7th generation Californian, I came from immigrants from all over Europe, and I believed in the American Dream.
The second thing was the discovery of science fiction and fantasy when I was in 5th grade. Let me tell you now that in the late 70s and 80s, it was not easy to be a geek girl. I would often hide my books so that people wouldn’t know what I was reading, but those stories were invaluable in helping to build my character and teach me right from wrong. My mom worked 2-3 jobs for most of my childhood just to put food on the table, and my dad was nowhere to be seen. So, instead, I was raised by adults like Gandalf, Ben Kenobi, and King Arthur while my best friends were princes, fighter pilots, minstrels, rogues, and aliens — all of whom were fighting to save the world from evil. They often sacrificed themselves for the greater good in order to bring down evil overlords, emperors, and kings.
So, when you blend these two things together you’ll see that I was raised with hope despite the desperate conditions of my early life and I have been trained to think critically and smartly about how to help people and why that’s important. In fact, I often say science fiction and fantasy saved my life, and now it’s my time to pay that favor forward by helping others.
The recent political climate in the United States is such that “hope” is being assaulted and the very beacon of light that has always attracted people here is under threat. To refuse people who are suffering under threat of death (or worse) the opportunity to escape from political persecution and the savagery of war is the antithesis of everything this country was founded on and it erodes the pillars upon which our society stands.
All of these things, along with a deep-seated desire from my childhood to go into public service, are working together to change me. So, on Monday morning, I am going to the Marblehead Town Hall to pick up papers and find out what I need to do in order to run for Town Selectman.
It’s a small step, but an important one for me. I love my town and I love my state of Massachusetts, where I have lived for the last 14 years. I believe there are ways that I can help to change things for the better on a local level. Truly, I am just a regular, ordinary person. Over the years, I have worked hard and sacrificed to get where I am today, and I am sure my path is not done yet. A shift has taken place in my life, and I have found my voice and my place in the future.
This year, I will run for Town Selectman of Marblehead. Next year, well, we’ll just have to see where the future leads…