This post contains a brief mention of sexual violence.
I have had the good fortune to make many important decisions at the suggestion of my dreams. Nightmares of having long hair and a broken face plagued me as I battled dysphoria. I still have them once in awhile, usually after a triggering experience. One dream was different, though. It came to me when I was about 13, and I still think of it often.
I lived in a different time, in a different city. Narrow streets, a close community. I was never far from home. I called everyone there my brother and sister. One day I was summoned to the synagogue. There were three rabbis there: an old man with a long white beard, a man my father’s age with a brown beard and a few gray hairs, and a young man with a smooth face.
They told me that a girl from our community had been raped. They called her my sister. She was pregnant and would need a husband, they told me. But not just any husband. Because of the crime committed against her, a special kind of man was required.
They cut my hair, dressed me in a black suit, and put a kippah on my head. I was filled with a sense of duty and pride. She was beautiful. She had wavy red-brown hair. We were quickly married, a private affair. I considered it a tremendous honor.
They gave me a job with the other men. We moved into a tiny house with dirt floors. We chopped wood and carried buckets of water. We had a little baby with bright eyes. We were deliriously happy.
All these years later, that taste of happiness still echoes in my mind.