The dream was always the same: the apartment building was on fire and someone was screaming for help.
The first night, I only stood back as the unfamiliar structure burned.
The second, I struggled with the locked front doors until fire burst through the second floor windows, raining down shards of glass.
The third, I found an open door on the back of the building, but became lost and overwhelmed by the smoke and heat.
After a week of the same dream, my therapist suggested that I was struggling with obsessive thoughts hidden in my subconscious, most likely an unconscious cry for a deeper understanding of my relationship with my mother.
I quit going to therapy.
Another week of the same dream and I had solved the puzzle: unlocked back door, back staircase, fire ax from the stairway to open the locked door, help the mother and her child escape.
The dream stopped but I didn't stop wondering what it really meant.
It was one month later while walking through China Town in San Francisco that I heard a cry for help and smelled smoke in the air. I recognized the building and knew exactly what to do.