It Was Only A Dream

Who knows how long dreams really last?  I guess there are some different opinions on that question, but who really knows for sure?  Some say the dream state is a relatively short period, others say they can seemingly last for hours.  Well, whether they last for a short time or not, I recently woke up from one terrific dream, and I have to say that I’m truly sorry that it didn’t last longer, like forever, for example.

I guess we all have those kinds of dreams on occasion. Hopefully, nice visits to fantasy places, perhaps in a parallel universe, and we wake up somewhat disappointed that we couldn’t have stayed longer, and, yes, there are those ones where we would rather get out sooner, like real sooner. But this one….whooo wee! Waking up was for sure the last thing I wanted.

In this dream I was back in time, let’s see, about 16 or 17 years. I guess one of the weird parts was that in the dream I was still who I am now, and what I am now. Not particularly a happy man as some may be, but okay, as I’ve learned to just try and take life one day at a time.  Some of my life’s dreams didn’t work out quite so well as I had hoped, though others have I guess, and I am grateful for what I do have to show for my 54 years on this planet.

Anyway, in this dream I was on my way back to central California, driving up the coast from Long Beach, where I had played in yet another “Over 50 Years of Age” basketball tournament. My traveling companion, Diane and I got up early and headed up the coast looking for the right beach to spend a nice Sunday by the water.

Diane was sleeping in the back of my VW camper catching a nap so she’d be up for a relaxing visit to some pretty spot along the way.  Just north of Santa Barbara, I saw a little hot dog type cafe near a beach and I thought I would stop and stretch a bit, get us a drink, and continue on up to the Pismo Beach area. I got out of the van and started towards the beach side hut and as it was going to be a quick stop, I left Diane in her comfortable slumber.

dream beach2

Well, no sooner do I start on my way to the hut, walking toward the sandwich stand when I noticed four people sitting at one of the outdoor bench tables on this beautiful day. I was stunned as the people I’m talking about were my ex-wife, Jeanie, our two grown sons, Arley, and Billy, and my grown daughter, Corina.

An awkward moment for sure, as that old and now familiar feeling came over me. “Uh oh, there they are. Here comes that feeling again.”  I wondered what the heck they were doing there. I could easily see that they weren’t so happy to see me, as it was kind of one of those unintentional and uncomfortable intrusions. We would have to speak.

I wondered where Liz, Arley’s wife, and their children Thomas, Paige and Matthew were, but no, it was only Arley, 30, Billy, 23, Corina, 21, and their mother Jeanie, 48, sitting there in the sunshine.

As I “noticed” them, and smiled, and headed towards them as it was too late to turn back.

So, I thought, here we are, all of us kind of “caught” in this situation and we would now proceed with the small talk about what we were doing there; that, along with the other short, polite and awkward things we always said to one another whenever we met unexpectedly.

Obviously, the divorce wasn’t a friendly one, and we aren’t in very good touch nowadays, except for special events, holidays, sports and other activities, and the times where I would get the kids for a weekend or so, vacations here and there, but now, as they say, “They have their own lives to live.”

As I approached the table, Billy got up from the and ran to me as I was approaching across the lawn of sand towards them.  Arley was close behind, with Corina by his side.  I was thinking they must have been at one of Billy’s rugby games or maybe they had picked up Corina, who was attending UC Santa Barbara at the time.

As I was walking the last few steps toward them, Billy comes running up, big smile on his face, as he says, “Hey Dad!  We beat ya! What took you so long?”; and as he was saying that he jumped up on me. “Huh?” I said, as I was trying to figure out how my 6 foot, 220 pound son could jump up on me like that and sound like such a little boy.  Plus, as I was standing there holding him on my side, with my right arm, Arley comes up and said, “Hey Pop, what’s up?”, as he gave me a hug from the other side, as I put my left arm around him.  I was in a state of shock, as three-year-old Corina ran up and said “Hi Daddy!” as she grabbed hold of my leg and hugged it. They were so glad to see me!

I was just coming into the thought of what was happening (”Am I dreaming? Am I high?”), as Jeanie came walking up, pretty and smiling, her long, blonde hair shining in the sun and blowing slightly in the soft breeze, just as it use to do. I knew that smile right away. Then, as she snuggled right into the middle of all this, arms around all, and she planted two kisses, one on my cheek, and one on my lips.  She said “We beat you here! Time to get some ice cream.” And we all walked arms in arms toward the sand and the beach.

By then I was thinking, “Oh my God!  This is the craziest case of Déjà vu I have ever had! Wow! How cool!”  I felt that I knew I was dreaming, but as the dream went on, and as we got back to the table and into our visit, and we all talked, I went into the dream full force.  I was smiling, more and more and I wished this would never end; that it was not an end, but a new beginning.

Then it began to dawn on me that it wasn’t a dream…it was a miracle!”

For some moments, I came to believe that yes, somehow we were actually back in time.  I felt that old awesome feeling of love in my chest and arms.  It was so real!  I was able to get a true taste of the great enthusiasm of seven-year-old Billy, and a real sense of humor of 14-year-old Arley.  And there was the sweetness and contentedness of little Corina smiling, still with some of her baby teeth, her blue eyes still looking at me with love in them.  I was blown over with happiness. I think more than I have ever felt.

Jeanie was just going along as if nothing was new and that the news of that day was all there was to talk about.  None of her anger and meanness towards me was anywhere in sight, as we were still a long ways from our demise at this point.  My true feelings of love for her were not blocked by my insecurities or self-doubt.  I felt the true love I had felt for her before and it was a greet feeling.

We just talked, as we always did, about the kids and the news of the day, and it was wonderful.  The business of the day, family gossip, both sides; and it felt like we could have talked together forever, like I figured that we always would.  This was so great, so good, and so special.  Something miraculous was definitely happening.

Jeanie and I left the kids eating at the table and took a quick stroll around the area in front of the stand and feeling the beautiful beach day, talking and planning the rest of the day, deciding that this will be just right, right here, for a great beach day.  I wasn’t saying anything about this wonderful thing that had taken place.  I was just telling her how glad I was to see her.  My heart was just bursting with joy, as I knew that things now would be so great; that we could keep our hopes and dreams alive.  With so much more of the joy that we had experienced in the good times, when love between us was real and the problems were minuscule, and there was nothing we couldn’t handle.  I had finally grown up. I knew now that this incredible gift was going to be great for the family.  We could truly be a great team.  I was so grateful for this miracle in my life.  Thank you, God.  I will make the most of this.

My no longer ex-wife and enemy and I were standing just outside the eating area where I had driven up, we could see the kids at the table eating, abuzz about the idea of going swimming later and blissfully arguing about something.

On this beautiful sun-shinny day, all I wanted to do was to hug Jeanie and tell her everything was going to be all right, that I had seen the light and we could make it from here.  Any tears were joyful ones.  It was the greatest feeling I ever remembered in my life.

I had no questions about how this miracle happened. I was simply glad and grateful that it did.

 Just then, the door to my van opened up and Diane stuck her head out, and said, “Are we eating here?  I was in shock! I turned my head back with lightning speed, to look at Jeanie, only she wasn’t there.  I panicked and instantly feared the worst, spinning around to look for my family, but they were gone too.  Stunned, I turned back to Diane, feeling the most heartbroken I have ever been, though I held nothing against her.

Sorry to say, Jeanie and I never did get back together.  I guess we just had too many things to fix and we didn’t get together often enough to work on them. Perhaps it’s that it really wasn’t meant to be. But every now and then, I think about that dream and how sorry I felt that it wasn’t real.  I still feel sorry, I suppose, sorry that I woke up from the happiest dream I’ve ever had, even though it turned out to be sad memory.

Neither one of us has remarried, although we have had other partners, and we’ve done the best we could.  The kids have done well and have now seven beautiful children of their own amongst them.

They are good to each other, though I do know everybody has their ups and downs.  No matter what, I hope if they, or any other young married couples ever think about ending their marriages, they will think really hard about it, really hard about what it really means. Especially if they have children.

A beautiful dream is no substitute for the incomparable beauty of the real thing.

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