From the foggy dreams of my youth are haunting visions of a woman. When I'm troubled or just feel lonely I've thought of these visions, these memories of dreams I once had, and hoped they would somehow come true. The first dream came to me early one winter's morning when my childhood home lay quiet in the frosty grasp of a Maine winter's night.
The Lady of Grace
That old farm house always creaked, particularly in the winter, when the cold winds of February pushed against my sanctuary, the place I was loved and understood by a caring and nurturing family. The four walls of my bedroom bore witness to my innocent infancy, confused childhood, and introspective teen years. These walls changed too as I aged. When I was young they were painted light blue and supported pictures of clowns arranged to look down at me and my curious circus of 7 stuffed animals. Some years later the paint was covered with paneling and the clowns picked up their stakes and left with the animals. Now the walls held mountain scenes, a posters of Bilbo Baggins, and National Geographic maps which helped me to explore the world. I loved to journey, with these maps, to far off lands of imagination. What I experienced in the pre-dawn of this frigid February morning I did not imagine.
I was in the world between sleep and consciousness, shrouded in darkness, safe and secure in my own bed from the cold outside. The hot water pipes clanked madly while the furnace struggled to keep the house warm and my room, as usual, hot. I slept on my stomach with the blankets pushed down to my waist. I was alone in my room and almost completely awake when I felt her hand. I froze. Someone's hand was on the center of my back. The fingers where long and the hand was cool. The gentle pressure stayed for a brief moment. Then the hand pulled away. In the dim light of dawn I looked up. I didn't know this woman. I couldn't make out her features. The way she stood and how she gestured seemed so regal. I sensed her elegance. I wasn't afraid. I heard her voice, but she didn't speak out loud. "Not now...on earth we're still too young. We must wait for each other.", I heard her say. She raised her hand slowly and began to wave good-bye and then she was gone. Wide awake I remained in bed thinking about this woman until my father called to wake me for school.
The Woman of Wisdom
Years passed, and I often thought about that brief moment and how she awakened in me new questions--questions about love. Being a teenage is never easy. We all found ways to cope. I was always quiet in a crowd or among strangers. I preferred my own company and this day was no different. It was the day after Thanksgiving, cold and cloudy a holiday from school. After breakfast, I returned to my bedroom and sat in bed reading Robert Heinlein. My mother prepared lunch. After lunch I put on my heavy jacket, stocking cap, and gloves, then I slung my skates over my shoulder and took off. I headed out into the woods behind my house. I knew the cold snap of the past week had frozen the surface of the brook that ran behind my house. I followed the brook up stream, hoping that I would come to a place where the brook would broaden enough, and the ice would be sound enough to skate on. As I walked further from home and into the spruce forest, my breath grew heavy and clouds of water vapor formed in front of me It must have been nearly an hour before an owl dove from a tree top and swooped just passed my head. I watched it as it flew away amid the trees. I must have awakened this nocturnal predator. How miraculous its soundless flight was. I decided to walk in the direction it flew. Away from the brook the forest grew denser and the terrain became uneven. I picked my way through the trees and over rocks strewn by some long ago glacier. I was about the head-back towards the brook, and give up on the notion of skating when I noticed an opening in the canopy ahead. I walked down a slight grade and stood on ice. It was an isolated glen that must have filled with rain water only to freeze over, just for my enjoyment. I had only about 30 feet of ice in which to skate, but I was satisfied, the skating was just the pretense to go exploring. After a time I sat back on an old log. It had broken from the snag still left standing. I sat quietly and listened to my own breath. It was the only sound I could hear. No song birds sang because they had found warmer places to be. In the months earlier the animals had collected their stash so they now lay quietly in their holes and burrows.. Without a breeze, even the spruces needles were still. Nothing stirred the woods, which patiently waited for winter.
Something flew by me. I looked up expecting the see the owl. I hadn't heard a sound, it must have been the owl. I was surprised I couldn't see it. It couldn't fly that fast. Another shadow darted past me and was gone before I could turn my head to follow it. "This is very strange.", I thought..
"Hello.", I heard a gentle voice, I almost leapt out of my skin.
I stood up from the log and looked around the edge of trees which guarded this clearing. I couldn't see anyone. "Hello!", I said. "Whose there?"
Again, in a soft feminine voice, "Hello."
This time I knew the voice wasn't from the woods it was from right over my head. I looked up. Just out of my reach on one of the few remaining branches on that spruce snag was an owl.
"I've been watching you.", the owl said.
"For how long?", I asked. How could I be talking with an owl? She was a horned owl perhaps 10 inches tall with gray and brown feathers and bright green eyes. Owls don't have green eyes, but at least in this light this one did.
She continued, "I've been watching you since the day you were a born. It was a day in mid-February when your father struggled in that snow storm to get your mother to the hospital. I was already on Earth waiting for you to arrive. Now that we're on Earth together we must find each other. I've been searching you out in heart and soul, everyday of your life. I watched you grow. I have visited you before. I'm here today to remind you I'm still waiting for you and that you will find me someday, but my earthly bond self will not recognize you right away. But you will know me. I will stand out from all others. Remember that love is not built on expectations, it is made of acceptance. It can not be deformed into your wishes, but it must be shaped to fit our mutual desires. When you find me be patient. We are components of the same star you are the mass that gives me energy. I am the light and heat of day. Wait for me I'll will be with you someday, if the circumstances of or lives allow.
In a flash the owl was gone. The sun was low on the horizon and regretfully I had to hurry out of the forest.
More years passed. I left my quiet little street in the peaceful community of my birth, and went away to college. Orono was a big school for me. There were three times as many student there as people that lived in my home town. I was, for a time, intimated by my surroundings, but found I could enjoy myself. I made friends and played games. I went to class and sometimes studied. I meet a girl, and she proclaimed her love. I played at the game of love. It was a new game for me then. I didn't know the rules. I played the game conscientiously until her vision visited me again.
I was in my mid-twenties and had been seeing Michele for several years. That winter I escaped the cold streets of Portland and flew down to Florida to visit my parents over the Christmas holiday. On Christmas Eve I dreamt of her again.
She was standing at the water's edge, looking out across the water at a brilliant rising sun. I approached her. I don't remember any sounds, not even the sounds of the surf. It was hard, at first to see her, the brilliance of the sun backlit her, obscuring my vision. I was compelled to walk towards the light, towards her. As I approached her she turned and I could see her quite plainly. She smiled at me with delicate lips and pearly white teeth and held out her hand. It was the same hand that had touched my back so many years before. I took her hand and gazed into her green eyes. They were the same eyes as the owl. It was her. The vision had returned. She spoke again to me and I cradled her with my eyes. It was the same voice of reason spoken by that horned owl.
She began by saying, "I'm still out there. Look for me, Kevin. Be patient. We will one day meet. I'll be there when you least expect it. In the cool light of reality you'll one day hold me. We will start as friends but love with grow. You will proclaim your love first. I will be slow to respond, my spirit is strong and I've suffered so much but you will free my heart and I will love you, as I have loved no other. We are meant to be. Such a splendid life we'll lead. Our hearts will be joined as one and we'll walk through our lives together."
She flirtatiously kissed me and drew away. I reached after her but only managed a fleeting grasp of a wisp of her silky auburn hair. She turned back to the sea and floated out across the waves. I heard her voice calling back to me. "Be patient, wait for me."
To Touch A Dream
Dreams never last forever. It takes a great imagination and a lot of stubbornness to make them endure even a few short years. Time stole away her plea to be patient and wait for her. I married a woman and forgot this childish dream. My imagination became still and I lived and worked and played. Each day was like its yesterday and each day's tomorrow never mattered. At work I found a place where I could lose myself working at something that absorbed me even if it didn't fulfill me. My life wasn't complete, there was a component missing. I didn't recognize it at the time, but, that's not uncommon from someone who doesn't look for tomorrow. I seldom thought of the hand, or the owl in the tree, or that beautiful face in my dream. Work filled the gap. Until the woman returned.
I didn't recognize her at first. I had that vision almost 10 years earlier. In reality, she was sitting next to me, that beautiful woman on the beach. Her voice was that of the owl and her wisdom matched. She even flew like the owl on sleek soundless wings. The first time I happened to touch her hand I realized it was her. Here was a dream I couldn't wake from. She had entered my reality. "Be patient, wait for me."
Her hand reached for the top of the rock and she was ready to boost herself up over the edge. "Alice, don't go....", I said out of desperation. She turned and looked back at me. "I've got to tell you something." She sat back down on the rock. Long minutes passed, I looked from my shoes to the sea to her face. "I've fall...I've fallen...deeply in love with you." There, I had said it. I felt a great relief. I mentioned something of kismet, two sides of the same coin. I didn't tell her she was the woman of my dreams. It would have been a common line, a cliché used by many men, for me it was reality.
For me that spring was the spring of wonderment as we learned about each other. The summer was one of frustration as she distanced herself from me. I've resolved to make the fall one of with no expectations. I will wait for her. As a friend I'll greet her and always stand by her side. I'll do for her whatever she asks, because she is more than a friend. I will continue to dream of the words that the vision spoke to me, "I will love you." The fact that she exists proves that at least part of my vision proved real. Maybe it all will come true. Alice, is the woman of my dreams and undeniably she has become the woman of my reality. I'll be patient and wait, because I do love her.
Reality Vs. Dreams
Time has a way of changing of our now into then, as fall became winter and the winter became next year. A man who doesn't look into the future and won't live in the past, began to feel the pain of a present when he was truly alone. Alone, because the dream was no longer just a dream and the reality that separated them was unbearable.
I Do Still Dream
Many years have passed--many. I find my body in decline; I accept that. I find my mind slower to retrieve my memories; I fear that. I fear that the memories of the touch, the owl, the beauty by the beach have faded. I fear I’ve given up. My patience lost to a life that is far too fleeting. You once implored me to “Stop!”, “Not now.” It is still now. It always will be. But I do still dream. In these dreams your green eyes are grey. Your hair no longer flows about your shoulders. It is closely cropped. There is no longer a fragrancy of flowers about you, and the gentle waves no longer lap at our feet. In these dreams, I never see your beautiful body bared. And I regret that I never saw your soul bared. If I had, would things have been different? I never heard your voice whisper the only three words I ever wanted to hear. They are my dreams but I do not control them. In those dreams I am thankful you visit, even as you stay out of reach, a haunting, colorless, voiceless Spector. And though my memories fade and my truth has long become story. I hope your ghostly image will continue to haunt me. And some realities are best left to dream.