Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Burn.
I awoke at exactly 5:55 a.m. It was the dream that woke me.
And yet, here he is in a dream.
I’m at someone else’s house. I don’t know whose.
The girls are with me. Shannon, I think. Yes…Shannon is
with me. Aislinn, definitely. They are really excited because he is here, too, and he and I are talking alone. I don’t know who else is here or the reason we are all here. But it’s friendly and informal and low-key. Not a party exactly but some type of gathering.
The kitchen is long and narrow. Some yellow paint, I think. Not really modern, but clean and pretty. You can walk in a door at one end, off of the dining nook which is off of the living room, and there’s this long kitchen area. To the left is a white, corded phone on the wall and shelves or something. Ahead and lining the wall all the way down the right are cabinets. The rest of the kitchen is to the right. There’s nothing romantic about this particular spot—to the contrary—but it’s secluded enough that we have a little bit of privacy, even though the girls are just on the other side of the wall and people occasionally walk past us into the kitchen and out. They mostly hang out in the dining nook where the munchies are arranged prettily on the table.
The part of the dream I remember best—and probably the most important—is when I’m standing just inside to the left, like against the wall where the phone is and slightly hidden, with him. It’s definitely him. I don’t look into his eyes at all. We’re standing very close and looking down. He’s turned slightly away at times, almost speaking to me over his shoulder, and then back towards me, and we’re talking low and privately.
The girls can’t hear what we’re saying, can’t see us. This is between us. Whatever’s said is for his ears only and for mine. It reminds me of the last time we spoke in person and simply leaned cheek to cheek to talk and stared straight ahead at dogs and kids and drunks.
He’s dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and nice pants. I’m not sure how I’m dressed—I’m in my body in this dream and so looking outward, but I think I’m in a flow-y, loose dress and either barefoot or sandals. So we’re somewhat dressier than the last time we were together, but not fancy or formal.
For the most part, we can’t be seen by the other people there. Not that anyone seems to care. They push into the kitchen, laughing, comfortable, and they come out with food or forks or napkins and whisk them off to the dining room and living room where most of the guests are. The girls know he’s there, but they’re giving us some alone-time.
Then I cough or make some kind of noise, maybe a laugh or a guffaw at something he says, and Aislinn hears and thinks I’m choking or having trouble talking. She rushes to bring me water so I can keep talking. Both girls do. Very protective and supportive.
He and I are trying to be very discreet about our feelings. Not just to others but to each other. Maybe to ourselves. So we’re standing, sometimes leaning against the cabinets, al- most touching but not quite, talking low, not gazing into each other’s eyes or anything that would give away the closeness of the moment except that we’re mirroring each other in our positions and talking intimately. It’s a quiet and lovely moment. Not physical but the senses do zing from the closeness of our discussion.
Then he says, “I still have all those things I’m going to do for you.”
“You know, your punch list.” He knows I’ve been fixing up my house and my life. “I’m still going to put up those light fixtures for you and tune your guitar and make you a CD of my favorite music and do everything else I said I’d do.”
“You don’t have to,” I tell him. I don’t tell him I don’t have any expectation of him following through. Or that I’m moving on without him, provided someone worth moving on with comes along. “I can get someone else to do that for me. Or I can do that myself.”
“No, I want to do them. I’m still going to do those for you.” Then he adds, “When I can.”
It’s the unexpected things that make the trips worth- while. A detour down a flower-lined dirt road, a bunny crossing my path (for the third time this week), sunshine illuminating the cloudburst from in-between the droplets. Sometimes it’s more than that, and not at all what I expected in the beginning.
This trip had been planned months ago, with it falling on a weekend when the girls are with their dad. I’m meeting old friends on this trip, ones I haven’t seen in quite a while, and I’d planned to take a new friend with me to meet them. She, at the last minute, suggested she might bring along her boyfriend, which spoiled the plans. So I went to Plan B, who might have met us here, but Plan B didn’t get back with me and I’m a girl who needs reliable feedback or I’ll make other plans. So I ended up with Plan C, which fell through because of work obligations. So much for reliable.
But all that’s okay. In fact, I think I’d like to travel more. More alone because it’s very freeing and adventurous. And I’m single and nothing stops me from taking off every other week- end and driving wherever I wish. And more travel with my girls and maybe eventually with someone special because then I live my adventure not only through my eyes but the eyes of those I care about. New perspectives, the excitement of looking at life—fresh.
Traveling alone today meant I got to sing 70’s and 80’s songs for about an hour without any interruption. I got to think about some upcoming life decisions without any loss of focus. I got to dictate about 30 pages of my new book in around 4 hours. It was a nice ride down, yes.
When I arrived in Central Florida after 6.5 hours of touring backroads and racing along on interstates, I started logging all the little things that will make this trip memorable….
My themed hotel plays disco and punk rock.
I watched the sun set on the lake outside my hotel, alone at the time, and didn’t once think that I should be watching this beautiful sunset with someone else be- cause it was enough for me to see it alone and love what I saw.
I remembered and blessed all those times when my girls were tiny as I watched Autumn’s two-year-old reach one tiny, delicate finger out to touch the green of a kiwi and pull her finger back to her lips to taste it and then later tried to drink lemonade from a glass and let the liquid barely touch her lips before she stuck her tongue into it for a taste.
I got a sweet voice mail from my 12-year-old, wishing me a wonderful trip.
Dinner at the most amazing African restaurant with friends and all of us agreeing we must get the recipe for the Ginger Carrot Soup.
My hotel room has a poster of Robin Hood on the wall, which reminds me of what Mark said about my next love relationship being of the Robin Hood/Maid Marian variety.
Grape Fanta and chocolate covered doughnuts. Yum.
A sleeping giraffe in a park with sleeping swans nearby. Gas stations on the back roads that actually had gas and
showed no sign of running out or of being the scene of hostile shoppers following the hurricanes.
Thinking of someone and looking up on a deserted back road to see his name on a green street sign declaring the deserted road’s name.
Stopping to check my map and looking up to see crows light all around my car.
Noticing how happy my friend Jean looked tonight. My black “Wicked” T-shirt
The day ended with one of the strange conversations that I’ll tuck away and remember again and again….
ME: Jean, I found some great Halloween candles at
Kmart and thought of you. I brought you a pair.
JEAN: What’s the matter with them?
ME: Oh, nothing. They’re pretty white candles. Okay, but when you light them, they look like they’re dripping blood instead of wax.
THE LONE MAN WITH US: Cool!
ME: I bought myself a set, too. Maybe I’ll burn them sometime when I have company over.
JEAN: Like for a romantic dinner?
ME: Hmmm, well, if he hangs around after seeing the candles bleed for a while, he might be worth keeping.
THE LONE MAN WITH US: You’d sure win me
over that way!