I had a dream about an old friend last night, and I can’t get it out of my mind. I’m not generally much on dreams and their interpretation, but I can’t figure out why this one is so vivid in my mind and why I jus can’t seem to shake the feeling that it means something. I know that reading about other people dreams is boooooorrrrring, so I’ll keep it short (the dream part anyway).
I dreamt that I was at a Dead show (I remember when I only had to say “a show” and everyone around knew what I was talking about – I’m old). Anyway, I was there alone and I wanted to find my friend, Dave (I started to use a pseudonym, but why bother). I knew he’d be there because – duh – it was “a show”. I decided that the best way to find him would just be to walk around in the parking lot’s carnival-like atmosphere calling his name. And lo and behold, it worked (this is not that far-fetched – it’s actually worked in the past). He was sitting at a picnic table with a group pf people that seemed awfully surprised that some strange person was yelling their friend’s name and he jumped up and hugged me. We ended up hanging out together and doing various bizarre things (like when you’re in a dream and one minute you’re at a concert and the next, you’re on a roller coaster and then suddenly, you’re climbing a porch). And then – just like that – he was gone.
I woke up then and felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I don’t know if it was just “seeing” him again or what. But I felt like I needed to drop everything and find him. I have searched for him many times in the past unsuccessfully. Once, I found an email for someone with his name and I sent them a couple emails over a period of time, but never received a reply. I tell myself that the email was outdated because I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t reply to me, but there’s always that chance. I guess I could probably find some phone listings to try I tried really hard, but I am not sure what I want out of it. Finding an email address is one thing. I could write and if it’s him, he could write back and we could start up a nice, no pressure friendship again. But finding a phone number is a little daunting. The idea of calling him up and talking after all these years. What if it’s not him? What if it is? What do I say? What if he’s married and his wife answers? What if he doesn’t want to hear from me?
It might sound weird, but the phone thing is threatening to me for some reason. Maybe its because I called him once at his apartment and his roommate gave me some very vague deal about him not being there anymore. So I called his parents and they brushed me off as well. I can’t remember exactly what was said, but the basic just of it was that he was in some trouble and that he needed to cut off ties with his past. I cried for days after that, wondering if he hated me, wondering if he was OK. A few years later, I ran into a mutual acquaintance who told me he heard that Dave had some serious drug problems and ended up in rehab. This could very well be true – he had a history and it would fit with his roommate’s and parents’ odd reactions.
A little background on Dave. I met him my freshman year of college. He was a philosophy major. I met him during a class – at my 1st college, we had a month long semester where you took one intensive, all day, non-traditional class. I took physics classes both times (I know – huge geek), but they were cool classes – in one, I learned to fly a plane! That’s cool physics. Anyway, Dave was in my class and he was always trying to talk to me about “deep” shit. And I didn’t care about deep shit. He used to give me all these deep philosophy/science/math theory books to read and then want to discuss them. It drove me crazy for a while, but eventually, he started to grow on me.
He was rumpled and messy and crazy and fun. He introduced me to a lot of thing (some good, some bad) that I wouldn’t have found on my own. He was a great guy. We spent all our time together and he ended up being one of the best friends I have ever had. We were always out hiking and talking and reading and learning (just not the stuff we were supposed to be learning). It sounds corny, but at a time when I was really searching for something, he helped me find out who I was. I truly loved him.
But I could see it in his eyes. He liked me. He was a good friend and I wanted to keep it that way, so I ignored it and he ignored it and we went on for a long time like that. My roomie and I even moved into his suite (in the boy’s dorm) for a while, because he was the only one in a 4-person and there was no shared bathroom and lots of fun. He knew my deepest secrets, my favorite songs and what I liked on my pizza.
One night, when he was walking me back to my dorm, he brought it up. He stated his case very logically about how it made sense for us to be a couple (it did) and how we had the perfect relationship (we did) and how we had everything except the intimacy (true). But he just couldn’t understand that for me, the physical attraction wasn’t there. I explained it the best I could, and to his credit he accepted it. We agreed to remain friends and we really did. But he asked for just one kiss and I agreed. I guess I thought it wouldn’t hurt and hell, you never know which sparks might fly. Well, none did. It was a chaste kiss and then it was over. We stayed friends and had a lot of fun together in the years to come. (Although I found out later from a guy that went to the very small school with us that someone saw us kiss and everyone thought we were and item and that there were several non-asshole guys who would have asked me out if not for that. Fuck. Fuckity fuck. It didn’t stop the fucking assholes from wining and dining and treating me like shit, though.)
Anyway, Dave and I stayed friend for a few years, calling and writing after we both left college and visiting each when we could (we lived about 4 hours apart – me in Pittsburgh and him in Gaithersburg). We sent each other care packages – he would send bootleg tapes and other “goodies” my way. I sent him care packages for his Grateful Dead touring trips, filled with munchies and visine and trippy toys, and one year on his birthday I sent him scarlet begonias and signed the card with only “you knew right away I was not like other girls.” Of course, he knew who they were from immediately. This long-distance, yet still rewarding friendship went on for a few years – right up until the time I finally couldn’t reach him anymore. I’m not sure what I want out of finding him now, but since last night, every few minutes I think about him. I think about the loss of a friend. And suddenly after 18 years, I am feeling that loss as if it were yesterday and it takes my breath away.
He was a part of the most bittersweet time of my life. A time when I found myself and then lost myself. When I laughed more than I ever had and cried harder than ever before. A time when I really lived out loud. Maybe it’s my impending 40th birthday and the feelings of mortality setting in. Maybe I want to feel a little of that freedom and joy again. All I know is in that dream when he hugged me, I felt so good and safe and like I had found my way home. At that – though imaginary – moment, I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather be.
I don’t know if I will ever see or speak to him again, but wherever he is, I hope he is happy.