Dreams of Old

Do you remember your dreams? Maybe one? Maybe none? I often remember at least one a night, often in vivid colour. Mr. Handsome claims he doesn't dream. Whatever. I know he does because often he swings his arm and it handily hits me on the nose. Or he mumbles things like, "No, the train can't stop here!" or "Please get that cigarette out of my mouth," or this, "Stop Marg Helgenberger! I'm married!"

I had a really cool dream last night that brought me back to my childhood, as my dreams often do. I dreamt that I ended up back in the neighbourhood of my childhood, and I saw quite a few of my buddies, the girls I hung out with back in those days. It was such a feel-good dream that I wish I could go back there every night for the next month.

I met Jill, with whom I grew up. Jill was a fun friend, but could also be mean (as we all could be). We had a blast together, spending whole summers on our porches, talking, singing, or swimming and riding our bikes throughout the neighbourhood. She could, however, suddenly turn on me, and would ignore me in favour of another girl in our neighbourhood, sometimes for weeks (or so it seemed). I never really knew why these episodes would happen, but then again, I never really tried to find out either, I guess.

Anyway, for the most part, Jill and I were good friends, and we stayed that way for quite a few years. We went through the death of her mother and a school trip to Italy (that actually pretty much ended our friendship -- a post for another day). She still lives in the house in which she grew up. Her dad died a couple of years ago, and she now lives there with her daughter.

And that is where my dream was situated. In the little white house with the rambling backyard and tangle of flowers in front and back. There used to be a corner store across from her house, and we would often run over there probably 20 times a day to buy sunflower seeds, a popsicle, or licorice from Mr. Ray, an old and grumpy, but kind man who always corrected our grammar whenever we went in asking for a Coke or ice cream cone. And the place was filled with the smell of cigar smoke. Mr. Ray always smoked chunky cigars, and all the produce in the store was permeated with this strong cigar smell. I kind of liked it. His store was a medley of junk food, toiletries, groceries, a child's heaven. The floors were dusty, wooden planks, with an old glass counter sitting in one corner with the old, 1900s cash register on top, and within the counter were stacks of cigars, gum, KooKoo bars, chocolate bars (they were 10 cents, people!), and sunflower seeds. In front of the counter was a huge Coke freezer, and inside this horizontal freezer were many a bottle of Coke, my favourite drink of yore. Imagine one of those old country stores, and you'll have Mr. Ray's confectionary. I miss that place. I think it's a row house now.

My dream started off with me walking down my childhood street, and everything was different, and yet the same. Suddenly, there was Jill, in front of her house, and I shyly ran up to her and just stared at her, waiting for her to recognize me, which she did. There was a large group of people around her, people I didn't recognize, but she ignored all of them and came straight to me and gave me the biggest bear hug. It was great.

Then she invited me into her home. And the amazing thing is, in my dream, I remembered EVERYTHING about her house from 38 years ago. Details like the engraved wood banister going up to the second floor, the wallpaper in her kitchen, the way her bedroom looked, and the chest in her living room where her father used to keep all his Playboy magazines (don't ask how I know that). It was as if I was really back in the '70s, the memories all so fresh and real I could touch them.

One part of my dream, I was looking at a wall next to her room, and on that wall was a picture drawn in pen of me and Jill playing together, and my name was scrawled next to it. I remember drawing that picture. I used to draw on everything. You name it, I drew on it. The kitchen table, check. My headboard, check. The floor behind the rocking chair, check. Only in pencil, mind you. I'm sure that makes a difference since crayon and pen are SO much harder to get out. Anyway, apparently that drawing on Jill's wall was still there, preserved. I was so amazed by this that I just stood there and stared at it. Then, suddenly, my father was there beside me, and I was showing him this drawing, and talking to him about the past and did he remember when Jill's brother would get on his nerves, or when he took Jill and I to the Dairy Queen for soft ice cream on those hot summer evenings, or when Jill and I would get naughty and ignore his pleas to calm down.

Detailed memories just came flooding back. It was absolutely amazing. And they were just the good ones, the happy summer memories of popsicles, riding our bikes to the park, playing ball, hopscotch and skipping rope, listening to the Bay City Rollers really loud on my verandah and bugging the hell out of Mr. Egan on purpose, picnicking at Vincent Massey Park, going swimming at McNabb's, playing night tag with Mark Medaglia (another crush of mine, yeah, that's right), and just hanging out and talking. It was a good dream.

I found Jill after many years of silence. I found her on Facebook, of all places. And I contacted her. We have yet to actually get together, because our lives are so busy and crazy most of the time. But we want to so that we can catch up and reminisce, make sure each other is okay, and maybe salvage a very old friendship that had many downs, but was a true friendship nonetheless. And as most of us know, real friends are few and far between, so when you have the chance to retrieve one that has gone amiss, you need to grab onto it with both hands and hold on tight. And I guess that's what this dream was telling me. Get off my butt and call her, see her, and be reminded of how truly special our relationship was and could be. I'll let you know what happens!


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