Unless this is the first time you’ve come across my blog, you know that I am utterly obsessed with time, and deeply (albeit pointlessly) resentful of the fact that our physical bodies are trapped in it, and that it moves in only one direction. But the physical laws of time do not apply to the mind, which is one of the reasons I became a writer.
At any rate, dreams have always provided humans a refuge from our daily life and offer hope for the future. Most people keep their dreams to themselves, as though they were somehow slightly shameful. Others are carried away by their dreams to the point of losing touch with reality. But far too many people, I fear, have no dreams at all. They’re too busy handling the challenges and demands of time. For them I feel truly sorry.
I am currently dreaming of a trip to Europe when my friend Norm’s estate is settled, and I’m well aware that the possibility of realizing this particular dream could not exist were it not for his kindness.
(Of course me being me, I am already managing to throw something of a wet blanket on the dream by remembering the last time I planned a trip to New York, set for June 10, 2003, only to have it cancelled with the diagnosis of tongue cancer on June 3, 2003. I know it’s silly to even think of such a thing happening again, but it’s all part of my natural perversity: “Never pass up a chance to spoil a dream.”)
But this is a special dream, which grows more special the more I think of it. It’s the dream of bridging a gap of 55 years in time, to my first trip to Europe courtesy of the U.S. Navy. I’ve recently added to the dream by thinking of adding London and Venice, to which I’ve never been, to the itinerary. While my friend Gary may be accompanying me at least as far as London (this is still in the dreaming stages here, remember), and it would be wonderful to see the city with him, the rest of the trip I will be on my own, which will be more than a little strange but somehow oddly fitting. Of course pleasure is enhanced when shared. But though I may be alone, I will in fact be sharing it with a 22-year-old sailor named Roger—the me I once was, and will be seeing things through both our eyes.
I will try to brush up on my French and Italian before I go, but I fear I was not cut out to be a linguist. I took both French and Spanish in high school and college, and I stand in awe of those who are bi- or multi-lingual. My problem is that I will be doing very well for awhile in French, say, and then either suddenly have no idea what word I want next or, worse, suddenly lapse into Spanish.
I want to revisit Paris, Rome, and Pompeii, and most specifically, Cannes. I want to find (if it still exists, which it probably does not) the small jetty where Marc and Michel, two young Frenchmen who were on holiday from Paris before joining the army to fight in Algiers, Guntar and Yoachim, young Germans traveling the south of France, and I and a buddy from the Ticonderoga met one beautiful day in July of 1956. The week I spent with them provided me with the happiest memories of my Navy career which I still treasure. Though they will not physically be there with me, we’ll still all be together again. And anyone who ever questions how very closely related pain and pleasure are need only imagine what my feelings will be as I stand on that jetty and remember. And knowing me, I am sure that I will wonder if, as I see us laughing and diving off the jetty into the glass-clear waters to retrieve stones from the bottom of the sea, if perhaps there might have been a very old man standing there watching us.
Because the past is so very real to me—only the impenetrable wall of time, to me as crystal clear as the waters of the Mediterranean off Cannes, separates, for me, “now” and “then”—I have no idea how I will react to revisiting the same places nearly 55 years apart. I know my chest will literally ache with longing to reach through that clear, clear wall, to really see, to really feel and once again be on its other side.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com: