284.0: All time.
There was a lot of tough news to read this morning. I’ve been up since five (though I was lying in bed until 5:30). In a moment, I’ll tell you why I was up so early.
I got this morning’s news from Facebook. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that Facebook is one of the first websites that I check in the morning, but there you have it and that’s where I learned that Romney was proclaimed the winner of last night’s debate. I don’t enjoy bringing up politics anymore, especially in the escape of these fanciful never-to-be-sents, but this news worries me the way I constantly worry about the Giants. I won’t be satisfied until the end result and of course when it comes to the Giants, and President Obama, I prefer victory. But win or lose, I prefer hearing the end result to the waiting for only sometimes am I ever the “enjoy the journey” type of guy.
Immediately after reading about what everyone on Facebook had to say about the debate, I read about Pat Neshek. CSN posted the tweet that his wife made right after she gave birth. All three of them are together and their baby boy is smiling.
And then right after that screen capture of her tweet, the article goes on to explain what happened.
You know, Linc, I recently watched this new cop movie End of Watch. I haven’t legitimately bawled at the end of a movie since 2001 when I went to see A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Now, hear me out. Hear me out.
First of all, I don’t like using the new fad word “legitimately” even though I occasionally find cause to use this and other fad words because, quite frankly, if it works, it works. Next, looking back, A.I. Artificial Intelligence had major flaws. Hindsight of course gives this perspective, but even at the time I originally watched it, I was aware, at least vaguely even if I didn’t want to outright admit it, that the only reason why I had let the movie affect me to that degree was because some guy had broken my heart. Yes, Linc. That movie came out right around the time I was going through that stuff with the Filmmaker. Now, lastly, in regards to my use of the word “legitimately”: this year, Titanic was re-released and as per my usual melodramatic flair, I told everyone that this movie made me cry. It did — when I first saw it, in high school. (Everything is a big deal in high school. This is why Twilight is such a raging success.) Hindsight, however, has only served to further confirm that Titanic, besides being a teen fad, is in fact a terrific cinematic experience worthy of all the Oscars that it won — but even though I made sniffling noises at the end of seeing the re-release, I did it mainly to annoy Spencer. I did not cry.
In the final fifteen minutes or so as End of Watch drew to a close, I sat captive in my seat gripped by the events on screen as well as my own dawning astonishment that this movie was going to move me to tears. I apologize if I have inadvertently spoiled the outcome of the movie, but you have to understand, Linc, that it wasn’t just the ending that got me but everything that led up to it. I am not such a softy that I would so easily break into tears. The story had to be good. The acting had to be fantastic. End of Watch was these things.
The act of crying after a movie is a strange, foreign thing. You wonder why something so extraneous and extravagant can produce such a deeply personal reaction, yet you keep crying nonetheless as if this were something truly relevant. As the credits rolled, I sat there replaying the scenes that were most effective for me and the sense of tragedy only ran deeper. Yet at the same time, I was vaguely thinking, What the hell?
After reading the CSN article about Pat Neshek, I heaved but I refrained from tears. What drove me close to them, though, was that picture of the smiling baby. And then I re-read the tweet with its hashtag of “playoffbaby.” And then I read the tweet afterward. And all these images replayed in my head with quick succession and my chest tightened and I had no choice except to look away.
On top of that, I remembered Brandon McCarthy’s dangerous injury.
So, that was my morning: silly political sparring, a grieving family.
I was not expecting to wake up to this. Instead, I was expecting to write about the dream that I had. I was meaning to expound on its profundity, of which I still hold true, even if this morning’s news had diluted it a little, rendered it sillier than perhaps it already was. But it still means something to me and that is why I was up so early this morning.
The cast of characters in the dream included, of course, myself… and someone I have not seen since childhood. That was the first astonishing thing, Linc. My costar in the dream was the adult version of someone I knew in the fifth grade. In the dream, he was now an adult. I am not so advanced in thought that I was able to render a full portrayal of what this kid would look like as a grown up; instead, he appeared as someone taller than me, with strong and muscular arms, and I heard him as a masculine but pleading voice.
We were here in my apartment. I was looking out of the window when I heard his footsteps and suddenly his arms were around me.
“I have to go,” he said. “I’m moving back home.”
“You can’t just leave,” I said. Grief reverberated through the strained poise of my voice. It was as if, before my dream’s portrayal of this moment, we had already been involved in an ongoing discussion. “You can’t come all the way out here just to leave.”
His grip around me was so tight, Linc. He was holding on.
I kept staring out of the window and toward a scene that was as grey as my mood. The tone of my voice loosened into a more honest expression of heartbreak.
“We’ll find the right girl for you,” I promised quietly, pleadingly.
“I did find her,” he said. “Everything I’ve ever wanted in the perfect girl is in you.”
The remark flattered me to such a degree that I yearned for him to consider making me his — yet even in the dream, I knew this was impossible, and even in the dream, I modestly kept my reaction private.
I brought my hands up to his arms, which were round my torso in sorrowful embrace. You see, Linc, the remarkable thing about this act was that even in my dream he was as heterosexual as can be, yet he stood there unafraid to express such deep affection to another male. Maybe this happened because of the dream’s setup that we were old friends and therefore such unfiltered expression would naturally accompany our shared history, but to tell you the truth, this fellow and I were not even close friends in elementary school, in reality. We were classmates. We were friendly to each other. Sometimes I saw him around the neighborhood but we didn’t hang out after school.
I untangled his arms and sulked toward a corner of the room, where I slid down to the floor and collapsed my face into my knees. Then he was next to me, sliding against the wall to the floor and his arms were around me again. I never saw his face in the dream, just his tender arms and a protective body, heard only the sound of his voice. As we began our mournful huddle the most overwrought song that I could have ever conjured up for this moment began its cinematic accompaniment. I had not listened to this song in a very long time; in fact, iTunes says that I hadn’t played it from start to finish since 2009, but I most remember listening to this song the most back in college — yes, Linc, during that odd stretch of time involving the Filmmaker.
When I woke up, I spoke. There, alone in my room, Spencer and her husband fast asleep in theirs, I talked to myself. It was a strange feeling because, well, the act of speaking immediately after sleep is itself a jarring experience, a sort of broken continuity and unacceptable deviance, something that just isn’t done. I said: “What a cruel dream.”
Then I reached for my raggedy doll, Stitch, and held him like I was a child again and this act was the simple relief to my nightmare — except that I am a 30-year old supposed adult consumed with adult thoughts cradling holding a doll. In the darkness, my eyes were wide and had someone else been witness to this awakening, maybe they saw my eyes gleaming in the night because my thoughts felt as if they were racing so fast they might produce flashes of light like Morse code.
Before you get on my case for having a doll, I should remind you that I have written about Stitch before, and that he is a such a fixture in my circle of friends that, yes, I have indeed assigned him the pronoun as if he were not merely a stuffed animal. I have owned Stitch since 2002, when the movie came out, and he even has a best friend: Spencer’s own doll, Doraemon, another blue creature whose popularity in Japan is rivaled only by the American-made Stitch. We supposed adults have numerous inside jokes involving our dolls, but nothing lurid. We simply play with them as if we were kids. Last month, Spencer hosted a viewing party of all our favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes and for the occasion Clara went to Jo-Ann Fabrics to buy the stuff she needed for Stitch’s Starfleet uniform that she, herself, volunteered to craft with no provocation from me.
All my life, I have possessed this vague jealousy of religious people like, say, Moses or Joseph Smith, or even all those people who claim to have seen Virgin Mary statues crying blood tears. Rationally, these folks were delusional or downright crazy, but they really believed what happened to them and in some cases what happened was so believable as to become enshrined in ancient and holy scripture. But I always wondered, why them? And why do only a select few ever get exposed to the divinity behind the veil of ordinary life?
I’m sure I have recounted this story before, but nevertheless: when I was about six or seven-years old, I was playing in Ma’s room, which was on the second floor of the house we lived in at the time, the first house Pop and Ma ever owned. Ma would not allow me to play in the backyard. Instead, she wanted me to stay with her in her room where she could keep an eye on me while she rested in bed watching soap operas. The stories on TV held my interest for a little while before I wandered over to the window, which overlooked the backyard. At that time, the surrounding neighborhood was still developing and it was not the crazy traffic jam of overpopulation and capitalism that it is today. The yard was bordered by the remains of untouched forest from which I saw a pair of eyes staring at me. I had been leaning out the window, imagining that the backyard one story down — a long and majestic distance for a child! — was my own personal city scene of buses and cars driving along, and the sputtering noises that I made in mimicry of this activity caught the attention of those eyes, or so I believed. My eyes locked with the blinking white circles that came from a darkened grove. Immediately, I retreated from the window and crawled into bed, curling up next to Ma, who never knew about what caused me to suddenly go back and watch soap operas with her. To this day, even though my adult mind uses experience and accumulated common sense to presume that I had likely only disturbed some animal, those blinking eyes remain a source of fascination, an anecdote of something that suggests divinity.
I am choosing to interpret the dream I had last night as, at long last, the message I’ve been waiting for. An entire lifetime has passed since I first saw those blinking eyes from the woods and now it feels like either they are back, or perhaps have been watching me all this time. After I uttered those words to myself this morning about having a cruel dream, I stayed there in bed for some time considering that it was not cruelty at all but a call to action — to what, I have not determined as of this writing, but at the very least a serious re-evaluation is in order, Linc. I have learned through therapy and my own common sense that dreams are not to be taken literally. For example, the adult version of the kid I knew in elementary school could really be me and maybe the dream was about my own search for a husband. Maybe my mind was harkening back to the memory of that old classmate as a self-defense mechanism to deal with all the stress that I have in real life; this is a reasonable hypothesis, given that I do in fact have a habit of revisiting old times when current times get tough. I have a DVD of old high school video footage that I edited together a few years ago, and countlessly have I played that DVD since.
I am not sure what to do with my dream. Perhaps somewhat nerdishly, the first thing that I did was to reach for my phone and check my calendar to see what time I had work tomorrow — nerdish, because the only thing that I could think of doing in response to this dream was throwing myself into work. The experience of sitting up in bed after a dream and feeling like my life has changed is similar to crying at the end of a movie: unfamiliar, weird, slightly inappropriate and summed up only as What the hell? But while I am hesitant to judge this dream as an outright vision, it’s close. It’s real close, Linc.