Saturday, February 15, 2014

Crippled in Venice: Valentine's Day Series 3

Here is the final installment in this year's Valentine's Day series. Each year, on February 14th, millions of people unite in the celebration of love. Though, we may have our differences, generally we make space for love in our journey to eternal happiness. Through the media, education, and literature, we create scripts of how our lives would prevail. Many a times, girls would pine for their knight in shining armor, whilst boys search for their damsel in distress.

Of course, the tale is rarely identical, but there seems to always a red thread that runs through all of our stories. In many ways, for some this story can be a dream, for others it might have already taken its course. With time, we change our fantasies for better or for worse. Some moments, we surrender to the bitter taste of reality, while others we remind ourselves to appreciate each day that passes. Perhaps, that is the best thing about Valentine's Day. In addition to uniting us in this man-made, historically based, myth of a festival, it highlights our live's and choices' distinct trajectories.


This is a dream that I had written a year ago. Though the characters may have changed or the goal may have shifted, I think it lays witness to the way appearances deceive us.


Long Awaited Dream

I start writing at dawn, which seems rather romantic but is, instead, a symptom of growing up. My fingertips quiver on the keyboard, hoping to be transported back to dream land. I miss dreaming in the dark. Of course daydreaming is within reach but it is never quite the same as dreaming at night, is it? So this morning, I dream of dreaming.
            Outside it’s quiet, it’s nearly 5:30 AM in the morning and yet the mosque hasn’t made its daily prayers heard. I roll over to see an imprint on the bed and far more pillows than I had started with. The sound of running water creeps into the room. I get up, knowing that a full day is ahead of me. Without hesitating, I walk downstairs and prepare breakfast. In dreams, I won’t need help from the maid or have a nanny for the children. Morning smoothies and packed lunches for everyone! Let’s admit it, I will never be a health freak, but you know, you try to provide what’s best for your loved ones.
Finishing my first cup of hazelnut latte I could hear the sound of the engine roaring from the garage. In dreams I actually enjoy walking through my extended primping routine, carefully picking out the perfect brush to apply the perfect color to my eyelids, cheeks and lips. After, I put on the clothes that only in dreams do I take the time to carefully layout the night before. Now it’s nearly six, grabbing his and her workbags I quickly walk over to the car. Baby Shoes wakes up and starts fumbling around his/her own room. With a yell, Mr. R reminds the little one to get ready. Within minutes everyone is in the car, with their extended belongings, long itinerary and heavy heads.
 A few years ago, before I had all this, I listened tirelessly to older friends complaining about the daily struggle of juggling marriage, family and work every single day. They pine over the single ladies who, apparently, have enough time to complete a morning workout, head out to work and still go out for a couple of drinks at night. Well, call me an old soul, but even then, I dreamt of having a balanced life with a caring and understanding partner, a loving child and a smashing career. Perhaps, that is too much to ask for.
Enveloped in a blanket with the AC turned on high, you rarely realize what it is you’re doing until the following morning. That’s the beauty of sleeping alone. I wake up from my dreams in a heap of pillows, which are all mine. Being nineteen and conjuring up thoughts of the future may seem unhealthy but being prepared has always been my reliable ammunition. My laptop is opened beside me, ready to slam the floor. I carefully close it and tuck it away, readying myself for a new chapter.
It’s almost the end of a busy day at work. In dreams, Mr. R and I continue to communicate through either a blackberry or other alternatives enabled by social media in between meetings. At lunchtime I pick up Baby Shoes and drop him/her off at after school lessons. I continue on with my day, juggling paid office work and non-profit endeavors. Just after five, I climb into the car and pick up Baby Shoes for good. “We’ll be home any minute”, I text Mr. R. Clearly it’s been a long and tiring day.

Dinnertime is rarely an occasion as we sit together with the TV on for sound. Mr. R’s not home yet, a meeting, perhaps, or a late dinner. I make sure that Baby Shoes’ and my homework are done. Quickly Baby Shoes is tucked in and I open a bottle of wine to fuel a night of writing.
In dreams, I write on and off, it’s rarely a main objective. Instead, the dream is made up of a medium sized cozy house and a family, weekly extended family get-togethers, monthly art viewing, and yearly family vacations proceeded alone and without a tour guide. Getting lost together, wouldn’t that be grand? Walking along the paths of Venice, looking into people’s windows, or going on a road trip around Sulawesi?
Amidst all this thinking, I hear the garage doors opening. Sometimes I wonder if it would ever become awkward. Should I say something or just continue writing? A coward at heart, I select the latter. Soon we’re both in bed, ideally, we’d talk about our day and communicate. But often that isn’t how it works, my head is full of ideas as well as worries, and I’m sure his is too. So we turn off the lights and snooze off.
Even though it is a dream we still fight sometimes, but never with punches or kicks, just words. I prefer fighting, rather than staying quiet and quitting, especially when it comes to relationships and people that I care about. Maybe, in dreams, a rule is to sleep in the same place even during a fight or to never sleep when the fight is resolved. In my reality I listen to my friends fighting over a missed daily phone call or an inadequate anniversary gift and I wonder if they realize how much they are throwing away.
Maybe I’m just na├»ve, maybe I’m just jealous, maybe I’m inexperienced. But in dreams we will communicate even if it’s uncomfortable because the end goal is to grow old together, old enough that we are unable to walk through Venice or tolerate long drives. Then what we are left with is each other to smile together and tease each other and hold each other’s hands. I guess the dream is both simple and huge, it’s just to have someone there to love and care for and someone who’d love and care for me in return. 


*Author owns rights to all photos above

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