Last night I dreamed about old friends. It happens occasionally; at 64, there is more behind me than ahead, and my past covers a lot of ground. This dream was different though. Where usually I get caught up in the color and romance of a life left behind, in this dream I stood back from the misty used-to-bes, then said goodbye. I don’t know what it means.
I know what prompted the dream, however: a few weeks ago I was contacted through Facebook by someone I haven’t seen for nearly 40 years. I met him when I was 18. The gap between then and now is virtually unfathomable. Still, he was a friend for many years so I confirmed the request without (too much) reservation.
That was the beginning. As I read through his posts, followed links to other long ago familiar names, I discovered myself immersed in a rabbit hole of memory. Fearsome yet compelling, I moved deeper, touching, tasting, remembering things I hadn’t thought of for a long, long time.
As I read on, however, the landscape began to change. The golden-lit past morphed into a present I didn’t understand. A new labyrinth emerged: A daughter who had recently died, a son who had taken a dark path, a dear friend who was off the grid and his kids were worried. Trying to read lives from Facebook is like seeing the ocean floor through the rolling layers of the oncoming waves: the words were there, but I could not comprehend the pictures.
I didn’t pursue it, deciding to wait and let the stories unfold on their own. I’m not ready to embrace this long lost life just yet, so divergent from the one I’ve built for myself, brick by brick. Time to say goodbye to fantasy and greet old friends where they are now.
Maybe that’s why my dream was so mundane, bereft of all the usual passion and nostalgia. I’m 40 years past my beautiful, dramatic youth. I don’t miss it; I’m at home where I am.
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