Who Do You Want to Call?
Sometimes I have incredibly vivid dreams. I’m not talking about the kind of dreams I wrote about in my last post, but the sleeping kind of dreams.
Sure there are the vivid, “Wow, I had the craziest dream last night,” kind. You know the ones where you’re riding your camel down the middle of the 405 of a rainy night in July and you get pulled over by a police officer who is actually William Shatner and he gives you a ticket while doing one of his famous dramatic readings to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds?” You know that one? And there’s the all-too-common stress-filled dream of not being prepared for a final exam. I’m not talking about those.
I’m talking about the real-life dreams that wake you up filled with some kind of emotion. The kind that requires you to take some kind of action. The kind that I just had that has me here writing at 5:45 in the morning.
The backstory to this dream comes from my last post. One of my friends asked me who the “long lost friend” was about whom I wrote. He wanted to know if it was someone specific, someone who was our partner in crime in a seemingly unbreakable trio of friends who would share lives forever.
Chuck (not his real name), Timmy (his real name) and I were tight. We went to college together. We were roommates. We traveled together on epic summer road trips. Timmy and I went to Chuck’s wedding in Europe. My wife and stayed with Chuck and his wife on a separate Europe trip. I loved meeting his kids. I couldn’t wait for him to meet mine. But, when Chuck moved back to the States, contact was lost. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Somehow, someway, there was a falling out. Neither Timmy nor I know exactly why, but Chuck simply stopped returning calls, emails and any effort to get in touch.
In my dream last night, I ran into Chuck at a party. I’m not sure why he was dressed in khaki shorts with his socks pulled up high, or why he was wearing a short sleeved button-down shirt with a yellow tie, but he was. (Perhaps this was my way of exacting some strange revenge on him. “I’ll show you, I’ll dream that you dress like an idiot! Hah!” Probably not.) I hesitated to approach him, but I did.
After a period of extreme awkwardness and childishly trying to avoid each other, we finally found ourselves at the bar and I told him straight up, my voice quivering that I missed him. I told him that his absence in my life remains one of my great regrets and what was worse…I didn’t even know the reason for it. I recounted the last time we spoke and how everything was fine. I told him about all the messages I had left since then. And I simply didn’t understand. I told him that I was sorry. I apologized for whatever it was that I had done that was so bad it caused him to cut me off. At this point, tears were pouring down my face and I woke up.
I don’t know if we reconciled in the dream, but I do know that I miss my old friend. Like the one before it, this week has not been an easy one. Chuck was always a guy I could turn to for the most excellent, measured and meaningful advice. We’d have amazing conversations about life. And it kills me that I can’t talk to him now. It kills me that, as my son had his first piano lesson, that I can’t enthusiastically tell Chuck all about it. I’m not even sure if Chuck knows I have a son.
I wrote a Tweet yesterday about how tired I was of all the drama that seems to swirl around our lives. I asked the “Universal Casting Directors” to please refrain from casting me in their dramatic plots. I just don’t understand why life is so complicated most of the time. Yes, there are incredibly real and difficult events in our lives that cause real and difficult times, but I think most of our drama is caused by misunderstanding. Or worse. It’s caused by nothing at all. I think my relationship with Chuck was lost in a storm of such drama.
Chuck isn’t one of those people whose name you type into Google and find. He has no Facebook profile. He’s not on LinkedIn. In fact, there’s almost nothing that comes up about him in any search. It’s kind of impressive. But I’m going to find him. I’m going to contact his brother and/or mom. I’ll send up flares if I have to. We may not have any kind of connection like the one we used to have, but I need to know that for myself. I can’t wonder. I’ll stop short of the “life is short” clichés, but…well…
We all have these friends who have played integral parts of our lives. And sometimes we lose touch. More than “sometimes” even. Lives get busy. Lives get complicated. As we get older, the naïve, carefree times that we shared are replaced by jobs, mortgages, family and even illness and death. It happens. But when it happens for no reason? It’s unfortunate.
Because as we get older, life does get more complicated, and that’s why we need those people who know us best around us. You know who they are – they’re the ones that make you feel strong and good about yourself when you’re at your weakest and feeling your worst. And we all have that “one that got away.” We all have a Chuck.
As we get older, we also understand more. We’re better equipped to deal with situations and emotions that are so damaging when we’re younger, but are silly when mixed with experience. I’m going to find him. He may spurn my attempts to get in touch and that’s okay. But, he might not. He might react with open arms. We might have one of those amazing conversations that only true longtime friends can have – the ones that feel like no time has passed. You just pick up where you left off. Laughing. Telling stories. And making plans.
The fact is that I don’t know why Chuck and I stopped talking, but I don’t particularly care. What I do know is that, if my dream means anything…I have a call to make. (And maybe I also need to figure out why I was riding a camel on the 405!) Who do you want to call?