I woke up from the dream sweating. Not a bad kind of sweating, like when you wake up cold, afraid, and alone. Just sweating. I can remember the details now. You were there and I was there and I felt the same way in the dream as I do in the waking world…
There was a beach and we were lying in the sand, propped up on our elbows, talking, laughing, watching the sun set. It seemed determined to set the ocean on fire as it blazed down, but it's a funny thing how even the hottest flame gets quenched in water, or with time…
We sat in silence for a few seconds after the last straggling rays disappeared from our view. I don't know what you were thinking. I'd like to say I was thinking about loss and how much it hurts to see something beautiful, something we love, disappear from our lives like that sun did. I'd like to say my thoughts ran to the deepest intellectual recesses the human mind can occupy. They didn't though. I thought of you.
But in a way, that's everything I wish I had been thinking. You see, when I think of you, I can feel you. The same way you can feel the blood pounding through your body after a hard run. And when I'm with you it's like I can feel your heart speeding up or my heart slowing down just so that they match, like everything about you and I lines up somehow and that's beautiful and deep. But I still don't know what you were thinking.
We lay on the beach and soon we felt that sea breeze sucking the heat from the sand and from our bones and you let me put my arms around you to keep you warm. We piled up some sand to use as a pillow and cuddled under my sweater and talked. And as we did the sky lit up, point by point and it was as if our conversation was being mapped out by the stars. We talked about friends and family, dreams, fears, and love. And at love the North Star came up, the brightest of the host, as if to add a special emphasis and say, "pause here a while. listen to each other like you used to."
And just then you shivered. Not a bad kind of shiver like when you're cold, afraid, or alone. Just a shiver. But you smiled just after it and I thought maybe it was like one of those tingles going up your spine. One of those electric currents that says, "pay attention. This could be it." I guess you read my thoughts because that smiled opened into a kiss and my lips melted into yours.
Love. Four letters but probably the most frightening word in the universe. Man has never built more walls against invaders or armies than he has against love. We create every barrier in the world to keep our hearts safe. We've been hurt once. Never again…
Yet, more than anything, that is what we want. And, once or twice in our lives we find someone who is capable of giving us that love we want. Someone who can speak to us like no one else can, whose words penetrate so deeply inside our hearts that it feels like they have read our thoughts. And we shiver and we sweat and it is a bad kind of shivering and a bad kind of sweating. Because we realize that we're cold, afraid, and alone and that we're too scared to let that person make it stop.
We kid ourselves sometimes. We let others in, telling ourselves that they can make us happy like that one person once did; that somehow that magic will develop on its own, but you can rub two pieces of plastic together all day long and they won't make a single spark.
You find yourself thinking of them at the oddest times and wishing that you could do it, that you could go out on a limb and say, "I am willing to let you in again. I'm cold, and afraid, and I'm very alone and I would very much like to feel your warmth again." But even as we think it, a million reasons why we shouldn't say it come to mind. A million stupid reasons. A million excuses. Dumb, but still a million. And the numbers win out in the end.
And as we lay in that sand, sharing that sweater, and decoding the mystery of the stars, we were perfect. For when one half of a soul finds its pair it can be nothing short of perfect. And those two perfect people, with all their flaws and fears, doubts and dreams, connected. And your heart sped up and my heart slowed down and they beat together all that night because we didn't think about it. Because we didn't fight it or rationalize it or explain it. We simply let our souls do what they do best – enjoy being each other's perfect companion.
And we fell asleep that night, beneath the carpet of stars on that deserted beach. Your head found it's place on my chest and my arm around you gave you the first good sleep since we'd been apart.
And I woke up. Not to sand or your hair blowing in my face or to your smell on the morning breeze. I woke up from the dream sweating… …cold, afraid, and alone.