I used to dream my parents would be with me always. They would stand shoulder to shoulder, exchanging knowing smiles as I grew into adulthood. They would reprimand me with love, sharing their knowledge as one shares family history. I used to believe I would never be lonely or alone, and that I would always be loved. I used to pray that I would awaken from the nightmare of being an orphan to find I had been deathly ill, and my parents were sitting by my bedside, concerned and hopeful, wiping my fevered brow. I learned early on that some dreams are better than reality.
I used to dream my grandfather was lost in the jungles of Central America, held captive against his will by a tribe of natives that tortured him. My dream grandfather was pining because his grandson was growing up amidst those who weren't family, surrounded by strangers who couldn't possibly love his grandson as much as he did. I learned at a young age that family doesn't have to love you unconditionally or that grandfathers don't always want little boys with them.
I used to dream I would be able to convince academia that my theories of the pyramids were the truth. My standing-room only lectures would be filled to overflowing with my contemporaries standing and applauding, not standing and leaving. People would be hanging on to my every word as opposed to shaking their heads as they clamored and climbed over each other in their rush towards the exit. I wished they had left silence in their wake instead of laughter and snide comments. It is a hard lesson to learn that believing outside the norm is a lonely place to live.
I used to dream that the stars twinkling in the night sky beckoned me with all the mysteries of the universe. I had wished I could just pick up and live on one of those planets circling those lights. Sometimes in life you have to be careful what you wish for, because things aren't always what they appear; death, camouflaged by beauty, is still death.
I used to dream that I would get married and live happily ever after. My wife's family would welcome me with open arms and treat me as one of their own. I would again be someone's son and I would wear that label with pride. Our children would love us and gaze knowingly upon us as we stood shoulder to shoulder, watching them grow. I paid the price when I forgot the lesson I learned from childhood--that dreams turn to nightmares in the blink of an eye.
I used to dream that my friends would be just as I. Full of knowledge, enjoying what I enjoyed, believing as I believed. I never knew friends could cross the line into family and eventually the distinctions separating the two would blur, and I would forget where friendship ended and family began. I learned the hard way that families could still be torn apart when foundations crumbled.
I used to dream that there would come a time in my life when loneliness would be a thing of the past. When people would stop leaving and that oh so familiar empty feeling would stop being a constant companion. In my dreams, I would be brave enough to cross over the boundary separating friendship and lover, but I was filled with fear.
Until one braver than I took the steps to show me that reality is better than any dream I could imagine.