In a time long ago, in a land far away, I was a young woman in love. Madly and deeply in love. Lucky for me, this love was returned. And so, as love stories go, we began planning a life together. This life included hopes and dreams, houses, children, and vacations with family. This life included staying in New England and watching the years roll by side by side with familiar faces looking in. Sitting on our farmers porch in rocking chairs. My love did not have a love for traveling, but he loved me and he encouraged me to see everything I could and report back to him. Everything was good and life was so sweet.
Then one day, cancer came knocking on the door. It knocked very loudly and though we didn’t want to let it in, it barged in anyway. Several years passed and slowly it kept creeping it’s way into our lives and in the end, it stole the one I loved. I was a young woman. I was 25 when I held on and watched my love take his last breath. With that last breath I was pretty sure my life was over. I watched all my dreams plunge into the darkness.
After losing Bill, I began having a recurring dream. This dream went on for over a decade and still returns to me every now and then. In the dream, I am traveling to a city I had never been to at the time. Sometimes it was Chicago, sometimes Paris, and sometimes somewhere that only exists in dreams. I would be walking around the city, and suddenly Bill would appear. Maybe in a coffee shop, maybe riding his bike, maybe even eating a slice of pizza on the corner.
I remember feeling total shock, and even betrayal. I would begin crying and ask, “What are you doing here? I was there when you died!”. He always says something like, “Honey, I told you I was just going away for a while”. Every time I awoke from this dream, I was filled with a tremendous amount of joy, relief , sadness, and confusion. For those of you who have lost the most important people in your life, perhaps you understand. Perhaps you’ve had similar dreams?
I dream in bright colors, I always have, and my dreams are vivid and incredibly real. I have awoken sometimes angry at my husband for things he has done during my dream state. Luckily, he always laughs at me and makes me smile and all is forgiven in the moments of entering the real world again.
At one point during my “Bill’s still alive” dream series, I had perhaps the most realistic and vivid dream I’ve ever had. I dreamt that I was following him at a distance across roof tops in Asia. I had no idea where I was. I could not identify any particular location. I just knew that it was Asia.
It was a misty evening, the sun was just going down, and each roof contained beautiful trees and lush flowers. But most striking , was that there were many enormous statues of Gods and Deities. I remember being frightened and yet fascinated as I approached each one. It was magical and terrifying at the same time. Somehow, I was able to jump from roof to roof effortlessly. I remember wondering, “Where am I and how did I get here?” Strangely, this was the only dream where I never caught up with Bill. I could only see the back of him, in the distance, always just out of reach. And it is the only one I remember in such vivid detail that it is like a movie that has been playing in my head for 20 years now.
When I first moved here, to Japan, I went to visit a local Buddhist Temple. Here, they have a gigantic statue of Buddha and it is painted an incredibly lush and deep green. It sits on a pedastol and is 45 feet high and it is over 500 years old. The minute I came through the trees and saw this majestic and powerful image, I gasped and began to weep. (Luckily I was alone and no one else was visiting the shrine). I was instantly transported back to my dream. All the years of carrying these images in my head and it was like I had finally realized where I was. I had finally realized where I was meant to be.
We all start out with a plan. We want things to be neat and tidy. We lay the groundwork and we work at it. But, the more we experience life the more we realize that plans are made to be broken and that we often have no control concerning where our path is meant to lead. Sometimes , we learn very early that life is full of great loss. We can let that destroy us or we can use it as a super power to fuel us and to heighten our senses and try and enjoy all the moments, no matter how small. We learn that we have no control over other’s paths or how they act toward us. We only can control how we act, in each moment.
I guess I felt compelled to tell you this story today, because I am about to embark on a journey back “home”. This story reminds me that when I was 25, and I was unsure of how my life would continue, or if it could continue at all. Even then, I was dreaming about the strangest corners of the earth. Perhaps I was always meant to roam, and having my frist partner be someone who understood this need in me and the fact he was able to nourish it was a true blessing. Perhaps this dream was a foreshadow of my life today and maybe the reason I did not catch Bill was because this was the destination waiting for me and me alone. Dreams can also lead us to our destiny I suppose.
I have only been in Japan for three months, but it has changed me in so many ways. It has opened my eyes like they have never been opened before. I see things differently, shapes, colors, actions, people and beliefs. All different.
It has been over 14 years since I’ve lived in Massachusetts and it has been over 20 now since I lost Bill. I love Massachusetts. It is a place where part of my soul will always feel nourished. It is where I spent time with many of the great people of my life, many who are gone now. My path has taken me to many destinations since leaving, and I have been fortunate to meet so many people along the way who have shaped me and my life. Life, as it does, continues to bring joys and sometimes sadness.
I have been the most fortunate in love. I have found a man who has given me laughter, love , adventure, support, and a beautiful child. He is far more than I ever dreamed of or thought I deserved. I thank my lucky stars every morning when I watch him lean over and give me a kiss before leaving for work, as he thinks I am fast asleep. I savor this moment.
The young woman, the one with a broken heart, still lives inside me she is part of me and always will be. But she lays deep within so many other layers.
When people ask me where I want to live eventually, I have no answer. How does one choose a place when each place they’ve been has shaped a part of them and been their home? The bigger question is, how do I stop running across roof tops and finally settle down in one spot? Or even more so, will I ever? The young woman who dreamed of the home with a porch on the front has grown into a middle aged woman who realizes that no building or location can truly be her home any longer. Her home exists in her memories, in her experiences, in her daily talks with her little boy, in her husbands eyes when he looks at her. Home is wherever she roams.
I have become the anthropologist I always wanted to be. I am a true gypsy. I am home.