How I Know I’m Awake
March 1st, 2014
I had a dream last night that I never moved to the city, but instead stayed in the small town where I grew up. I would accept a job working for a family friend, and get an apartment down the road, just ten minutes from where my parents lived, and ten minutes from work.
In this dream, I would never meet any of you. I would never buy that ticket that took me to the city, I would never pack up my life into a suitcase, and I would never get onto that bus that would take me into heart of Chinatown – A place that would look so alien and strange and crowded and dirty to me that I might’ve turned right around and gotten right back onto that bus.
But instead, I would stay in this small town, and would drive past my old elementary school on my way to work. I would drive past my middle school on my way to the grocery store, and I drive past my high school on my way to church. And every week after church my old high school friends and I would pick up food from that old fried chicken place, pack it into a picnic and drive to the town square, where we would lose the Frisbee in the branches of that old oak tree – the one we’d sit under to watch fire works on the 4th of July.
In this dream, I’d never meet my wife, because I’d never even bought that metro card to get onto the subway where I first saw her. I never said hello to her, because I would never experience the nervous thrill of debating whether or not I should strike up a conversation with a beautiful girl on the subway.
In this dream, I would ask my high school sweetheart on a date to Alex’s Grill and Ice Cream, and buy an ice cream sundae for half the cost of what it would be in the city, but of course, I wouldn’t know that, because I would’ve never been to the city.
And we would date for eleven months, and then on one of the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I would ask her to marry me, and she would say yes. Then the next year we’d get married at the same church that I grew up in, on the same stage that I played Joseph on in the Christmas play years before.
In this dream, my wife and I would happily move into a small house, and I would happily commute ten minutes to work everyday, and I would happily come home after work, kiss my wife, and read in the news about all of the insane things that happened in the big cities around the world today.
In this dream, I never had to ask myself what I was doing, why I was doing it, where I was going, what was going to happen. I never questioned my intentions; I never second-guessed my decisions. And that’s how I knew it was a dream.
I had a dream that I never fell asleep, and I never dreamed this dream, and I never knew what I didn’t know, so it didn’t matter.
But somehow, when I woke up from this dream that I never had, I still wondered what would have happened, and that’s how I know that I’m awake.
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