Pure Writerly Moments - Part 3 - The Dream was but a Dream

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Chester Norris is asleep now. The pain medication and anti-anxiety pills have knocked him out. The nurses think that in another couple of days he might be gone. They don't know for sure, but gossip becomes murmurs that echo in our small residential community.

If he's lucid tomorrow, it might be my last real day with him. But for this part, I want him asleep.

"There was a time when the dream to be a writer was a dream. Sometimes, I wonder if the dream was better. I know that won't make any sense to you."

I want him to be asleep. So, he is.

I remember the time when my dad and I took a trip to Pompano Beach on a weekday. I was 19 and in university. I would study for several hours there in the sand with him. My dad had just had surgery on his face to cut out the skin cancer and he was very self-conscious of what he looked like. He wore a hat and tried not to expose his face, to the sun or to people. But I didn't care. I just loved having him with me after so many years apart because of the divorce.

That's when I met Helena. She came up to me out of nowhere as I was sitting next to my dad on our beach blanket. She tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I came here to talk to you because my friend asked me to do it on a dare."

We talked, and flirted, and she smiled at me. And my dad said he would take a walk, leaving the two of us together.

Helena was a waitress and college student from New York. It was Spring Break then and she had come with her roommate to Pompano Beach on a whim.

"I make good money as a waitress in New York, so getting a place on the beach for my roommate and I was no biggie," she told me. I can't remember her accent. Only her bright smile and pure golden hair.

And this random encounter with Helena could only happen because I was a writer. I don't know how else to put it, but random strange things would happen to me for the rest of my life because I was gentle and open to the world the way only a dreamer could be.

But I wasn't a writer. Being a writer was but a dream. A dream of being a dreamer. And I know what Chester would say because I have his voice embedded in my head. The hard cynic would say that only a delusional fool could think this was anything but normal -- and that most normal people had more interesting lives than any two-bit hack who had spent his life in writing seminars.

"Here is the list," I say to Chester Norris, who is asleep. "Worked in construction, worked as a caregiver, got in a knife fight, went to Japan, went to Saudi Arabia, had ill-begotten love affairs..."

My list lingers there. I think of Helena. After our first random encounter, I never met her again. Our spur of the moment love affair was stillborn because I ditched one last chance to meet her for a family barbecue. No, "Before Sunrise"-type love affair. If it was any consolation, it was a good family barbecue. And harmonious moments with the family were few and far between.

Chester is asleep. But I'm not sure if it's the medicine or my life that has sedated him.

His voice rings in my head: "The first rule of writing, kid. The only rule of writing as far as I'm concerned: Don't be boring."

My dad is away and I'm on the beach with Helena. "You know, if you really wanted to impress your friend, you would grab me by my two ears and kiss me right here."

She smiles at me as if I've read her mind.

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