We were in your car, but you weren’t driving anywhere. I was in the passenger’s seat listening to you ramble. I’m not sure if I nodded my head in that awkward way from across the street before I opened the door or not this time, that way that made me die of embarrassment the second it happened, that way you so graciously had to call out once I was inside, because dreams tend to start in the middle of things like that, with no clear beginning or end.
You were trying to tell me something without saying anything at all. Elusive as ever. Annoying as always. But instead of speaking in single words, three of four adjectives strung together in a feigned nonchalant manner, or my favorite phrase of yours, “You know…”, you were actually using full sentences. You were trying to tell me how you felt about me. And instead of making me pull teeth or coax it out of you, instead of making me spill my guts so you could agree with whatever I said without being the one to say it first, you were actually trying to be honest for once, were actually trying to explain.
You were doing that thing, though, where you pretend like you’re not good with words, even though we both know what a joke that is, what a total fib, because I’ve never met anyone who paid more attention to words in my life, quizzing me on the pretty ones, the dirty ones, the funny ones from your favorite songs or movies. I always struggled to answer, but you were able to recall them on command, all those words at your disposal, sitting on the tip of your tongue, waiting to take a trip of a few steps down the palate to tap on the teeth and be spoken. It was always just a question of whether you wanted them to.
Dream-you gave a surprisingly accurate representation, wanting to keep up the ruse, making circles around a monologue that never really arrived at any firm conclusion. That never said anything of importance. Dream-me didn’t hound you or push; I just sat there listening, losing my patience to a building frustration that was also very lifelike. But dream-me was so much bolder and less insecure and frightened than real-me and did the unthinkable, interrupting you to ask the only question that actually mattered:
“Do you love me?”
You looked at me and answered, again, the unthinkable. But in that kind of way that dreams are made up of feelings and ideas more than actual words, something along the lines of, “Do you even have to ask?”, except you didn’t have a chance to finish because I took your face between my hands mid-sentence and kissed you. Not too hard or too soft, the just right kind of way. The kind of way that let you know everything I was feeling, everything I had felt up until then, in a way that movies or songs or words never could.
Except it wasn’t bittersweet anymore. It didn’t hurt or ache the way it used to. It was like something I needed, something I had been withholding from myself and finally let myself have. It was so incredibly…overwhelming. Warm. Dizzy. And ten times more intense than I had ever imagined it would be. So intense it woke me right up.
That morning was so blissfully cruel. It had felt so real. In a way that only someone who had said those words before would know was real. I could still feel it, even after I was awake. Even after I knew it had all been a dream. Even after I remembered that something like that would never happen. Could never happen.
There had been other dreams before that one. Some more abstract. Some lucid. Where I’d go looking for you. Searching for you in crowds, running faster and faster, looking at more and more faces, trying to find yours before I woke up. I could never get to you in time though. Sometimes I wondered if it was because I was forgetting what you looked like. Or maybe it was because even semi-conscious, I was still painfully aware of how impossible it all was. But somehow it never stopped my thoughts from drifting back there. From dreaming of what they wanted most.