Street of Rogues, Chapter 2—The Dream and The Reality
When you find yourself in the thick of it, help yourself
to a bit of what is all around you. — Lennon/McCartney.
It was a school day during the spring of my fourteenth year. At the time, I didn’t realize I had awakened with a présage—a sketch of my destiny. Ever since that otherwise normal night’s slumber, I used the following dream to bolster my faith that I would find true happiness. It dragged me in like a whirlpool, this search for Happiness, employing all manner of obsessions to attain it; dropping hints along the way that were no more than a Peter Max poster, a mantra, and an itinerary.
It was a summer evening in the city that never sleeps; life seemed to be glowing from within. People were behaving no longer as passersby, but more as a part of the Family of Man. As I strolled the balmy evening streets, the air palpable and thick, strangers became brothers and sisters. I caught them smiling at one another and at me, the way they did in genteel Victorian times while parading the boulevards with their parasols, fine top hats and monocles. Back then you were acknowledged on the NYC streets at eye level by your fellow man. In my Dream, humanity was suddenly and inexplicably transformed into one loving family.
Lovers passed by, oblivious to all and crooked together like swans floating blissfully on the still surface of an alpine lake. Others sat in warm coveys on park benches. Slowly tracing a path with no destination in mind, I strolled behind several silhouettes sitting in relief against the Metropolis skyline—a hot and cold, gray-on-blue outline spotted with twinkling lights. Edward Hopper could have painted the scene.
Although I was alone, my heart swelled with the certain knowledge that a great fulfillment was coming to me. The Promised Land of Happiness would be mine, and soon. I couldn’t nail down the specifics of what was going to happen in my dream, who among us can do that? Dreams are beyond control. All I knew was to keep walking…
Keep going forward and follow the heart. The thought came to me: Reach out, there’s something here for you. Keep walking and enjoying the moment. Everyone seemed so blissful in my dream, as if a long-fought battle was finally won and calm fulfillment the order of the day.
Musing along my undefined, pathless path, I glided into the Tunnel of Love. Before I would ever grasp the mechanics of the change, it was upon me: Primal Love, with its full complement of joy at my command, where I floated my own little boat in a heart-shaped Playland of dreamy shadows and gradating pinks. Emerging from the other side, I was reborn. A feeling of confidence and power welled up inside me. Like Dorothy in Oz, I had found Technicolor.
Then I knew why I had come into such grace: it was a preparation for the fulfillment of a promise made to my soul, an assurance made to me by God Himself that for every person there was a mate with whom to explore eternity. It was a remembrance of something I had once known and forgotten. I had found love in its essence, all I needed now was to find my soul-mate.
Keep walking… and as I did, Gotham City morphed to become Paris. I watched myself like a security camera, from behind, walking a bicycle down a cobblestone street. A backpack on my shoulders, my feet would not touch my dream lane. I knew innately this was the City of Love, as many had said. It was revealed by its light and infused the air with giddy flavors.
Rows of flats on either side of me glowed a sunrise pink. Filigreed iron rails boasted beautiful, flowering vines. Some had delicate bird cages holding fluttering finches, busily adding their song to life. Even a few spider monkeys were swinging around, effortlessly gliding from window to railing to pick a blossom and stare boldly into warm, inviting rooms. Light morning breezes sweetened the air, sending lace curtains to wave through open windows.
A big-busted woman softly spilling over her windowsill scrutinized me from above, smiling broadly at my inspired state. I showed my overflowing heart through the SMILE on my face. She called to her neighbor and said something about me to her in French that I couldn’t understand, then they both smiled and watched me pass.
As I approached the next corner, a market square busy with vibrant life slowly unfolded before me. I savored the moments, sweetly tantalizing myself before the Promised One I hoped would appear. I could feel that life was at a peak here; the market was the center of the universe and thick like honey. I surfed with the flow. Everything my eyes alighted upon was transformed, blessed, left enhanced after my acknowledgement.
Here was where we would find each other, a pair of souls made from the same stuff, to share in discovering the sublime secrets of life together—the Promised Answers that are no less than best friends to The Questions. We would mirror and inspire each other, and I wanted this destiny to take place now. There was a street sign; the letters were clear.
Rue du Rogues. This had to be the place.
I parked the bike at a lamppost and moved into the life-stream toward a small stall selling hot food, the scent drawing me there. I wasn’t sure what to do next, but doing something specific wasn’t important. I knew that to be true even with the compulsion to keep moving. Peering through the crowded streets, I made my way to the counter. Then I saw her, busily cooking over a grill. It didn’t take much to know; I only needed to see a small piece of the soul I hoped to find. A hand or a finger would have done just as well, or an eyelash. Without so much as a thought, I reached out with my heart to call to her. Not a beat passed before she turned, looking for me, scanning the crowd.
Over here, I thought. One heartbeat sounded as our eyes finally locked. A thousand-petaled lotus of love blossomed. It opened fully, enveloping us with a robust and essential love that was at once healing and petrifying. I could hardly stand still enough, so as not to disturb the fragile perfection of the moment. She SMILED, a beacon of light, and in doing so sealed my soul to the Perfect Ending.
Removing her apron, she came toward me as if she were a vignetted figure emerging from a photograph. People instinctively avoided crossing our path, as if Moses himself parted the crowd. She came so close it seemed we were sharing the same space. When she took my hand, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want the bubble we were in to break. I couldn’t speak. She raised up on her tiptoes and kissed my cheek reassuringly. As that moment stretched and lingered, I knew we were permanently bonded. We both turned to walk into Life’s Fulfillment as two pieces of the grand puzzle fit perfectly together, helping to make it the whole, universal picture—never to be separate again. Our Love vibrating in harmony with the Cosmos, I watched us walk away from loneliness for the last time.
“Bacon’s ready!” called Ma from upstairs.
At thirteen, for the first time in my life I actually woke up on a school day refreshed and even inspired. I opened my eyes as if for the first time, wearing a huge SMILE. Even a school day couldn’t dampen my exaltation. I stayed in bed, allowing the feeling to continue washing over and through me—cleansing, I felt, as it did. I rarely remembered any of my dreams, but this one would linger for a lifetime. I knew I would never be the same.
Now I had, through my dream, certain knowledge of what love felt like—the primal stuff that’s independent of two peoples’ wishes and illusions but simply Is. I must have inadvertently remembered it was there for the taking, through some quirky wrinkle in my dreamlife’s fabric. I may have gone to some parallel universe or another dimension or something… Whichever, it certainly didn’t seem like normal reality anymore.
This must be Paradise Regained, I philosophized, never having read Milton’s great work but remembering the title from English class. I thought of the cute Miss Liptone, my English teacher. She never smiled enough.
Not only did I know that I wanted ‘something’ in my life, I knew what that ‘something’ was. I gained a subliminal direction. I often recalled this dream. What would it be like to go to Europe to find my ‘Rue du Rogues,’ my misspelled présage (that should have been ‘Rue des Rogues’), to hear new languages and walk about freely, to see other places and do other things that were prescribed by ME for a change? In doing so, I was pre-visualizing my destiny.
In my mind, The Rue du Rogues was my destination as well as my destiny. I couldn’t wait to feel the cobblestone streets underfoot and smell the European morning foods. Secretly I loved the impatient anticipation of it all, of That Which I Had Coming. When I thought about it on a conscious level, it put a little Gene Kelly in my step—reminding me of my premonition of finding true happiness. I was promised! The feeling transcended ordinary life; I felt above it all, released from the gray area of confusion I thought of as living. (Where are the answers? Come to think of it, what are the correct questions?) As I grew older, when I thought about my dream all the doubt-filled hopes about my future coalesced into anticipation of great things to come. The memory lingered like a perfume.