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Living The Dream
OK. The short version is; I lost a ring, I found the ring. The magic is in the details.
In the 1960's, when I attended high school, it was a nearly universal rite of passage during one's senior year to get a class ring. Big and clunky and far from stylish the ring was both a milestone and a symbol of membership in a semi-exclusive club.
Shortly after starting college the ring would lose much of its coolness factor, owing to the fact that the potential for a college class ring was just a couple semesters away. So it was for me. The massive bauble with the dark blue "stone" was just a keepsake from a period of my past life that I was very willing to put behind me. I wore the ring less and less often.
Though my perceived value of the ring waned, my grandmother thought it was simply wonderful. Then again, until the day she died, she also praised to the high heavens her copy of my high school senior portrait, the one where my hair was cut short and slicked down with a little wave frozen above my ample forehead. I still don't look as old now, more than forty years later, as I do in that embarrassing photograph.
When I would visit her, with my long hair, struggling beard and artist attitude, Gram would invariably mention my high school class ring and, looking wistfully toward the photo, say, "I love that photograph. You were such a nice looking boy."
During one such visit Gram asked where my ring was. I casually noted I hadn't worn it that day, and assured her I'd probably wear it the next time I came by. But I didn't. I couldn't remember where I had it last. I began searching for the ring, nonchalantly at first, then with Gram's prodding, more earnestly. The ring was nowhere to be found. I gradually gave up trying to find the ring, and learned to live with Gram's disappointment.
Nearly two years passed, during which, unless I was visiting Gram, I thought little of the lost ring; until one early morning when I had a dream.
In the dream, it was late afternoon when a neighbor from next door came over to ask if I'd like to play a little frisbee, something we did occasionally. Though I was not fond of him, I was a frisbee fanatic, and I agreed to a game of throw and catch. Frisbee was transcendent.
Tossing a frisbee is an exercise in smoothness, fluidity and elegant aerodynamics. There is no scoring, no winning; each flip of the disk is judged on its merits, which include degree of difficulty, potential to be caught and style. A throw that arrives dead center to the chest of the receiver, catchable without moving his feet, is considered trite unless it was delivered while running away with a half twist under-handed. Better to offer a high arcing fling to the right that sails impossibly away only to stall, hesitate and miraculously boomerang back so the other player can anticipate the trajectory, trot to the landing zone and catch the frisbee behind his back.
In the dream, as we had done other times in waking reality, we took positions facing one another about thirty yards apart, standing in the dirt road that fronted both our houses. Just to my left was the telephone pole with a streetlight that marked the boundary between my house and another neighbor.
We tossed the frisbee long enough that daylight waned and the streetlight flickered on. It soon became difficult to see the black Master Frisbee we were using as it flew in and out of the cone of light from the streetlight and into and out of the deepening shadows.
Eventually, the enjoyment faded from our game like the daylight from the darkening sky and I called out, "It's getting too dark to see. How about one more throw and we'll call it a day?"
Still in the dream, I suddenly noticed a sparkle on the ground, three or four paces to my left. Something was catching the light from the streetlight and reflecting it to where I stood. I called to my partner to wait a minute and focused on the spot on the side of the road that drew me closer. I squatted down and brushed away some loose dirt, then had to dig with my fingers to unearth the source of the little golden beacon. It was my high school class ring, the blue glass stone cracked and chipped, the thick gold band bent. Then I woke up.
I remembered the dream for a short while, then never thought of it again for the rest of the day; not when the neighbor came by to ask for a frisbee game, or during the game or when evening fell and the street light flickered to life.
But when it got too dark to see and I heard myself say, "How about one more throw and we'll call it a day" the overwhelming realization that this had all happened before struck me so abruptly I nearly forgot to breathe.
I held up my hand and sought to remember what...when...how. It hit me. This all happened in my dream this morning. But there was something more. More.
There was a glint, a sparkle...over there...but where? I saw nothing, nothing but hard packed dirt and loose stones. Focusing on the patch of earth that drew me in the dream I moved a little left, then right, tilted my head this way and that until I caught a feeble glimmer of light on the vast gray ground.
I walked carefully forward straining to keep the pinpoint of light visible, and even when I stooped low to get a better look there was little to see.
It took more digging than I remembered in the dream but, when I was finished, I was holding the ring I had lost two years before. The stone had a couple of minor scratches and the band was a little dinged, but not nearly as badly as in my dream.
As for me, I was left a bit dazed and amazed; changed forever, never to be able to deny the supernatural, the mystical, the magical.
This was more than premonition, more than deja vu. My dream did more than foretell the future, it forced the issue and demanded the outcome. It turned a skeptic into a believer.
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