The Yellow Dream
When I was young, not older than twelve, I had a dream. It was one of those dreams that had a color (it was yellow). There was a warm, cozy light throughout. Unlike many other dreams I’ve had, before and since, this one felt safe. It was the first “romantic” dream that I remember, but that’s not why it stuck with me. My boyfriend, in the dream, was so proud of me. He was excited for me to come over to his house, to introduce me to his friends. He wrapped an arm around me and called me his girlfriend.
It was hard to wake up.
Since then, I have searched, honestly, for him. But more than that, I have searched for the way that he made me feel. I have laid my cards on the table early on in every relationship, thinking about that dream. “It’s important to me that you’re proud of me,” I would say. They would agree. Sometimes, they would squeeze my hand.
But for one reason, or another, they weren’t proud of me. Those were the biggest fights, the ones that made me cry on my way home, time and again. When I met their families, they introduced me as their “friend.” When we walked through the streets, in the cool of the evening, they wouldn’t hold my hand. They asked me to lose weight, they ignored my writing, they planned their weekends (and weeknights) around “the game.” They didn’t want to hang out with my friends and they preferred to spend time with their friends, rather than with me.
Though I had three boyfriends, and many more dates, and though I hinted and even just asked, they didn’t bring me flowers, just because it would make me smile (or for any other reason).
But it hasn’t stopped me from dreaming. When I think back on some of the hard things in relationships, I often start humming an Over the Rhine song: what a waste that I’m not jaded, once in a while, I even smile.
And I do.
I have kept right on hoping. I have woken up most mornings with a little of that yellow from my dream still clinging to the corners of my heart. I have seen it, and I won’t believe it can’t be. Not without a fight.
They say you meet someone when you’re not looking, in the most unexpected places. Perhaps this is true.
For me, it happened in the grocery store. I was staring at a display of orchids. Orchids have always scared me. They seem so fragile in their beauty. I have never quite felt worthy of them.
They say that the right person is sometimes right under your nose, just waiting for you to notice them. Perhaps this is true.
I reached out and picked up the most beautiful orchid I could see. It was almost smiling at me. I smiled back. It is possible that people stared, but I didn’t care. It is hard to care about the stares of strangers when someone is busy buying me flowers (orchids) just because it would make me smile.
I have not given up on my yellow dream and the boy inside it. I have not given up on being introduced to loved ones as a loved one. I have not given up on finding a man who is proud of me. But for many years, I wasn’t proud of me. I was so afraid of being selfish, or unattractive or invisible that I wore out thoughtfulness and care on other people and left none for myself. I wasn’t setting a good example.
I’m choosing to believe, these days, that I am worthy of an orchid, even though I am not very good with plants. Still, she smiles at me from my windowsill every morning with no sign of stopping, even though it’s been over a month.
Still, I can’t help but smile back.
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