The Dream by Jamie Kirkpatrick

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I dreamed I went to Florida. One freezing, dark minute, I was on my way to BWI in a sudden snow squall, the next I was on a beach on the Gulf of Mexico wondering if SPF 15 would be a good place to start. There was a palm tree or two, a beach with blue-green water and downy soft sand, and a delicious concoction in my hand. I said to my wife, “Please don’t wake me up.”

Dreams come and go, but this one went on a week. There was hardly ever a cloud in the sky. The weather—good from the get-go—improved every day. We saw old friends and made new ones. We ate from the sea. We rode bikes. One evening, we went to a concert to hear the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (on its first US tour in 35 years) and violin prodigy Nicola Benedetti—google her; you can thank me later. There was a round of golf on a course redesigned by Jack Nicklaus, a minimal but obligatory amount of shopping, a nap or two (usually with the sound track of the sea in the background), and—most blessed of all—the gift of time together sans cell phones, FaceBook, lost keys, post-nasal drip, or any of the other petty dramas of daily living back in the “real world.”

Now remember: this was a dream.

In this dream, I lost twenty-five pounds. I broke par. I swam with a dolphin. There were two adjoining seats at every bar, each delicious meal was free, and I never felt a bit crunchy the morning after. My wife did not get a nasty cold. Nicky Benedetti winked at me.

Some people don’t dream in color, but I do. This one was tinted with soft pastel tones—pink, coral, aqua, and turquoise—with some dazzling notes of emerald and sapphire thrown in for good measure. There was bright bougainvillea everywhere, orchids dripped from the palm trees, and the air was scented with frangipani or was it just a touch of garlic? We found perfect sea shells along the shoreline. We rescued a baby turtle who distinctly said “I love you!” in Italian. The almond croissants at the local coffee shop were sugar-free and to-die-for. The front page photo in the newspaper showed President (Michelle) Obama signing a bill, passed unanimously by both houses of Congress, that would provide comprehensive health care to all Americans under a single-payer system. The American Express bill got lost in the mail.

At one point, I woke up and told my wife about what was happening. She laughed and said, “Honey: turtles might be able to speak Italian, but a single payer system? You must be dreaming!” I went back to sleep.

But maybe that old wizard Prospero was right all along: we really are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little lives are rounded with a sleep. If so, then maybe—just maybe—what passes for waking is only ephemera and one day turtles will speak Italian and all our other dreams will come true.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. “A Place to Stand,” a book of his photographs, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. He is currently working on a collection of stories called “Musing Right Along.”

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