I Itch, I Did, I Do
You have those dreams too right, the ones that are undeniably real, well, at least until you wake up? Last night I had one. And when I tell you about it you will undoubtedly ask, "so, who doesn't want to go out with Carrie Bradshaw?" But good people, let me explain, for the love of God, just hear me out.
So in this dream I am not married. I am, as far as I can tell, about the same person I am when I'm not dreaming, except I'm not married. I might have been in New York City too. In the dream, I have a budding relationship with Carrie Bradshaw, not Sarah Jessica Parker, but the actual Carrie Bradshaw, as if she exists in a real world in which I also exist. In the dream she is not as flighty as in the world of her show. She does not do things that make you, as a viewer of the show, unattracted to her. No sir. She is friendly, funny, cute as hell, and, available. I am too. Available that is. And we are in the unequivocally wonderful period of life known as the first blush of love. We giggle, tease, and are getting along just merrily.
I saw her on the steps of her apartment building. It was a bright day and her curly hair reflected the sunlight. She was wearing a sweater, or maybe a handsome Fall coat, but looked beautiful, like she was waiting for Prince Charming (that would be me) to walk along and take her out for a stroll. There was a freshness in the Fall air, a crispness that refreshes and renews after a summer of concrete-enhanced heat waves. The cool weather allows the heart to stretch its legs, to come into its full capacity to love and to live. Life is new and clean and beautiful, and when are experiencing all of this while first getting to know that special someone, there is no other world than the two of you.
You remember the feeling, the simultaneous anticipation and nervousness accompanied by inner warmth. Those are just words, but when it happens, you really feel it. One thing I find striking about really experiencing that feeling in the dream is, not to be depressing, there is little likelihood of ever again experiencing it in conscious life. It's not a sad fact, just a fact.
In the real world I am married. Very married. Seven years married. And while the marriage is good, thank you very much, the first blush of love has faded. Oh we had it all right, but that was... about 10 years ago. Seven year itch? Dreaming of Carrie Bradshaw? Longing for the past?
Seven years. It's not an insignificant accomplishment. It's more than five, but not so much as 10, 15, or 25. Those higher anniversaries are reserved for, you know, old people. Our parents. Other gray-haired panthers. Not us. Still, after seven years, let's just say the paint don't shine like it used to. I can put it on myself and leave my wife out of it. I'm rusty. I fart. I drink (and make) a lot of beer. My underwear doesn't always walk itself to the laundry basket. And so, life is not what it was perhaps expected to be. This everyday life is radically different than our first-blush life, than skipping down the streets of New York City with Carrie Bradshaw in dreamlike bliss.
Good people, for the love of God (again), do not think that my eyes are roaming, searching for the perfect woman with whom my life would be so much better. Not the case. But I'd be lying, too, if I did confess to the natural inclination to wonder, to speculate, to walk by someone in the street and think, "hmm, I'm sure with her there would be a guarantee of a perfect marriage. No doubt about it. Yep."
So Carrie Bradshaw and the undeniably real (until you wake up) first blush of love -- what is that about? It must be related to the itch. Part of me wonders, what would it be like… But now that I'm awake and the warm fuzzy feeling of being newly in love, on the streets of New York, in the Fall, with the sun shining and the taxis honking, all of that has faded. It is, like the real first blush, a memory.
What is real is the relationship with my wife and the experiences we have. This is more than a dream. This is laying under a tree on a hillside in Florence, listening to Radiohead play, looking up at the branches, moving slightly in the wind, listening to Italians singing along in broken English. It is waiting until the tourist boats are gone, jumping off the peer into the ocean, swimming into the luminescent Blue Grotto on the Island of Capri, and, later, fetching some napkins after my wife skins her knees on some underwater rocks. It is also getting yelled at for my impatient driving or need to go over the point I was trying to make just one more time. But, I said I did, and I say I do.