The dream dissolves

(Title is a song by Ayreon with one of the best guitar solos I have ever heard. Seriously, check it out.)

As I’ve written before, I often have some very interesting, very vivid dreams, and a few of those have affected me on the deepest level. Yesterday’s was one such.

At the start (at least of the portion I remember), I was sitting in the living room of my grandparents’ old trailer. My brother was in the adjacent kitchen, and I seem to recall that he was looking for something to cook—dreams being dreams, his actions were less important and less distinct than the center of focus.

That focus was my son, a boy just shy of his second birthday. His mother and I were estranged, and she lived in East Ridge, a town about 20 miles away, so I didn’t get to see him often. In fact, this was apparently the first chance in months I’d had to spend more than a few minutes with him.

After a little talking—he had just reached the age where he could start to speak more than a word or two at a time, and he’d recently learned the magic word to get adults to make a lot of mouth noises, “why?”—we went out. I can precisely date the dream’s setting to November 5, 2024, because I was going to vote, I wanted to take him with me, and I spent the ride to the polls (in my truck, another rarity in my dreams) rambling about the rampant, blatant fraud of the last presidential election.

We never got there, because I woke up sometime during a ride that seemed to go nowhere. But the memory stuck with me, and I think I know why: it’s a vision of a future close to what I wanted—the only major exception being the parental separation—one I now realize is out of my reach.

The timing just works. We’re 36 months away from Election Day 2024, Take away 9 months for a typical pregnancy, 21 for the boy’s age, and that leaves about half a year. So it’s theoretically possible that I could have a son at the appropriate age at the appropriate time.

It’s just everything else that’s the problem. I’m getting older, and I’m not even sure I’m physically capable of fathering a child. The only woman I’ve ever loved enough to want to try lives a lot more than 20 miles away; her biological clock is also ticking, assuming the mRNA shots haven’t left it flashing 12:00. The idea that we’d have a fair election in 2024 is laughable on its face. Whether I’d be alive to see it is something I’m starting to think even less likely.

But that’s why we have dreams. Like stories, they’re an escape, a chance to get a glimpse of another world. Where fantasy often shows us worlds that will never be, a dream can instead let us look at a world that could have been, if only things had turned out differently. They are, in some sense, roads not taken. Roads we never knew were there, whose signs we never saw. Paths we wanted to tread, but circumstance forced us to turn away.

Or I’m just searching for meaning where there is none. Wouldn’t be the first time.

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