Vintage CC: A Dream Before Valentine's Day

As the title indicates, I wrote this before Valentine's Day, in February 2010. It came back to mind as I've been thinking on themes very similar to it lately, although I haven't organized my thoughts well enough yet to write about it. But stay tuned, because I think I am planning to give it a shot in the next couple weeks. In the meantime, maybe you're anticipating Valentine's Day in one form or another, whether with a newly discovered love or years or decades into a relationship. I hope this provides fodder for how you think about the day, and about love in general.

I had a dream last night. I had a couple, actually.

The first was about the Batman movie from 1989. It was before Jack Napier became the Joker, and he was arguing with that dirty cop Eckhardt. I was a non-participant in this...in fact I was just making dinner with the movie on in the background.

And then I went from one '80s movie to another, as suddenly I was in Back to the Future Part II. At first, I was a non-participant in this one as well. I watched as Marty dropped the sandbags on the three guys waiting to jump the other Marty who was onstage playing Johnny B. Goode. And then when the onstage Marty is finished playing, he meets his parents in the stairwell.

At this point, I was a participant. Suddenly, I was Marty. And it was no longer Marty's parents, but my own. My parents didn't go to high school dances together. They grew up about 700 miles away from each other. Plus I think that when my dad was a senior in high school, my mom was in 7th grade or something like that. So if real life logic were applied to this dream, it just wouldn't work.

Nevertheless, here I was talking to the high school versions of my parents, glad that they had gotten together and that I wouldn't be erased from existence.

That's when I noticed two things. First, I noticed the music. It wasn't that Back to the Future orchestral stuff, it was something else. It was something slower, still strings-based, that sounded like just a simple walk up the scale, yet more anticipatory, like it would eventually build to something if you listened to the whole thing on the soundtrack. And there was a woman's voice, not singing any words but just singing the notes overtop of the violins. It's like if you waited long enough, this music was more than just an interlude.

And that made sense, due to the other thing that I noticed. I fully realized that I was talking to my parents at the very beginning of their relationship, and in light of what I knew about the decades that were to come, it hit me differently. It wasn't just a moment to think about how nice and cute it was that they'd gotten together and how weird it was that I was talking to my parents as high-schoolers. I was in this Hill Valley High School stairwell wishing them well, but also with the knowledge of how often they'd need to move, my dad's fight for his life with Crohn's early in their marriage, the crappy behavior of church people, my mom's discovery of a youth ministry career, their meeting their first grandson.

I was fully aware of all of that stuff as I talked to this teenage couple. The music was thus very appropriate, because something was building, yet it would build so gradually over the next 30 years or more. But when you're a couple in their teens you don't see that. You probably aren't thinking that.

I left that stairwell crying, just thinking about all of that. I left thinking about the amount of work and patience that would be needed after this little moment of sweetness. And for some reason Coffeewife was suddenly there, and I yelled, "I've seen this movie how many freaking times, and I've never cried at this part!"

We sometimes focus too much on those beginning moments, where everything is new and wonderful. At the time, that's all we have. But if we let it, love builds to something more. It builds to something that involves big life-changing decisions and moves involving careers and kids and finances and maybe some hard things about health. I mean, yeah, there are dates and flowers and wine and weekends away and whatever, but those aren't the only things. They're not even the most important things.

We have this picture of us from a fraternity formal where we're both like 18 or 19, all dressed up and pretty and smiling toothily at the world. Every once in a while I want to reach through that picture and yell, "You have no idea what's coming! You'd better be damn serious about this, you schmuck."

And the good thing was that I was. More or less. I figured it out eventually. Or I have it more figured out than I did.

I'm glad my parents did that, too.

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