A couple weekends ago, I decided to play hermit as I am wont to do every so often to extricate myself from the world that I so actively and happily engage in most moments of my life. And that Saturday night, I had fallen asleep to The Dark Knight Rises. (One of these days, I’ve got to pick a new movie to obsess over.) It’s 2:58 AM, Sunday morning, and the epic music plays in the background while Taylor soundly snores away. And I awoke with a heavy heart of realization from a dream (perhaps part nightmare). This very moment, I am actually sweating profusely. My heart is beating so fast. After shutting off the TV, I realize “Show Me the Way” by Peter Frampton is playing on the clock/radio cos I had not reset the time from the power outage earlier this week when the entire town had been shut down, the song foretelling of things to come.
My heart only beats this fast when I know I had done something wrong, specifically not done right by someone. I guess it goes back to my childhood feeling which has only grown to be a defining trait – that I always try to do the right thing by my family and friends, not that I always do, but if I try, I can always hold my head up high. And when I don’t, I am miserable.
Usually, I cannot remember my dreams. But this time, as I’ve done just a few times in my life, when I awoke, I wrote it all down. Truth be told, there’s not a shred of truth to this dream, and yet… all of it is true.
I was alone walking thru the woods amidst a beautifully dark but lit night sky. Upon the clearing, I walked into the garage housing an old but exquisite 1957 Chevy, red and white, with well-up-kept tan leather seats and matching leather steering wheel. Bride and groom figurines adorned the dash. The rear window had “Just Married” written on it. I was walking straight into a Bruce Springsteen video.
Until I walked in and saw the Chevy, I was in good spirits, whistling a diddy. I had just married a couple, the bride – Penny – a grade school friend of mine. She had defended me in the fifth grade when all the boys pulled a prank on our teacher, dousing ourselves with cologne, literally stinking the classroom so bad we were all kicked out of the homeroom, a sign from us to our teacher, cos we thought she favoured the girls in the class. I was punished like everyone else, my teacher incredulous that I could have gotten into trouble; but actually didn’t mind. For the first time, I was included by the other boys in a caper, and not the designated outcast for being the foreign, smart kid of the class. Anyways, Penny defended me, saying that I was forced to participate, and we remained lifelong friends. And I knew her fiancé really well, so it was a no brainer that I was the officiant.
When I walked in and saw the classic Chevy, it hit me that I was also asked to officiate another wedding – this time that of dear friends of my dear friend Rosalita, whom I had known since high school. You know that sinking feeling you get when everyone was counting on you and you let them down? Well, as I walked thru the door of the garage, leading me into a bar where the reception was being held, Rosalita caught my attention immediately. We locked eyes, and she had the most disappointed look on her face. I had let her friends down. For me more importantly, I had let her down. Her disappointment shouted in a whisper, “How could you?!?! They were counting on you. I was counting on you.”
I was in a daze, wondering how I could have let Rosalita down. My head spinning, I closed my eyes opening them only to find myself now in a room with Penny.
“Cecil, this is a big deal. I’m a big deal! We’ll be surrounded by large, leather bound books. And a rich mahogany table.”
“I love the smell of mahogany.” I remembered from the movie.
“I loved what you said during Tad & Annie’s wedding. That’s what I want.”
And I immediately thought of that wonderful day standing in front of one of my closest friends and his bride outside in the gardens of the Greystone Mansion in Los Angeles:
Ladies & Gentlemen, I see before me a sea of love, a congregation of family and friends – people that have come far and wide to share in Tad & Annie’s union and declaration of love. And that is what I feel the most – love. Your love for them. Their love for you.
Marriage is not easy, but love is. The key to a strong relationship is the ability to effectively and lovingly communicate with each other. It is the want to understand the other. It is the ability to listen first and speak later.
I asked Tad & Annie for their definition of love. What came back to me moved me to tears. I thought it appropriate to share those words with everyone today. “Love is unbreakable, unselfish, unmatched, unexplained, unassuming, understanding. Love is when you get that feeling that can’t be stopped and makes you start believing. Love is bigger than words, wider than pictures, and like the ocean, sometimes you have to give yourself away like the sea.”
Tad & Annie, with an understanding of love the way both of you have, I have every confidence in the world that you will enjoy a wonderful life together. I think we can all learn a lot about the true meaning of love from both of you.
I will conclude with this. You already know what I am going to say, because you live it every moment… My advice to you is to love. Love with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your body, all of your soul. If you’re searching for words, these from Sebastian Bach hit the right notes.
“You said I love you babe, without a sound
I said I’d give my life for just one kiss
I’d live for your smile and die for your kiss
I swear you’ll never be lonely”
Tad & Annie… Don’t ever go to bed angry. And before you do fall asleep, always say “I love you”. And when you wake up, always say “I love you”.
Penny came back into focus, as I came back to my first level dream back in the barn from within my second level outside in Los Angeles (thinking I was living the movie Inception). My childhood friend had grown up. I was happy to see her happy. And the wedding went beautifully. Set in an English garden outside Kent, people from all over the world came to see Penny marry Steve. My vision became blurry as the world started spinning as I left England to go back to middle America.
And just like that, then I found myself walking again. And then I found myself talking with Rosalita again. Her friends congregated around us. And her friends’ kids.
“You have some nerve showing your face here!” as I got red wine thrown in my face.
“You’re an ass-clown!”
“We hate Uncle Cecil!!” I heard some kids scream. Still others, younger ones yelled, “Uncle Baldy is bad!” (All of a sudden, I had images of Uncle Jamie in “Love, Actually” when he came then ditched his family in England to pursue the one he loved who lived in Portugal.)
“If you were a woman, I’d punch you in the babymaker! Straight shot!”
“You’re lucky I’m a pacifist! Otherwise, I’d kick the shit out of you! You know I could; watch yourself, brown boy!”
“I knew you’d let us down! You’ve got a squirrelly look about you. No good, good for nothing sonuva!”
I tried to explain to Rosalita, “I only promised your friends I would do this because I wanted to see you again. I know it was wrong. That’s not a good reason to marry two people. And I know that they had seen me do such a good job in Los Angeles at Tad & Annie’s wedding. And I know that you vouched for me. But really, I wasn’t the right guy. I would have been worse than Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers. People would have been wondering what I was doing up there. What was I doing? They would never know. And it would end up just being a joke. I wasn’t the right guy, Rosy. The right person married them; I’m glad they got a last minute replacement. They hate me; but the right person married them. And they’ll live long, splendidly full and happy lives. The right person married them; better he than me.”
I was full of remorse.
Rosalita said, “You should tell them that. They’ll understand.”
“I don’t know about that. I don’t know if I would forgive myself. If they do, it won’t be today but hopefully someday. I know you’re going to hate me for saying this, but the only reason I said yes is because I had to see you. I wanted to tell you that I love you.”
Rosalita: “Oh, Cecil? I love you too. But just not in that way. You’ll meet someone who’ll love you the way you should be and deserve to be loved.”
And then I woke up. When I did, amidst my heart palpitations, I realized that the main characters of my dream were “Penny Lane” from the Beatles and “Rosalita” by the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.
It’s 3:46 AM now.
I’m wide awake.
Time to turn on The Dark Knight Rises.