The dreams of a thousand nights fill the whispers on the floor with the lights off or the laughter on the roof outside the bedroom window. Oh how we dreamed. Oh how we foretold the future. The great wide world of Someday was a vast, unknown place, full of adventures where all of these dreams would someday come true.
We planned our families. We drew plans of our future houses. We created lists of what we wanted in future husbands and future wives. We concocted business plans and home plans and plans for where our kids would go to school. The bright, young minds of humans who have never experienced impossible can dream up anything. There is no sense of Maybe. All things are real. There is no make-believe.
Then you wake up one morning and you’re sitting on the porch of your sister’s house. You’re sipping coffee with another sister who also came over for breakfast. Kids are climbing in and out of the bed of your little brother’s pickup truck. But the kids aren’t you—even though you feel like they should be. You should still be so small that someone has to help you climb down the tire. Instead, you’re helping your older brother’s child come unraveled from a six foot long piece of red yarn. You’re not sure where she got it or how it got so tangled.
In those dreams you didn’t see this moment. You didn’t see the walk down the street to visit your sister’s house she’s building with her husband. It’s still in the construction phase, but you can see this home taking on life. In those dreams you didn’t see watching your nieces and nephews climb up and down the stone stairs or swordfight using sticks they found in the yard. You didn’t see talking with your baby sister as she asks you what you think of her boyfriend, whom you’ve just met. You didn’t envision the stars in her eyes.
You dreamed big things once. You don’t remember ever limiting yourself. Yet somehow, you did. Or at least, back in those hopeful days, you didn’t dream how things could be because you couldn’t see all the bends in the river. You couldn’t see the different streams. You couldn’t foresee that you’d get to a crossing and that you and each of your brothers and sisters would choose different branches. You didn’t see those moments that would change the course—slowing the tide or increasing the rapids. You couldn’t foresee the place you’d wash up on the shore.
You couldn’t foretell that one day the dream that actually came true was better than the dream you came up with for yourself. You couldn’t foretell how proud you’d feel as you watch your younger brother unload the wine case he’d built with his bare hands. You couldn’t foretell the wistfulness you’d experience as you talk with one of your sisters about navigating a major city. You’re keenly aware that you and she are the Big City sisters. The small town where you grew up is now a nice place to visit.
Yes. The undreamed dreams that actually came true are deeper and truer than the star-filled dreams of childhood. The bitter disappointments and unplanned adventures that created these undreamt lives—they are part of the dream, deeply rooted in the stories we share during the chaos of devouring a giant mound of Monkey Bread or pelting each other with discarded wads of wrapping paper.
I think of the kids that dreamt those earlier dreams. I think, maybe, if they could join us right now, I think, perhaps—it’s very likely. I think they’d be happy for us. I think they’d be proud of the way things have turned out. I don’t imagine they’d be disappointed. I think they’d feel the way I feel: this is better. This is better than what I dreamed.