Last night, my preparations for bed included a little collection of running gear: tights, shorts, gloves, hat, an inner layer, and finally, an outer sweatshirt. I was planning to make a return to a running routine after having been diverted and distracted back in December. I had checked in with my running partner to see if he was going for his usual morning run, and it was on. With a slight caveat: it was, after all, going to be twenty degrees in the morning. Did I still want to go? With some measure of apprehension, I confirmed my intentions to brave the cold. My spirits were considerably bolstered by my wife, who assured me I would warm up once I began moving. Still, as I turned in for the night, I was not looking forward to stepping out of my heated building, out onto a still-dark morn and a deserted icy sidewalk swept clean by a chilly wind. The sensible folks would either still be in bed, or only venturing out with far more apparel than I would be. Wasn’t I too old for this shit?
An indeterminate number of hours later, I found myself stepping out of my co-op building. It was warm, almost balmy. All around me, on my street and its sidewalks, I could see people, my neighbors, standing around, talking, laughing, making merry. I walked down the street bemused and pleasantly surprised; this was so much more tolerable than I had anticipated. I could live with this late spring vibe, I thought.
And then I woke up.
Ah yes, wishful dreaming. A most interesting phenomenon. In my high school and college days, I would sometimes find myself dreaming about my latest crush and her willing acceptance of my charming conversation and sparkling repartee; she would join me for a walk, look deep into my eyes, perhaps even hold my hand. (These romantic reveries were invariably quite chaste; there was no question of rounding the bases in them; perhaps a few halting steps away from home plate at best.) And then, I would wake up and spend the next day gazing at her from afar, cursing the waking hours that had removed that wondrous nocturnal proximity we had enjoyed a few hours before.
As last night’s slumbers and many others in the intervening years have taught me, wishing for magical interventions never quite goes away, especially in our unconscious states. Sometimes stubborn obstacles to personal and professional success disappear; sometimes long-missed companions grace me with their presence; sometimes I have already begun a long-awaited vacation. And many others, of course.
We retain, it seems, in this dimension at least, some measure of the child we once were.
Note: Oh, and this morning? It was twenty-one degrees with a wind chill of seventeen degrees. I ran about three and a half miles. My fingertips and toes got a little numb, but that was about it. Motion did keep me warm, and I returned exhilarated. I plan to go out Friday morning. I don’t think I’ll have the same dream on Thursday night.