“The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.” — Anaïs Nin
Boat Ride at Sundown on the Seine River, Paris, Summer 2004.
My 17-year-old daughter asked me what I was going to write about. The title prompted her to interject, “I dream of the day I no longer have to live at home.”
“I hope your dreams include a career that can make that happen.”
“I’m going to win American Idol,” she said tongue in cheek. Thankfully, it’s not one of her dreams, since her talents lie in other areas.
Dreams act as a beacon, sometimes looming in the far distance, sometimes peeking through clouds at sunset on the Seine River.
When I was a child growing up in Harlem, I dreamt of going away, far away. Not only did I dream living somewhere else, I also dreamt of traveling to other places, like Paris! Who doesn’t dream of Paris?
Paris is so……..Paris!
I can only say that Paris is a place that once you go, you must return. Once is never enough. Never.
I first took my daughter there when she was nine years old. I have a vivid image of her taking her pastels and watercolor kit out on the hotel balcony and sitting there with views of the majestic city as her backdrop. My little Picasso was sketching what she saw.
At one point during our stay she said, “When I grow up I want to live in Paris!”
Back home, on her bedroom wall I placed a poster board and had her write: “DREAMS” at the top. My thought was to give her a place to randomly capture those moments when she’s inspired to dream.
She took it a step further, grabbed hold of extra copies of our photos and taped dozens of these Paris memories on her closet doors. If you were to look around in her bedroom, you’d find a wooden Pinocchio string puppet we brought home from Florence, a colorful 3-D plaque of the Trevi Fountain purchased in Rome, a small crown she insisted she had to have when we visited Neuschwanstein castle in Germany, a ballerina painted by a street artist outside the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, and other mementos.
I don’t know if she fully understands or appreciates the opportunities she’s had. Each of these things gathering dust, and seemingly forgotten. When I walk into her room and spot one, I pause. The article takes me back to the moment we were there. I know I’m a sentimental fool. I consider the blessing to have been there. That I was able to share the memory with my daughter, for me, leaves all the more an indelible mark.
I know that one day when my child is grown, and finds herself sharing one of her dreams with her own child, she will stop and take pause—Taking in the blessing.
Schloss Linderhof— View of the Ammergau Mountains, 2006.
I remember when my daughter was eleven, and we were in the gardens of King Ludwig’s Linderhof Palace— very beautiful vast grounds that they are, with breathtaking views. Imagine me, a Harlem kid inhaling the green unspoiled countryside, the luminous blue hues of the sky, the majestic backdrop of the surrounding Ammergau mountains, and looking down to find my daughter’s attention elsewhere. Kneeling down petting a black cat, with exuberance and pure joy on her face, “Look Mamma, he came to me! Can we keep him?”
Schloss Linderhof— Making New Friends, 2006.
Can I begrudge her that? The differences in our age, and the different worlds of our youthful upbringing, explain why my “now” moment was the vistas, and hers was the cat. Beautiful. Reflecting on the memory we can piece together our individual perspectives, to form a wider view of what really was, the day we stood in King Ludwig’s gardens.
As we made our way down hill through the long flowering trellised pathway, with video camera on, I attempted to tape her silly little self walking down the path. She stopped, turned a sideways glance at me, “Mama, you taping me again? All I’m doing is walking!” And to me of course, I saw so much more than that. I saw the cute way she stopped periodically to pick up rocks, bending downward to observe an insect. I heard her little humming, which graduated into exaggerated opera singing, including the hand waving. And of course, I savored her impromptu remarks like, “Mamma, what was it like to live here for King Ludwig? Do you think he liked to run down this path?”
I used to think dreams are the things we long for in some distant future. Now I understand them to include a present moment unfolding—in all its awe and reverence. I imagine if we observe the beauty in these moments, we could see dreams revealed every day before our eyes.
Ella VeneziaPost and all Images: Copyright © 2011, 2012 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved.