—And two Saturdays, nearly a month apart: April 25 and May 16, 1981.
Both were noted, absent a formal diary or journal, in a Wilson Jones Daily Reminder book I’d cobbled together during the first half of that year.
The April entry described a dream from that morning, which I titled “The Wasp”:
I was the passive observer of a little tale, a very vivid impression, which seemed to take place on a Polynesian island. …Two huts, side by side, two native families. To my left, two sons; to my right, a mother, her daughter, and a few small children. The daughter is scheduled to be wed to the eldest son of the other family, but she falls in love with the youngest, and he with her.
They stand in the shallows of the ocean together … I watched them [as I was] sitting and leaning back against the wall on the porch of a hut. I looked out at the wide plain of water, which was only a foot or two deep, and could see all the way clearly to the grasses on the sea’s floor.
In the enormous, brilliant sky, a large black cloud bled the sky like India ink spilling upward.
And then a beautiful melody comes into my head, with no effort I sit there and listen to it as one would listen to recorded music in headphones. I knew it came from myself; it was beautiful, not sad, very bright tempo—it ended perfectly. Then another tune swept into my head, not as good as the first. I stopped it.
A wasp comes buzzing along and stings the girl’s mother on the shoulder.
I dive into [the ocean] and lay under the shallow water. Sea grasses caress my face.
“We didn’t have much luck,” the entry reports. “We had a big lunch at the top of the Dayton’s building, then she bought me a pair of khaki pants and a shirt at Donaldson’s. There was a Scandinavian Parade or something going on in downtown Mpls.”
By 3 p.m. I’d hopped a bus back to St. Paul, then transferred to the Maplewood Mall, not arriving until close to 6 p.m. “I’d missed the 15D to Mahtomedi,” the entry continues, “but a beautiful blonde high school girl from Mahtomedi was in the same boat, so she offered me a ride with a friend of hers named Julie, an equally beautiful brunette, from Julie’s mother.”
I vaguely recall that day.
Bright new changes were ahead that spring: college graduation, then home again to Minnetrista—and likely looking for a job. However pleasant the encounter with the two girls, “I regret to say,” the entry concludes, “I didn’t get the blonde’s name. Julie’s mother dropped me off at Paul’s East Shore Grocery, where I bought a can of Coke and walked the rest of the way home. The blonde and I seemed to say, as I got out of the Honda, a special goodbye.”
There’s something to all this—some connection my subconscious dearly wants to make between a strange dream, a lunch date with my late mother, and a chance encounter over 30 years ago. And maybe a lesson (unlearned?) about the lingering nature of regret.
Who was this “eldest daughter”? Was she the main character in The Green House, my entirely unwritten novel from that time? And what about the two sons, the youngest of which wins her heart? “They stand in the shallows of the water together…” Perhaps they were holding hands and gazing at the ocean. Then that melody begins, after the ominous black cloud appears in the sky.
“A wasp comes buzzing along and stings the girl’s mother on the shoulder…”
Where, I wonder, is Julie’s mother today? Whatever happened to Julie, the brunette, and her lovely best friend? How have their lives turned out?
And how I wish that May entry had more details about the “big lunch” with Mom. What did we eat? What did we talk about? Where was she in her life at that very moment? She would’ve been 46—eight years younger than I am now. Was she happy? Or maybe a bit sad that her eldest son was soon leaving home?
Desire, then regret. Hesitation, followed by forgetting.
A face on the bus smiles shyly at you—then it’s gone. Or maybe you’re smiling because you had a moment, and something remained—a name, a phone number or address—to push that fragile moment toward an uncertain future.
Or, climbing out of a Honda in the spring of 1981, an unspoken acknowledgment of desire and regret—maybe stinging like a wasp?
Where did these dreams exist, if they ever existed at all, until now?