I have these really vivid dreams at least a few times a week, the kind of dream that feels so real you check in with yourself during the dream to figure out whether you're awake or not, and you can't tell. Often they're stressful and anxious; sometimes they're scary .
Sometimes they're just wonderful--I'm so happy in the dream I can't quite believe it. In those dreams, I go around asking people if I'm dreaming, and almost invariably they assure me I'm awake. I pinch myself and I think I feel it, I touch the objects around me to reassure myself. Eventually, in these happy dreams, I give over to the joy and celebrate without fear of waking. Then I wake up--happy still, but feeling a little tricked that it was just a dream in spite of all my sleepbound efforts to prove otherwise. I call somebody, usually Jam Guy, before having breakfast, because my mother used to say that that's what you do if you want a dream to come true.
On Saturday, Jam Guy and I woke up to his dog, Toby, being super-hyper--not unusual for Toby. Jam Guy suggested we take Toby to either our friends' orchard or to the beach to get him some exercise. I chose the orchard, partially because I wanted to see Ray and Barbara, the lovely couple that owns and lives on the orchard, and partially because the fragrant, sunny mountaintop setting of the orchard appealed to me more on that morning than the equally-beautiful-but-different beach with its stark setting in various shades of black and grey.
On the drive up, I started talking to Jam Guy about all the conflicts I'd been feeling about transitioning out of transition, moving into what I hope can be a happy and stable life, and moving to a city like Santa Rosa. I told him how much I appreciated him being open to my discussing these conflicts with him over the past months. I said I thought I felt ready to be happy.
Up at the orchard, we visited with Ray and Barbara, ran Toby around a bit, and picked a bunch of lemons and limes and avocados. Then we walked down to this sunset deck that Ray and Barbara built, which overlooks this amazing view of the valley--on a clear day you can see all the way to the ocean--and talked story for a while. We saw a hawk wheeling over the valley--Jam Guy said the hawk was reveling in what he could do, how effortlessly he could cover those gusted miles in the air; I guessed the hawk was also reveling in his beautiful home turf. A few moments later, I saw what I hoped was a large brown dog about 20 yards away--there are a few friendly neighbor dogs that show up at the orchard. I thought about pointing it out to Jam Guy, but since most of the time when I'm not wearing my glasses I think I see a dog and it turns out to be a rock, I decided not to say anything. Then the rock moved--and it was not a neighbor dog: it was a deer, a stag, with a full rack of antlers. I gasped and pointed, and Jam Guy and I watched it bound away; Toby loped after it a little, curious. I decided that it was a sign I needed to trust my instincts more and not doubt myself into silence.
Jam Guy was sitting a couple of steps below me and took my hands in both of his, and started saying all these beautiful things about how much he loves me, how glad he is I'm in his life, and how he didn't know where he would be if we hadn't found each other. I was so caught by surprise by all the beautiful things he was saying that I found myself starting to tear up; then I got concerned about his sudden outpouring of emotion, and asked him if he was all right.
Then he asked me to marry him. And right then everything shifted into that happy-dream mode, and dreamlike, I shifted into disbelief: I said "Really? For real?" and he pulled out the ring we'd collaborated on, with that lovely ruby we chose that day after I had the dream about my mother--one of those happy dreams. And it looked, if possible, even more exactly like what I'd wanted than I had imagined. I still couldn't quite believe it was real. I cried and cried; I kept asking if it was really happening.
I knew this was going to happen--I mean, we were designing the ring. What caught me by surprise is just how happy I am and how pure the happiness feels. I knew I would feel happiness when Jam Guy proposed, but I thought it would be happiness mixed with circumspection, cynicism, pragmatism, flashes from a difficult past full of hard lessons. What I felt in that moment, and what I feel now, is just happy: just pure, open-hearted love; freely rampaging hope for the future; all kinds of joy and glow and gratitude. I feel a kind of happy that I really thought I was too old and too jaded to feel anymore; what a wonderful discovery it is that I am able to feel like this.
Since Saturday I don't think I've quite stopped smiling. I really do feel different because I am engaged. I feel a little bit transformed, and I feel more solidified. Telling my family and friends--part of why Jam Guy proposed at this point in time was to allow me the gift of sharing this with classmates while I'm still here in San Diego and in school--has been, like, the most fun thing ever. There has been a lot of squealing. I feel like a girl in a way I don't usually really allow myself to be.
I am so very very happy, and so, since Saturday, I keep trying to reassure myself that this is not one of those improbably-happy dreams that I am going to wake up and away from. I keep looking for the fissure in normalcy that sometimes gives away that a dream is a dream, and not finding it. The only big abnormality is that I feel as happy as I do--not that I'm not usually a pretty happy person lately, but this degree of happiness is extreme for me--and that I go around grinning like a dork more or less 24/7. I had Jam Guy pinch me and it stung. I have fallen asleep six times since becoming a fiancée and woken every morning still engaged to this perfectly remarkable person.
If I never get used to being this happy, that will be okay. Every day I am grateful, and maybe from now on my gratitude will just continue to widen and deepen. I might be ready to be happy, like I said; I know at least I am ready to try. No matter how I turn it, finding happiness means making a leap of faith: so here I am, in midair, and wide awake.