I don't really tell this story. It's one of those things I sometimes doubt anyone will believe - but I guess this is one of those times I just don't care.
The first time i met LuAnne was in a dream.
It was the summer of 2004, while i was spending a trimester abroad in Guadalajara. I can't nail down the exact day or time, or anything like that. What i can tell you is that it was on the second floor of the UAG (Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara) main building, in a corner room with a wall of windows looking into the cavernous center of the building.
I was studying for some test or other when i dozed off and had a vivid dream of one of my fellow students, a girl with curling blond hair, running into the room excited and ecstatic. In the dream I watched as she jumped into the arms of a man who I believed to be another student who was her real life boyfriend. Caught up in her joy, he spun her around - although it was more like her energy and happiness is what caused them to twirl.
It was a movie moment. The kind of thing you expect to exist only in Hollywood. And what was really strange was that although the other person had initially looked like her boyfriend, he felt like me. And even stranger, she didn't feel like her, she felt like "the Girl of My Dreams".
I'm not sure how to explain it any better, but ever since i was a child, i had dreams where i was loved and appreciated by this idyllic girl in my dreams. It might have been a nightmare we were fighting to survive together, or a utopia we shared for the space of a few hours before i woke up. But regardless of the circumstances, or what she looked like, it was always that same ESSENCE.
Anyone who's ever said "it looked like so and so, but it was actually this other person" when talking about a dream knows exactly what i mean.
Now like i said, i've had dreams about this girl for almost as long as i can remember dreaming, though the first dream i can actually bring to mind was some time in the 7th grade or so ... maybe earlier, maybe later. The point is that I recognized her in that dream. The difference was how much i wanted it to be real! I mean, of course I'd vaguely wished upon a dream before, but this was different. Maybe it was because i had only been dozing, but the dream felt so real that i was almost convinced I could have reached through the sheer veil of dream and pulled it into reality.
I thought about that dream a lot. I may have even blogged about it ... though it's doubtful considering certain other circumstances in my life at the time.
That summer a movie called "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" opened in theaters and made its way fairly quickly to the theater in the mall about a half mile from the apartment i lived in with my roommate Marianna.
I walked to the theater alone and ended up meeting a friend from class there. We watched the film together, and walked out to a torrential downpour. We waited a bit for the storm to calm down (as they usually did) and briefly chatted about the movie. It was a pretty big eye-opener for me to hear him say that he didn't really enjoy it, and that he didn't really get it. (or at least parts of it)
I had thought it was a perfect metaphor.
No, it's not that ... It was what I wanted. As foolish as it may sound to wish to have the life of the main character - fighting a losing battle to retain the memories of his "Tangerine" - i found myself feeling as if it was the most noble and undying kind of love there is.
You have to watch the movie, i think, to understand why the circumstances which bring the two people in it together might be considered amazing, or even enviable.
When I finally said farewell to my classmate and walked home in the not-so-diminished rain, I walked home with a barely audible question crossing my lips almost frequently enough to be mistaken for a mantra: "Where is my Tangerine?"
The question brought my dream to mind, and all my previous encounters with my "dream girl", but it yielded no real answers. The only thing i knew ... more intuited than anything, was that she was out there. She was out there and if i didn't find her that wouldn't make her any less real.
It was several months after that that I had the most important dream. I've told a few people about it - always with the same embarrassed look and downcast eyes that people reserve for the confession of some horrible secret that they almost want to be taken as a joke.
I wrote down the details as soon as i woke up, and though i can't find that piece of paper right now (i hope i haven't lost it) I'll tell you what I wrote on it.
The first part of the dream took place in a wide open space, but with people around. I remember red bricks on the ground, and the feeling of some kind of loose gathering. People were there for a reason, but they weren't obligated to stay ... more like the crowd in a central area of a shopping mall than one at a concert or meeting.
I don't remember seeing her at that point, but i remember being aware of her. The dream shifted in that subtle way dreams have. It was almost like the dream was painted on top of another one, and the paint of the first started running off the canvas until only the other dream remained - only the canvas was sideways and the first dream was running off in rivulets to the past.
In the second dream she was with me in a large white room - a new apartment or home. It felt more like an apartment though because the whiteness of it was that stringent cleanliness that only rentals seem to be able to have. That smell and look that almost dare you to do anything other than walk in and sleep in the middle of the room without touching the walls or ruining its great emptiness with your petty furniture.
We were on the second floor - i knew that much. I remember seeing her standing in the apartment with me. Tall, but not a giant. Her hair was dark, but not brown, though that seemed more due to the baseball cap she was wearing than anything.
I think we were having a conversation, but i don't know for sure. I only remember walking up another set of stairs, and that part of the dream ending in a kind of movie-script scene change where the next scene quickly drops from the top like a shade dropping in front of a window.
This next part I'll tell, but I've never quite figured out what it meant or where it fits ... if anywhere. We were at another crowded place, but it was more like being at a stage with sound equipment and projectors set up. Like a mix between a rock concert and a CEO press conference.
On the screen there was a video that almost became the dream itself, where I was chasing my little cousins (Tyler and his sisters) around their parents house in New England.
As the dream pulled back from the video, I remember walking over to my car, which was parked in front of the stage. My recent ex was sitting in the driver's seat of my Explorer, and i knew that she was leaving. (presumably with my car) She had recently moved out, but this almost felt like my guarantee that there was a definite conclusion to our relationship - a kind of finality which i may have needed to supplement my outer strength with a more solid inner one.
This is where the dream ended. I know there were probably a lot of pieces that i missed by not writing them down fast enough - or maybe i missed them because they didn't matter.
What matters is that a month or so after having that dream, i was helping the ASU chapter of Alpha Phi Omega raise interest and attract new members at the Activity Fair. There were many students coming and going, but some lingered long enough to make the air feel crowded and full.
On one of the last days that i was working at the Activity Fair, the students who were supposed to take my place at the table skipped out and i ended up staying an hour longer than i intended. While i was waiting for them to show up, a table set up near me which was for a group called TGS: The Gamers' Society.
Interested, I made my way over there once my replacements had finally arrived and introduced myself. I'll cut my story a bit short, and just tell you that it was through this group of people that I eventually met LuAnne.
After we'd started dating i went to visit my mother in Florida for a few weeks. It was tough because we'd just started dating but it was nice because, as always, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
When i got back she helped me move all my things into the apartment i'd found in Ahwatukee. I have pictures of the day that we spent lugging things into the apartment ... her baseball cap rarely came off as we spent the day talking and moving my things out of the U-Haul up to my new, sterile-white apartment on the second floor.
I can't remember if i put two and two together on that day. I can't even remember when it all fell into place for me.
There is one thing that i can remember as clearly as if it was yesterday. I was staying at LuAnne and Lucy's apartment pretty frequently, especially since she was taking and teaching classes and I hadn't really found a job yet.
So it was that one day when she came home from one of her tests I was there to see her run into the apartment excited and ecstatic, hug Lucy and tell us both about her test, then jump into my arms. As we spun around, more from her excitement and energy than my own movement, I knew that I'd found what I'd been looking for all along.