Wednesday, June 4, 2014

THE DREAM POLICE (PT. II): The "Little Guy" Daze

THE DREAM POLICE (PT. II) 
The "Little Guy" Daze

"'Cause they're waiting for me,
 looking for me. Every single 
night, they're driving me insane.
Those men inside my brain."
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As the lyrics of this 1979 Cheap Trick classic suggest, I'm visited — often tormented at night by "those men inside my brain." Fortunately, I'm not always placed in starring roles of nightmares — running for my life from a host of villains, monsters and Liberals. Occasionally these cinematic-type sleeptime stories are quite wonderful. My mother often visits me from Heaven to offer words of advice and guidance. And after 35 years, Pat Benatar also continues to be a frequent co-star.

I never quite know what to make of these horrifying, mysterious and (often) downright ridiculous nocturnal visions. But typically, I can recall them in vivid, living color. As a result, I find sharing details of my dreams with others to be cathartic for me, and apparently entertaining for others. Simply put, I can't make this stuff up, folks. 

In this mini-series I will recount three of my wildest, yet strikingly different recent visions. In today's  second installment, I'll reveal the intimate details of a dream to which I think most parents with grown children can relate. Enjoy!

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The "Little Guy" Daze  

Through my books, blog posts and other stories, I've written extensively over the years about the close relationship that I've enjoyed with my son.

At age 20, 2013 was the year in which Jesse finally left the nest — moving a million miles away from the warm Florida beaches to the frigid Colorado mountains. And as my only child, his relocation has proven to be a difficult adjustment for me — despite our almost daily phone conversations.

Jesse at age 12 in 2006.
(Photo: Kevin Roberts)
Jesse appeared to me just last week in a dream  that has played out in my mind repeatedly over the last several days. In the dream, I was my current age — 51. But Jesse appeared as he was at age 12, during the summer of 2006.

It was a beautiful day outside, however, for some reason we were inside, sitting and talking in one of the venues located on my church's property in Merritt Island, FL. With all of the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a typical 12-year-old boy, Jesse began describing to me in great detail many of the amazing places he'd been and the cool things he'd experienced that summer while traveling cross-country with his grandpa in his RV.

Incidentally, the summer of 2006 was when I was away from home, on tour with a famous arena rock band — the summer when I was almost completely unavailable to him — the summer that I missed and can never get back.

Jesse (on the drums) during his high school days in 2010.
(Photo: Kevin Roberts)
After sharing several lively accounts,  Jesse and I  began goofing around. "I bet you can't catch me, Dad," he shouted as he ran through the church building — his excited young voice ricocheting off the cold terrazzo floors. And he was right. As a 50-pluser, I no longer could "catch" my young son like I once could — in the summer of 2006.

I thought that those days would last forever — those innocent and wonderful "little guy" days. But in a flash, they were over.

My house now has become quiet these days. There's no more slamming doors, blasting TVs or passionate pleas for us to go outside and play football together.

Jesse at 21 in 2014. Living his life in Colorado.
I don't think that this dream requires a licensed therapist to analyze. Clearly, coming to grips with my son growing up and moving on with his life continues to be difficult for me. And the loss of those precious days that I so carelessly frittered away remains a heartbreaking memory.

But despite making my fair share of parenting mistakes along the way, overall, I think that I was a pretty good dad to my son — especially considering what a total screw-up I'd been for most of my life. And in hindsight, that should probably be a primary focus.

I want to conclude this tale by offering a valuable piece of personal advice to younger parents — don't take a day of your children's lives for granted. Each one is precious and fleeting. There's nothing that I wouldn't give now to recapture and experience just one last "little guy" day with my son — enjoy yours while you still can.

-Christopher Long
(June 2014)

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THE DREAM POLICE SERIES
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