I had a dream that I had an opportunity to travel back in time. It's a recurring dream that I've had several times over the years. The scenarios and locations vary, but the scene is generally the same. They're nearly spot-on remakes of fights Rickey and I once had.
I "awake" suddenly in my 21-year old body, nearly ten years younger. I feel my legs storming away from where Rickey is standing about 30 yards behind me. It is dusk in Cullowhee. The street lamps are already on. I immediately remember this moment back in 2001. I know exactly where I am.
Rickey and I were arguing in the freshmen parking lot across the creek from the track at Western Carolina University. I was walking away, my arms swinging in anger. In actuality, I don't know how long he stood there, probably watching me walk away. Or maybe he had turned around and taken the long way back to Leatherwood Hall, as I had stomped to Helder.
This time, I am no longer upset. My 30-year old mind, grief-stricken from over six years of regret, slams my 21-year old legs to a halt. I spin my younger self to turn and face him. He is still standing there and initially appears shocked to see me stop. And then I run. I run and I run. I run like I have never run before. Tears streaming down my face, my hair whipping behind me. And I leap into his arms, nearly knocking him backward.
The dream is so real. I can feel the warmth of his body and the smoothness of his face as my cheek presses against his. I can smell him. A familiar mixture of cologne and laundry detergent. I can feel his arms wrap around me. His embrace is familiar, safe. I feel like I can't get close enough to him. I have longed for a moment like this for so long.
"Why didn't I do this before?" I sob.
"It's ok," he replies, in a calm tone. "You were angry."
I begin to shake uncontrollably as I cry. He hugs me tighter.
"It's ok," he says again. "I was angry, too."
"I'm so sorry," I cry. "I'm so, so sorry."
"We said a lot of things that we didn't mean," he says.
And then, the parking lot around us begins to fade, the street lamps become balls of fuzz. The world blackens around us.
As a dim light began to glow in the darkness, I awoke, blinking into the soft glimmer of a street lamp shinning through my bedroom window on West 51st Street. And behind it, I saw the twinkling lights of the Time Warner Center, towering silently in the night. A taxicab honked. A car door slammed. In the distance, someone shouted a quick farewell. And below my window, the sound of horse hooves clopped along the street as it pulled a carriage home from Central Park.