THE EARTH DREAM
“From the earth springs life, love, and happiness. Although not always in that particular order.”
Ami Donavan was five foot six inches tall. She had long blond hair that she always died auburn because she didn’t want anyone to know that she was a natural blond. She was also the first woman to ever propose marriage to me.
Funny that this comes up to me now, considering.
It was the weekend that we both took a vacation down to Savannah. She had suggested the trip as a surprise since she knew I loved lighthouses and Tybee Island has some of the best. It was my first trip to Savannah, so, I was completely at her mercy. She picked a nice bed & breakfast with a Southern Victorian look. It was perfect. Everything was perfect.
Ami was a simply woman. She was a teacher at an Elementary school and we had been dating for maybe a year before we decided to go off on this weekend getaway. I was a professional photographer for Lifetouch National School Studios who traveled all over Georgia to take school photographs of the children. That’s where we met. We met at one of the schools and just kind of hit it off.
Now it’s almost a year later and I find myself exploring the coast with her hand in hand. Nothing could be more perfect.
Charles found me collapsed on the floor of the lobby of Theatre in the Square. I was in a pitiful state, one he had never seen me in before. I’d known Charles Morgan since college. We had both taken several theatre classes together and even though he pursued that as his career (whereas I continued to do photography and be a master electrician for theatres) I found solace in just working on the occasional theatre or film production from behind the scenes. He was an actor by trade; he’d done a few productions here and there but soon realized that theatre didn’t pay and had to get into something more practical, hence being the house manager of this theatre.
Charles and I go way back, so when I told him I spent the night on shrooms he wasn’t entirely going to condemn my actions (since he had gone to plenty of crazy parties in our college days). He was a little taken back that it took me as long to try them for the first time but I think he found the situation more humorous than anything else.
He unlocked the lobby to theatre entrance and dragged me into the green room of the facility. The green room of a theatre was the large room where the actors and crew would gather and mingle prior to the show starting. It had a table and chairs and even a drink machine. It also had a couch.
And that couch was calling my name.
After briefly explaining to Charles my situation (which was that I was coming down from my shrooms high) I decided to make use of that couch while he went off to work. As I put my head on the couch and covered it with a pillow, I could hear him laughing at me.
He found the situation completely hilarious.
Ami dragged me into a gift shop. She wanted to get a souvenir. She was very much into the souvenir thing. She’d probably buy a whole box of items and then put them on display in class so that all of her students would be able to see them. That’s the type of person that she was. I, on the other hand, only collect shot glasses (of which I had already purchased three from this trip already) which meant that the allure of the gift shop really wasn’t for me so much as it was for her.
We stepped into the gift shop and everywhere we turned there were lighthouse paraphernalia from post cards to posters to ceramics to well just about anything you can think about. It never fails, she always manages to make each store we come to seem as though it was the very first one. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I found myself intoxicated by the items in the gift store despite the fact that I really shouldn’t be any longer.
Whereas, I could spend five minutes in the store and see everything there is to see, she could spent twenty minutes in a store and never see enough. We end up spending about half an hour in the store before she comes to an hour glass shaped like a lighthouse. When we walk out of the store we have one more bag to add to the collection.
I let her take all the pictures this time. She says I get too anal when I take pictures. The framing has to be perfect, the background has to be perfect, and we both have to be smiling a particular way, that sort of thing, so, she doesn’t let me take the pictures anymore. I think she purposefully take the pictures of us 100% the opposite of what I would do just so she can hear me complain.
It gives her a laugh.
We walk along the shore line hand in hand. She’s more of an outdoors person then I am but over the last year I’ve come to enjoy the aspects of nature like never before. She liked picnics in the park and hiking on trails and even the occasional trip to the beach (allow she liked to claim that she never tanned but got sun burn). Before I met her I wasn’t into any of those things.
I was what you would probably call “boring.” Ever since I went to college my interests have changed. Throughout high school I was a devout football and basketball enthusiasts but going to college opened my mind. They say that college can open a person’s mind to all the other possibilities and with me it did. I was exposed to art and music and even theatre and film (in more than just an entertaining manner mind you). Now all of this could be some type of new age mumbo jumbo bull shit from a college recruiter but I am here to attest that it isn’t all a bunch of bullshit.
I’m a photographer who works for theatres and film sets. I take pictures for advertising purposes and personal archives, among other things. It’s not a glamorous job but it allows me to travel a lot and not have to be a an office from nine to five every day. I no longer do the school photography; the pay sucks. I no longer care much for sports. Ami likes to be outside among nature and watching sports on television doesn’t lend itself to that very often. It was something I was willing to give up.
Can’t sleep. I close my eyes and all I see is her face staring back at me through the darkness. I hope that she makes it home safe. Gainesville is a long drive and she should be there by now if not really close. Never been to Gainesville myself so I don’t know.
I’m sure she’s just fine. She was more grounded then I was and she has a “take no prisoners” attitude that will get her through just about anything. She’s a stronger person then I.
I can hear the roar of a vacuum machine in the distance. It’s an acute pounding in my head that unbearable. I get up from the couch and walk from the Greenroom onto the Main Stage of the theatre where Charles in cleaning the house from last night’s performance. There are empty glass cups and snack wrappers everywhere. Going to a live performance theatre has just as many similarities with it’s film counterpart.
“How’s the head?” Charles asks continuing to vacuum.
“Better,” I lie. “Can I help with anything?” I needed to do something. Anything. I needed to get my mind off of her and everything else that transpired last night. I just needed to get back to normal.
He stops the vacuum and goes to the stage where an empty trash bag laid. He hands it to me.
“Everything but the unused programs are trash,” he says to me indicating the stack of programs left behind by patrons of last night’s performance (it’s a non-profit theatre and nothing is waste or trashed if it can be reused again).
I start picking up the programs and saving them and throwing away everything else. This helped clear my mind. It was good to finally find myself getting grounded once again.
The sand was hot between my toes. Ami and I sat on the beach watching the sun beginning to set. This was something that she wanted me to see firsthand. I could get used to this. The sunsets. The atmosphere. Everything and it wouldn’t have been possible if not for Ami’s insistence that we take a vacation. I wrap my arms around her and like other people on the beach we watch captivated that something so beautiful as a sunset happens every night here.
When we get back to our room at the bed & breakfast it’s only a quarter after seven and we still had plenty of time left to do whatever we wanted. She puts or (new) bags with all the other ones except for the lighthouse shaped hour glass which she hands to me.
“How much time do you think we have?” she asks me turning the hour glass upside down so that the countdown could begin.
“How much time do you want to have?” I ask putting my arms around her waist in a very playful manner.
“‘Til death do us part,” she says in very serious tone.
Was she trying to propose to me? I was a little surprised at first but then I realized just how incredible stupid and dense I really was. How could I have not seen this coming before now? We had mentioned our future before but I just never gave it that much thought nor did I take it that seriously.
I guess after a year being together these types of things do come up.
“I mean you have your own place but you spend all your time at mine,” she begins, “I was just thinking that maybe we should think about taking it to the next level. What do you think?”
It’s not so much what I think but what comes out of my stupid mouth-
“The next step would probably be moving in together not marriage,” I say in haste which was not what she wanted to her nor how she wanted to hear it. She gets a bit upset but tries to hold her anger in.
“So what is all this to you?” she asks. “What am I to you? What are we doing here?”
“Come on, Ami. Don’t get angry,” I say. I really do love her but marriage is a big step. Hell moving in with her is a big step which is why I’d never suggested it. All my relationships were better off until we moved in together and had to “share everything.” I was never big on the whole sharing everything concept (something I need to work on).
She had shared her whole life with me and now she wanted me to do the same.
When Charles and I were done cleaning up the house of the theatre it was an entirely different place. It was now a place fit to be inhabited by a whole new set of people who would enjoy the live performance of a stage play. We walked to the back of the theatre to empty out the garbage.
As I threw the bags in the dumpsters he pulled out a cigarette and lit one up. Then he stood against the door of the theatre preventing me from entering.
“So, was she worth it?” he asked.
“Does it make a difference?”
“It does if you want it to.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“I’m not the one getting high on shrooms with some woman I barely know,” he says.
“You can’t tell me you haven’t done the same,” I retorted.
“Yeah, in college,” he says, “But you’re not in college anymore and I’m not sure what made you think you had to go out there and prove that you still can be that ‘college’ kid. I bet she was much younger then you, wasn’t she?”
I didn’t know how to answer. I just stood there.
He laughed to himself.
“Maybe it wasn’t a mistake you being out with this girl, but what are you trying to prove to yourself? That’s the question you should be answering,” he says taking one last puff of his cigarette before entering the theatre again.
I wait a few moments and then I kick the ground as hard as I can.
When I step back into the theatre Charles is putting new trash bags in the bins that we just emptied.
“Did you tell Colleen about this yet?” he asks.
“No,” I retorted back more annoyed then anything.
“I’m surprised you didn’t call her to come save your ass, again.”
I go over and sit on the couch, my head no longer spinning from the shrooms as my high is almost completely in the past.
“I’m just saying,” he begins, “Ever since you broke up with her you’ve been on this self destructive…I don’t even know what it is…a mid-mid-life crisis.”
“Thanks Dr. Charles,” I say. “You have my life all figured out when I don’t.”
“It’s your life,” he says. “But what if I wasn’t here to let you in and what if Colleen was unable to be there, then where would you be? Where would you be then.”
I stare at him for a few moments wondering if maybe he’s right. Maybe I am having mid-mid-life crisis. Maybe I am acting just a little crazy. Maybe I am ungrounded.
I sat outside the bed & breakfast smoking a cigarette. I had quit since I started seeing Ami and now I was back at it again. I guess old habits die harder than we would like. The moonlight illuminates the surrounding view of the bed & breakfast. In a place so beautiful I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.
It’s maybe 10 o’clock when Ami steps out to join me on the porch of the bed & breakfast. I quickly put out the cigarette.
“I thought you quit,” she says sitting next to me.
“So did I,” I say. “Some habits are harder to quit than others.”
“But you can quit them,” she says laying her head upon my shoulder. “You know, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
I don’t respond. We sit there and just take in the sights, the sounds, and the experiences.
I don’t marry Ami. I want to but I don’t. And that’s just the way life is. She’s better off without a fuck up like me to mess her whole life up. She needed to be grounded and I…I wanted to continue roaming the countryside free as a hawk doing whatever I want and preying upon whatever I want. A wishful dream but nevertheless a dream. One, I was soon going to have to wake up from.