In 1997 I took an opportunity that changed my life. It was to go and work with a small team of folks in San Francisco on some progressive technology and literally be in a start up that was going places. Fast forward and we succeeded. 15 people in a crappy building on Montgomery Street to a 500 person, $100mm dollar company. Great.
Back to 1997. It was a time that was mentally straining for me personally. I left New York to take that chance in San Francisco and in doing so left my family and friends. In fact, many predicted that my crusty East Coast-ness would ensure my demise amongst the peace, love and free-ness of the West Coast. But as we all know, the bike scene and the business being built ensured that wasn’t to be and the West Coast became my own. Most importantly, the woman that I'd resigned myself to never meeting was met and she became my life. San Francisco became my identity and my home.
During those early years, my mind shifted frequently. Violently. Would I fail? Was I doing the right thing? Have I abandoned people? Would I go back with my tail between my legs? Was the gamble the right one? I don’t dream any more, but the dreams then came fast and vivid and intense. Especially one on a specific night that truly I will never forget....
I could feel my entire family was there as I opened the heavy wooden doors to an anonymous 1920's-built brick cathedral in any town New Jersey. I knew I was late. As soon as I moved from the intensity of the outside light to the darkness inside the cathedral, I struggled to adjust to the light while my nose was overpowered with incense and the smells of the Catholic environment I grew up with. It was overwhelming but at the same time comforting.
My eyes stung but finally adjusted. They were all there.
All my living relatives as well. My sisters, mom, brother. My cousins and all those I spent my eternity growing up with and learning from. My Aunt Delores and her brother, my Uncle Ed...brother and sister to my own dad. They came to me and they had been waiting for my arrival. Totally smiling and beaming. Proud. I remember. They whispered things but I honestly couldn’t hear but their demeanor and pleasant smiles were irresistible. I basically floated along with them past all those familiar family faces as they brought me close to another set of doors. I drifted past faces of the living, save theirs, but all the while comfortable and happy as I know they were proud of me and I just allowed them to lead me.
We arrive at the doors where I knew instinctively they were bringing me. I’d seen this scene before and they needed me to be first. They needed me to lead the family into this room of pride where he was, waiting for all of us.
I looked at the two of them closely and saw them exactly as they were. Their features distinctive as I knew them in their lives. Delores’s shock of white hair perfectly styled in a way that never deviated from the 60’s and Uncle Ed’s receding hairline and happy eyebrows and that smile that I see in my own face and that of my dad’s.
They both smile an encouragement and with an arm each…Delores with her left and Ed with his right open the doors for me. I walk in leading everyone to the room of pride and he is there. Waiting. Lying. Smiling. It was his time to come back to the deepest, and truest, part of the faith he’s kept for his entire life. And all were waiting. And all were beaming.
Papa! I said. We’re all here man! My hands were on the velvet as I stood over him smiling, I knew all. Literally all of peace at that moment...even as I would be one to go on living. And yet the peace was emanating from him as the faith was strong so it was all entirely OK. All would be OK. My decisions were the right ones and his smile ensured that it would be OK. There was confirmation of pride.
And then I woke up. Completely at peace and with unshakable confidence over what's to come. The foundation in my conscious and exactly how I’d feel when this was to occur in the waking life were built from that one dream that I’d need to draw on some day.
I am calling upon that now. He’s very sick and I am going to be with him this weekend. I’m going to recall on that strength I inherited….or maybe gifted….in that dream.
Be well. Sleep soundly my friends and think of those you love in your dreams.
This is not a dress rehersal.