Monday, December 19, 2011

Dreams for sale!

Okay...You need to take yourself back to 1989. I was all of 20, and usually heartbroken because "the love of my life," Tara, wasn't interested in me in any way. Much of my life was a shambles. Adding to this, I was wandering the world with undiagnosed depression. Very SERIOUS depression. Somewhere amidst the darkness of my life, I still found it within myself to write creatively. While I would eventually take to fantasy and science fiction, the one piece I seemed dedicated to was a murder mystery. Mixed in along the way was the occasional short story.

I don't remember the month it was released, but Lou Gramm of Foreigner fame released a solo album, Long Hard Look, from which the radio stations seemed determined to play "Midnight Blue" to death. I bought said album on an ancient audio device called a "cassette tape." (You kids in the crowd may have to Google it.) And on this recording was one song that I mentally latched on to..."Broken Dreams."

Did you listen to it? You really should listen to it. The whole thing. It's important to this post.

At the time, my father still owned his 1987 Pontiac Grand Am. In what seemed to be something of a mid-life crisis, he bought the two-door version; the closest thing to a sports car my father would ever own. He even had the dealer tint the windows. Not much of a tint, but a tint nonetheless.

Now to describe the full scene. Me, locked in one of my darker moods, cruising around in my father's car, "Broken Dreams" being played over and over, and me brooding while I listened and drove. There were moments when I would start crying, despite the music itself not being terribly depressing. It was the lyrics, specifically at the 4:16 mark.

Now I've climbed this mountain high
But it won't stop my heart from burnin'
I got dreams for sale!
Tears and rivers running dry
But it won't keep the world from turnin'
Ohhh, broken dreams for sale!

To me, with my home life so miserable, and my unrequited love, and just alone in that car...The lyrics were telling my story. The story of a guy trying to find peace atop a mountain, perhaps where the wise guru awaits. But once he's reached the top, his heart still aches for that one true love. And while he might cry enough to form a river, the world would remain uncaring. Thus, with little or no empathy from those around him, he might as well sell his dreams of love.

The song would often run through my head, and I found myself sitting at the cafeteria at the community college I attended. Based on my interpretation of the song, I wrote a descriptive passage about a man who appeared to be in existential conflict. He's handsome, with his hair neatly combed, but in need of a shave. His expensive suit is wrinkled, but his shoes are impeccably shined. He carries with him what appears to be a suitcase, but it's the kind with legs that fold out from under it. As the city streets begin to fill, and various street vendors set up shop, he does the same with his suitcase. Passersby notice it's empty. And in a clear voice, he starts calling out, "Broken dreams for sale!"

The passage I wrote was longer, with much more detail. I sat there one day, simply dwelling on what I'd written, when the girlfriend of an acquaintance sat down and started reading it. She was amazed by it, and asked if she could include it in the college's literary magazine. I agreed that she could take it.

A part of me was proud that I'd finally been published. I hadn't been paid, so I still didn't consider myself an AUTHOR, but one of my pieces was in print...with many, many typos. (I think at one point my nameless character ended up with suitcaseS, and he later unfolded the leG beneath it (them?).)

And all of this has come to mind because of my recent emotional crash. One thought keeps running through my head: This is not how my life was supposed to go. And with that comes the thought that I seem to have officially come to a time of my life when I have entirely too many broken dreams for sale.*

*Keep in mind that I now have a new set of dreams. They are different from those of my youth, but they are pleasant dreams nonetheless. And with my beloved Becky in my life to make them come true, perhaps I'll have less to sell in the future.

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