Romance Lives in Dreamland
By ice rivers
We have blizzard conditions in upstate New York.
On polar vortex days like this,we hibernate and daydream of Summers past and Springs to come We thank God that it's February and not November as the end is now in sight.
I remembered back to the afternoon that my wife and I celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversay on a sunny afternoon 15 years ago.
We thought it would be loverly to re-visit some of the places where our relationship began and our love blossomed. After visiting a few such places, we decided to drive to Sea Breeze, good old Dreamland Park on the shore of Lake Ontario. Dreamland Park is an old fashioned amusement park featuring the famous Jack Rabbit one of the first of the wooden roller coasters.
Dreamland Park was the site of our very first date which occurred the afternoon after the dance where she saw me standing there and astonished me by asking if I wanted to dance.
I don't think I would have had the nerve to ask her, so attractive was she as she continues to be.
I did have the nerve to kiss her during our second slow dance which was our third dance in a row. I'll never forget those first three songs. "Hurt so good" by John Mellancamp. "Loving You" by Elvis and "It's All in the Game" by Tommy Edwards. When in "Alli n the Game", Tommy sang "and he'll kiss your lips" I kissed her lips.
Our lives were changing by the second. She was at the dance with a gal pal of hers and had to take the friend home. She gave me her number and wondered if I would call. We kissed goodnight. I raced home and called her immediately.
We talked on the phone until sunset and decided to rendezvous the next day.
She asked me where we should meet and I picked Dreamland Park, also known as Sea Breeze which was closer to her house than to mine. I suggested we should meet at three on the merry go round.
I got there twenty minutes early so had my choice of what horse to ride. I chose the white one that went up and down. Even then, I sensed that this was going to be an afternoon we would never forget.
I rode the carousel a few times before she showed up. Her first sighting of me would be aboard the white horse. She made me feel brave. I wanted to be a hero. Prince Charming Valliant.
She appeared like a dream, exactly on time. I signalled her to climb on the carousel. She did and we began to go round and round as the ancient calliope added more melody to our moments and memories.
I was cool and in control. I knew I was making a good impression.
Later we went on the Tilt-A-Whirl one of those rides in which the cars are traveling in one direction while spinning in another. This is when I discovered vertigo. Vertigo is impossible to be cool with. Suddenly I was sweating profusely and whispering to myself 'stop the machine' as I closed my eyes and tried not to hurl.
My heroic facade was permanently as blurred as my temporarily whirled veritginuous vision. She took it all in stride.
We staggered over to a bench next to the Jack Rabbit. I had to lie down. My equilibrium was gone. Even prone, the world was barely tolerable. The mighty had fallen.
She could deal with it.
Twenty six months later we got married.
We've been on the merry go round ever since with more than an occasional side trip to the Tilt a Whirl.
So fifteen years later, we returned to Dreamland Park for the first time in all those years.
Things had changed in the park.
The only way you could get in was to pay for an all-day ticket.
We only wanted to take one ride on the carousel.
As we approached the gates, a burly security guard was comforting a little girl who had become separated from her parents. We waited for the guard to finish before we asked his advice on how we might celebrate our anniverarry with one ride on the carousel.
He directed us to the Park office where someone would be gald to take care of us. We made our way to the office and related an abbreviated version of our love story to the person behind the window who said "what a great story. I'm sure it will be no problem. Lert me check with my boss."
A few minutes later a very friendly young woman who looked exactly like Annie from Field of Dreams emerged and said "I just heard your story. Let's go take a ride on the carousel or two or three if you'd like. Right through these doors"
The three of us walked through those doors. We headed over to the carousel. I climbed aboard the white horse and she got on the chestnut horse next to mine. She never looked more beautiful. The night was warm. The Polar Vortex was unimaginable.
Romance lives in memories of Dreamland even in the midst of February hibernation.
Whenever she loves me, I am brave.
FLASHBACK FIFTEEN YEARS AND FIVE DAYS
We thought we had located heaven but we had to pass through Indiana first. I was wondering why the hell somebody decided to name this state Indiana when we cruised into a blind spot.
The first moment that I realized we were in a blind spot was when I saw the front fender of a semi smashing through the driver’s side window. We were going 70, I don't know how fast the semi was going but somehow the driver never saw us when he attempted to change lanes.
I remember flying up in my seat and hitting my head against the roof of our vehicle.
Then the swerves began as the semi hit the brake while it pushed us down the road. For a moment we were perpendicular with the eightyeen wheeler and taking up both lanes. I remember thinking to myself….I can’t die here. I’ve got to teach next week. Nobody will know who the hell we are….our friends back home will never understand how we came to crash and burn in this weird place.
This can’t be it but it must be. Nobody ever lives to tell this story.
We disengaged from the semi and the high speed spin began.
The laws of physics must be obeyed.
The swerve into spin continued forever. I lost consciousness. When I came to a second or a minute, an hour or a lifetime later, our totaled van was in the median between the lanes of a four lane highway.
I figured that I had just learned how to die. It was simple really. You hit your head and the video tape called life goes dark for an undetermined time and when you wake up, you’re in a median in Indiana.
Slowly, I got the impression that I might be alive but what about Lynn? She.was driving She must be dead. I saw the fender smash through her window. I saw the flying glass Her head was against the steering wheel.
There was blood.
She had to be dead.
The whole goddamned thing was my fault.
I was the one who thought we could find heaven.
Whatever this was; it didn’t look like heaven.
I had a lot to learn about heaven.
I had a camera.
Soon I would use it.
In my dreams, the camera never works.
The camera worked.
Whatever this was, it wasn't a dream.
Yeah, the whole crazy pilgrimage was my idea. I talked her into it, yet it was her van that was smashed to bits.