Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Ride of a Lifetime

When was the last time you had a dream that you remember? Was it in color? Looking back to almost two years ago, I recorded two dreams that were significant to me at the time. Now that my pilgrimage to Spain has happened, I feel no doubt that these dreams were the first seeds of the desire to travel abroad and that through these dreams, my thirst for adventure and boldness found their expression.

The setting of the first dream is in the narrow, cobblestone alleys and streets of Europe. I am riding my bike casually down the steep and narrow streets, zig-zagging between old, stone houses with flowered terraces. As my bike bumps over the cobblestone road, I feel a twinge of danger being on my old rickety bike, but it is a wild kind of fun. Then I enter the doorways of these places and peruse through the different rooms, all decorated with rich, deep hues. They are cozy interiors with luxurious carpets, chairs and libraries filled with books, open windows, looking out on gardens and more cobblestone streets.

I wake up relishing the dream, and even more, the feeling of adventure in a foreign land.

Another memorable dream came a month later…imagine Main Street in my Midwestern town. I’m on the east side of the street on the sidewalk, again, riding my old, red-checkered, banana-seat bicycle (in fact, the very one I learned to ride on with training wheels as a child!). I pedal down the sidewalk. I am dressed in a light, frilly, white dress that is blowing freely in the breeze. Think Anne of Avonlea. My orange hair flaming and my white dress fluttering in freedom, I know how beautiful I look in the white-colored dress and how feminine it is to ride my bike with it on. I am enjoying the sensation.

Then I notice Costa. He is on the side by J&R Bar & Grill and is waving a piece of paper at me. I ride past him at first, thinking he is looking at someone else. Then he stops me and chides me for going by him. I explain that I thought he was looking at somebody else behind me. He says something like, “Why would I be looking at somebody else when you’re the prettiest girl around?”

I feel happy inside. As we talk, I get off my bicycle, and we stand across from each other by the bike. He gives me the paper, which has a picture of a group of people on it, and I’m in the picture!

Then he asks me, “So where do you want to go?”

I get back on my bicycle, and I think I answer, “I don’t know. Where should I go?”

Because he answers, “How about to Paris?” with a mischievous sparkle in his eyes. (I'm serious! He actually said Paris in my dream...I thought that was random at the time, but where do I end up going on pilgrimage just a few years later? Not Paris, but another city in France! The picture of our group above was taken in Lourdes, France, on Aug. 12.)

“How do I get there?” I ask.

“Right over there will take you there” and as he says this, he gives the back of my bicycle a shove, and off I go to the right, following the curving road. I know in the dream it’s a joke between us, because we know you can’t get to the heart of Paris from the Main Street in my town! But in dreams, anything is possible. And swept up in the spirit of adventure, mischief and beauty running deep and wild within me, I just about believe him.

It is amazing to think that all of this came true. Okay, not riding the bicycle part, but it was like these dreams expressed my growing desire to take a risk and take the ride of a lifetime. When that opportunity materialized in the pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2011, like a train rolling in to my station in life, I heard the call "All aboard!" and eagerly hopped on board. Maybe our dreams can tell us more than we can imagine. What are your dreams lately? Where do you want to go?

The bicycle pictures in this post were taken in Austria - during my first travel abroad experience.

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