“Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together.” ~ Anais Nin (French Born American Author)
It didn't end with the dreams I had those nights in Montreal, the flashes of images and the strange understanding of somewhere I had never been. Frankly, that would be a devastatingly boring story. What makes for interesting stories? Love. Fantastic or fucked up; love.
I received a lot more than an academic education that year in Montreal and, for quite some time, what I received was fantastically wonderful (followed by fantastically awful). I allowed myself to fall deeply in love with a man and, having said that, I feel that I should qualify what I mean by "allowed myself." In this particular circumstance, a choice surrounding whether to pursue - or not to pursue - was available to me, accompanied by big bright flashing lights that pointed towards the latter. Before the love bug had bitten me, when I was a rational human being, I made the choice to embark on a relationship I knew would be difficult. And, although I may not have known it was going to be that difficult, if I'm being honest with myself, I knew it was likely not going to work out in the end. I made a choice knowing (or at least sensing) these things, so you won't find a lot of "poor me" happening here.
I fell in love quickly, may be before it even started. In reflection, I think it was a massive combination of love, passion, obsession and co-dependency - but, that's my rational side talking. I didn't allow him to call me his "girlfriend" for months, thinking this would keep my already slightly damaged heart somewhat protected, but it was all for not. 'All for not' was super awesome for awhile. During 'all for not,' when we finally let ourselves go deeply into the crazy abyss of love, our dreams soared higher than reality would allow. I allowed myself to dream bigger than I ever had before. Prior to this, I had never "allowed myself" to think that far into the future with another human being. It was....all encompassing. And, in the end, after the final conversation was had, it remained all encompassing in an entirely different way.
He was intelligent in ways you would have never guessed upon first meeting him. Tough guy appearance, yet intelligent and sensitive. His appearance matched his life, his history, his story. If you simply judged him by how he looked, you would have likely misunderstood who he really was. He was the person I shared my dreams with while in the abyss and, in doing so, they grew and expanded.
As a social worker, the plan was for me to work with children, youth and adults who were living in poverty and affected by HIV/AIDS. So, basically everyone. Initially, his job description wasn't quite as clear; however, it was clear that it would involve building things. I imagined schools and resource centres - where I would work! It all made sense. We would do what we loved to do and what we were good at, or at least what we thought we were good at. During my masters degree, I specifically did not take any course work associated to working with children - in poverty or otherwise. I did this because I had no interest in working with children or youth; I knew my calling and it was in adult mental health (which is pretty ironic considering I've been working in children's mental health for just under four years now and won't even consider going back to adult mental health). And, after seeing him hang some curtain rods and doing other small jobs around my place, I am fairly confident that he couldn't have built....well, much of anything significant. But, while in the abyss, you do not think of practicality; rather, you virtually ignore it while continuing to swoon in dreamland.
I remember lying on my bed in the spot where a sunbeam was streaming through the window, with closed eyes, thinking of Africa. At that time, what did I know about Africa outside of what I was taught in that class during my undergrad? Essentially nothing, which clearly didn't seem to matter. The Beatles, one of my favourite bands, once sang "all you need is love," and this actually seemed plausible at the time. Love and good intentions. Apparently, they wrote this song before Yoko came along and broke up the band because Paul, George, John, and Ringo obviously needed more than love to keep them together.
And, that's all I really want to mention about 'all for not.' It is a piece of the story; however, over time it has become a piece that has shrunken in size and significance. But, I thought I should mention it.