46: We Dreamed a Little Dream

46: We Dreamed a Little Dream

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

We Dreamed a Little Dream

If two people are meant for each other, it doesn’t mean they have to be together right now or as soon as possible, but they will . . . eventually.

~Nina Ardianti

From the time I was a very little child, my dreams were vivid and real. Most of them were filled with images of playing in sunny meadows or flying over surreal places, so dreams of the more ordinary sort simply passed through my consciousness like the blur outside a train window. But there was one particular dream that felt very special, and I knew it, even though I was only about five years old.

My great-grandparents emigrated from Japan to the Hawaiian Islands at the turn of the 19th century. Four generations later, my family still held onto some Japanese cultural practices. One of them was the furo bath where, after washing with soap and water outside the tub, we would enter the hot water to soak. The temperature of the water is notoriously hot. In the old country, it would be heated over burning coals. The entire village would take turns soaking in a large public bath.

Although our modern day furo was not heated with coals, but just very hot water from the faucet, I recall being worried that the water would cook me. Boil me alive. I learned to enter very slowly, one toe at a time, as my body acclimated to the searing heat. By the time I emerged, my skin was lobster red. Cooked lobster red. But I loved it. We all loved soaking in the furo. It made us feel clean inside and out.

One night, I dreamed that I was sitting in an old-fashioned Japanese furo. My great-grandmother, with her white hair pulled into a tight bun, sat nearby crocheting and looking up occasionally to be sure I was safe. Next to me was a little blond boy. He was a little older than I was, and we didn’t speak to each other at all. But we were friends. That much I could tell because of the overwhelming feeling of wellbeing and happiness I felt while with this playmate.

And when I woke up, that was all I could remember: A sweet joy. All I knew was that I wanted to spend time with my friend. But waking life compelled me to focus on growing up, and so I did.

Little did I know that thousands of miles away and across the vast Pacific blue, a little blond boy was growing up, too.

And he, too, had had a dream.

Nearly twenty years later, I was living in California and struggling to end a five-year relationship. One night, I went to bed, sad and uncertain, and prayed to God: “Please, God, help me to know what to do. If it is your will that I marry this man, I will stay with him. If not . . . if there is someone else for me, please let me know.”

That night, I had a dream that I saw a filmy veil that hung like a curtain across the window. I saw the shadow of a figure of a man. And my heart skipped a beat. There was someone else for me.

The next day, I made a clean break. And then, like an ensign that signaled my new beginning, I got a new job, in Newport Beach in advertising. And one week into my new job a blond man walked through the door.

When our eyes locked, something tangible occurred. We both felt it. There was something so familiar about us together. So much so that the company secretary who had been sitting at the front desk came to me later to ask, “What was that? Something happened. What’s going on?”

I didn’t know, frankly. All I did know was that there was something remarkable and alluring about this man, and all I wanted to do was be with him. We had our first date of many that night. As time passed, we talked about everything from our families to our career goals, and then finally, our childhoods.

As I explained a bit about Japanese culture, I talked about the practice of furo-ba, or hot-tub baths, and how I loved them. He fell silent, and his eyes grew teary. Quietly, he recounted a dream he had had when he was just a little boy living in Texas, in an all white area where no one had ever encountered an Asian family.

He was in a large hot tub with an old Asian woman sitting in the background. Next to him sat a little girl with short black hair. She looked Japanese. And although they did not speak, he felt very happy to be with his playmate.

He said that the sweet dream replayed for three nights, and he was anxious to go to sleep each night. When the dreams stopped, he felt a terrible loss that took him a while to get over. And he was only about eight years old.

What are the odds that two little children separated by thousands of miles had the same dream about each other and then met twenty years later? But we knew it was true because, for some inexplicable reason, we couldn’t bear to be apart. And so we weren’t — for the next thirty-two years and counting!

Now we have grown children of our own. And sometimes we sit in a large Japanese furo together like we once did in a very happy dream, one that continues now even while we are awake!

~Lori Chidori Phillips

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