By: Mike Briggs
Our world has forgotten how to dream. We're drowning in a sea of facts, carried on a flood of events, lost in a world both familiar and alien to us. In a desperate search for security, safety or practicality our dreams are abandoned, left behind like the forgotten toys of childhood.
Dreams are precious; a flitting glimpse of diaphanous fairy wings in a field of weeds. Patty long ago decided to ignore the tumult of critics and chase the fairies. We met while she was a junior in high school, and quickly became sweethearts.
She was one of the few members of her high school drama club. The club never actually managed to produce a play, but she can still cite speeches memorized and rehearsed in the bright hope of performing on stage. She pursued music with a contagious intensity. She danced with abandon. Always, there were dreams. She was addicting, intoxicating, and effervescent. Of course, I was drawn like a moth to her flame.
In college, while other students pursued law, or medicine or accounting, her love was history. Not the sanitized version fed to bored grammar-school students. The raw, irreverent, bawdy and bloody distillation of other people's lives. While I tried to understand the world, she was busy learning to understand people.
Over the years we've often had to choose between pursuing a dream or charting a safer course. Against the advice of friends, family and common sense we've consistently chased the dream. Some dreams aren't meant to be, and choices always have consequences. There have been some tears, scraped knees and bloody elbows. Patty always grins, dusts herself off, and says, "That was fun" before setting off on another adventure. Dreams, you see, have their own bit of magic. When one dies another, even brighter and more beautiful, springs up and the chase is on again . . .
Her most recent books have brought her some measure of success. Suddenly, serious folks are asking how she does it, and she has no idea. When I look at her, I still the young lady who sings along with the radio, stays up till the wee hours counting the stars, and hugs her horses. Having spent most of my life with Patty, this is what I've learned from her: You can't fly with both feet on the ground, you have to take a chance.
Her books manage to capture a sense of the magic that she sees in the world around her. When we drive past a homeless woman pushing a shopping cart, most of us don't even really see her. Patty sees a thousand clues to an exciting story, "Did you see her shoes? She's wearing ballet slippers. She looks Slavic. And she was wearing a man's coat, it looked like an army jacket. Maybe she was a dancer with the Russian ballet, back in the glory days. She fell in love with a soldier; a young officer . . ."
The Tri-Cities I live in is dusty, hot and dirty around the edges. Add a little imagination and a dash of magic, and suddenly it's got werewolves, and fae, and a lone coyote-woman. The transformation is infectious. Other people look around them, and wonder if that old house with the boarded up windows might hold a nest of vampires. In an instant the magic is back; and where there's magic, dreams can take root.
I don't know what the future will bring, but I know how we're getting there; I hear the sound of fairy wings. Treasure your dreams, and follow them.