I had a dream last night that I met Joy the Baker.
Not just met her and shook her hand, but met her, spent time with her, and bonded.
My whole family – husband, kids, me – and a brother-in-law we never travel with – spent a weekend visiting her.
This must creep her out a little bit to know people are dreaming about her and fantasizing about being her friend. I know I’m not the only one. I’ve read plenty of other blog posts naming the same sentiment.
We traveled to San Fransisco for the purpose of spending New Years Eve weekend popping in and out of Joy’s life like we’d known each other for ages.
And it was springtime.
No one ever says dreams make sense.
We gathered for donuts and coffee in the morning – my clan and her clan.
I’ve already covered who my clan was, but her clan. . . .
Her clan was made up of a girl roommate (does she even have a roommate? I don’t think she does.), and a boy semi-roommate who didn’t really live there, but came and went whenever he felt like it as though he lived there.
The girl roommate didn’t make much of an impression on me – because she was exactly the sort of roommate you would expect a single 30-year-old girl to have. She was pretty, nice, and they knew each other like sisters.
The boy roommate though. . . . He was a beautiful man. Young, with dark wavy hair and a close trimmed beard; funny, friendly, kind, and daring, and he was a paraplegic.
Now why would that be in my dream?
Forget that it’s entirely unlikely that my family would trek across the country for a springtime New Year’s Eve party with a food blogger I’ve never met.
This beautiful man in the wheelchair and Joy herself are the points of the dream that linger with me.
When I think about it, this dream was just as wacky as any other one.
I recall someone having a massive accident in the bathroom – I’m not going to lie – poop and an overflowing toilet were involved – and I can’t remember if it was a dog or one of my kids – or me.
There were lots of dogs in this dream.
Lots of big dogs.
I don’t really like dogs.
Unless they’re little and white, and named Mac. (and maybe if they’re a little bigger than Mac, and black, and named Buster).
To make that whole incident weirder, the bathroom was made up entirely of white ceramic everything and the toilet was in the shower stall.
Upon overflow disaster, I pulled the entire toilet commode up from the floor like it was a basket of laundry, moved it out of the stall, and sprayed the whole “bathroom” down with the shower hose and bleach.
Convenient, – but really, really weird.
And I think poop got on Joy’s bathrobe.
But she didn’t care. ( I’m pretty sure in real life she’d care.)
Weirder still – Joy never cooked. (Neither did I, but that’s not so weird – it wasn’t my kitchen).
We ordered out giant hamburgers and fries – twice.
She picked up a big pink box of over-sized cupcakes from her favorite bakery – huge red velvet ones with too much frosting – which was exactly the right amount of frosting.
Friends came and went all weekend long.
The house (apartment? duplex?) was buzzing for two and a half days with new faces (to us) which then became familiar faces when they returned.
We gathered outside in the back yard, which was really not a back yard at all, but a lot on a busy street corner where a mysterious vendor had rigged a wicker cocoon swing from an adjustable rope on a towering tree, and we took turns watching each other take rides at different heights.
At one point my husband morphed from the husband he is (young, strong, brave), into a sixty something year old man with white hair and a beard, and eyes bugging out of his head for fear of how high the swing was.
It was really, really high.
And we all sat back eating our foil wrapped 1/2 lb hamburgers, watching him suffer his way through the most terrifying wicker cocoon swing ride ever. (Since there are so many of those to be had in one’s life. . . .)
It was a bright, warm, San Fransisco springtime afternoon. But apparently, in dreamland, it was also time to pack it up and head inside for the New Years Eve party.
So we did. I helped the beautiful bearded man into his new-fangled wheelchair, and we all bustled back to the house.
And you know what New Years Eve at Joy’s house was?
Everybody jammed into the den and cozied up to watch a movie.
In the dark.
Just after eating hamburgers in the bright sunshine at 4 in the afternoon.
But we did. We snuggled up and watched some random movie until my brother-in-law, whom we never travel with, woke up and announced it was time to go. So we went.
The next morning was the end of our trip.
And this is the part that struck me.
I cried. . . hard.
I actually felt the sadness heaving in my real-life, sleeping chest.
I barely knew Joy in the dream, but I had come to love her over a tiny span of days.
In real life, I don’t know Joy at all. Never even a comment exchange. Not even Facebook friends. Nada.
Like everyone else in the food blogging universe though, I wish I did.
I think everyone who’s read her blog for any length of time feels like they could be her best friend. That’s got to be strange for her (or “creep-town” as she would say) – having so many people think they’d be her new BFF if only they could meet.
But why was I so sad at the end of my dream?
What was it that I loved so dearly that I didn’t want to let go? I am blessed to have my own real-life heart-friends, so that’s not it.
I remember our parting hug. She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed – just enough – and lingered like that. I felt her hair on my cheek and her arms around my shoulders, and her hands on my back, and her hug said everything she wasn’t saying as we were parting.
This girl, who is five years my junior, has become an incredible inspiration to me. Her wit, her skill, her entrepreneurialism, her heart, her spirit. . . . Our lives are light years apart – in experiences and in location. But I learn from this woman who leads an entirely different life than I do – and not just about food.
I felt like that hug was saying, “It’s okay. You can do it. You are strong. You know what you are doing. You have everything you need inside you. You are everything you want to be. You don’t really need me, even if you think you do. You can do it – whatever “it” is. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay. You can do this all on your own, but I’m here if you need me. Go. Do it. I love you.”
Now why, why, would Joy the Baker tell me that?
Why her, and why that?
I’m going to take a little risk here, and bare a little bit of me.
I try not to do that too much, but I’ll do it now, because I think there is a reason for me having this dream.
I think that just as much as I needed to hear that message, so does someone else. And that someone, might just read this post.
So I’ll say it.
In reality, I know that Joy is someone I admire. Someone who will always be just out of my reach. I know she is there, but I also know I will probably never meet her in real life. But she stands for something.
The qualities I admire in her are qualities I hope to develop in myself, so in a way, I want to be like her. I hope to grow into someone with similar genuine and beautiful character. So the “her” that I perceive her to be, may not really be her at all, but the “me” I will someday be.
So maybe, it’s possible, that in my dream, Joy was me, hugging me.
It was Future Me, hugging Current Me, telling me I’ll get there – wherever “there” is, wherever it needs to be. Future Me knows it will all be okay, because she’s already there. Future Me knows I’ll be who I want to be, because she’s already her. . . me. . . .
It’s either that, or Joy was my subconscious mind’s character casting for God. Maybe that’s presumptuous of me – but, similar to the nontraditional character, Elouisa, in The Shack, why couldn’t God show up in my dream as a genuine, fun, and funky tattooed baker?
I’m sorry if this is ultra-creepy for you Joy. If you ever read this – please don’t misunderstand. I don’t think you are God. But I think as far as character casting goes, you’re quite a good choice. Your readers perceive you as warm, friendly, wise, understanding, creative, accepting, intelligent, comforting – aren’t these all characteristics we’d likely attribute to God?
And the beautiful paraplegic man? I’m not sure, really. But I think maybe he was there to show me there is beauty and strength in everything, in all situations, in all people.
So You out there – whoever You are that needed to hear this right along with me, this is it, in the words of Future Me, (or God, if He doesn’t mind):
We can do this – whatever “this” is.
Really, we are already part way there. Just keep going.
And let’s eat some massive hamburgers and heavily frosted red velvet cupcakes along the way.
Cookbook Cover Photo found at Amazon.com