Dream of: 09 December 1993 "Hard Feelings"

I was walking near the Gallipolis city park. I had just arrived in town and I had heard that Clifford and Peggy were going to have a party at their house; I wanted to go to it. I hadn't spoken to either of them since high school, and I knew that there had been hard feelings between us when we stopped being friends. I hoped maybe by attending the party I could somehow resolve that.

The party was going to be this evening. Somehow I knew that right now Clifford and Peggy might be having supper at a restaurant on the corner of the main street across from the park. Since I didn't know where they lived, I thought I would go to the restaurant to ask them if I could go to their party. As I walked along, I realized that although I was wearing a beige trench coat and pants, I wasn't wearing a shirt. At first I thought it wouldn't make any difference, but then I stopped and put on a shirt I had with me. The shirt was long sleeved, with tiny blue green and white checks. After putting my coat back on over the shirt, I headed to the restaurant.

As soon as I stepped inside, I saw a woman with whom I thought I used to go to school; she was working in the restaurant. I gestured for her to come to me. I asked her if her name was Vicky and she said it was. She was perhaps in her late 30s and had brown hair. She clearly knew me and she seemed happy to see me, although I had the feeling she didn't think I was dressed as she would have expected. She knew I was a lawyer and she seemed to think I should be dressed accordingly.

The restaurant was rather crowded; I couldn't see everyone in it. I asked Vicky if Clifford and Peggy were there, and she said they were. I explained to her that I had heard they were going to have a party tonight, and I asked her if she would ask them if I could go. She said she would and she walked away.

She quickly returned, and with an embarrassed look, told me the answer was "No." I was stunned, but I tried to conceal my agitation. I mumbled that I was afraid they might say that, because we had had some problems a long time ago; but inside I felt hurt. I was surprised that they would hold a grudge for such a long time. I tried to look over the heads of the people to see if I could see Clifford and Peggy. Finally I caught a glimpse of Clifford's red hair. He was sitting in a booth on the far side of the room. I thought I could just walk over to them and talk to them myself. But if they harbored such feelings toward me, I really didn't want to confront them. I turned and walked out.

Downcast, I walked across the street toward the park. Just as I reached the curb on the other side, I heard a voice behind me holler, "Steve!"

I suddenly felt a sense of relief. I thought it must be Clifford, coming to say he had changed his mind and I could go to the party. I turned just as the person reached me. I was surprised to see a man whom I didn't recognize. He was probably in his late 20s, slim and rather slovenly. He quickly explained that he had just seen one of my movies and that he was a fan of mine. I realized he had mistaken me for a movie producer or director whose first name was Steven, perhaps the movie director Steven Spielberg; but I also thought there was a movie director named Steve Collier, and I quickly told him I wasn't the movie director, that we both simply had the same last name. By now several other people had gathered around, apparently curious about what was going on. I didn't want to stay and talk, and with that I walked away.

I walked to the corner of the park and headed north along the side that runs with the Ohio River. Ahead of me were nine or ten men in suits walking in the same direction. I passed them, walking out in the street and then back onto the sidewalk. After I had passed them, I wondered who they were. They might be doctors or maybe lawyers. Obviously they were professional men who had gone out to eat together. I thought about how one must dress the role if one were going to be part of that type of group. That was why I would have a hard time fitting in – I didn't look like a lawyer. Of course I had managed to practice law for a long time without dressing like a lawyer; but I had been working in a large city. In a small town like Gallipolis, not dressing like a lawyer would be difficult.

I also had relatively long, disheveled hair which I knew was unacceptable. My father had probably always been disappointed that I hadn't assumed the dress of a lawyer after I had become one. I was sure that had he been a lawyer, he would have dressed the part.

I continued walking, still troubled by the Clifford and Peggy. I had a piece of paper with their address on it. The address was on a county road, so I knew their home would be in the country, but I didn't know where the road was or how to find it. Besides, it wouldn't be appropriate for me to go to their house after they had told me they didn't want to see me.

I was strongly thinking of moving to Gallia County to settle down. I wanted to get to know people here and be part of the community. I regretted that I might not be able to reconcile with the Clifford and Peggy.

***

I was sitting in the front passenger seat of a taxi, which was taking me out into the country where I had a car. We had traveled quite a distance without my saying a word. The driver seemed to understand that I didn't want to talk and he didn't bother me. I was almost numb by my encounter with the Clifford and Peggy, and I could hardly think. Only gradually did I begin to sense the beauty of the surrounding countryside. I also thought I ought to pay some attention to the meter to determine how much this ride was going to cost, and I glanced at the blue digital numbers on the meter; but there was little I could do, whatever the driver charged. I might as well try to enjoy the natural wonder around me.

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