Following the move to Brentwood, we were almost through unpacking the stuff hidden away in our garage storage area when Rita discovered a box that had forced us into holding our breath during its 10 years of concealment.
Inside was a treasure trove for both of us. Family photos behind glass in walnut frames. Newspaper articles heralding Rita’s doings helping run John Wanamaker in Philadelphia. Tom’s advertising career—the ups and downs from Madison Avenue to Locust Street and Bala Cynwyd.
And my high school football photo.
There I was, the cocky Number 48. With the nose broken three times. And a head full of exploits during my three years at Cleveland Heights High School. Playing fullback on offense and linebacker on defense. Playing nine different positions in one game.
Was I good? Not really. My biggest play—one that landed me on the front page of the Sunday Plain Dealer my senior year—was tackling Lorain High School’s legendary quarterback Vic Janowicz, a star who would go on to twice become all-American at Ohio State. The problem was that Vic was crossing the goal line with the winning touchdown.
But the photo inspired me to think about dreams. We all have them. And as writers we use them to dramatize our carefully crafted scenes and predicaments. Dreams can get us in and out of trouble. They can make things very real. The battlefields of literature are littered with dreams.
But what about our own dreams? I dream regularly of going back to Heights High School and trying out for the football team. I almost always make it but find myself facing guys who could be my grandchildren. I’ve also had a couple of dreams where I’ve been invited to the Cleveland Browns mini-camp for tryouts. They were actually very nice to me.
And then, of course, we have the legendary dreams about the final exam being tomorrow and we have yet to study for it. The textbooks sit there, unopened. I’m facing the teacher or professor tomorrow and I’m trying to come up with excuses for failing to attend a single class.
It’s inescapable. The dreams we have as writers connect with us in real life. And it’s one more reason I’ve moved that photo of Number 48 to a prominent place on my office bookshelf.
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