I remember it well – the Eve of Saint Agnes – January 20th – the day when young virginal females can pray to have their true loves revealed in a dream.
It worked for me. Here’s the story…
It was the winter of 1992 Nashville, Tennessee. In school I had come across the poem “Eve of Saint Agnes” by John Keats and my young girl curiosity had gotten the best of me.
It was said that you had to go to bed early without eating dinner, get undressed in the dark and pray to Saint Agnes to reveal your true love in a dream.
On the evening of January 20th, I did as instructed – and this is what I dreamed:
I was a wolf running through the forest. My four paws raced across the leaf strewn carpet of the wooded hills, like my Tennessee home.
Suddenly I came upon a clearing where the underbrush disappeared, and the scant trees towered overhead.
Standing there were my mother, my childhood best friend Megan, and my maternal grandmother.
They were facing away from me, hovering around a wood and rope swing tethered high in the branches over a deep ravine.
“Oh no,” I thought. “I’m a wolf. They’ll be scared of me if I run up to them now.”
Instantly I changed into myself, Mandy, the human girl they knew and joined them in swinging.
When it was my turn, I climbed onto the swing and with a mighty shove they pushed me across to the other side.
Just as the swing reached the height of its arc, I glanced back over my shoulder at my loved ones on the other side and made my decision.
I jumped and in mid leap, turned back into the wolf.
Landing on the far side of the ravine, paws padding across the forest floor, I felt free and alive – myself.
I did not think to look back as a ran forward as fast as I could, feeling one with the forest and all of everything beyond thinking.
Soon I came upon another clearing. This time it was a small cabin at the end of a long drive, isolated and completely surrounded by woods.
I trotted toward the house cautiously, and as I approached, I saw that on the porch was a man seated on a rocking chair holding a shot gun across his lap.
He was looking down at the ground and had his head in his hands, seeming to be lost in his own thoughts, and I thought, he seemed sad.
“I’m a wolf,” I thought. “He’s got a gun in his lap. He might try to shoot me. But…”
And this is where my young girl fearless courage kicked in, I thought, “I am a wolf, and if he shoots me, that’s on him. But I won’t change for him.”
Continuing to approach the cabin and the man seated on the porch, he still did not look up at me, so lost was he in thoughts.
Finally, I reached the cabin and climbed the stairs. Not wanting to appear aggressive, I cocked my head to the side and exposed my neck to the man as I greeted him.
He looked up as if awakened from a revere and playfully scubbed my neck with his hand.
Eyes. It was at this point that he finally looked up at me, and our eyes met. Light blue, or were they green. Both?
He laughed and threw back his head, “Aargh! If only you were a woman. I’m so lonely. But… you’re just a wolf,” he said.
And with that I woke up.
My 15 year old self didn’t get the joke. I awoke bewildered and a little miffed at Saint Agnes and her sense of humor.
How was I looking at my soul mate? He was middle aged and bearded. It wasn’t even legal! I was thinking my true love looked a little bit more like George Michael and less like Grizzley Adams.
But wouldn’t you know it.
As life and fate would have it, I would forget that dream.
Until one day I came walking up my long driveway, looking at my love sitting on the front porch in the rocking chair…
Not all fairy tale endings happen when you’re young and dumb. Sometimes they take a little time to come to fruition.
All those years ago, on this very same evening, I started the search that would eventually lead me to happiness and fulfillment with my life partner and love.
For this I am grateful, and hope that one day you who are reading this also know the joy of finding true love.