So, I was looking out the front door of the market, and I could see them walking up the road – about a quarter mile away, and they appeared really strange even at that distance. By the time they’d made it close enough to see details, I was no longer alone in my surveillance – they were attracting a great deal of attention.
“They” consisted of a man and a woman in their late twenties; both barefoot, and in tan Biblical-style robes – he with an actual shepherd’s crook, she with a small canvas bag. “Oh Christ, I hope they don’t come in here,” someone said. Someone else called them dirty hippies. Well, it was 1974, but I found them more Tribe of Israel than flower children; more intriguing than startling. They came inside; wanted permission to look through the dumpster for old fruits or vegetables, but the owner wanted them gone, and they left empty-handed without incident.
I lived upstairs, so I offered to feed them. I volunteered a chicken dinner with all the usual accessories, but they would only accept a few brown bananas and some bruised, green apples. But we spent the rest of the day kicking around the ideas of faith, God, and morality. We discussed living joyous lives in the service of our fellow man, and we talked about the responsibility to one another’s soul; about love. They asked to spend the night – out back would be fine, behind the store, near the woods, under the stars, and I watched them till late from my bedroom window. When I awoke, the sun barely new, they were gone. I had hoped to offer a ride – maybe breakfast, and I wanted to ask all the questions I was too polite to ask the night before.
Well, I dreamed about them last night. I had forgotten; had somehow buried the memory, but there they were forty-years later – brown bananas and all. It was one of those incredibly vivid dreams – the kind that lingers with you awhile, and seems to have a purpose; promises to teach you something considerable. “Randy, you have to believe before you can see. It doesn’t work the other way around.” he said, smiling from ear to ear. And then the dream just ended.
I don’t know what he meant for sure, any more than I can grasp who they really were, although I would like to think I am capable of understanding. It was dimestore philosophy, of course, and dreams like this shouldn’t be confused with meaningful moments. It was a dream that made use of an old and obscure memory, while somehow managing to masquerade as significant and elucidating.
I caught myself taking it seriously for a moment – I can admit that. I found myself pondering those words about believing. But disbelief is itself belief, isn’t it? “I believe that I don’t believe?” Doesn’t matter. These days we want more than simply to believe. We want to truly know, and usually, we wish it wasn’t so damn obtuse. Occasionally, really vivid, meaningful encounters are nothing more than dreams, or in this case, just a load of brown bananas. Personally, I’d have taken the chicken dinner and slept on the sofa, but then no one would dream about that 40 years later. Ah, choices choices choices… I bet they sell insurance now.