From Italy With Love | The Dreamweaver

I was in Chicago and had just picked up some dry cleaning before my pending trip to Italy.

I was standing on a corner at Michigan Avenue waiting for the light to turn green when I noticed a man I was certain was the brother-in-law of a man in Spain I used to work for many years earlier whose wife came from a well-known aristocratic Italian family.

Just then, the man turned and smiled indicating he too had recognized me.

He walked over and said hello and asked me how I'd been all these years and invited me to walk over to his new restaurant and try some Italian wines that had just been delivered earlier that day.

The light turned green and as we were walking across the street, my childhood friend Jodi crossed our path and stopped me in the middle of the crosswalk.

She embraced me with tears in her eyes while the brother-in-law, seeing the heartwarming reunion of two old friends, shook my hand and said to be sure to stop by for that wine tasting whenever it suited me.

I bid the man farewell and crossed the street with Jodi.

It had been more than 20 years since I'd last seen her at my grandmother's funeral in Chicago in the summer of 1998 and she looked radiant and even younger than I remembered her looking all those years ago.

We sat on a bench in front of what used to be the restaurant where I used to have lunch with my grandfather when I would spend the day with him at work when I was a kid.

Jodi confessed to having regretted not marrying me when we were younger, saying that she had even planned to ask me to marry her after we graduated high school when she and her friend Jennifer came out to visit me in Los Angeles.

I told her I had no idea she was even interested in me romantically though she was the first girl I ever kissed when we about ten years old sitting on the stairs in front of my grandparent's house.

She said she had always been in love with me but knew she wasn't the right girl for me and she let her friend Jennifer talk her out of proposing to me in L.A.

I then found myself driving down a highway in Italy with my wife and our children.

Suddenly, I felt the breaks starting to fail and told my wife not to panic and to take hold of the steering wheel while I tried to use the emergency break to slow the car down and get us safely off the road.

Just then, my wife caught glimpse of a sign that indicated an approaching rest area and together we were able to safely maneuver the car off the road where it came to a full stop in the rest area.

I called the motor club who told me it would be several hours before they would be able to send someone out to our location, so we decided to take our sleeping bags to one of the campsites and have a much needed rest.

Noticing that the ground was still a bit damp, I returned to the car to fetch some plastic mats to place below our sleeping bags.

Realizing I would have to make two trips to bring all the mats, pillows and blankets over to the campsite, I left the trunk of my car open.

When I returned to the car, I saw a man I assumed to be an American tourist mistakenly removing the dry cleaning from my trunk and walking over to his cabin.

I followed the man into the cabin, excusing myself to his family and friends who were bringing their suitcases inside saying that their companion had taken my dry cleaning by mistake.

They apologized and called out to their friend and he walked out of the bedroom with the dry cleaning and I said he had taken mine by mistake as I pointed to the name of the dry cleaners that was printed on the plastic bag indicating a Chicago address.

The man and his friends all had a good laugh, saying that they were obviously not from Chicago. The man apologized and handed me the clothes.

At a party the next day, I thought I recognized my old childhood friend Gary Mendelson and walked over to where he was standing having a drink and talking to a woman.

I greeted him by the name Gershon, which I remembered was his Hebrew name, though I was fairly certain he did not attend the same Hebrew school that I and many of our public school classmates attended.

Then I woke up.

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