Saturday, August 23, 2008


When I was a sophomore in college, living in Rio de Janeiro, one of my childhood friend was killed in a car accident in Albuquerque. He was driving home from a play when a drunk driver being chased by the police ran a red light and slammed into his car. He was eighteen years old.

My friend's name was Manoa. We met in elementary school, when he was in fourth grade and I was in fifth. We shared a classroom back then, as the Montessori school we attended was very small. We were both eventually accepted to the same private school, and played together in the jazz band for several years. Manoa played saxophone, and I played piano.

If I remember correctly, Manoa was half Filipino and half Isleta Pueblo Indian. My mom sent me the newspaper clipping about his death, how the community had lost such a promising young star in such a seemingly unfair way. My mom told me about Manoa's funeral, how he had a traditional Isleta ceremony and was wrapped in a woven rug. She relayed to me Manoa's mother's words, that life would never be the same without their only child, but that the family somehow was able to find solace in their spirituality.

Last night I dreamt of Manoa. It was so clear, so moving, that I actually feel that Manoa came to me in my dreams here in Mozambique, halfway around the world from New Mexico.

I dreamt I was at a house party near the beach, waiting for a group of friends to arrive. Eventually they did, and in the midst of the familiar faces was Manoa. He was dressed in jeans and his long black hair was tied back in a ponytail. He looked exactly the same as I remembered him, though somehow older and wiser.

"Are you really here?" I asked.

"Yes. I am here."

I ran and hugged him, amazed to feel the warmth of his body, and the strength of his arms as he returned the embrace.

"Can other people see you?"

"No, just you."

But that wasn't quite true. My friend Sam was at the party, a Puerto Rican santero I met a few months before moving to Mozambique. Sam wore beaded necklaces for Ogun and led weekly drumming circles.

"I can see him, too," Sam told me. I know he is here.

The rest of the party-goers were oblivious. I wondered what I looked like from their perspective, desperately hugging thin air and resting my head on a non-existant shoulder.

I looked up at Manoa and said, "I'm sorry for not sticking up for you more. I should have been there for you."

Manoa used to be quite overweight in elementary and middle school, and he wore his hair in a thick bowl cut. The popular kids used to make fun of him, especially during PE when Manoa would quickly get out of breath while running around the football field. The kids would say he looked like a gorilla, nostrils flared, dark skin and hair glistening with sweat.

I did stick up for Manoa many times, but I could have done more. I still feel bad about it.

"It's okay," Manoa told me, "you were there for me."

I hugged him even closer. It seemed like the world around us had stopped, and all I could see or hear was him, his breathing, his deep brown eyes. It was so real.

"I love you," I whispered. "I'm so glad you are here."

"I love you, too," Manoa said. "I always knew I would love you, and I always have."

I woke up and immediately felt that Manoa had come to me. I've dreamt about him before, but it was always in the context that he was still alive, had never died, was just another character in the random cast of my unconscious thoughts. This dream was different. I knew Manoa had died, and that he'd come back only for me (and Sam, the santero) to see. It was very real, very moving.

I told Rico my dream and started crying. It was a bit odd to tell my husband that I'd professed my love to another person in my dreams, but it was true. I did love Manoa, and it was absolutely the right thing to say when he appeared to me. I knew he loved me, too. A very different kind of love than the one between a couple, or even the love between family. This was almost a divine love, unconditional, forgiving, pure.

I wonder why Manoa chose to come to me. We were never that close while in school, and completely lost touch when I moved to Brazil. I suppose, should one believe that these things are real and not just a random result of brain flashes, some things we just have to accept, even though we don't understand their meaning or purpose at the time.


laundrygirl said...

They say this sometimes happens and it allows the person living to have peace with the death of a loved one. My father came to me in a dream and let me know that everything was alright and that he loved me. Somehow this brought me a sense of peace that I did not know I needed until then. My mom has had several dreams like this with various family and friends "crossing over" to tell her something. I think it is more than biological... It's another example of how we are all a part of a spirit world as well as a physical one.

Ali la Loca said...

~Laundrygirl - I very much believe this. The strange thing is that Manoa, the friend I dreamt about, was not someone I was extraordinarily close to. He wasn't like family, we never dated, we were simply classmates and in the same community for much of our younger lives...that's why this is so odd - someone I wasn't super close to appearing to me like this...

Southern Goddess said...

It is interesting that we sometimes do not think how deeply we can affect the lives of others, in good and bad ways. Has there been anyone in your life, especially when young, that in a small instance did something that affected you for years? In your own way, you have done this for Manoa. You were a positive force in possibly his somewhat lonely existence.

My unsolicited advice is to see this as more than a gift but a reminder as well. Everything we do, whether we realize it or not, affects those around us in ways we cannot imagine. You brought him joy.

La Framéricaine said...

I'm happy that you chose to blog about your, obviously, profoundly moving dream of your friend because I woke from a dream recently, about Africa, oddly enough, Mali. The dream was related to a film clip about the tradition of repairing everything rather than throwing it away, the philosophy within the tribal group who practiced this approach to objects. I wanted to write about it but I didn't. Your post has inspired me to take the risk.

I have also had dreams of a union with others that was similar in quality to yours--a deep sense of closeness and unconditional love that I have never experienced in waking life.

I take your dream as being totally "real" but taking place in a different realm and having "meaning" that transcends the common interpretations of daily life. I also believe that the dream itself is a form of experience that has a profound impact of its own at the time of the dream and continues to ripple out into your daily life precisely because you recalled it, shared it with another--your husband--and then wrote it down and shared it with us.

Thanks to our intuition and our extra-sensory perceptions, we know so much more than we admit to in daily life because it is frowned upon and is inconvenient to others.

Congratulations on having succeeded in capturing such a beautiful dream before it slipped back under the veil that seems to separate the dreaming and waking worlds.

--jenna said...

i came by to simply wish you an excellent week...but was moved by the post. dreams are funny things...sometimes they are nothing more than anxiety dumping grounds. Other times, they become "thin places", as the druids might have said, where the divine and the mundane are so close they touch...

beijos amiga e uma semana de bençoes!

Ali la Loca said...

~Southern Goddess - I will certainly view this as a gift. What you said about small acts having great influence on others got me thinking...about things people have done/said that still influence me, about the potential ways in which I have influenced others.

If Manoa started out perhaps a bit lonely in middle school, he certainly ended up a popular, shining star. He grew up to be very handsome, a talented musician, a lover of theater. Middle and high school can be awful for anyone slightly "different", whatever that means, but I think in the end he found his crowd and fit in 100%.

~La Framericaine - Your dream sounds really interesting. I'd love to hear more about it if you are ever moved to write it on the blog. Sharing dreams - especially ones that are intense and filled with symbols - is hard. I thought twice about writing about Manoa here for many reasons, but in the end I'm glad I shared. It was very real, and full of love, and there is no shame in sharing that!

~Jenna - I've never heard about the "thin places" but it seems like a very fitting concept. Thanks for coming by. I hope you have a wonderful week, too, full of love and light. :)

poppy fields said...

I believe that there are some things we just have to accept, embrace even.
What a beautiful dream.

Guilherme said...

How funny/strange/interesting...I had a similar dreams a few nights ago...

El Erik said...

beautiful story to think about. Thanks Ali.