When I was young, I dreamed of being a baseball player.
A common Midwest dream
I played second base in Little League
Smoothed the dirt in front of me, waited for my opportunity.
A good glove, an awful bat though.
I struck out more times than I can count,
Realized this wasn’t a living
This was just a hobby I enjoyed doing.
In eighth grade I wrote a newspaper article for an assignment
My teacher loved it
She told me I could be a journalist
Suddenly my future started to open up in front of me
I wrote short stories and poems
People asked what I wanted to do for college
And for the first time I had an answer
“I want to be journalist,” I would say
Writing didn’t seem so farfetched any more
I began to look at journalism schools
Mizzou seemed like a good choice, I could live with my grandmother in Columbia.
That is, until my junior year
When by chance I was watching Fight Club (with commentary)
And I realized how fun it would be to be an actor
I told my parents I wanted to study theater
They were immediately on board and helped me look for schools
My dream becoming a reality
Then came the applying, auditioning, waiting
Acceptance, rejection, decision.
I chose a school. I followed my dream.
I graduated. I am still following my dream.
Those are the capital D Dreams I have had;
The ones people always wanna know about.
The ones they ask about.
“What did you wanna be when you grow up?
What did you dream of doing?”
They never wanna know about the smaller ones.
They never wanna know about my sophomore year of high school
When I formed a band that practiced once
Dreaming of becoming rock stars, like half my high school.
We played through Steady As She Goes by the Raconteurs in my basement
And that was the end of that.
They never wanna know about the time I cut off a sliver of my left middle finger
While chopping basil at a job I hated
And immediately dreamed of telling this story on a talk show as a famous actor.
They never wanna know about turning 24 and wanting to move to Portland
Because Portland had more television show opportunities than St. Louis
And I dreamed of one day being in television.
I achieved that dream,
After standing behind the scenes of “The Librarians” for 10 hours,
In the most uncomfortable shoes ever,
And yet I still had the biggest grin on my face.
But they never wanna know about after that.
How I cried to my parents less than a month later
Because I hated my roommate and I couldn’t find any other work.
I dreamed of something terrible happening so I would have an excuse to move back home.
They never wanna know about senior year of college
When I wrote the first poem I actually loved
(“Does It Mean Anything When a Girl Wears My Shorts”)
And thought that maybe I was ok at this whole writing thing
And dreamed of showing everyone.
They never ask about later my senior year
When I finished writing my first play
(“Janus (Like the God)”)
And gained even more confidence in this whole writing thing
And dreamed of everyone seeing it.
They never wanna know about how I finished my second play recently
(“I Will Betray You, and I Will Kill You”)
And I have still submitted nothing
Yet I still dream of my works being read and performed.
They never wanna know about turning thirteen and falling in love on the internet with a girl in Montana
And how I fell so head over heels in love with her I dreamed of being with her forever.
They never wanna know about how she got married 8 years later
And now every once in a while I dream of her at night and feel guilty, yet I still miss her.
They never wanna know about how sometimes, I dream of her coming to Portland
So I can finally say hello in person.
They never wanna know about how I still sometimes dream of something terrible at home happening
Just so I have an excuse to go back
Because some days I get so homesick I can’t stand it.
They never wanna know about my daydreams,
And how half of them involve people saying good things about me when I’m not around.
No one asks about the lowercase D dreams I have had.
The dreams scattered in between all the other ones
And no one ever
Asks me about my DREAM
All capital letters.
The large one that prevails over everything else I do.
The one I discovered my senior year of high school.
I want to inspire.
I want to make people happy
I want to be kind, so others will be kind.
I want to help, so others will help.
I want to be myself, so others will know that they can be themselves.
In the end,
I will inspire you.
And you cannot stop me from dreaming this.
Dan Heise is an actor and writer originally from St. Louis, now living in Portland. He occasionally works at Powell’s City of Books. He enjoys reading plays and young adult novels, and enjoys writing plays and poems. Dan discovered that he dreams more vividly when he drinks Pepsi. Somehow, he rarely dreams about Lord of the Rings or puns.