DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 February) — I skipped town to marry the love of my life on the sly when this boy was in the grades. Twenty years later, the boy texts that he’s in my town on business. We went out for crabs.

Hubby was out and Liane had an event that had her wearing a fluffy polka-dot miniskirt – so short, she shouldn’t be allowed to walk the streets. So it was just Sagey, Toto Kid and me at dinner, and we had a wonderful time.

The restaurant was full, so we shared a table and made friends with a rather irritated six-year-old who was impatient for her folks to take her home. Soon we had the table all to ourselves. Toto and Sage got on like a house on fire, talking about books and writing and why curse words should remain in one’s secret vocabulary and getting married and my crazy la casa Ilonga and the strange diseases that get passed on through genes.

“How come Mom never took us to talk to you before?” Sage exclaimed to her cousin.

“This dude’s awesome!” Sage told Liane later that night on the taxi. We were dropping Toto off at his hotel before heading home.

Yeah, Sagey. Why wouldn’t he be? He’s an engineer in real life and he writes! And you did meet before. He held you in his arms when you were seven weeks old.

Old souls,  these two.  Never cried as babies. They just watched the world with their wise eyes.

Maybe it was Toto coming into my life just now – a physical reminder of my roots – that had me dreaming that night. Now I don’t usually remember my dreams or dwell too long on what they mean, but this one was so vivid. It was like I was awake.

I was riding a bus and we passed an ukay-ukay stand on the side of the dusty road. I got off and started trying on things. I found a brown outfit, the kind where something like a tube below is covered by a gauzy long-sleeved tunic on top. And that is how I got to the hospital where I laid down my bags on a circular stand.

Soon I was at the school entrance about to go in, but a smiling man comes over and introduces himself as a priest. He said we were needed somewhere. I said okay, so we rode a taxi. On the taxi I remembered I did not have money, so I asked the driver to detour to the hospital. He was very kind about it.

When we got to the hospital, only the shopping bag was there on the stand and my wallet was inside, but my backpack wasn’t beside it. I tried to remember whether I had left it in the office, but I couldn’t account for where I was between the time I was in the hospital and finding myself at the school gate talking to the priest.

The priest indulgently dogged my footsteps down the wards. We talked as I searched. He said nobody can guess that he’s a priest and that he’s been twelve years at it already. He acted like he knew I always left my stuff wherever. We got to a wrong turn and we stood at the entrance to a shining mall. We turned around and there was a posh, very private restaurant. We walked on, losing ourselves in the wet, slippery halls of the hospital.

Soon I said never mind, I’ll probably find my backpack later. So we stood by the side of the road and waited for the taxi to come searching for us. I said I must owe the guy about a thousand bucks by now.

And then I was alone again and needing to find the taxi. Realizing that the priest and the driver must have found each other without me, I laughed and started walking up the slope. A motorcycle was coming down so I thumbed a ride back to the hospital. My fellow passenger, a burly man in his late forties asked where I was from Iloilo. He said he was from Surallah himself but his parents are still in Iloilo. He said his mom was old and needed looking after.

As we talked, the tricycle took us past the hospital. I told the driver to stop. He was miffed that I was only on for such a short ride and wanted twenty bucks. I fished in my pocket and gave it to him, along with my apology for wasting his time. He smiled back.

I tried walking back up the road to the hospital but I couldn’t find it. And again I laughed, telling myself this was a crazy dream. The road went up and up. I met a girl who said I can actually take another road down, but up was good, too. She said up to the top, then down. So I kept walking up till I got to the top, and on the side of the path on a bed of short grass, clear water softly sprouted and flowed forth. I called out to the kids down the road to come see, but I myself walked on down because I had to get to the hospital for my driver and my priest.

I took three turns down the winding road and ended up in somebody’s kitchen. There, a young lady in shorts told me the hospital was quite further away as yet. I said I didn’t mind and walked smiling to the metal door that led out of the kitchen.

I woke up.

Light of heart, and remembering everything. Strange.

Now, in another life, I did dream analysis. Not that I put much stock in it – now or ever, but my mind knows it, so maybe it was giving me symbols I could work out.

Lost bag means you need to pay attention to your responsibilities. Brown means you, and clothes mean changing you. So do taking a trip and searching and climbing.

Twenty means disconnection, so yeah, you pay and get off. I would if I were awake. Leave the middle-aged guy who’s stuck with his issues. Go find the hospital.

Twelve is a wonderful number – it means a good team. People I can work with. Twelve also stands for authority and spirit and wisdom and protection. And so does a priest.

Wow. Double whammy there.

Driver means someone who will help me get my work done. I kept losing the taxi driver, but I didn’t mind. The tricycle driver was going down the easy way, but he smiled when I left him with his bothersome burden. He approved.

A hospital is about helping others. No surprise there.

Springwater is life, and children are children – little people to guide like horses to the water.

Stuff I turned away – the mall, the restaurant, the easier road. Indulgence.

What’s a heavy metal door? It’s a cold, forbidding entrance to another stage in life. I should be afraid, but I seldom am afraid of change. And I so readily approached it, light of heart.

Haaah. And maybe it’s just the crab I ate. I’m going back to bed. (Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan’s column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also editor of Tambara, the university journal. You may send comments to gail@mindanews.com. “Send at the risk of a reply,” she says