For When Dreams Come True (a Note to an Old Friend)

     We were friends once-upon-a-time. Working together can often result in friendship, and ours seemed to be an easy one, filled with laughter and conversations about random things. You were very intelligent and your easy charm and charismatic nature made you a formidable conversationalist.
     Our topics of conversation ranged from books to music, from religion to philosophy (the latter which I knew nothing about but enjoyed trying to understand) and everything in between. We talked about our shared dream to see the world, and what places we would most like to go. We made up bizarre stories to pass the time while working - one in particular involving the dishwasher turning into a magical portal to other worlds (I'll never forget that).
     I remember viewing our friendship as unlikely. You seemed much too cool and smart to befriend an awkward high school senior trying to figure herself out amidst a broken relationship and the pressures of graduation weighing on her shoulders. Regardless, we seemed to get along quite well, even if I was in a constant state of surprise about the fact that you actually enjoyed my company.
    For a special occasion (my birthday? graduation? I can't remember) you gave me a card containing a ten euro note with the words 'for when dreams come true' scrawled across it in pencil. I knew you had a sentimental side.
     That ten euro note stayed in my wallet for years.
      It was in my wallet when our lives hit a crossroad and you took one way and I took the other. It was in my wallet when I met the man of my dreams who later became my husband. It was in my wallet when my plans to travel Europe for the first time fell through and left me wondering if my dream would ever come true. It was in my wallet when I moved across the world to Australia to pursue another dream. And it remained tucked away in my wallet for another handful of years until last Christmas when I set foot on European soil for the very first time.
    I thought I had lost it by then - in the midst of packing up, moving across the world, and setting up a new home, I thought it was gone for good. But while preparing for a trip to France, I found it folded away, safe and ready for me to spend as if it had been waiting for this moment all along.
     It was surreal, holding that ten euro note in Paris, reminiscing on how long it had taken me to get there, but knowing I wouldn't change the circumstances for the world.
      I didn't want to spend that ten euro note on just anything so I held onto it until my last full day in Paris when the perfect opportunity arose to finally take it out of my wallet for the last time.
     The moment came when I stumbled across Shakespeare & Co - a delightful place filled to the brim with books of all sorts (and a cat or two). It seemed to me like a place you would enjoy. It's a cozy shop that from the outside looks modest, but actually hides a labyrinth. It smells like the most beloved book in a book-lover's collection combined with the musky scent of ancient wood and the tang of newly printed ink. I immediately felt calm upon stepping inside, even though the shop was bustling with customers.
     There were many people coming and going - bohemian types who thrive on the freedom of a life spent committed to the arts. I could imagine you as one of them finding your way through the winding passageways of the bookshop, stopping to enjoy a book-reading or connecting with people from around the world who share your passions, all while taking in the romantic Parisian backdrop. I could imagine you in deep conversation with an intellectual equal from somewhere exotic, sprawled comfortably on the well-worn leather sofa tucked away in the back room, surrounded by old volumes and absentmindedly stroking the white cat curled up beside you. So vivid were these imaginings, I half expected to see you as I rounded each corner. 
     Yes, Shakespeare & Co. seemed like the perfect place to leave my ten euro note. I found a beautifully illustrated book - an unconventional retelling of two well-known fairy tales by an author we both admire.
     It was strange letting go of that ten euro note and seeing it disappear without ceremony into the old-fashioned register on the heavy wooden cash desk. I can't help but wonder who's holding onto that note now, and what they think of the message scrawled across it. I like to hope that it's encouraging someone to chase a dream, never give up hope, and to enjoy the journey just like I did.
     Thank you for believing in my dreams all those years ago. I may not know where you are now, but I do hope your dreams have come true, too. 
Yours truly,
An Old Friend

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