Gary visited me last night.
Or rather, I had a dream where I went to Gary's house for the weekend. It was a shack in the woods, half a mile up a pitted dirt road. Snow had fallen overnight, losing the battle against spring's warmth. The next morning his house lay just out of the center of town, across the railroad tracks and through a park where people in Victorian finery rode horses. Maybe it exists everywhere, sort of a Gaax's Magnificent Mansion. It fits.
Dreams are dew, evaporating in the morning sun. Splinters of this one stuck with me a little longer like frost on the grass. I got up and started typing this out on my phone in the bathroom in the wee hours before dawn.
He sat at a table in the largest room in the house, sometimes playing an Avalon Hill-style chitmonster game, but mostly just talking with his many guests. He was older, one drooping eye hiding behind glasses (and failing), and he had a white goatee to make a gnome's heart swell. He looked tired entertaining so many people in his dining room and living room, but he always wore a smile and laughed like a man half his apparent age.
I remember painting a white bed with blue paint for some reason, hoping it would dry before bedtime. I don't remember a kitchen, but I remember kneading pizza dough. I remember not wearing a name tag, finding the supplies to make myself a name tag, then noticing that nobody else was wearing one and second-guessing myself. I put the pen down and walked on.
I remember friends, the kind you've just met but feel like you've known most of your life. I remember staying the night and picking up the revelry where I left off in the morning. I remember going to the post office to mail myself a memory of the experience. I guess it worked.
I remember standing behind Gary, this person I've known of for 37 years, this guy who reached into a lonely child's life and helped me to express my creativity and get closer to my friends. I wanted to shake his hand and thank him, but he was talking to someone else, so I didn't. I immediately felt a pang of regret, like I blew my one shot to be a legitimate fanboy.
I don't know if this part is a memory retcon, where my rational mind imposed something it wanted to see on the sleepy remains of the dream, but I remember he looked at me across the room. He had a smile in his eye, and he nodded at me. "You're a damn fine DM." I heard his voice in my head. "Keep it up."
Thank you, Gary. I believe I will.