The dreams of Deven, the server.

Today I set out to find my first dreamer. I went to the beach with romantic ideas of sitting, having a heart-to-heart with a stranger, learning the inner depths of their soul while watching the waves crash.

I took one look at the madhouse of a perfect beach day and the overcrowded, kid-infested nightmare and drove on. I thought I’d go to Starbucks, walked in and it was a ghost town. Then I went to a bar, at three in the afternoon.

Every bar I’ve ever been to or worked in, at three in the afternoon, has one sad alcoholic who is holding down the stool closest to the barmaid, staring at a piece of wall while sucking down their drink… what their dreams must be like. I imagined the dirty edges of that guy’s dream, I wanted to talk to that guy.

Instead, the bar was almost empty except for a few couples having lunch and good conversation. Evidently even the alcoholics go to the beach on a beautiful Saturday in Santa Cruz County.

I went out on the patio to enjoy the sunshine myself, ordered some onion rings and hoped someone would come out there and sit by themselves.

I looked over each shoulder, and then there he was. My server was sitting at a table in the corner of the patio, starting to fold napkins and roll silverware. Not what I had in mind, but I didn’t have the luxury of waiting all day for someone to drift in on their own and here was this kid all by himself.

“Hey, I’m working on an installment project where I’m going to talk to strangers about their hopes and dreams. I used to wait tables. If I help you with your side work, can I pick your brain for a while?”

Who’s gonna turn down help with their work, right? So I started getting to know Deven. He’s 19, and that kid works hard.

One of the things that interests me most about this project is to see how people initially answer the question. What does “dream” mean to them?

Deven’s first reaction was what I would expect from a 19 year-old with his whole future ahead of him. He started talking about what he might study in college, what he wants from a career. The answer to that is that he basically isn’t sure yet, “but I don’t wanna do the same thing as everyone else.” Man, do I get that.

I started asking him about his life and his family and what’s important to him every day. I think hopes and dreams lie in the little crevices of life, the ones we sometimes forget to explore.

He had just moved to Santa Cruz, he drove about 20 minutes to wait tables at this bar/restaurant. But here’s where Deven gets complex. Before he moved to Santa Cruz, he lived two hours away… and he still commuted to Santa Cruz to work. Two hours, each way, five days a week; because the tips were so much better than the small town he lived in.

When I asked him about working through high school, he said he’d always worked, even before high school. “I’m not scared of hard work. My mom’s always been an alcoholic and my dad owns a landscaping business. I’ve always helped out my family.” Because Deven is awesome.

He maybe wants to go to culinary school. He wants to start having babies when he’s 27, he wants to have “thousands in the bank” first, and he wants to give everything he has back to God.

His eyes are the color of ambition and he taught me how to origami a napkin like a pro.

Then something happened that I’d never even thought about: he started asking about me. He asked what my hopes and dreams were. I laughed and said that’s the whole reason I’m doing this; I’m not sure I know. He said, “Well thanks for the help! I’ve never rolled silverware this fast in my life. One minute I’m serving you onion rings and the next minute I’m having a cool conversation.”

Exactly, Deven. Exactly.

Deven's hardworking hands with our napkins and silverware.

30 thoughts on “The dreams of Deven, the server.

  1. Goodness, where to start? Congrats does not even come close …
    You, and then this … and the idea, the inspiration and in the words of the amazing Dr Seuss, ‘the places you will go’
    I for one, will come alongside you on this wondrous journey of reflection and hopes and dreams.

    • Thanks, lovely lady. I just felt compelled, so I’m following the compulsion. Beyond that? I’m not really sure.

  2. I’m already in love with this. Such stories and hopes and dreams people have when we take a moment and ask. And wonderfully told, Lerner.

    Best of luck to Devon.

    • Deven totally rocks the Kasbah. Period. Such a great guy.

      Thanks for reading, Amy. And thanks for the comment, really. Truly.

    • Even MORE?! Wow. That’s a lot. ;)

      I had to get back to the writing. I had to get away from design and hits per day, and marketing. I just wanted to write. There’s not enough in me to do that I don’t think. But there is enough in the collective, there’s an endless well of experience and hopes and dreams… outside of myself. I’m gonna find them.

  3. I love this idea and I can’t wait to read more, especially when you get to the rough ones, the outsiders, and the unexpected dreamers. If anybody can do their stories justice, you can. Brilliant!

    • Thanks. I really, really, really want the rough ones. I want those so much. I’ll find them, don’t you worry ;) .

    • Deven is a total keeper. Whoever that 27 year-old baby-momma ends up being… what a lucky cow.

      You’re the best fly on the wall ever. Best. Ever. Thanks, lady.

  4. I am SO happy to see this! Totally love the concept, it is such a profoundly beautiful idea. And Deven was most definitely a great find for your first dreamer, I am very happy for you and the new path you are on!

    • Thank you!! I’m loving the potential and the exciting path ahead. Can’t wait to see what comes of it. Deven was the coolest. Absolutely the coolest.

    • Thanks! I’m really enjoying it. I can’t wait to see how it develops. Fingers crossed! I’m pretty sure the whole don’t-talk-to-strangers thing is hooey… but don’t tell my kids!

  5. This?

    Takes my breath away.


    Take my breath away.

    I’m over the moon for this project, and can’t wait to follow your story!