As I grow older I find myself wondering more frequently about the paths I've taken and my reasons for taking them, often contemplating how each fork in the road has lead me to the present. I would endlessly daydream about untraveled roads, unwritten histories of my life, and the countless versions of myself I will never know. The more distant in time the event, the easier it becomes to view it objectively; the easier it becomes to acquaint yourself with who you've become. But, to arrive at this distance I have wallowed in painful memories over and over again. It took time to eventually realize that in the moments that shape us we are somewhat helpless , lacking the insight and clarity which seem so devastatingly clear after the fact . With this in mind wishing to retrace one's steps seems futile for in those missed opportunities we did quite simply, the best we could.
Tonight, as summer slips into the crispness of autumn, I finally pulled out a chair and sat on my balcony. I had wanted nothing than to be my own home since I had turned 16. I remember planning, saving, looking at all the apartment listing I could get my hands on and for several years. When I had saved my first $10, 000 I could taste freedom. I loved my parents dearly but the three of us lived in a 1 bedroom apartment and I imagined we all secretly yearned for the kind of privacy I could only imagine. Then, life happened and my parents needed a new car. So much for my life savings.
My bank account was depleted but my hopes remained high. With minimum wage barely at $8.00/hour I calculated a meager survival rate if I could pinch every penny and live off my countless "poor-man" dishes. After all, rice and corn and cans of tuna doesn't sound all that bad when dreams of freedom and your own bed were so close you could taste them. But as unexpected as it was at the time, life kept happening. Years and tuition payments later life carried on at its steady pace of disappointments. I held on to the dream though I was worn down by an ever-growing bitterness. When my father died in 2007 I finally filed the dream away in the attic of broken dreams and took on the role of bread-winner. While my mother grieved, she became comfortable with my temporary arrangement and any conversations qbout separating were met with extreme opposition.
Nearly 7 years after my father passed, the love of my life proposed we move in together. Without a hint of hesitation I saved for the first and last month's rent, secured a new job, and excitedly created a new and bright budget. This happy period of coexistence lasted only a couple of years and to put it lightly, life happened and another dream came to a heart-wrenching end. After a year and a half of living with roommates in a tiny bedroom attempting to regain my composure, I came home. In the spur of a moment, my mom had found herself an apartment and I was gifted the old home place. Suddenly the place where the majority of my life had unfolded had become home; my home.
One night lying in bed, I realized life had given me exactly what I wanted just not in the way I had wanted or expected. At 31, after the promise of family and marriage had slipped through my fingertips I was finally living on my own. when the sadness and loneliness subsided, the whole of my life becomes undeniably a satirical comedy. Sitting here on this balcony, I dusted off the broken dream filed away countless years ago and really looked out at the life hat unfolded before me. Do I accept it? Of course and definitely with resignation but, I accept it nonetheless. What choice do I have when it is mine after all, and no amount of daydreaming will change the way It has turned out. In accepting it as it is I own all the missed opportunities and broken dreams that brought me to this day. Does the future suddenly look brighter? Am I filled to brim with hope? Certainly not and having said yes to both these questions would have meant that I learned nothing from my disappointments. I can however say with confidence that I stepping towards the uncertain future is a little less terrifying and that I am allowing myself the chance to start dreaming once again. Perhaps this time however, I will keep one foot firmly on the ground and refrain from putting all my eggs (err...dreams) in one basket.