Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Do Dreams Have Expiration Dates?

Do dreams have expiration dates? You always hear that you’re never too old to fulfill a dream. But is that really true?

The other night hubby and I were in our car driving home from an evening out (a local baseball game). The sun was setting, my tummy was full of junk food (always good), and the evening had been a fun one. I was happy to get home to my little family though – Cora, Summit and Squishy – all being watched over by my mom. It was a great feeling to have had a fun, early evening all the while knowing that my daughter was being watched over by the most trusted eyes I could imagine. As we were driving, I looked over at my husband and said something I never thought I would: “Honey, I’m really happy we live in Iowa.”

Ryan was quite shocked. Some of you may be as well. I’ve always wanted to move to a bigger city. My sister lives in Chicago and I love it there! I just got back from visiting NYC not too long ago and already can’t wait to go back. When I lived in Memphis for my short 11-month stint I loved all it had to offer as a city. I’ve just always felt a little stifled living within a 30 mile radius of the place where I grew up.

When I met Ryan I was 30 years old and questioning what I really wanted out of life. I had applied for a job in Denver, had been flown in, told to look around at neighborhoods, and then lost out at the very end to the other final candidate. In the wake of that I realized how excited I was to just pick up and move to a larger city. To start all over again where no one knew me – where I had no history or expectations. I wanted to hit the ground running and see where life would lead me there – what kinds of friends I would make – what kind of person I would be.

Because of the “near miss” I decided to do something drastic. I decided to move to Paris for at least six months to just see what would happen. I had a pretty solid plan and had done my research. I started brushing up on my high-school French and got to a point where I could at least pass for acceptable in minor conversation. At the time I had a Lexus that was a few years old; I figured I could sell it for about $10k and that would be enough to get me through 6 months if I could find some sort of part time work in Paris (which, I understood, was actually pretty tough for an American to accomplish). I was giddy with the idea of it all.

But then I met Ryan. And slowly the trip to Paris started to recede into the background until it quietly tucked itself away into the files of the “was gonnas” in my brain. To be fair, that was all my choice – not pressure by him whatsoever. Things with Ryan just became a priority and so other things fell into line accordingly. But even then Ryan always knew that Des Moines was a little too little for me.

But when I said that odd phrase to hubby in the car the other night, I actually meant it. I don’t know what we would do if we lived off in a big city on our own. My mom and dad have been invaluable this first year of Cora’s life. Not only to Ryan and I but also to Cora. She loves having her MeMe and Poppi come over and runs to them squealing with glee when they come in the door. And Des Moines is actually getting (gasp) kinda cool. We have a lot to offer now that we didn’t when I was growing up but we’ve still managed to retain the small city kindness that makes us special.

My quandary now is getting right with letting go of my dreams – even if they aren’t really ones I want to fulfill anymore. I remember my mother always wanting to move back to her home state of Virginia growing up. That was her dream. She never did for one reason or another (mainly she and my father’s lives and jobs were stable in Iowa by that time). Once my sister and I grew up and moved out I thought she would jump at the chance, but no, she said that with Dad still working it wouldn’t be a good time to try and “start over” somewhere else as much as she missed her family. When Dad finally retired this year I thought that would be “it”. But it wasn’t. Her family – including her granddaughter – were all here in the Midwest now. And too many of the people that she had missed being with in Virginia, sadly, were gone now. It was, more or less, too late. That dream had expired and her new dream of living out her life with her children and grandchildren around her had taken its place.

I have always felt sorry that my mom didn’t get to move back to Virginia to live close to her entire family. I always knew she felt alone, and somewhat marooned out here in the “flatlands”. I always thought she was silly, or scared, or spineless for not insisting on her dream of moving back. But now, I realize I may be in a similar situation. I wonder how I will explain to Cora years from now that while I always dreamed of Paris or at least of Big City life, that I never cashed in on that dream – but that it’s ok. That a new and different dream took its place. That some dreams do have expiration dates.

I do know, however, that I will make sure I encourage her to follow the dreams she has when she can. Even if they don’t include me. New dreams, I have to surmise, are twice as sweet when sprinkled with memories of old dreams realized.


Amy said...

Wow! I have nothing else to say.....this should be written on a scrapbook page & saved for Cora to read one day!!

FlippyHolz said...

Well I do know this really amazing scrapper... ;) Actually there is a company out there that will turn your whole blog into a hard-bound book. I think, someday when I've gotten too old, or too busy, or too bored to blog - I'll do that.

Tech Writer Grrrrl said...

I left, I think, the minute graduation was over. Arizona seemed so cool, wondrous, wonderfully amazing and full of beauty. Close to another country (I can go to Mexico whenever I choose without flying!), close to Cali, not-so-close to home. This is what I found in the 17 years (yes, I said 17) since I left:

1. You spend your childhood trying to get out, and your adulthood trying to get back.
2. Things are never as easy as you think they're going to be (in terms of moving far away).
3. While the friendships you gain are cherished, the friendships you lose as time slips by can be irreparable. Even your family relationships deteriorate at a distance. Sometimes you lose them and never find them again.
4. The grass is always greener where you came from. Literally. Actually, i don't think there's much grass here in AZ. Last time I looked out my window, all I saw were rocks!
5. I really miss Iowa. There truly is no place like home, and the rest of the world is full of aliens.

So, don't worry too much about the things you were gonna do. Take a vacation there instead. :)

FlippyHolz said...

Wow thanks for the perspective! While I haven't lived it - I'll take your word for it and try to appreciate what I have!