That whole "miles to go before I sleep" line has me thinking. How I view it is solely based on my mood. It can either mean that I have a lot to do before I can rest for the day or a lot to do before I die. Although I don't make lists of things to do as I should, I think about all the things I want to accomplish. Making a list is actually a very satisfying way to feel like you've accomplished something. I do adore crossing things off my ever growing, continuous list. Everyone does. I think about my existence on this plane, happy for the things I have more than disappointed for the things I don't. This is solely based on averages, not always daily. Once again, all based on mood, and perspective.
As I've grown older, I am more settled by the fact my list of things I want to do before I die has shortened to a more healthy and reality based one. Remember that MASH game we all played in high school (not sure if that's still a thing). M is for mansion, A is for apartment, S is for shack, and the H stands for house. One of these things will be your future by the end of the game. Naturally, back then I wanted a mansion. Not so much now--way too much upkeep and I can't even think about the electric bill. I'm wondering if Apartment can have sub-categories that include a townhome or condo? As far as the Shack goes, I've done that already. I'm now wondering if my life is actually playing out just like the game. We all think of a shack as being uninhabitable, but it's defined as a roughly built hut or cabin. People pay a lot for those kinds of places these days. Nevertheless, I think I can cross this off as been there-done that considering one of my "homes" was rough for a while. There was a legitimate house—once upon a time. It had a huge yard, trees, community pool, and plenty of living space. It also had property taxes, an HOA that was rather Gestapo-ish, and a constant battle with chinch bugs. I have an appreciation for rock gardens at this point.
Now, I have a condo in a beautiful community that's quiet--relatively, considering the kids. There's a lake, pool, hot tub, and no lawn I need to maintain. I've loved and appreciated this home for the past three years, but now it's time to make a move. We need more space as our family is growing by one, that handsome man I’m destined to marry. So, in this the part of the game you list your crushes, those hot men you will live happily ever after with. What I wouldn't give to see a copy of the outcome of this game back in school. If I were to summon my 9th grade self, I can think of only one celebrity I no doubt selected for this great honor. Simon LeBon from Duran Duran. That's a no brainer for anyone in the mid-80s, or at least someone from that band. I'd get to tour the world, backstage access (of course), and I'd get serenaded every day. I can't even imagine who else I selected at the time, but probably some cute guys from school. These days, I have no desire to live a celebrity life and I already have the man I want--but for the love of the game, let's list some contenders. Chris Hemsworth, who needs no explanation. Tom Hanks, because I'm sensible and he's adorable. Ewan McGregor, who's sexy, sings, and has that whole Scottish accent thing. And finally, let's go with Paul Rudd--that cute boy next door that makes you laugh. With the exception of Chris (who is exceptional), I think my choices are age appropriate. And, I imagine all of these guys have good credit--that's just sexy.
When it comes to the car selections, I know my younger self was obsessed with one car--the Corvette. I can't even imagine having a Corvette now and insurance has to be outrageous. Although still a sexy car, they are incredibly impractical. Before kids, I had fun in my Miata and Jeep Wrangler. After kids, I had no fun in a mini-van--a car definitely not ever chosen by my 15-year-old self. Nowadays, I'm a simple girl and just need something that fits the family and runs well. But, since I need to choose four vehicles, I'll fill in the blanks. Audi Q5, because who doesn't want an Audi? Range Rover, because being a bad-ass mom is important. Jeep Wrangler is still a good choice since I have teenagers driving and it has a towing hitch. And because being bad-ass extends outside of my motherhood, a Porsche Carrera GTS convertible--specifically that new Tiffany blue. I'm still a girl after all and the kids don't have to go EVERYWHERE with me.
And where will I be driving that Porsche? Well, for now, Orlando. Back in school, I'm sure I chose far off countries and exotic places--Italy, Spain, or some remote island in the South Pacific. Try driving a Corvette on those sandy roads along the shore. I'm happy in Orlando, but I need of four places to live for the game. My choice of Italy hasn't changed, and George Clooney would love me as a neighbor. I definitely have a cup of sugar he can borrow. Spain is a contender, and I'm sure Antonio Banderas could give me, uh...us, some insider tips on the best neighborhoods. My older self also wants Mexico, not just because of the family lineage, but because it's rich with culture and has beautiful beaches. We'll leave the criminal element out this fantasy. My final choice would have to be somewhere along the coast in the States, preferably sunny and warm. Why the US? Aside from my family being here, it's familiar and I need a little of that at my age. Besides, there are plenty of places to explore and many cultures to learn in my own backyard. I love the melting pot that 'Merica is.
There are some variations to this game. Some include career choices, pets, and even the career of your future spouse. I don't recall all the categories I used then, but I know that how many kids I would have was one of them. I'm maxed out at three, so there's no need to venture there. Wouldn't want to jinx myself and end up with four. I shudder at the thought of being pregnant again at this point, especially since I'm pretty sure my future always predicted just two--twins. HA! What the hell did I know then? How I wanted twins, one boy and one girl. The hands of fate knew I could only handle one at a time and threw in an extra one to secure my want of a girl. The MASH gods know what they're doing and we don't question them.
Well, this isn't the productive list I was planning when I started. However, it helps me remember all the things I wanted to do before I die--or, rest for the day, whichever. I will say that my perspective has definitely changed over the course of my life, as have my priorities. I'm happy with the man of my dreams, the townhome we've chosen, the car that gets me where I need to go, the city in which I live, and the number of kids I have. I do hope I have many more miles to go as I obviously have things to do and places to see.
I started reading A Wild Swan and Other Tales by Michael Cunningham and found myself absolutely enamored. What Cunningham has essentially done is taken well-known fairy tales and applied a lot of modern day reality. I describe it as a sardonic twist on the old-fashioned happy ending. Personally, I don’t mind that not every story ends like a Hollywood movie. And when it comes to reading, if I finish a book and the girl doesn’t end up with the guy or the dog dies anyway — I’m firmly planted in the reality. This isn’t to say I’m not left saying, “Seriously?!” I move on with the notion that the author knows things don’t always work out the way we wanted. And that my friends, is life.
I, like most people, grew up believing in the fairy tale endings. It goes something like this: I meet the man of my dreams, we get married, travel the world, have two kids — a boy and girl — and live in a huge estate by the ocean (and by estate I mean castle.) We’d live happily ever after, of course. I understand completely how that sounds now, but we’ve all done it. We’ve all watched a movie or read a book thinking, “That’s exactly how it’s going to be for me.” For the fortunate, it really does happen…well, maybe not the castle. As for the rest of us, our experiences have shown that it was all just a fantasy.
One of short stories Cunningham cleverly wrote is called "Poisoned." You know you’re reading about Snow White and The Prince who gave her the kiss of life. But, what happens after they get hitched? Life happens. Bills, work, mood swings, and worn-out jokes about that damn apple she just had to take a bite of. Also, it seems those little dwarf friends of Snow’s got a little too comfortable hanging around. Sounds like some in-laws I used to know. The good thing is that the dialogue between Snow and her man shows they are still in love and making it work despite the little obstacles of life.
SW: Tell me something you love about me.
P: Come on.
SW: Be specific.
P: Okay. I love the thing you do with your mouth when you’re concentrating. This little squinchy thing, sort of half biting your lip but not exactly, it’s just…squinchy, it’s totally involuntary, it’s so you.
I’ll take that answer over a fairy-tale version any day. It’s real and heart-felt — not some arbitrary response like “because you’re pretty.” We all get caught up in our expectations, having decided how life is going to play out.
I’m not saying that I don’t still sit and dream about how I want my life to be. It’s all very parallel to the fantasies I created when I was younger. The thing I’ve learned is that my daydreams have to be altered to fit my reality. I will share this, it’s true what they say when meeting your true love — the heavens open up, the sun shines brighter, and you instantly feel like you can’t breathe. The storybooks definitely got that part right. We may not be traveling the world right now or living in a house on the ocean — however, this doesn’t diminish any aspect of what I’ve always wanted. I have new dreams now, along with a new attitude when things don’t go exactly as planned. I have no doubt that’s what they meant by happily ever after.
I am a woman-child at heart; continuously evolving to find my place in life. I am a mother, a daughter, and a sister. I am a lover and a dreamer--an explorer and a traveler. But it's my passion for writing that allows me to explore my ingenuity. This is something that undoubtedly carries over to the many roles that make up the ever evolving woman I am.