I realized something the other day when people were still throwing new year’s resolutions about, and i was steadfast in my resolution to not make any resolutions. i was sitting quietly in the car as we drove around Atlantic City listening to Christmas music. we were trying to get the last of the holiday spirit before it disappeared into the chaos of another three hundred-and-some days. i watched the blazing marquees blink and flash and i wondered what was in abandoned and broken down buildings. i watched the groups of casino-goers scuttle about and i saw lonely people trudging home from their late night jobs. i felt so small, like you do when you are disconnected from rushing crowds and noisy happenings. i wondered, as you do, what those people were celebrating, and felt lonely for not being a part of their fun. i was quiet and introspective, like you are when you miss your friends and wondering if they were missing you too.
there was talk about what we would do if we were to inherit a lot of money. my boyfriend and i were dreaming of owning a campground or a bed and breakfast, and building the house of our dreams and traveling. realistically unrealistic, but with the right circumstances, possibly attainable miles and miles in the future. we talked about the past, and things he used to do in his old neighborhood, and like i do, i listened, wondering what my childhood would have been like if i was in his shoes. talk of ‘the way it used to be’ was brief, if only because it’s just talk, and there’s no potential in dwelling on the past, so the conversation went back to buying a boat and a camper, specific kinds of dogs, special vacations, all excited with possibility. my life being what it is, however, full of so much missed opportunity, so much disappointment, i didn’t give myself the chance to get filled with dreams. or even hope. i’m a realist. and we realists no better. we live in the now. we only allow ourselves realistic thoughts. we don’t dream or make WISH BOOKS or say things like “someday i’d like to…”. we just can’t. we can talk about the future in the short term, on practical attainable goals like- “in six months after we pay off our credit cards-…”, or “after i lose ten pounds, i’d like to-…”, or “next week after i finish work for the week-…”. attainable. practical. realistic. i am a realist after all.
i wasted a lot of my life wondering about the ‘what if’s’, and crying over my problematic past. neglectful parents, correctable mistakes, broken promises. these are things i know. but these are also things that i can no longer do anything about. they are done. they are in the past. they are the past. thankfully.
the future? i want to believe, and dream and hope and wish. but i can’t allow that. i don’t want to say, “after i lose 100 pounds i’ll buy that bikini to wear on our caribbean cruise”– there is just SO MUCH WRONG with that. it’s almost laughable. i won’t say things like, “i would like to go back to school if-…” because, well, i just won’t.
i can however, let myself say, “after my car is paid off next summer, i’ll feel more relaxed” and “by next year, our credit cards will be paid off, and we’ll finally be able to breathe a little easier”. these are things i can say. these are things that will happen. these are things that i know (*knocks on wood*, barring some unforeseen disaster- that is NEVER out of the possibility). but MOSTLY, for the most part, BASICALLY, (probably) those are things i know.
now, having said all of that, i still WANT things to happen. like, winning the lottery, or getting a huge burst of creative energy and also a miracle publisher and get my books onto shelves. or losing 25 pounds. i can hope for a dream job for my boyfriend. i can dream that my son will find his way through life easier than i did. but will i wait for it? will i dream about these things? will i allow myself the luxury of HOPING for them? absolutely not. i’m a realist. and realists don’t do that.