It was the Nineties when The Bride asked me the question. We’d been together for fifteen years by that time, so we were long past the “married to a stranger” phase. Each of us met most of the in-laws, even the ones we hide out of sight in the back room. We’d bled on each other, seen each other take a few stitches, and were equally proud of, and frustrated with, our descendants.
That day we were puttering around in the kitchen in the center of the house, the second of three rentals we’d live in after the Air Force, an old brick single-story that’d seen many families come and go. The plumbing was horrible and the utility bills were outrageous, but it had a certain je ne se quoi that old homes seems to carry. My favorite was the living room with the twenty-foot ceiling and the fireplace. We did Thanksgiving dinner in there a few times, a family at one time.
Back to the kitchen and her question: “Do you have any dreams, you know, about the future?”
Twenty years and I still remember the complete blank. Dreams? Who has time for dreams? She and I were working at the bottom of our respective civil-servant ladders, and I was teaching three college classes a semester in two local prisons, plus working as a computer lab tech on weekends so the inmates could do their homework. Dreams? Between work and work and work and grading, I barely had time to sleep.
Time passes as it does, and with it comes perspective. I didn’t have dreams then. I had an endless number of problems that needed to be solved, so I lived my life minute by minute. With those days in the rearview mirror, I wish I had higher visions, if only to escape the daily grind. Today, I do think about the future a little: go to Europe with The Bride again, watch the grandkids get bigger, and maybe publish some readable books. Okay, so they’re not the most impressive dreams you’ll read about. I’m out of practice. Give me space and I’ll do better.
Langston Hughes said, “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-wronged bird that cannot fly.” Preach it, brother, and don’t any of you live by my example. Find the biggest dream you have and make a path to it. Even if you don’t make it, the energy and passion you display along the way will improve your life by leaps and bounds. Dream, and your heart will stay open forever. Trust me.