the big ones

What do you do when you realize you’re right in the middle of living your dreams?

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I don’t mean the new ones, the practical ones, the sometimes-mundane ones — the ones without student loans or with steady incomes or even the ones I sometimes have of wearing a white coat and stethoscope. No, I mean the real dreams: the originals, the dreams your heart made before reality came crashing into the picture pressing buttons that led to downsizing.

The Big Ones, if you will.

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I like to think of myself as a practical being, a rational human guided by logic and reason and thought. Of course, if I do a little self-examination I find this is not the case at all. Oh, honey. If I close my eyes hard, I can hear mama chuckle: practical you may be, but, love, you think with your heart. Runs in the family, she tells me.

Being of a sometimes too-practical-model though, I never made myself a bucket list. I kept my dreams where I thought they belonged: castles built in the air, just like Jo taught me in Little Women. The only ones I even remembered from recent years were both achieved by summer 2007: one. be taller than mom. two. live long enough to read all the Potter books.

… not very high on the aspiration scale, was I?

Well, they weren’t my first dreams. They were the practical ones.

The real dreams, the heart-dreams, the ones I structured into bricks that built my flying castles — I forgot them. I forgot the way my seven-year-old self would sit wistfully in the top branches of the holly tree, the way my eight-year-old self galloped around the table with her friends, the way my nine-year-old self stared in amazement at the noise and brightness of our new city home. I forgot my six-year-old self’s joy in writing and receiving letters, my five-year-old self’s love of teaching geography and math to beanie babies, and I definitely forgot that sense of infinite wonder that came with my four-year-old self learning to read.

I forgot the real dreams in the middle of living, and perhaps that’s for the best. My last decade or so were spent in the midst of my own life, and I’m certainly glad I didn’t miss anything. I hadn’t thought about my old dreams in years.

You can imagine my surprise when I turned around this evening and found myself in the middle of them: to travel, and to write.

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Although, now I think about it — isn’t that what Jo discovered, too?

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