Dreaming outside the lines

Unlike many girls I grew up with in the 1970s, I never once dreamed about my fantasy wedding. Getting married, hell, falling in love, was kind of incidental to my self-perception.

The odd thing about this is I did not feel odd about it. I know others grew up with similar mindsets who always felt set apart for it, but not me. Maybe it was my 2nd-Wave Feminist mother, who was all too eager to raise a successful white middle-class girl who don’t need no man. Or maybe it was my father who apparently had zero expectations about me getting married (social rebel or just laissez-faire? With my father it was a crap shoot).

I had celebrity crushes, of course, but again it was less about “sweep my off my adolescent feet” and more “I wanna Indy’s assistant/I wanna be Luke’s sister/I wanna be Wonder Woman’s side kick.” I’m not asexual, nor aromantic, but…eh, there were adventures to be had! Dating always sounded like more effort than was it was worth.

All this is brought to mind as I do my irregular “Dream Big” project, where I hand-write out a page or two long description of my perfect lifestyle.

I hate doing this project, with a vengeance.

I only do it every five or six years, I hate it so much. I’ve been doing it since I was in my 20s, and I read some woo-woo self-help guide about “creating a vision” for my future. Sounded fun. I was so naive.

My previous Dream Big lists read like a litany of my failure as an adult. I have tried to work around it by becoming far more vague in my middle-age — the carefully detailed “dream house” with exact square footage and amenities written out in loving detail that I described in my early 30s has become “nice home on decent sized property, with a kitchen.”

What’s never ever been on those lists, though, is “relationship status.” I just never think of it while writing. I sometimes come back later and tack on “happy and fulfilling relationship” but really I could give the same description about getting a dog. Never once has “dream wedding” been a big dream, or any kind of dream, at all, ever.

In fact, there are a lot of things missing from my Dream Big lists that, I think, say a lot about me. I have rarely described my dream career (du jour), for instance. I have definitely never once included “become a parent.” My “ideal location” to live changes in every version. I do not list out the places around the world I want to visit, or the things I want to do. Do I want to go hang-gliding? …maybe? Sure. Why not. I mean I’m not planning on it, I just wouldn’t say no.

And I wonder if it is a failure of the imagination? A left-over impulse to shut down hope-for-the-future that I developed young? Something about the laissez-faire approach to life I inherited from my father?

Every list includes “get a dog”, though. And that is one thing I have not done since I had to put my parent’s dogs down in ’97. Maybe that says more about me than I like to think about…

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