22. Old dreams

When we are children, we are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and the question is laden with so many unknowns–the unknown of what we want, the unknown of what being a grown-up is even like, the unknown of where life will take us.

And so, we try on any number of things. When we are children we want to be veterinarians and ballerinas and zookeepers and fancy waiters who carry food on silver trays and also the woman who works at the laundromat.

But, slowly, as life delightfully moves us, we realize: there is only so much time, so many opportunities, so much talent/ money/ lack-of-money. So, we pack only what we need.

I’m packing for a trip this coming week, and I just want to pack the most basic of things–a shirt I can wash in the sink at night, one pair of pants, one sweater.

Packing, I realize: I want very specific things that all match/ all insulate/ all dry quickly/ all look stylish as I’m going to well-known places in Europe and of course I want to look polished.

I’ve been spending time online trying to find the right boots, the perfect wool/ long-sleeve/ striped shirt.

Searching, I’ve thought, “This takes too long,” and, also, “I wish I had pursued the childhood dream of being a fashion designer,” for then I would have designed exactly what I want, and I wouldn’t be searching online.

An old dream, I realize…one I left behind, when I was packing the small carry-on of my life, when I decided that fashion designer wasn’t safe enough, I suppose.

It’s funny how dreams work.

I bought a wool shirt off of eBay, a striped shirt. If I was a fashion designer, I’d sell something similar. Striped shirts, for everyone, probably in navy and grey, maybe some cream. Clothes in mustard and navy and teal and everyone would say, “Oh, Nell’s line, I love it but she never sells anything in black.”

And it’s true. I don’t like black. I like the way that peacock’s feathers shimmer in the sunlight–iridescent. I like the way that the roofs of Rome all greet you, orange and cheerful, from the perch on the top of St. Peter’s. I like the way that the trees cover the side roads of Spain, like magical little forest-tunnels, in hideouts of green.

So, I’m packing to see those things again.

And there’s not room in my suitcase for much else.

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