Once Upon a Time: My Visions of the Future

“If youth only knew, if age only could.” – Henry Estienne

When I was young, living under my parent’s roof and abiding (for the most part) by their rules – I used to fantasized about what life would be like when I grew up.  Who didn’t?  But, as I’m sure is the case for most people, my childhood musings about adulthood were quite different from its reality.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t necessarily planning to have children.  I assumed I’d have a child, someday in the way distant future, but I certainly couldn’t “picture” it.    Seriously.  I baby-sat for one family when I was an eighth grader, and that pretty much snuffed out any motherly yearnings I had.  After a few hotel nanny gigs in college, the flame of motherhood flickered out once again.  Today I have four children and for a long time, I was perpetually on a quest for just one more.

high-rise-apartment-jpg[1]I grew up in small beach town, so I dreamed of a life in a big city.  I was certain that I’d live in a high rise apartment.  I remember once walking on the beach in Fort Lauderdale with my friend Barbara, when I was visiting her on vacation, and she pointed to one of the tall condominiums that lined the coast.  She commented that I’d probably live there one day and I readily agreed.  I did eventually live in the cities of Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, San Juan, Baltimore and Atlanta, but never in a high rise.  Today I technically live in a suburb of a city, but it’s far enough out that it really feels like the country to me.  We’re nestled among the trees, surrounded by neighborhood horses and far away from traffic and smog.  I love it.  Never in a million years did I think this would be my Shangri-La.

time-passes-quickly[1]Oh, the time I wasted.  I hadn’t even begun to comprehend the intricacies of time back then.  As a teen, time was a monkey on my back, nothing could ever get here or happen fast enough.   Time is still hard on me.  Rather than feel impatience with time, I’m now scared of it.  There’s never enough when I need it.  It seems as though I am always racing against time, when ironically all I want is for it to stop, or at the very least slow down.

When I was younger, I thought my parents would always be a part of my life.  I didn’t consider their mortality, so it never occurred to me to envision a future without them.  I honestly thought they’d both be at my college graduation, my wedding and that they’d be grandparents.  My mom missed out on all that and my dad only held the title of Grandpa for two years.  I certainly never thought I’d outlive my little brother.  That one still hurts.

I never thought I’d feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, despite the fact that most of what I worry about is beyond my control.  I would have laughed in your face if you warned me that I’d worry about getting cancer, global warming, terrorists or my kids being shot in school.   I didn’t understand grief.  I’d never heard of autism.

I always believed that I’d meet “the one.”  Yes, I did, despite the fact that I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was nineteen.  I was a romantic – still am.    I sure as hell kissed a lot of frogs who weren’t part of the plan before I met my guy, but that’s okay.  Some of those frogs were cute and fun.  Now, the fact that I think kissing a bunch of boys was fun, is something that would have horrified the young Allison.  I was a good girl.

Aging was something I never contemplated beyond twenty-one.  Never, not once, did I consider what, where or who’d be in the twenty-first century.  Isn’t that weird?  Being in my forties, I’m all too aware of how fast the years are going by and I do often try to picture myself as an octogenarian grandmother dancing at my granddaughter’s wedding.  Is this because of wisdom, wishful thinking, or “putting it out there in the universe?”  I do not know.

When I was a young, good-bon-jovi[1]I believed in happy endings.  I loved books.  I wrote long letters.  I loved the beach and sunsets.  I loved Rod Stewart and Jon Bon Jovi.  I was okay spending time alone.  I had fears about the future.  This is all still true.  What’s more interesting to me is the change in heart I’ve had about the things I didn’t like.  I hated coffee, Brussel sprouts, country music, olives, stinky cheeses, beets, going to bed early and traveling long distances by car.  All are now staples in my life.

I thought I knew what love was when I was child.  I didn’t have a clue.  Not a clue.  I didn’t comprehend what it meant to share your life with someone.  I didn’t understand the enormity of a mother’s love.  I didn’t recognize the beauty in the little things.  I didn’t grasp the value of good health.  I didn’t realize the importance of saying, “I love you.”  I didn’t appreciate how many gifts that this journey of life offers.  But I do now.

This post is a link-up up with Mama Kat’s World’s Greatest Writing Workshop.  I chose prompt number one:  Describe what you thought living on your own would be like after you graduated (from high school).

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What did you think life would be like after graduating from high school?  What did you think you’d be doing?  Where did you think you’d be living?  Did you want to get married and have a child?  What surprised you along the way?  Is there something about your current life that a younger you would not believe?

22 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time: My Visions of the Future”

  1. This was beautifully written. I’m so sorry about your loss of your parents and brother. It’s true for most of us that our lives turn out differently than what we planned. I pictured myself moving out of my parent’s house and living in my own apartment (had no idea how I would pay for it) spraying my plants with a bottle of water like I saw someone do on a TV sitcom once. Turns out I have a brown thumb and have never lived alone.

    1. Thanks Lori. It’s like the old saying – life is what happens to us when we’re making plans. Btw, I swear, I too had visions on an apartment and a watering plants form a spray bottle. Where did that come form? I lived alone for three years and it was the best experience! Also, the one an only period I my life when I did have to share a bathroom!

  2. I never really pictured my life clearly either. And I kissed way too many frogs. But they were fun frogs… I actually wish I’d have thought more about my future when I was younger. I never thought I’d have my first and only baby at the age of 40, and I never thought I’d look as old or as fat as I do. But for the most part, I also think everything worked out exactly as it should and that I’m right where I’m supposed to be (except the fat part – that, I need to get back to the gym). I love this post, Allie and laughed at how being a nanny re-squashed your desire to be a mom and that now you have four and almost went for five (you still can ya know).

    1. Kristi, I am boing to bitch slap you the next time I see you:)! Empathy momma!!!!! You are not fat, nor do you look old. Seriously, I want to shake you. Yeah, the nanny thing freaked me out. If it hadn’t been for the money part (cash paying in cash sweetened the deal), I wouldn’t have gone back for more.

    1. That definitely seems to be the consensus with everyone. And I agree with your comment “yet so right.” That’s what has always guide me, as well. We end up where we’re supposed to be.

  3. Again, you’ve touched a chord (or several). The neverending race against time! Gone are the carefree days with girlfriends at the beach. I often long for that. I rarely have time to watch a full movie.

    I thought I would be a homemaker, living oceanfront in Ponte Vedra with several kids and a labrador retriever. I grew up in a small town outside a small city with a small world view. Never did I imagine I would have the career I had, meet the amazing people I’ve known or travel to the places I’ve been. Living in New York City and marrying the tall, dark, handsome, sophisticated man of my dreams? My teenage mind certainly didn’t have the capacity to dream that large. Having children 17 years apart? That was a new one for me, but I take it as a blessing. I did live oceanfront for a few years, long, long ago. Still holding on to that dream.

    It’s beautiful how open you are with your sorrow, very helpful for me as I tend to keep my grief very close. Great post!

    1. Hello long lost friend! How are you? I too miss those carefree days! And honestly, I never appreciated them. I remember often being bored by my carefreeness. How ridiculous is that? What I would give for a couple hours of it now. Oceanfront is also a dream of mine. Thank you for you kind words.

  4. It’s amazing how much we change over time and how full our lives get with each experience…you definitely should not be outliving ANYONE at this age. That is a devastating card to have been dealt all the way around.

  5. Ok, I do still hate stinky cheeses!
    I thought I’d be world famous. Like a celebrity AND a peace activist. Some sort of household name hero.
    No lie.
    And I thought I’d have a handsome husband, three kids and a dog. So I’m partly right!

    1. Tamara, the trick is to eat the cheese with wine,it dulls the smell. Well, not really, well maybe. It just occurred to me that the reason I like the cheeses now is that over the years, I’ve lost my sense of smell. Seriously. It’s not 100% gone, but due to sinuses and allergies, it’s pretty week. Btw, my daughter thinks she’ll be a celebrity household name and a peace activist:)! But congrats on the kids and handsome hubby. Just think, if you’d been world famous, you’d probably be divorced by now. You win!

  6. In some ways life is better lived than dreamed. It looks like you did both and that is always good. i don’t remember what I thought I would be like when I was in high school but I still think Bon Jovi looks as good now as he did way back in the day. ;D

  7. What a beautiful, thought provoking post. I have to say that I am always worried about time. Sometimes I have to stop myself and make myself smell the roses. Having children makes it go even faster, doesn’t it? ps – I used to hate coffee too, now I can’t live without the stuff. Funny how that happens.

  8. Oh boy. I was going to be a world traveler, live in a big city, and be a big shot in business. I didn’t see myself married with kids any time soon!

    I met my husband in college (my first long-term boyfriend) and I never moved out of the midwest. I’ve traveled some (thanks to my husband’s job!), live in the suburbs, and can’t imagine working in a 8-5 type of job. Thank GOD I followed my heart and the path I’m now on.

    I totally understand the rush of time and the worries that go along with motherhood. All the more reason to be here now…each moment is so precious.

    1. I was going to be a world traveler too! I still cannot believe I am in my forties and have yet to travel to Europe. And yes, each moment is precious. I try to remind myself of it every day.

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