When I was forty years of age, there was still hope. That whatever it is could still happen. The prosperity dreamt of; the lifestyle sought. The possibility of achievement still there, like a car full of friends waiting outside with the engine running. They are blowing the car horn and telling me to hurry and shouting my name while making room for me to get in. My hopes and dreams are promising, “We’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, come on, there’s still a chance! Get out here, get in the car, and zoom off with us to an exciting life”. I promise them that I’m coming, but there’s a few things I need to take care of first. As I tend to those tasks, looking out the patio window, I see my garden of beautifully growing expectations.
But, at age forty-five, I rush out there, and they’re gone. Where’d they go? The hopes, the dreams–have taken off without me. That can’t be! They’re tricking me, they must have gone around the corner. I know what I’ll do. I’m not going to wait for them to come back, I’ll catch up to them, run up the street, and they’ll be there laughing. I’ll be mad, but nevertheless, I’ll be in that car with my hopes and dreams, headed someplace big.
At age fifty, after chasing for another five years they’re not there. Hmmm. While I looked around, someone asked me what I was looking for. I said I’m pursuing my hopes and dreams. This person said, “It’s too late, those are gone.” The person went on to try to sell me on one of their dreams. I never considered “How can I find my dreams if I buy yours?”
I wasted time on their hopes and dreams, but I still wanted my dreams, and I missed them. Okay, I’ll go home to see if they went back there.
Fifty-two now, back home, mad as hell, and getting madder by the day. This ain’t funny. My hopes and dreams, they wouldn’t have left me like this . . . they must’ve been kidnapped. Or stolen. This is very unfair, to disappear with the hopes and dreams that keep my spirit alive! When I catch whoever did this, God help them.
Someone said a guy named Life stole them. I told that spirit breaking individual that he shouldn’t talk about Life like that. I have a garden of aspirations for Life, he wouldn’t have done this. Life is good, he’s pretty fair–Right?
Age fifty-three, still back at the house, standing there by myself. No hopes, no dreams. It can’t be . . . this can’t be happening! I’m supposed to be in that car with my hopes and dreams, out doing big things–but I’m standing in front of my house alone.
I didn’t want to admit it, but maybe Life did do this. He doesn’t seem like a very caring person. I want to kick Life’s ass. And if it wasn’t Life, then I think those assholes drove off without me! I stand here without the hopes and dreams I worked for, I sacrificed for, none of the future that I had imagined. The aspirations and expectations in my backyard garden are all sagging.
I’ve looked everywhere, worked to find them, and I’m exhausted. I’m beginning to accept that they may be gone forever. Fifty-four, and my hopes and dreams are nowhere to be seen. All the planning was for nothing. The great things I was going to selflessly do have not been done, and the charity promises I made to the world I have not fulfilled. Evidently, I was supposed to pay this guy Life with my aspirations, and because I did not settle that debt, he took my hopes and dreams.
The aspirations and expectations in the backyard are dying of thirst, unlike my palette, which I soak liberally with goblets of wine and tumblers of merciful spirits.
Maybe it’s my fault, I should have stuck with my hopes and dreams. In my youth, I had no idea that Life would come for me so quickly. My father did ask me, “Do you have aspirations for Life?” I had no idea that was a literal and serious question, I was supposed to be prepared when Life showed up. My mother warned me not to tell people about my hopes and dreams, that they would talk me out of them, or steal them. I convinced myself that my aspirations were safe and would last forever.
There must have been something I didn’t do, or did that I was not supposed to, to keep the garden in my backyard alive. Did I ignore them? Did I feed and water them enough, or did I overwater? Did I protect them?
I tried to get out of my sorrow by walking about. I saw someone my age, and so as not to offend, I watched him in a store window reflection. The man was out with his own hopes and dreams, and they all looked so happy together. It seemed everyone on the street could see his joy. And he was with life! And Life smiled on him! He owed Life nothing, Life owed him nothing; their business was complete. Then I looked at my reflection in a window and saw just me, no hopes and dreams. If anyone asks what I have, I’ll be honest, just dead aspirations and expectations for this fucking guy Life.
A child stopped to look in the same window, and he asked his parents, “One day, can we buy that toy train?” When they said, “We’ll see, maybe on your birthday”, he grinned with joy, he had a reason to dream. He had a hope to live for!
That boy used to be me.
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