“Today, I do not want to live the dream,” I told my Someone. We were in Grand Rapids, taking our usual walk when we stay in Grand Rapids, about to have our usual coffee at our usual coffeeshop. Our usual truck was in the shop, and we were unusually worried about it. It needed to be fixed so we could move to Minnesota by Saturday. It was Thursday. We were losing time. We are usually told at least once a night that we are living the dream. That moving from one place to the next, walking sidewalks we don’t pay taxes on, having destination coffeeshops and farmers markets that span the entire country that regularly fall into one calendar year is all a fantasy that only a few of us are in on.
Usually, I am in love with this.
This day, I don’t want to live the dream.
“What would you like to do instead?” my Someone asked me.
“I would like to be boring,” I said.
I then proceeded to tell him about my ideal boring day– waking up in a townhouse, going to the gym to work out on the elliptical, drinking coffee before 8AM, working from home.
“What is your job?” my Someone asked.
“Selling insurance,” I said. “Or copy editing.”
I then proceeded to lose all of my health and body conscience decisions. I would eat lunch meat ham sandwiches with iceberg lettuce on white bread and Miracle Whip sliced diagonally.
“Whoa,” my Someone said, “Miracle Whip?”
“It’ll be the only tangy zip of my day,” I said. In my fantasy I would have a cat and my dogs and two fish. My Someone would come home at 5 and we would eat pasta and then walk our dogs and watch TV for two hours before reading in bed for one hour only to do it over again the next day.
“Sounds like you have it figured out,” he said.
“Yeah. And we are saving up for a vacation to Italy. We got a deal through our wine club.”
“‘She wanted France, I wanted Spain, so we settled on Italy!'”
“What was that?” I asked, startled for him to be engaging in my fantasy.
“That’s what we are going to tell our couple friends. It’s our big story– that’s the punchline.”
We walked back to the street we were parked on. We dropped the bags of dog poop in the garbage. We stepped inside the camper.
“I want my old life back,” I said.
“The one you are living right now?” he said.
“Yes,” I said, “I really hate Miracle Whip.”
My Someone, before we knew we were in love, admitted that he used to have a dream that I would be on my death bed, wracked by lung cancer, wherein he would hold vigil by my side. Before I passed on to the Great Breathing Lung in the Sky, I would pull him to me– tubes aside, of course– and we would have our first and only kiss. And he would be sustained a lifetime by it.
“Why was I always the one dying in your morbid dream?” I asked him.
“Seemed like the most likely scenario,” he said.
He wasn’t wrong.
“Are you disappointed that we actually have to kiss every day, now, instead of just one big one to rule them all?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “This way is definitely better.”
“Because all the machines and tubes and dying, probably.”
“Yeah. The machines and tubes and dying would have been weird.”
We had been fighting for months back then.
“Sometimes I think you have to pretend I am dead before you can remember that you love me!” I had said.
He said nothing.
“But you are missing me right now when you do,” I said.
That is when he crossed the room to end the fight again.
It was after the bad fight in South Dakota, when we woke up early to the Black Hills, that I realized the danger of it all. Each morning, I was a woman living the dream trying to be a woman living the dream. I would arrange my mornings with meticulous control– the right yoga session in the well shaded spot, the perfect temperature of tea to sip on the right rock overlooking the most scenic and underpopulated view, and the most insightful thoughts to put inside my journal. All the while, my Someone drawing his own lines in his own journal. We were being healthy. We were being separate. It is just too crazy for two people to spend so much time together, we’d been told. So we were squeezing out the separate time to its fullest– feet apart, back-to-back, pretending the other wasn’t there. Pretending to not be interrupted.
I was concocting the wrong fantasy.
Maybe we are so unhealthy, all this time spent together. Maybe we are codependent. Maybe we are missing out by never missing a sunset or sunrise apart. And I don’t expect that by eating all of this alone-ness would will me to like my life more. Why should we wait til the pot has cooled and the dregs rise before we take the time to sit, side-by-side, looking to the Black Hills? Why not share our first, best memories before we divvy up time as priority and people as needs? Because with all this living as someone we think we ought to be or think we want to be, we are missing who we are. We are missing the sharing of the first hot sip. And how do we expect to huddle when we are old if we are too busy fighting the huddle when we are young?
I don’t even like Miracle Whip. I think I will try making the sandwich and living the morning in the way I am right now, instead. Right now is living the dream, after all.