Kevin and Michelle are building a house.
They’ve been out here for two years, somehow fitting four people and two cats in a two-bedroom apartment and making it work, and they’ve just bought a 5-bedroom place in a brand new developing community. We went there today, and walked through the wooden shell of their built-to-order home, as they and Torrey explained to us what each room’s purpose was going to be, what all the furniture was going to look like, what room we get to stay in when we visit next.
“I want one,” Doug kept saying, squeezing my hand.
“I’m jealous,” he said then.
“Don’t be jealous,” I told him. “Be happy for them. They earned this. This is so freakin’ exciting.”
“You’re 24,” Michelle cut in. “Wait until you’re 35 like me. You’ll have the same thing.” (She also told us to move out here, promising we could live in the house with them if we did.)
I believe her, too, about the first thing at least. I don’t quite know how we’ll get there, but I believe that in 10-11 years, we will have a home. And a kid or two. And a dog or two.
Last week, I talked briefly to Paul again, and he suggested I come up with a pie-in-the-sky list of what I want for my life. “I’m more interested in the professional stuff than the personal stuff, but I understand that it all ties in for you.” No limitations, he told me. If my life could be anything, what would it look like?
Well, I would have a house.
I would be a writer, and get paid for the privilege. I’d have a part-time job to get myself out of the house for a few hours a day, but I wouldn’t need it. Maybe I’d stick at the grocery store, but more likely I’d work at an independent book store. Maybe Doug and I would own an independent book store/coffee shop that we bought with the advance from my second book. (First book’s advance would’ve netted us a condo in Seattle; the house, we would have bought on our own, paying off our mortgage with the money we made in our daily work, so we could feel like we truly earned it.)
We’d have kids, of course, although I don’t dare to speculate as to what they’ll be like. I’d have enough free time, between my writing and my part-time job, to be involved in their lives. I wouldn’t be the youngest mother at the elementary school, but I wouldn’t be the oldest either. I’d let my kids do whatever they wanted for after-school activities – even if they wanted to do things that never interested me, like cheerleading.
We would make enough money to afford a maid, so I would never have to clean. Doug would get to cook as often and as extravagantly as he wanted. We would travel often, occasionally leaving the kids with their grandparents so Doug and I could have romantic vacations of our own. We’d have a big yard and a couple of dogs to use it.
I’m sure there are way too many personal details in here to satisfy Paul. But like he said, it’s all connected. The dream job can lead to the dream life. I don’t think it works the other way around.
When my parents had been dating for a few years, my dad read Atlas Shrugged and then insisted that my mom write down her goals. So she did:
I’d like to be married, preferably to you.
I’d like to have children, preferably yours.
My dad looked at that list of goals, and figured he’d better help her achieve them. So they went ring shopping. I don’t think he ever actually proposed. I used to think this pragmatic lead-in to a marriage was non-romantic, but now that I’m older and wiser, is there anything more romantic than saying, “I’ll make your dreams come true,” and then actually doing it?
My parents still have that piece of yellow notebook paper in the safe, along with all our birth certificates, their marriage certificate, their mortgage paperwork… It’s like the initial contract of their life together – and here I am, a living, breathing fulfillment of it.
And Kevin and Michelle are building a house, getting everything they’ve ever wanted.
One day, I too should be so lucky.