Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nine lives

There are times I believe I'm the only one in the world who likes to think of the future as something tangible and malleable. I consider what I want out of life and figure out how to manipulate my experiences and visions of my adult life so that what I want becomes what I have.

Not that I believe I will necessarily attain all my goals or arrive at a certain predestined point by the time I'm in my mid-20's, but to the extent that I often consider how life could play out.

I think that freaks out some people. When I tell friends, family or romantic interests that I have certain life goals and expectations, they tend to respond either one of two ways: 1. brushing it off or 2. laughing and questioning my sincerity.

The truth is, I have had several incarnations of a life plan. But with every single one, I've felt completely seriously that they would happen. That I would end up living the way I imagined in my head. And even if things don't turn out exactly the way I picture, I'm certain that my concept of the future is not something to warrant brushing off or scoffing.

That's why I felt I might share a few of my visions of the future with you. There aren't nine (the title of this blog is a misnomer), but there is more than one - a reflection of how my goals have changed along with myself, but never because of disbelief by my peers.

1. The idea of home

Before I was old enough to really fathom moving away from home, I was always content with the idea of being an Orange County citizen for the rest of my life. I planned to go to school at UCLA like my mom and then head back south to become a veterinarian or an actress or a singer or some other mismatched career to my person.

I used to think in the context of what life would be like if I lived with my parents for the rest of my life. Looking back it's a sort of inane concept, and I can see why others might think it lame. Yet I can still see the benefits of living with a parent if, as in my case, your parent is also your best friend.

Humanity doesn't scoff at people rooming together for prolonged periods of time, but the idea of a child outstaying their welcome at home is something unacceptable. But even at the age of 12 or 13, I was telling my dad that I wasn't sure I'd ever want to be married. That maybe I could live life forever single, my only companion being him. It seems silly in retrospect, but only because being single and maintaining a healthy relationship with your parents are not mutually exclusive concepts.

After a while, I came to my senses and realized there was more to life than a plan etched out of a comfortable living situation from the past 19 years. And I moved onto my first dream life...

2. In my New York brownstone

Up until the age of twelve I think I'd been to New York City maybe three or four times at most. I had relatives in New Jersey, just over an hour's drive from the city, but because of traffic and difficulty parking and a general distaste for touristy travel, we rarely ventured as far as Manhattan.

When I was 11, though, I got really into the musical Wicked. My dad got the CD from one of his piano students and when we listened to it for the first time together, I resolved that Broadway was in style again and I would see this show as soon as possible. This was back in 2004, not even a year after the show had come out and long before it became the layman's Broadway favorite.

I started to think of a life not at home, not even in southern California, but far far away. I loved the hustle and bustle of cities, balanced out with the serenity of parks thrown into their centers (get it, Central Park?). I could see myself coming home every evening to a cozy apartment with wood flooring and an oversized couch, sipping on tea and reading a new novel each week.

For the first time, I could also see someone else there with me. There was one time when I was in New York a few years after my personal Wicked phenomenon when I walked down the street and saw a guy that - despite never seeing him before and never seeing him again - I pictured in the context of my New York brownstone life. And it all made sense.

Until a few years later when I changed the location of my dream, the idea stayed virtually the same. And actually, the concept hasn't changed much despite the location being altered quite significantly.

3. Finding reality in London

Because by the time I was 14, I'd been to London. And once you've been to London, you never go back. Or at least you never want to.

From then on, my image of a brownstone in an upperclass section of Manhattan was replaced by an equally posh, but somehow infinitely more beautiful idea of living in Hampstead Heath in London. This is an area that can look like a small town, a city, a village and a forest all within a couple miles' radius. When I walked down the street in Hampstead for the first time, I could feel myself settle into a feeling of calmness and sheer bliss. Being surrounded by trees, but also no more than a 20 minute commute to central London was what my heart had been waiting for back in New York.

This is the place where hustle and bustle collides with deadening quiet. And where you can imagine yourself living with sophisticated style and class, but also with a plethora of supplies for DIY crafts and fixer-up projects strewn about your flat. And unlike New York that seemed like an unreachable dream to some extent, I have always seen Hampstead as a reality.

Since that transition, I've toyed with idea of moving to countries where English isn't the first language. I've considered options outside of my childhood, 11 year old and 14 year old goals. But even when I return back to a feeling of satisfaction with my goals, I'm still met with disapproval by those around me - if only because they don't understand.

I guess the truth is I don't need anyone to understand, except me. Because when it comes down to my final decisions - of where to apply to jobs, where to move, where to date, where to do anything - those choices will come from me and me alone. Others may factor in, but first and foremost I'm living to find fulfillment in my life. Where others fit in is beyond my control; what's important is the path I lead.


1 comment:

  1. I don't disapprove!! Just so you know :) I'm all about planning for the future... I have all kinds of plans; I'm just a little afraid of having too many because I know life never goes according to plan haha. But I seriously support all your ideas for living wherever you want.