notquiteold

Nancy Roman

I Never Imagined

Recently I overheard two women discussing how their lives turned out so differently from what they had imagined.

It got me to thinking about how that might be true for me too.

Only when I really thought about it, I could not claim my life was different from what I had pictured, because I realized that I had never really pictured it.

Oh, I had some vague daydreams about a job and a house and a family, but when I say “vague” – I mean this faint, shadowy idea that someday I might be an adult, and adult people did things like that.

Because, to tell you the truth, I couldn’t really see it.

I never really thought about my future. When I was a kid, I didn’t fantasize about being a grown up. I didn’t especially see an advantage to being an adult – except for the freedom to to wear makeup and not eat vegetables. It seemed to me that kids had a lot more fun. Grownup fun seemed to revolve watching kids have fun. I’d rather do the fun part myself.

And I didn’t think too much about having money of my own. Or transportation. I lived in the kind of town where I could walk just about anywhere. And I felt rich if I had a dime for a candy bar, or went to the movies once in a while.

I liked the thought of being in high school, and listened to the stories my sisters told when they got there, and of course envied that they got out of the horrendous parochial-school uniforms, but I didn’t visualize myself there, dreaming up stories about walking through the corridors or having lunch with my friends. I just eventually got there, and talked to some kids, and made it through.

I didn’t think much about college either. When it came time to apply, I looked through college catalogs in the guidance office, and then just applied to Nurses’ Training, mostly because my mother was a nurse and I thought (even in 1969, when I was rebelling against everything) that she was the coolest person I knew.

I didn’t like Nursing though. I quit – spontaneously – I just took a bus home one day, and told my parents I didn’t like it and could they give me a ride back to get my stuff.

I got a job at the Phone Company. It was really boring. So I figured I needed to go back to school. I went to my old high school and back to the same guidance office, and asked my old Guidance Counselor what to do. He said to apply to the state schools, and so I did. And so I went there.

I loved it. But I didn’t know what to major in. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. (This could be an inherited trait; my father used to say – even in his eighties – that he didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up.) I still could not picture myself in the future. I sampled all the possible courses – I had Bookkeeping and well as Beekeeping, Drawing as well as Psychology. I ended up finally with a degree in English – because through it all, I loved to read and to write.

And after I finished school, I took a job. Any job. The first job I was offered. This wasn’t easy because: 1) The economy was terrible; and 2) I was an English major.

It was an office job – typing, filing, shuffling paper. But I liked it. And the Director of Finance saw that I was pretty smart and told me the company would send me back to school for an M.B.A.

So I did.

And then spent the next thirty-five years developing budgets and playing with numbers.

And it was okay. Good, actually.

Oh, and there was marriage. I knew (again in a vague-ish way) that it would be nice to get married. But I couldn’t visualize it. I never had a goal or a dream wedding. I never practiced writing Mrs. Nancy Anybody. Not when I was 10, not when I was 16, not when I was 36.

But I kept stumbling through the dating rituals. And eventually, almost 40, I found a guy I liked who liked me too. We were temperamentally very different but we seemed to suit each other just fine.

I married at forty. I didn’t have my dream wedding, because I didn’t have a dream.  But I had a wonderful, sweet wedding that mimicked all the nice weddings I had been to in the past.  I tried on two gowns (from the sale-sample rack) and bought the nicer one.

And we’re still married 25 years later. And we bought a house, and then built a house, and have had a slew of cats (I think the correct term – like pride of lions or school of fish – is an enigma of cats). And now a dog.

Did I plan any of this? Well, I must confess, you don’t build a house on whim. A huge amount of planning went into our home. But the pertinent question here is:  Did I ever visualize myself living in the home as we planned it?  No.

So I wonder – Why don’t I daydream? Why don’t construct elaborate scenarios of the future?

It isn’t lack of imagination. I can certainly create all kinds of elaborate stories. I wrote a whole NOVEL, for God’s sake. Ninety-two thousand words imagining complete lives for people who don’t even exist.

I think the answer is this:

I am superstitious.

This surprises me. On the surface, I never thought I was.

But now after all these years, I see that it is true.

I am afraid to envision a future. To create a hope of how my life will turn out, because it may not turn out that way. I have always been afraid to be disappointed.

So I have stumbled through life without a plan – accepting what came. Delighting in it if it was good (which it mostly was) and shrugging off what was not so good as just another passing experience.

Ah, but.

But now I am old. I am past my fear of disappointment. Past the worry of ruining my life.

I know now that I am strong enough to live poor, to manage adversity, to live alone if need be. To handle whatever may come. Because I have welcomed “whatever may come” for more than 65 years, with what I think is grace and balance.

So now I want to imagine.

I want to build a castle in the air.

To create for myself one remarkable crazy breath-taking daydream.

And have it come true.

Why not?

in-the-convertible

Ready for an adventure!

 

 

 

26 Comments

  1. Ray G

    How about a South-Sea island to own, completely isolated (as hubby would want), free to swim au-naturel (as you have done), and no worries about Theo running away? “Fantasea Island”!!!
    But, without any dwarfs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the South Seas… except that it’s a long way home to come and visit. But I used to have Gauguin prints all over my bedroom.

      Like

  2. divaforaday

    I’m loving that picture at the end – just perhaps you are living the dream 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. The simple things are quite often the best. (But I would love an adventure.)

      Like

  3. A heartwarming post, Nancy. Love the photo of the ‘family’. You don’t look a day over 40.
    I was like you, going through life, taking it all in stride. No angst over a big wedding, house or husband. Okay, the latter part blew up in my face but I’m good alone again. 😛

    Like

  4. I read this post earlier and returned to comment. I lived life pretty much the way you did — rolling with what came along (life’s what happens when you’re making other plans). I think it has worked out well for both of us! When you have no reason expectations, you can’t be disappointed!

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    • Yes. But I also envy those people who have a MISSION… and can focus. Imagine what we could accomplish!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Christine

    I never had much of a career plan either — you may be right that it runs in the family. I was in the investment business because when I finished my degree (in English, with not a single business course), an investment company was the first one to offer me a job. I figured if I didn’t like it I could quit. I finally did, 40 years later. But we did have a dream of traveling, and that has come true over the last few years. Build your castle and go for it

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    • I am very impressed with your retirement. You are my role model!

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  6. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

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  7. I loved this and so could relate ~ not everything has to be planned, and I’m a planner. All 3 of you look so happy 🙂 roll with it!! MJ

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    • Maybe there is a balance somewhere… where you planners and us drifters find the sweet spot!

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  8. A good. Post Nancy. I suppose I thought I’d get married and I did. Thought I’d have children and I did. But that was the end of any planning/thinking of the future.. I have breezed through life taking things as they came. I had no plans for living in a house or living in houses around the world, but I did. I had no plans to travel but I did. And now once again, I’m on my own and taking life as it comes, including my latest adventure with all its challenges. I’m pleased to say that I did plan my recovery and worked hard to make it happen. Thanks for sharing your story.

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    • Good for you. I love the words “work hard to make it happen.” Some things are out of our control, but it is amazing how we can turn the tide in our favor when we try.

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  9. Sounds like me. I never really dreamed of how life should be until I retired and consciously focused on how I wanted the last 20-30 years to go.

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    • I figure I’ve got 20-30 years left. I want to make them count!

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  10. So much of my life has been the same, and now I’m also ready for a new adventure! Adding an almost-10-year-old grandchild to the mix has complicated our plans. But we are hoping to make some changes that will include this new responsibility.

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    • I’m sure that’s a challenge, but in some ways I think introducing a 10 year old into the mix might be wonderful!

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  11. I read this on my phone a few days ago and came back to comment. I think you were writing my life, pretty much. I too never imagined the details of my life and sort of fell into most aspects of it. I was a banker because during high school I worked in a bank filing checks. So 30+ years later I retired from a bank. Never truly liked it, but it was what my folks called a safe and stable job and besides I couldn’t imagine what else I’d rather do. Until I was 50. Then I quit for awhile and tried to get work in a library. That didn’t work so back to the bank.

    Sigh.

    I married late too…almost 40…never really had a clue what married life was truly like and never imagined myself married. I have struggled through all 26 years of married life fitting into some preconceived idea of what being a wife is. Lately I’m trying less to fit in and just trying to have fun. That works better for me.

    Now I hope to travel more, feel more free, paint some, write some, photograph a lot. But plan nothing.

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  12. caroline reay

    I never imagined I would be married with a career…my husband says he never imagined a wife like me. We think you’re all lovely, come for a curry if you ever visit the UK

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  13. Love the picture! And I hope all your dreams come true!

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  14. Why not indeed. I was pretty much the same. Now time to take wings.
    Hope your Holler-Ring is spooktacular!

    Like

  15. Gosh, I’m so glad i read this! I thought I was like the only girl that has been growing without a dream… and yeah, I totally copy you on the matter that the reason is probably that I am afraid of being disappointed. Thanks for sharing your word!

    Like

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