When I was little, I never really thought much about the future. At least, I don't remember thinking about it. I do remember watching Mary Tyler Moore and wondering if I would ever be that independent, quirky, successful single woman who can throw her beret up in the middle of a busy intersection. How cool would that be, right? Plus she worked at a newspaper, and, well, everyone (but me) figured I'd grow up to be a writer.
I guess I just never really thought about my path. I figured I'd go to college, but never really thought it through, which is probably why I ended up visiting four fine institutions of higher learning in four years. I did that independent single woman with great job bit for a few years and thoroughly enjoyed it, but once I acquired a cat I wondered if something might be missing. I never thought I'd get married.
Once I was married, I never thought I would have kids. I was still career-driven woman - working by day and working out by night. But still... something was missing.
Two kids and nine years later I was back on the independent single woman list, but things were different. Not only was I juggling single parenting and a job (not feeling as if I could yet say "career" since I'd been out of the loop for so long), but the thought of REmarrying didn't occur to me. Who in the world would want to parent non-biological children - freely? My life was crazy enough as it was - living that "every other weekend" double life, desperately trying to juggle "being there" for the kids and "being there" for the job - and failing on more occasions than I'd care to admit at both. Though I struggle with this thought, I think I have resigned myself to the fact that it's just going to be the three of us until these little birds leave the nest.
Which brings me to Washington, DC, the city that breathed life into something I haven't had in a very long time - a dream. As attentive as I tried to be at the historical monuments, memorials and museums, I found myself more often watching the people. So many people - from all walks of life. All with stories. Why were they all here? Where were they from? What were their lives like? Riding the METRO alone was enough to make my palms sweaty at the prospect of sitting down, pencil in hand, and interviewing someone. I would make up stories about them: that girl with the scarf draped around her neck and the sullen expression just broke up with her boyfriend. The young man in the slightly unfitted suit is on his way to a grunt government job he's not sure he's qualified for. The woman wearing the pencil skirt and hair falling in her face is wishing she didn't wear her 3-inch heels since she's going to have to run to make her meeting. So many stories. So little time when the METRO gets you from Point A to Point B in minutes.
What I suddenly wished was that I could immerse myself in this culture. Not forever. Just for a couple of months. Or a summer. Or a year. Become one of those daily METRO travelers - the joggers on the Mall dodging the wandering tourists and street performers. The movers and shakers who are served late dinners at Charlie Palmer's by waitresses that know them by name. The protestors in front of the White House. The guy clinking his plastic cup full of change at me as I pass by. Not necessarily to BE these people, but to be one with them. Find out their stories. How they live. How they work. How they cope. What their dreams are. Then on to the next city - slowly discovering the differences in culture, in thought processes, in life speed.
Of course this dream sits until my kids are grown - assuming they become successful at being adults and only require my mothering skills on an as-needed basis. Since I will never be independently wealthy enough to retire and travel the country at my leisure, my dream now is to receive some amazing opportunity from a travel magazine who loves my writing so much that they insist on sending me to these places in order to gather information for their monthly publication - with the final destination of my excerpts being a down-to-earth travel guide for those that sight see, like me, for more than just inanimate objects.
For now, it's just a dream. But it's the first time since I can remember that I really have HAD one, so it should hold me for awhile. Until then, I'm sure there's plenty of interesting people right under my nose that I could use for training purposes until my big break comes along.