We went down to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the culmination of a week’s long band camp. My daughter was away from all four of her parents for a solid week and she came back (in her words) “a better person”.
Okay, yeah, she said that. To be twelve and to feel all the passion that a day holds is a remarkable thing. But that’s really her story. And if you know anything, you know this is all about me.
As we walked along the quads to kill time before the grand finale band concert, I got the same feeling I do at any campus, albeit this is a truly lovely campus. I get a feeling of home.
Home. How strange. I recall the first day I was dropped off at my dorm, seventeen years old and I could not wait for my parents to leave. I was never the homesick sort. I couldn’t wait to meet the people on the floor, see everything college had to offer, well, yeah and find the person with the fake ID.
Now over twenty years later, and here we were walking around and all I could think was how can I make this a part of my life. Not my day but my life. By the time the concert was over, our one oboeist holding her own among the thirty clarinets and an equal number of flutes, I had concocted a master plan to send my husband back to school for his doctorate so that I could eventually get free university housing and write.
We’d be broke in a rundown university town apartment, but we’d be surrounded by people talking and reading and writing. I would be so good with that. I thought I could pick up a local job bartending to subsidize our income until it occurred to me that the last time I bartended I was twenty years younger and I didn’t look like a soccer mom. I may not be the first pick for the job.
My dreams get so flip-floppity. The only consistent is to make time to write and to move wherever we need to in order to do that. We’re six years away from being able to move wherever we want and my fear is that I’ll lose the dream between now and then and be too focused on the fear of poverty to take the chance.
Do other people worry about that or take the plunge? My dad worked at least four jobs while I was growing up, all because he didn’t want my mom to work. My husband’s parents did the best they could but there were times that they didn’t have enough money for food. That’s a feeling that never leaves you. I remember when I was out of work for a year, and my husband, never one to complain just stopped speaking. It’s what introverts do when they freak out. I swore then I would never ever put him through that as I have an ability to make money, and the silence just about did me in.
Then I saw the campus and my brain starting whirring and I had him accepted into a doctoral program in literature, a program he begun twelve years ago until life got in the way. I want us broke and happy and artsy-fartsy in the best possible way, yet a part of me knows it isn’t the way that will work for us.
Yet, it’s a dream that won’t quite die, despite the fact that he doesn’t know if his brain has what it had back when he was in the program.
Or, maybe I should just focus on making lots of money and starting my own writing commune where we all play to our strengths. Really, that’s not the worst idea I’ve ever had…
I’ll be out of touch for a bit researching our commune. I’ll keep you posted my writerly folk.