Monday, August 22, 2011

Where I thought I'd be by now

I remember the first thing I consciously thought I wanted to be when I grew up was a butterfly. 
I wanted to be a pretty blue and black one, with delicate wings, and a slight body. 
I wanted to spend my days flying around, smelling flowers and being beautiful. 
I wanted to be the thing that everyone wanted to catch, but no one could.
I think I was 4 or 5 when I dreamed this up. 
When I was in middle school, I decided that I would take a road trip around the country in a VW bus. 
I would go everywhere. 
I would travel Route 66 from start to finish.
I would visit Woodstock, I would go to places with weird names just to say I'd been there.
I would sleep in fields of wildflowers, I would camp on beaches in my van.
I would play guitar and make boys fall in love with me, then leave before ever learned my real name.
I would write in my journal, and save things in jars from all the places I had been.
In high school I recruited my best friend Sarah to join me. We made plans, looked at maps, decided our futures.
We were going to take a year off before going to college, and have our epic trip. We'd get jobs in roadside diners in towns that we could stand to be in for more than a few days, save our tips and leave as soon as we had enough gas money to get someplace else.
I was going to go to University of Iowa and be a creative writing major. It's the best creative writing University in the country, my dad said. 
I was going to name my first daughter something wild, something free, something that stood for the wondering spirit I had, and wanted her to inherit. 
I was never going to get married.

I am 24. 
I still live in Phoenix. 
I don't own a VW Bus, and I never took that roadtrip.
I had a baby when I was 16 and I didn't give her a wild name.
I lost myself when I was 18, and didn't find myself again until I had my son.
We live in a condo.
I do what I can to make sure we get by.
I'm madly in love.
I'm getting married.
I'm taking on a military life with a man I loved when I was 14, and still love today.

I'm not where I thought I would be by now.
My life is nothing like I'd planned.
But I have two children who have changed me and shaped me, and showed me a world that I didn't know existed. 
I've never traveled Route 66 from start to finish, but I've felt a baby grow and move inside me.
I never went to University of Iowa, but I've known the feeling of dying in your lover's arms, and why you have to try it.
I never bought that VW bus, but I know what my children smell like when they're fast asleep, and I know what the world sounds like at 4 a.m.
I've loved, I've lost, I read my children poems before bed. 
I fold laundry, I make meals, I help my daughter with her homework.
I've wiped tears, I've kisses booboos, I've scared monsters out from under beds.
In a few months I'll be a wife. I'll probably have another baby. I'll live on another side of the country. 
I'll make a new plan for my future.

My life is nothing like I'd planned.
It's everything I never knew I always wanted.