because that´s when you can first start to see who you are and what you might want to do with your life. People used to ask me what I wanted, and I was a little shy of words; I wanted my life to be good. I wanted it to be rich, and full, and. . . something. I didn´t know exactly what.
I think I imagined wandering the capitals of Europe with only a backpack, staying behind a few days here and there to linger with interesting strangers, stealing naps in parks in the afternoons and crashing exhausted at a hostel in the early hours of the morning. I imagined playing my harp in the parks for strangers all over France. I imagined being the middle school teacher who performed Nirvana for class with the amp turned up, found a way to harness all that innocent idealism, and discussed the geopolitical implications of shoe choices. I imagined speaking five languages and wallowing in Dostoevsky and learning to knife fight. I imagined running, climbing, crossing India and north Africa on camel back, spending an entire summer on the Appalachian trail. I thought of joining the foreign service.
I imagined winning college ballroom competitions, falling in love with somebody smart, insightful, and kind who was also a great lead, and then teaching English with him at a tiny school in China where we´d both learn Mandarin and Tai-Chi. I imagined building a three-room, off-grid house of straw bales, with a dance studio, a huge claw footed tub, and a sleeping loft that doubled as a library. I imagined forty acres with goats and a soccer pitch, a forest and a running trail paved with soft sand where I could train barefoot every day I was home. I imagined that someday there would be at least one book, natural as hair turning gray, once I had something clear to say.
Very little of that has come true, but I have succeeded in some things. I have become only moderately unhappy, an accomplishment I refuse to be ashamed of. Even though it´s not enough.