by Lisa

I forgot myself in the pursuit of the American Dream.

The words “financial stability”…”401K”…”benefits”…sweet to my ears, a ping in my heart.  I’ve never known any of that.

I am a willing learner, an eager employee, a dedicated and able-bodied member of every company I’ve ever been a part of.  I’ve loved my jobs, except for the Chinese restaurant.  I even liked the diner with the floods and the cockroaches, despite the floods and the cockroaches.  My resume, however, resembles that of a very, very creative middle-aged college student locked in time.

There’s nothing there that qualifies me for anything more than interesting dinner party talk.  Spin all you want.  I make pretty things for other people, sometimes on other people, sometimes for other people to eat.  All pretties.

Then came Obama, and a speech about dedicating a year to bettering society.  I signed up for nursing school and dedicated myself to getting As and letters of recommendation.  When clinicals and Life intersected badly, I moved my goal a little to the left and moved to a four-year university for a Sociology degree.  Sociology—> social work?—> all described to me by fellow students, and the general public as worth less than the paper upon which the degree would be printed.  It seemed like a means to an end of my goal, a necessary step to springboard into grad school.

No, instead, I switched to Employment Relations. HR.  In academic-speak, “Applied Sociology.”  A real job with a bachelor’s, which I would need to support my daughter alone, because alone we had become since nursing school began.

Paycheck.  Benefits.  Steady.  A cubicle, even!

And over the last few months, since adding that Employment Relations concentration to my degree, I’ve felt burned out and hopeless about my future.  I was being smart, crafting a resume that would get me a Real Job at the finish line, right?

It took very direct conversation with someone who loves me to wake me up.

“What is your dream job?”

I could not think of answer, and I started to cry.  I forgot my dream job.  I forgot my dream.

During the conversation, I jabbered about being burned out with my life, school, recent failures.  I jumped into an explanation of how I could most easily earn a living without this degree I’m pursuing, with some refresher training and basic equipment.

I spent the evening with my dear sweet handsome man, and I woke up in tears.  This time, simple sorrow at having lost my ability to have a dream.  Dream job, dream anything.  I forgot to dream at all.

I remember now.  Dreams resumed, to be tended properly.  Dreams die if they’re not fed and watered.

Thank you, darling, for reminding me that I don’t want that cubicle.