Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Living the dream, in my van, in the rain

Another favorite column, published in the paper a couple of years ago.

I’m sitting in my minivan with a Diet Coke, a book (never leave home without a book), my laptop, and just enough dark chocolate to keep me happy but not feeling too guilty.  Maybe a little guilty. 

It’s Saturday.  My kids are attending a church youth activity, so I’m just waiting in the parking lot.  I already ventured off to do my Costco shopping, but I still have almost an hour to wait. It’s pouring buckets outside.   A sudden creek running down the pavement between the cars changed my initial thought of, “Maybe I’ll go inside and see if I can help.”  No.

When I was a teenager, I never would have guessed I would enjoy writing on a computer.  I made it through college with my trusty electric typewriter. I loved the challenge of writing a paper, beginning to end, one time through.  The sentences and paragraphs have to be well-planned when you know you can’t go back and make changes.  One idea in the wrong place, and Bam!  Start over on another sheet of paper.  Talk about a rush!  Do nerds have extreme sports?  Yes we do.

When I started dating a boy my senior year who owned a computer (the only one in his apartment complex), for months I refused his offers to let me use it for writing essays.  Computers, I reasoned, fell in the same category as day planners.  The truly creative needed neither.

I finally gave it a try, and never went back.  Goodbye White-Out, hello cut and paste!  Also, I married the boy.  The computer was not a drawback.

When I was a teenager, I never – ever – would have pictured myself with a personal computer on my lap, in my car.  This is not how I envisioned my grownup self.  I pictured me…with ten children, all out exploring the woods near my house, some with books in their hands, while my lumberjack husband tended trees in the forest.  (I liked the idea of a lumberjack, but never the associated destruction.  Maybe a forest ranger?)  Meanwhile, my housekeeper, Alice, would do the laundry and tend dinner.  And me?  I’d be by an open window, dressed in something soft and flowing, my electric typewriter clicking out my latest romance novel.  Diet Coke and chocolate nearby.

I got halfway there.  Still working on that novel. I had five kids, I’m at this moment wearing soft, loose sweatpants, and while I don’t have a housekeeper, there’s a job chart for the kids posted in the kitchen.  That’s something.  Also…my computer geek sweetheart both plants trees and cuts firewood.  I’m a lucky, lucky woman.

I read one of those Facebook memes recently:  “Don’t give up your day dream.”  Get it?  Like don’t give up your day job.  I like it.  Sitting with my laptop in my van, the back productively full of groceries, my usefulness as a mother secured as I sit and wait to complete chauffeur duties, I feel pretty successful.  I think the teen me would be okay with it.  My daydreams are still intact. 

When I’m done writing here, I’ll switch to the other document I have open: a romantic story I’m working on that whisks me far from parking lots and errands and whatever.  Modern mom, dreamy girl.  That feels right.  Thank heaven for minivans and laptops, and daydreams.

The rain is holding steady, and the wind is picking up. Still a long wait for the kids.  I don’t mind it.  I’m a princess perched in her tower, an authoress weaving stories from inside a deceptively common minivan.

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