I was 17 then.
Back when you got a girl’s number, called her up and awkwardly muddled through subjects until eventually, you both were okay with either making a joke about everything or hearing each others breath whisper into the phone line. In these moments, time was irrelevant, until you got off the phone, looked at the alarm clock and realized you only had 3 hours left before you had to get on the morning school bus.
At 17 you thought you had it all figured out (when don’t you think you have it all figured out?), but the thing about our youth is that we were always pondering over who we were going to be.
I remember being on the phone with a crush. Whether she knew I was crushing or didn’t know I can’t really remember. What I do remember is how free and open my heart was to some of the grandest of possibilities. I mean like that Aladdin ” I can show you the world” kind of feeling.
The conversation sort of went like this:
“What do you wanna do when you grow up?” I asked. She said, “I don’t really know, what do you wanna do?” I guess I had been squirming, waiting for someone to ask me such a simple question. It was that final twist to a shaken up bottle of soda. With the release of the built-up pressure of all my dreams and schemes.I told her “I wanna help people, but not like a doctor or counselor. I wanna touch millions of people! I always have these visions or glimpses of seeing myself on a stage in front of millions of people, but I never really see exactly what I’m doing, I just know it’s big!”
She reacted like she had really gotten soda all over herself. The way most people do. Initially, they’re shocked that soda has burst all over them, and they take the time to wipe off their clothing. Then they proceed to enjoy what remains of the beverage.
She was silent for a second. The initial shock.
“Wow,” she said (the wiping of the clothing),”that’s a big dream.”
She’s now drinking what’s left.
“I believe you can do that.” Satisfaction outweighed the shock.
I grew up dreaming big and wondering why people around didn’t often do the same. The thing about life is that sometimes dreams get deferred.
Langston Hughes wondered what happened to such dreams:
“Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”
10 years later I soul search in an effort to answer the same questions…