Youth and Wisdom of the World – Twenty Years Later
When I was young I had it all figured out. I had grand plans for the future, which involved nothing less than taking the world by storm and setting it on fire (of course figuratively speaking, since the closest I got to pyromania, was lighting New Years Eve fireworks in our back yard).
It’s easy to think big when you’re 20 years old.
But as time was progressing, slowly but surely my big ideas became smaller and smaller, until one day they disappeared behind dirty dishes, loads of laundry and smelly diapers. Sooner then I would ever imagine (I didn’t even blink and all of the sudden I was almost 41), nothing was left from my grandiose planning and I was stranded income-less, prospect-less and on the mercy of an equally desperate husband.
Looking back, it all appeared so simple: you nail a well-paid job, get married, start a family and after that swimmingly (in your brand new 500-foot swimming pool) continue to enjoy your upscale life. You go twice a year on a lavish vacation, a few little spa escapades in between, have somebody to clean your three-story mansion and a nanny when you want to relax.
However the reality turned out SLIGHTLY different.
Following my husband to Europe I’ve quit the only thing that was keeping me financially above ground, my position at the University as an academic instructor. Not that it was buying me a spanking new BMW or a fancy apartment, but it was paying my bills and preventing me from starving.
And while I was looking forward to a quiet live as an expat housewife (farewell the venomous battles about scholar titles, and hello sparkling wine before five), the truth was a bit more daunting than what I had anticipated. After a few months of discovering the exiting city of London, and blowing funds we didn’t even own (God bless MasterCard), a kind of gloomy loneliness (some call it homesickness) and dreadful monotony sank in and I was finding no pleasure in drinking bubbly around the clock, only by myself. Realizing the cul-de-sac position I was finding myself in, I was eagerly ready to embrace professional life on my own, when I found out I was pregnant (and heaven only knows how I was trilled about that!).
As it turned out, being a mom was suiting me so well, that I was happy to put my my career on the back burner for quite some time to come (exactly ten years). Buried neck deep in infant poop and baby food from tiny jars, I didn’t even noticed when we changed countries and subsequently moved to France.
Don’t get me wrong here, after all we’re living our dream, but for Pete’s sake, it is light years away from I’ve imagined when back then, when I was twenty.
We do own a house (well, technically not, since we just finished paying interest, and the rest it’s the bank’s). Not to mention, that it hasn’t been painted since 1959 and the wallpaper varies from room to room, depending on building period.
The last time we went on vacation was ten years ago on our honeymoon, when we could still afford to be lavish, before the kids, the mortgage, the credit cards payments and French social insurance.
And it terms of spa, the closest I get to it, is by opening the dishwasher door when it’s operating in full power, and having vapor blast into my face – thus providing a thorough cleansing, you don’t soon forget.
The swimming pool is our kid’s apple shaped 3-feet wide bassinet, which instead of filling with sand to do sand castles, we fill it in summer with water, to cool off the soaring heat.
I don’t want to discourage anybody to think big when they’re in their twenties, but let me tell you from experience, it will be quite distanced from what you ever imagined.