“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden
D.J. has left. After two years of community college, he decided it was time for him to grow up, and to chase his dreams.
“I go to seek a Great Perhaps!” he said with his usual dramatic flair, as he lugged his suitcase down the driveway. Then he paused and turned back toward me, his eyes full of emotion. “I’ll miss you brother.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Ditto. Hey, remember me when you’re rich and successful.”
He grinned and gave me a two-finger salute. “Will do.”
Then he was gone.
Over the next several months, he sent me electronic letters, called emails, and called a couple of times. He was loving life at his new university. His dormmates were cool. His classes were cool. He was making new friends and learning important new skills, like hacky-sack, and how to take exams when you haven’t slept in twenty-four hours. But soon, his busy new life overwhelmed him, I guess, because he wrote less and less.
And me? I was stuck in Palmas Muertas, where I continued selling junky used cars. That is, until the car lot where I worked went belly-up all of a sudden. Turns out that Honest Bob hadn’t been so honest with paying his taxes.
I found a job at another car lot, but it didn’t pay as much. Bills began to pile up, and all I began to charge everything to my credit card – food, gasoline, even the electric bill. Then came the day they came to repossess Purple Rain.
“This is the worst day of my life,” I groaned, sinking into the sofa and burying my face in my hands.
Lindsay caressed my shoulders. “Then you’ve had a pretty good life,” she said. “Hey, know what I think we should do?”
“What?” I asked, even though all I felt like doing was crawling into bed for a few days and feeling sorry for myself.
“Go get so drunk, we can’t even remember our names.” Her grin was so infectious, I couldn’t help but let her drive us to a casino, where we proceeded to down drink after drink, until I had forgotten all about things like bills, and jobs, and cars, and best friends who are too busy chasing their dreams to drop you a line. Who cared? Not me. I had a good life, filled with vodka, and rum, and beer, and…and Lindsay.
“Know what we should do now?” I asked Lindsay, my words slurring. “We should – you should marry me.”
Lindsay burst into giggles. “Okay.” We stumbled together to the nearest wedding chapel. I don’t remember much – just that the minister sang all the words instead of speaking, and that Lindsay and I kept laughing through the whole thing.
Then the minister made us sign a piece of paper, which turned out to be a marriage certificate. A real, honest-to-God marriage certificate, on which I had scrawled my name in letters that might as well be Amharic.
Lindsay and I were husband and wife.
None of it was happening the way I thought it would. I was supposed to be more successful by now. I was supposed to know which direction I was headed in life. I was supposed to marry Lindsay the right way, when we were ready, and sober, and surrounded by friends and family. But everything was wrong. Instead of living deliberately, I was floating along, letting life happen to me, letting my best friend dictate every step. Now, D.J. was out there chasing his own dreams, but me? I wasn’t sure I even had a dream.
“What do we do now?” asked Lindsay the next day, as we sat together in shocked silence, staring at the marriage certificate.
I placed my hand over hers, and took a deep breath. It was time for me to make a decision. “Now we return home,” I said.
And that is what we did.
Your (somewhat happily married) friend,