I had a dream last night, in more vivid colors than I could ever imagine in my brown desert town. Yes, there are the glitzy lights of the Las Vegas Strip, but this was different: in my pre-dawn adventure, I was looking skyward at five layers of magnificent, magic-kissed tropics of the brightest greens and the bluest blues. The weirdest part of the whole thing was that I ended up there, I don’t know how, and met some sort of tour guide to this wonderful place through my mother. And to my surprise: Wow! I had had this woman’s name and phone number on my vanity mirror for a year but had never got around to calling. I didn’t feel relief in my dream, oh my, I almost missed finding paradise. Instead, it was more like, look at that: two paths, same ending.
While I was living in Costa Rica after losing my job, I mourned the end of my career and accepted a new chapter as a small business owner living overseas. As it turned out, I was simply “between jobs,” an unexpected offer bringing my sabbatical to an end. Two years after my return, many people who hear the hours I work and the sacrifices I make don’t understand why I don’t move back to the beach. My reason is simple: I can do that anytime, when I’m 40, 50, or even 60. But my current job? It has a shelf life.
After all of these unexpected twists and turns, I take experience as it comes: no “bucket list,” goals, or life plan.
But like so many others who have jumped into the wide unknown, I do have a dream. And it’s a real dream, tangible. Not just in the subconscious, foggy hours before my horn-like alarm awakes me for work, but in my return visits to the place that changed my life. It is real: I lived a year in an imperfect paradise, of colorful personalities and friends with the time to form an attachment that usually takes years. I brought back two scrappy street dogs to keep me company in Las Vegas, and in the rare moments when they are so tired they sit still with me, cuddly sacks of flour in my lap, I can see the scars on their little legs. Those marks take me right back to the magic of the evenings when they would run off – and I would hear the barking and madness of them raising Cain off in the distance. I used to be so nervous and upset, but now I look back and miss the wildness, how life wasn’t as manufactured as mine is now.
I might never have a white picket fence or a family of four, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have lived my dream already, and because it is real, I will live it again. I will travel more, see the world, move. I’m not scared of returning to paradise as soon as this particular life opportunity ends, even as the beach haunts my dreams: I look forward to the next adventure every bit as much as I am enjoying my current one. My life might not be “normal” or “average,” but I am proud of my history. I love my scars.
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