Sunday, May 5, 2013

Peach Trees and Pipe Dreams

Kissing my four children on their foreheads, sending them off to school with their brown paper bag lunches and stepping out to my wraparound porch that looks out on hill after rolling hill of lavenders and tall, drooping trees.
That is what I want for myself 10 years from now.
I almost forgot to mention my lovely husband who turns and smiles as he hears the clink of the door shutting. He’s picking peaches from the peach tree.
The wraparound porch is white, and there is a rustic desk with a warm, padded chair. On this desk sits a luxurious laptop that plugs into the ever-so-conveniently placed outlet. Built-in speakers hum legato melodies of husky voices and whiney guitars. The smell of the flower fields lift up into my nose, and the small scent of sweet peach juice swirls around me.
A bottle of white wine sits on the desk next to the silver laptop. The cooling breeze flips my brunette bangs away from my face. I take my seat and begin typing. It says “Chapter four.” I’m writing my second novel. It’s Daniel’s day off from work, because he is a firefighter and works 24 hours on and 48 hours off.
He walks toward me with a basket of orange, ripe peaches with pinkish spots. He smiles and says, “Good morning, my love.”
I think back to where it all began. I graduated high school, got my associates degree and finally my bachelor’s degree. I was an English major with a minor in writing. I might have gotten my MFA, but it depended on the success of my first novel. Maybe the short stories I wrote and submitted to Reader’s Digest helped pay for it.
I was patient in waiting for a publisher to pick up my novel. I waited year after year, the looming threat of “self-publisher” racking my brain.
There were obstacles. Daniel and I had a rough start to our marriage. It was always
“money this” and “money that.” We worked through it.
I might have had to work as a waitress for a few years before my dream really bloomed. It’s not the most realistic plan in the world, but it’s as realistic as the reality of the 50 or so years I have left to live.
I didn’t have a fallback plan. This was my plan. I stare at that peach tree, the sweet aroma coming back to me as I finish the fourth chapter of a book that sells out.
Daniel Bennick, my fiancĂ©, envisions his future as well. He fits right in to my picture perfect plan. He says, “I would like to have a family with my wife and some kids. I would like to be a firefighter with a side job—maybe something related to fitness or sports. Fully settled in a nice house and financially stable.”
He didn’t mention a peach tree or a field of lavender, but deep down, I hope that’s what he pictures. 
Pondering what still needs to be done between now and the 10-year deadline, Bennick says, “I already got half of it down with finding a nice woman to start a family with.”
What a sweetheart. He may have only said that because I was staring intently at him.
“I feel like I do need to get my bachelor’s degree, but I also need to get a paramedic license in order to have a better chance to get on the fire department. Getting a good job and saving money is definitely a huge priority in order to reach my future financial stability,” Bennick says.
Being on the fire department requires Bennick to be physically fit, dedicated and compassionate. Bennick says these attributes are not as big a concern as money.
When asked what his biggest challenge will be, he says, “Money. Finding a job on the department because it’s so competitive. What can I do in the meantime while I’m waiting to find a department to get on?” That question stumps him, and he admits he won’t know the answer for a while.
Bennick faces the possibility that he won’t ever get on a fire department. His backup plan is getting his bachelor’s degree in renewable energy. “There’s tons of jobs out there for that,” he says.
Even though his dream career is competitive, he doesn’t think it’s too far-fetched. “It’s realistic. Definitely realistic. It’s just knowing which path to take. What are the right steps?”
            A wife, kids, a nice house and a stable career—it’s the American dream. Bennick says, “This is the American dream, but that’s not all of it. You gotta go for a little bit more.”
            He doesn’t quite know what the “more” is yet, but he says he will push harder and keep striving for something better.
How do we know when we’ve reached our dream? Bennick sums it up: “You won’t know until you get there.”
            Hopefully, “there” is standing under a peach tree smiling back at his ever-youthful wife.

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