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When I was a child, I didn’t imagine moving away. I loved our 1,100 square foot home, with its 1.5 bathrooms and thin walls. I didn’t dream of what I would do as an adult; I dreamed of making mud pies and climbing trees and biting into my mother’s delicious French toast. I dreamed of one more hour of sleep and play time with my Barbies. I dreamed of today, not tomorrow. Of Nashville, not anywhere else in the world.
The excitement of being alive, of moving, of playing with my friends, of boys, of pets and of my family kept me satisfied for so many years. There were no cell phones or computers; only books and toys and music. Television was reserved mostly for movies. I was a child in motion, and I accepted who I was, where I was – because it’s what had been chosen for me. I was living my life with imagination.
As we grow up, we choose our lives. We choose our careers, our lovers, our friends, our cities and our homes. Imagination doesn’t often rule our lives – “reality” takes its place. As we become parents, we marvel at our children’s lack of self awareness. How long will it last? How long can we protect them?
Sometimes being an adult equates with doing things we don’t want to do. In doing what’s stable, what’s safe, what’s expected. If you step off the beaten path, you are a risk taker. You are a dreamer. I like to think of it as living the life I’ve chosen for myself – I like to think of it as letting some part of that child I loved so much live just a little bit, every single day.
This past year, I have gotten things I’ve only dreamed about. I was told I could never afford the city; that I might never be a “real” writer. That I might not ever find that one person – that I might be better off alone. I am finally in a happy, amazing relationship. I live in the city I love. A career is budding. And yet? And yet… I find myself craving some version of that same simple life I had as a child; where the only tasks at hand are those in front of me – the ones I choose. Everyday, Alex and I joke: “Why can’t we get paid for loving each other? We do it so well.”
I know part of being an adult is accepting responsibility, but I think sometimes we focus too much on the wrong responsibilities. There is still a responsibility to laugh, to love, to spend time with friends and to do what we love as well as paying bills, cleaning the house and taking our kids to school.
I have always felt I was supposed to lead an extraordinary life; I have always believed that I am the exception and not the rule. I have always believed in my abilities, but the more I put myself out there, the more I am forced to play a game I’m not sure I want to play.
I have to remember that society does not dictate what kind of life I have. Though society will pressure me into weighing a certain amount, having a stable job, a 401K, a mortgage, children, X amount of dollars in the bank, a car, nice clothes, etc. – these “things” aren’t what make me happy. The man beside me makes me happy; the sleepy yawn my puppy gives every morning as she cuddles beside me and takes a deep breath makes me happy. The daily conversation I have with my mother makes me happy; the look on a client’s face as they accomplish something they didn’t think they could makes me happy. Writing makes me happy. Making a difference brings me joy.
Whether I am in this great city of Chicago or in some small corner of the world, sipping coffee and pecking away on a typewriter, I will be happy. I will take risks. I will laugh. I will find a way to make a difference. I will accept change.
And I will enjoy every moment, because regardless of all the distractions and ups and downs, I am choosing my life.
It is not choosing me.
To read more about Rea Frey and why she is so Cheeky, please click here.