We’ve had some pretty nasty thunderstorms here lately, leaving many people with water in their basements. Fortunately, our house had very, very little so it was more annoying than catastrophic. Due to this water, we were going through boxes and things that have been stored down there and I came across a box I have not touched in years. It contained memories from college.
Inside the box were many things I had both treasured and mindlessly thrown in to accelerate the moving process. Class schedules, pictures, funny notes my roommate and I had taped to our door, flash cards, and e-mails I had printed. Even notebooks I would doodle and journal in if I was bored at work at the mall (yes I was a total mall rat). The nostalgia hit me so hard it was almost painful. College was a very interesting time for me, simultaneously fun, challenging, chaotic, and amazing somehow.
Perhaps it was being an adult without 100% of the responsibility that would eventually come. Maybe it was that my whole life was before me, full of promise and possibility. I used to daydream about what the future would hold: what will my career be? Who will I marry? Where will I live? How many children will I have? What adventures will we create? What will all of that look like put together? My imagination would run wild with these things, picturing both the exciting and mundane. I loved to dream.
Sitting there it occurred to me how, at this point, it seems so much of my life has been decided. I know the answers to most of those questions now. As a child in school I remember how much I looked forward to the weekend. In time, I realized it was more the promise the weekend held than anything else. But I miss dreaming a little, and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps I feel a little trapped, like I can’t make any major change without disrupting the kids or job security. Not in an immature, bored kind of way. I have been very content with my life since undergrad, full of so many wonderful people and experiences I would never trade in. And I certainly wouldn’t want to repeat college all over again. Yet in the background there’s always that nostalgia that won’t be completely quiet. And sometimes, times like now when I find an old photo or hear an old song, it becomes a guttural scream; a cry of restlessness.
Perhaps I need to remind myself that life is never fully decided. That, in many ways, my proverbial “whole life” is always ahead of me; be it 80 years or mere moments. Maybe the cure for the common life is to do something spontaneous. To keep dreaming big. To believe that God still has something special up His sleeve. This can be a bit scary. After all, not all change is pleasant. And as I sit in the mildly musty basement lost in thought and memories, my little boy runs up to me and gives me a craft he made for me. My heart warms, and I pack up the past and head back upstairs to my gifts of the present; reassured that I still have the right to dream. For a romantic like me, I’m glad to have something to dream about. And glad for a little water in the basement.