Many kids fantasize about their future adult lives. At some point in middle age, you’re just compelled to reflect and compare what you wanted or expected with what you created.

When I was a kid I had two very different ideas about what my grown up life would be. One involved being married to a fabulously handsome successful man, having lots of kids, and being a stay at home mom: Volvo station wagon, church bake sales, golden retriever, PTA meetings, the whole shebang. The other involved working with refugees and orphans in developing countries. I don’t recall that scenerio involving either a man or kids of my own.

When I reflect on these two divergent fantasies, I can’t help but think 1) wow, I was a schizophrenic kid and 2) how bizarre that I’ve actually done a fairly good job of melding the two, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.

The Volvo has been replaced with a Ford Focus station wagon (I guess nine year-old Alison didn’t figure on frugality playing so much of a role in my future life). I converted to Judaism as a young adult and, like all good Jews of a certain age, I’ve recently begun exploring Buddhism. The golden retriever is a golden retriever/chow mix. The kids are just one kid and she’s adopted from Ethiopia. She’s still little so no PTA meetings yet but I figure periodically teaching her Buddhist meditation for kids class counts for something. My master’s degree is in international health and development and while I have yet to do any actual work in the field, I’m trained for it, have worked from home with programs in developing countries, and have a sneaking feeling a big leap into the field might be right around the corner. The handsome/successful man, well, he never materialized and when I do imagine a partner now, she’s a girl.

On the day I was born in rural South Louisiana nearly forty-three years ago, my parents could not have fathomed that I would one day be a Buddhist/Jewish lesbian single mother of an African child. It just wouldn’t have occurred to them but apparently it occurred to me. But why? What was/is different about me?

I have no idea but I do think I was different from the start. I never felt comfortable in that world. I do feel comfortable in the one I’ve created. It’s not perfect but it’s perfectly me.

It’s early yet, but I wonder what my daughter will fantasize about her adult life. I imagine her as a fabulously successful dancer or artist, globetrotting for performances or openings but I won’t bat an eye if one day I visit her in a suburb, Volvo hovercraft parked in the garage.

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Alison Aucoin is descended from people who spent their weekends dressing up in costumes and taking silly photos of one another to send to relatives who were serving in the Pacific during WWII. She makes her living as a freelance grant writer but is much happier squeezing playdough with her two year-old Ethiopian daughter, creating photography/audio projects, crafting manifestos on her blog (http://endebetehyemhoneyelem.blogspot.com) and making costumes with her trusty glue gun. She is one of only about a half dozen Cajun Jews in existence.

10 responses to “Future Life”

  1. Gloria says:

    I really wanted to read this, but my eight year old son was trying to talk to me about how scary vampires are (after just having a wide-awake night terror) and so I distracted him by reading this out loud to him. This is what he says in response to your post:

    “I picture me in the future working as a science engineer creating things for the future. So I’ll create hovercrafts and…yeah, that sort of stuff.”

    This is the same kid who, when he was three, told me that he was going to build a rocket so that he could get all the people off the planet when it is no longer good to live on. The same kid who told me one day recently, out of the blue, that he wanted to go to church (he said this to his very non-religious mom.)

    “Oh yeah?” I asked. “What kind of church do you want to go to?”

    “I want to be Jewish,” he said, after thinking about it for a moment.

    “I think you have to be born Jewish or marry a Jewish person to be Jewish,” I said. (I was wrong, but didn’t know it at the time.)

    Indigo thought for a minute and said, “Well, I’m half Jewish.”

    “Oh yeah?” I asked, giggling. “Which half of you is Jewish, Indigo?”

    He thought really hard for a few minutes then said, “My head and my feet.”

    Somehow, I think all of this is all related. Then again, maybe it’s late and I’m reading meaning into everything.

    At least there are no more vampires.

  2. Zoe Zolbrod says:

    Your post made me very happy. Happy independence day!

  3. Irene Zion says:

    Sounds like a pretty good life to me.

  4. Simon Smithson says:

    “The golden retriever is a golden retriever/chow mix.”

    This is the greatest surprise of all.

    Is there anyone who is actually living the life they visualised as a kid? I don’t ask to be rhetorical, I mean, is there anyone who is? Law of averages, there must be, right?

    • Alison Aucoin says:

      I’m sure there are but I think, unless they were particularly insightful children, they are now incredibly bored or kind of freaked out. I often wonder about the girl on my school bus when I was ten who wanted to be a hooker. (She liked the way they dressed.)

  5. Andrew Panebianco says:

    “I converted to Judaism as a young adult and, like all good Jews of a certain age, I’ve recently begun exploring Buddhism.”

    That made my damn day.

    And like any good atheist… I secretly wish I was Jewish.

    This was delightful.

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