Perhaps I should consider a name change for this blog. When I began writing Big City James, I intended it as a sort of weekly letter home to my friends and family in Saskatchewan. This was nearly three years ago, as I adjusted to life in Toronto. From the beginning, however, this blog was less to do with differences between a big and small city, but rather about my Dreams, both large and small in scope. As the doctor and I pack three years of pants and books in our little blue car (our garbage second-hand furniture is garbage), I'm becoming reflective.
I'm not the biggest fan of Oprah's homespun wisdom, but the fact that she carries Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bags on her network means I'm subjected to her faux-inspirational platitudes before a commercial break. Sidebar: Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bags is this show about these two ladies who aren't professional chefs but they are best friends and have a witty rapport. They buy a popular cookbook at a store and try to make the recipes for a legit chef who comes over and says, "Well this isn't very good." It's the best show. Anyway, one of Oprah's favourite interstitial bits is a title card that reads, "You get in life what you have the courage to ask for." Though my knee-jerk reaction is to dismiss such a philosophy as self-centred and greedy, what if it's true? What if, by not articulating my real desires, I'm depriving myself of even the chance of getting them? Maybe the Fates or God or whomever reads blogs sometimes and just by putting these desires out into the universe, I'm taking the first step to having them fulfilled.
Dream: Ask for what I really want.
Goal: Achievable. What else do I do every Thursday if not that? But my Dreams tend to be narrow-in-scope, tongue-in-cheek, and not entirely honest. There's something boring, naked, and self-interested about using a public forum to say, "BUT WHAT ABOUT MY NEEDS?" especially when your basic needs (food, water, internet) are consistently met. But saying goodbye to Ontario friends and family this week has me sentimental, emotional, and yes, a little needy, so forgive me, but here goes.
Plan: Find out what, "You get in life what you have the courage to ask for" means for me.
So what would I ask for, had I the courage? Well, I'd like to write. If I'm allowed to be specific, I'd like to write a funny tv show where the people on the show are friends and really love each other (like my friends in real life), but still say funny things and get in zany situations. And if I really had my druthers (incidentally, who da fuck took my druthers in the first place?), I'd put my theatre training to good use and give myself a small part on that show. The guy with breathing problems, maybe, or the guy who can't dance. A second or third banana that may not have a rich interior life, but always gets a laugh. But if I have to be vague, I just want to write, and make enough money at it not to obsess over my bank account every day.
I want to keep the friends and family I have, but just keep adding more. Kind of like a love snowball, where the more you pack in there, the bigger it grows. I'd like to keep the friends I have now, but add more young dads, maybe, or throw in another vegan. I'd like to know a mortician and a bartender who has no aspirations beyond being a bartender. I'd like more nieces and nephews, please, who draw crayoned pictures of my likeness, with long yellow lines for the hair. I'd like a sister-in-law whose gaze I could silently meet across the table at holiday dinners and communicate, "You're hearing this too, right? You realize how much crazy is around this table right now."
I'd like a strong body that continues to like long walks and good food. I'll cut down on the high-fat foods if it means keeping my sturdy gait and off-rhythm dance moves for a few extra decades. I'd want a less sibilant 's' just for when I'm answering the phone. A telemarketer asked if I had time for a survey the other day and I said, "Thorry, I'm in thort of a hurry..." like Drew Barrymore in ET, and he launched right into his pitch anyhow. I'd like to keep all of my hair, but if that's asking too much, I'd like to at least have a decently-shaped head under all this hair so when I start to lose it, I can cut it really short and still look okay.
I'd like to keep Dr. Jon around and for him to be as happy as I've always known him to be, but especially this past year. He's really at his dream job making unbelievable strides. He has enough self-doubt to keep him humble and curious, which is great as I couldn't bear to eat dinner every night with an asshole. No matter how long I live, I'd like for him to live just one more day, so I don't have to live in a world where that guy is dead.
I want more books and authors like the ones I've already discovered. There's nothing that changes my outlook so frequently and profoundly as books. The cliche we forcefeed children all the time is true, you really can be transported through reading. I'll read a book of such a particular style that I'll begin to believe that my life plays out in just that way. That I may as well live in Carl Hiaassen's Miami, Anne Tyler's Baltimore, Fannie Flagg's deep south, Mark Haddon's England, because I get so deeply ensconced in their worlds. I'm in the middle of a book right now called In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It is so gripping and addictive that I can barely pack the rest of my books into the boxes, tubs, and suitcases set aside just for literature as we head out on our big move.
I want that first sip of morning coffee to always be so satisfying.
I'd like a more flexible mind. I admire someone with the courage of her convictions, but I would also hope that I have a mind smart enough to be changed. This is not to say I want to be talked into becoming a Methodist or Conservative, but I'd like to know more about groups I don't belong to, and not get defensively pissy along the way.
I want to consume less porn and more art.
I want to stop overcooking eggs, chicken, and pasta.
I used to watch this show Boston Legal, where James Spader played a young hotshot lawyer, and William Shatner was a legendary attorney who appears to be slipping in his advanced age. Sometime in the first season, Shatner explains to Spader what keeps him in the courtroom past retirement age. "We're all desperate to be relevant" he says. Like Oprah's, "You get in life what you have the courage to ask for", "We're all desperate to be relevant" sticks with me to this day, because I find it to be true. Deep in my heart of hearts and gutsiest of guts, I want to be relevant in my life and the lives of others. I want to write things that change minds, I want my thoughts to be worth more than the paper they're written on. In other words, I want to matter. Is this an ego thing? Or does everyone want that? If everyone wants to matter to everyone else, can that possibly happen?
Forgive the rambling here, but I promised I wouldn't go back and edit this one. I wouldn't return to paragraphs and insert jokes in an attempt to lighten the content, lessen the impact. This is what I want and what I currently have the courage to ask for. And I also know how lucky I am to have what I have. So my Dreams will follow me from big city to smaller, and I'll continue to set Goals for myself and see what comes to pass. Sounds like a Plan.