There’s a house on my ice cream route that I pass nearly every day.
Honestly, there’s no real reason for me to even be driving by it. I don’t remember a single time anyone has ever actually bought ice cream in that neighborhood, but I still troll through on a weekly basis. And why? To catch a glimpse of my dream house.
It’s not even the actual house that I’m in love with, it’s the colors. Crisp white, dark navy blue shutters and a bright red door. And I mean a bright red door. The kind of red that says, unapologetically, "I know who I am, now you know who I am, deal with it."
The thing is, when I think of the American Dream, I tend to think of a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence and some kind of groomed shrubbery. A man and woman stand out front, their 2.4 children and golden retriever clamoring around their feet. The woman is wearing an apron and holding a plate of freshly baked cookies (or an apple pie). She sports a clearly pregnant belly, while the rest of her remains slim and toned. The man has short hair and is dressed in a "casual" business suit; maybe his sleeves are even rolled up. Both of them wear fulfilling, but probably fake, smiles. There's a large pickup truck in the driveway with mud on the tires and random pieces of lumber in the bed. Next to the truck is a tricycle...or a shotgun. Definitely a grill in the backyard, maybe even a swimming pool. Oh yeah, and an American flag is on display somewhere on the front of the house.
I have seen this exact picture countless times on magazine covers, and contrary to the media's intense desire to shove this image down my throat, this picture is not my dream. And I'm not so sure it's other peoples' dream either.
What about the people who don't want kids, or are allergic to dogs? What if the picture revolved around a gay couple, and displayed two women or two men in the front yard, smiling with their children? What's wrong with that?
Nothing is wrong with it. Our dreams are what we choose them to be. Screw the critics, I say do what you want.
As a matter of fact, I say screw the idea of living for the future altogether. The whole concept means that my present life is, by default, subpar to my future life. That's ridiculous. It's ridiculous to think I'll be happier someday when I'm married, have children, or lose 20 pounds. I understand having goals, and striving for something better, but that doesn't mean neglecting the importance of what you are going through right now. Sure I long for the day when I no longer have "homework" at the top of my to-do list, or have to rely on night shifts and ice cream sales to pay for tuition, but these experiences are shaping me into the person who can truly appreciate my goals when I eventually achieve them someday.
Not saying I don't have a picture of my dream house in my mind, one with a red door, window boxes, and a porch swing. Oh and some kind of secret room where the only entrance is via sliding door opened only by pulling a specific book on a bookshelf (probably the 6th Harry Potter Book, or The Count of Monte Cristo...hey it's my dream, isn't it?). But it's just that, a future dream, something to look forward to.
The point is, I have the right to paint my own picture of my future life. My definition of happiness is my own, not some media-generated falsehood. Right now I have the freedom to blog about whatever is on my mind, the love of my life sitting next to me, and a belly full of fresh homemade Rice Krispy Treats. Who's to say I'm not already living the American Dream?