The year was 1993. New Year’s Day was on a Friday, so we were thanking god big time as the clock struck midnight. Whoomp! There It Is! was rocking the charts, Jurassic Park was packing the theaters, and we were still looking a ways off to Y2K with no worries yet. I was still listening to Ace of Base and feeling like I was majorly cool. It was my sixteenth year on earth, and I felt like the entire universe was open before me on a silver platter. My hopes and dreams were honestly of the “sky’s the limit” mentality, but what did I really accomplish that I thought I would in the intervening 20 years? How did my dreams and aspirations change and morph into something else?
Sweet sixteen. Here’s what I figured I’d be doing in the following 20 years:
1. Write a book, get it published, and make it big as an author.
2. Get married and maybe having a kid or five.
3. Become a singer.
4. Live and work in Los Angeles.
5. Meet Michael Jackson, and go to one of his concerts.
6. Survive Y2K.
7. Attend an Olympic games.
8. Get through college and figure out what I want to do for work.
Well, three out of eight isn’t so bad, is it? I realize now that I look at the list written out it wasn’t a very ambitious list, was it? I think I had unrealistic ambitions, but maybe I decided at some point they were too much for me. If you guessed #2, #6, and #8 as the ones I accomplished, you did a good job. I’m really proud of you. I did get married to a wonderful woman with whom I have two amazing daughters. Of course my idea of marriage was definitely different back when I was 16. I thought marriage meant you still got to do everything you wanted. There was just someone else there doing what they wanted too. It was almost like I didn’t know what to really expect because I my parents were divorced and I didn’t really have a model for what a good marriage was supposed to look like. I learned along the way though, and then to be a father too, which was even scarier. But I’m handling it all now, for the most part.
College was a bit of a trickier thing, and I thought it would be the easiest one. I mean, after all, I knew I was going to graduate from high school the following year, and we all know it’s four years of college. I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer, so I thought it would be four years and out into the real world, but I ended up doing things in a different way. It wouldn’t be until 10 years later, in 2003, that I would finally finish my undergraduate studies with my B.A. in English. My life took a detour in the time between, and I ended up going to school on and off, not knowing what I wanted to do for a vocation. Three schools later, and I finally figured it out, which was being an English teacher, and I was able to finally check that one off my list. I won’t even dignify #6 with a real response, but I will say that on January 2, 2000, I dumped out 30 gallons of water from the jugs stacked around my kitchen.
Living and working in Los Angeles was certainly doable, but it never came to fruition because my life ended up taking me to Knoxville instead, and subsequently to upstate New York. It was about college, and about relationships, but that one dream for whatever reason was not meant to happen, at least not until this point. Going to a Michael Jackson concert was a bit more difficult, though, as was meeting him, because that was the time he stopped having North American tours, so I would have to see him abroad. I had no money to go abroad, much less to pay for the exorbitant ticket price, but I kept looking at upcoming tour dates and hoping. It never happened, though, and now it won’t ever happen, but I never stopped wishing for it. I also missed the window to be a contestant on American Idol (they only take up to age 30) when I didn’t really start watching the program until I was already 30 years old. I made a couple of demo tapes, but I never sent any out. Maybe on some deeper level I always knew I wasn’t the amazing singer I made myself out to be, but maybe I could be. Maybe I could still take vocal lessons. I will look into that.
The biggest goal I had back then, though, was #1. I had already written a manuscript for a story I titled, “Good Guys from Planet Academia,” that I thought had some good potential to be a novel, but I never finished any of the editing process for it. It still sits to this day collecting cobwebs, but luckily it wasn’t the only thing I was writing. I wrote more than enough poems that could fill a four-story house if they were stacked one on top of the other. I wrote several novel-length pieces (and edited them), and I completed over 50 short stories for a planned short story collection to be released at some point in the future. Well, the future is now. I’m working hard on making this goal a reality, and I’m really excited about it. I currently have four major projects either in the process of being edited, or in the last stage of the writing process. Then I will self-publish if I have to, but a friend of mine told me about approaching literary agents, and I might do that as well. Regardless of what directions I take, I plan on having at least one novel published before this year is over. I am very proud of my aspirations, and of the legitimate steps I am taking to make it a reality.
So, I’ve come a long way since 1993, and my sixteenth year. I still like Ace of Base, though, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. While I’ve completed some of my goals, I’m really looking forward to getting more of them done very soon. What about you?