I want to remember how to dream.
And I don't mean dream like that recurring one where I'm somehow back in school and haven't gone to one of my classes for the entire semester and now it's time for finals and I realize I'm about to fail. Wait, everyone has that one, right?
No, I mean the kind of dream that involves thinking big, aspiring high, wanting and believing in something meaningful and profound.
I've been thinking a lot about how much it hurts when people don't respect my dreams, when I as a person feel invalidated, when my dreams aren't as important as everyone else's needs. And I started thinking maybe the problem was that I don't speak up for myself and tell people those dreams. But when I decided that I would woman up and own up to my dreams, to put them out there, to demand they be respected and appreciated and considered important by anyone who claims to be in my corner, I realized I had a more fundamental problem.
I didn't have anything to tell.
I don't remember when I stopped dreaming, when having a want bigger than "I want a moment to breathe" or "I want the toys in here picked up" seemed worth having. It might have been longer ago than I think. It might have happened well before I had kids.
I remember teaching kids to write memoirs, and realizing how long it had been since I'd put a pen to a paper of my own, and written anything more profound than the words "This is good, but you could flesh this idea out more."
I remember the freshman girls crying in my room at lunch, I remember giving up that free time willingly and graciously and uncomplainingly. I remember the warmth of that feeling of being needed.
I remember sitting in senior seminar discussing Toni Morrison's Paradise, feeling like everything in my life was effortless, feeling the gentleness and the ease with which the words came out of my mouth, pushing back gently but firmly, making sure my voice was heard, feeling like I was entirely in my element.
But I don't remember wanting.
I don't remember imagining something amazing and believing I could be it.
When I was six, I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up. I was a terrible dancer. I was clumsy, I was awkward, I was chubby. I had no idea. I went to dance class every week, and I smiled and I practiced.
When I was ... always, I wrote stories and poems in notebooks. I had a notebook in my room in first grade. I filled books and books in high school. I took creative writing classes in college.
I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be a mother. With all my heart, I wanted those things. I still do.
But there's a difference between wanting and dreaming. Between being and aspiring. I can be happy in my heart with where and who I am and feel like my soul needs more. To reach. To grow.
But I don't remember how to know which way to reach.