I've had this fantasy. Well I suppose I've had many. But this particular one was an escape. And although it was a different kind of escape than Ashley Madison provides, it was also similar in ways. It was an escape from the daily grind and took me far away geographically and, perhaps more importantly, mentally. It's been around for awhile and was devised in part after a fierce Steinbeckian phase of my readerly life. In it, I'd drive up the California coast on the back of a Harley, clad in leather and jeans, with my arms wrapped around some arrogant, narcissistic, artsy photographer-type. We'd travel where the wind blew us and sleep where the wheels stopped surviving on cheese, sourdough bread and California wine. Kinda nice right? Mmmmm hmmmmm.
I have always been a fantasizer. It started when I was just a kid. I never felt quite good enough as Logan Beth Luce. I just couldn't seem to get it right most times...at least in the eyes of those who were most important. I am not sure exactly when it happened, but I began to compensate for that inadequate feeling by fantasizing about things that I could do or be or happen to me that might make me a better version, might make me stand out, might in fact finally make me feel special. Luckily, that tendency to live in an alternate reality began to dissipate the older (and wiser) I became, but I will admit, when life's highly stressful, I still have a tendency to slip away back to the land of fantasy, back to the California Coast, to the Harley, to the wind in my hair.
Is it just me? Or do you all have fantasies as well? I mean we have certainly discussed ad nauseum here that this parenting thing can be a real ass-whipping from time to time. And we now know that there are MILLIONS looking for fantasies on that Ashley cheating site. So, I suppose it's natural to day dream or night dream or laundry dream about being somewhere else or being someone else...right? Perhaps, right...but I am starting to think that living your fantasies, that is, taking them OUT of your head may help to foster things other than contempt for the familar.
What? No. NO! I am not advocating running away with an arrogant photographer artsy type intellectual dude. Not at all. It's just that lately, I have had this urge to stop fantasizing and make some things--the recurrent fantasies into realities. If I can dream it, then I can do it.
So with some careful planning and budgeting I made the California trip a reality. No--again--not with the arrogant, narcissistic, intellectual artsy photographer but with my husband of 15 years and our five-year-old daughter. Instead of a Harley, we traveled in a Toyota Corolla. (It WAS supposed to be a convertible, but that is a DIFFERENT story. PS--Never rent from Budget! **Eyeroll**) Instead of the wind blowing us to and fro, we had tightly planned stops recommended by many thoroughly read articles about the PCH. And instead of the wheels stopping where they may, they stopped to let us sleep at some of the top recommended hotels along the coast. I know. I know. That doesn't sound at all like the fantasy I had in my head does it?
Well, you'd be right.. It wasn't. But you know what else? That trip...my trip, the real trip was BETTER than the fantasy. So much better. The views were breathtaking. The distance from home was exhilarating. The experiences were life-changing. It will be looked back upon as the trip of a lifetime. But really, I knew that the trip would be ALL that before I decided to make it a reality. But here's something I didn't know...the thing I want to share with you all...you can absolutely live a veritable fantasy with those that are your reality. I am not sure why I didn't know this before. I am not sure why it took a trip across the country to teach me that, but I am so completely happy it did.
Try and follow me here...even IF I somehow pulled off that fantasy in my head, the cycle, the wind, the wheels and all, there'd still be a reality waiting for me. There'd still be the consequences of the escape.. There'd of course still be my mom-brain that wouldn't stop thinking about those children of mine. There'd still be the mortgage to pay back home. There'd still be my work, my writing. There might be flat tires on the bike and those hog wheels might stop us at a motel infested with bed bugs. And that's just it; when it comes to those fantasies that we conjure and sometimes concentrate on we forget that fantasies NEVER include inevitable realities.
But with my husband, Jeffrey, that inevitability WAS the fantasy. Let me explain. On the fantasy trip there's no way that the narcissistic photographer would have tolerated or understood my tendency to burst into tears at each overwhelmingly breathtaking ocean vista on the Pacific Coast Highway. But Jep did. I am sure the fictional photographer would have guffawed at my sobs of joy when we pulled onto Mission Street in Carmel. But not Jeff. Nope. He knew enough to let the tears flow. He'd reach for my hand and remain quietly pensive knowing how very thick the wanderlust cords are that tie me.
That artsy dude may not have known or cared that the sight of a 15 year old gangly boy walking down to the ocean next to his older brother would instantly transport me to memories of my second son which would instantly make me think the sad thoughts that come with his addiction and his prison sentence. He wouldn't have known to tell a corny joke to us right at that moment to take me out of the gloom. But Jeffrey did. The photog wouldn't have rejoiced at the fearlessness my daughter had for the white foamy monster-waves that crashed the pacific shore. Heck...in my FANTASY, my daughter wouldn't have even have been there. That means I would have missed those high pitched squeals of delight that emanated from her when we crested those giant roller-coaster-San-Francisco-hills on our tandem bike and flew down them at light speed. Without Ila and Jeff there, I wouldn't have belly-laughed to the point of exhaustion at the her dad's attempt to win Ila a giant bear at the strongman game on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Without them, the trip wouldn't have been fantastic.
In the human experience, I know that there is nothing so intoxicating as the zippy passion that happens with the newness of a relationship. The courting chemicals pulsate and make it so that every nerve ending is on fire and wide awake. That feeling, for reproductive's sake, is understandably heady and exhilarating. I suppose that is the pull of Ashley Madison's cheating site. That high is hard to deny. Long term relationships like the ones with our spouses and children lack that "I feel like I'm parachuting into the Grand Canyon" kind of feeling. But I would argue that while habitualization causes a loss in that way, we gain something so much more. With intimacy and familiarity, we are gifted a depth of understanding for one another, a tolerance and acceptance that I sometimes think we seek eternally. We shouldn't overlook the obvious humans in our lives. There is a distinct sweet satisfaction of living your dreams along side of someone whose dreams are similar, whose thoughts are in tandem with yours and whose experiences are parallel.
My favorite part of the California Coast trip was a quiet moment at Carmel Beach. There, sitting on our beach towels while Ila ran along the shore, Jeff and I unpacked our lunch. There was sourdough bread and 8 kinds of cheese picked out at a local store. While we ate and watched our daughter, Jeff said, "I can't think of any other place I'd rather be." I couldn't either. It was quite a fantasy.