the one about dreams

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From our hike a few years ago

Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’.

Do you know where this is from? If you said “Pretty Woman” you would be right. If you did not – well, you need to brush up on your movie trivia, don’t you?

I did, I watched Pretty Woman the other night, trying to pass the time during heat induced insomnia while hubby enjoys much cooler temps overseas. I have seen this movie a few times over the years (I am a movie buff; just a bit of me trivia), but I don’t remember these lines, just before the closing credits, after “She rescues him right back.”, Julia Robert’s last line. It got me thinking of my own dreams, where they’ve been and where they are heading (if anywhere).

Pretty Woman came out in 1990, the year I finished high school and troubles were brewing for Croatia, a little country in the Balkans I come from. Actually, to be completely true to the facts, Croatia was still a part of Yugoslavia, but not for long. I was also in a souring relationship, but we still enjoyed going to the movies together, which is why I waited in line for hours to see this movie on the opening night.

But most importantly, it was the time I was still working on my dream. And I had a big one. Move to US. I didn’t know how it’s going to happen or when but I knew it WAS going to happen.

See, when I was 10 years old my father moved us all to Houston, TX for a job. It came out of the blue, after a more senior engineer found out he would not be able to go due to his heart problems. We only had a few weeks to pack up, learn a bit of english and move 8 time zones away. I was terribly shy but also very impressionable and those 9 months we spent in Texas, were the best in my life. So going back was hard. Yugoslavia was a poor communist country (we were on this side of the iron curtain and it wash;t so bad as for those communist countries on the wrong side) and we didn’t have much! We had enough, but to an 11 year old, who just a few months ago spent a few days in Disney World, returning to a tiny apartment was a bit of a shock.

And then one day a store on the other side of the road from our apartment building got a shipment of oranges and coffee. I sat at my 7th floor window and watched people line up in front of the store, around the parking lot and all the way to the other building. In Houston I could eat oranges, and watermelons and green bell peppers year round! I could’t really understand what was going on and why but that day, looking out that window, I promised myself that I will do everything in my power to go back.

And that was my dream. That’s what I thought of every moment of every day.

It did eventually happen, as you might guess. Many years later, after I graduated from college, I packed up two suitcases and flew this time only 6 time zones away, to Atlanta, GA. Ok, it wasn’t that easy. I spent two years prior figuring out graduate schools, applying and waiting. In September of 1995 I started graduate school at Georgia Institute of Technology (the MIT of the South as it is known) as a doctoral student in Mechanical Engineering. That’s right – I’m helluva engineer (not really sure about spelling here).

And she lived happily ever after, you might think. But this is not the end of the story. No. Actually looking back on those years I realize that soon after I arrived in Georgia something happened. My dream was fulfilled. And I was ecstatic. But I was struggling in graduate school. Not academically, but I didn’t really like what I was doing. I was in the right place but I was also in the wrong place. Graduate school turned out to be just a means to an end, in this case moving to US. Turns out that my dream was flawed, incomplete if you will. I actually had no dream. No new dream. No new direction.

I realize that from then on I just let life happen to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was not bad. I met my husband. I eventually left graduate school after obtaining a masters degree. I moved to Austin and had a pretty good job. And then 10 years after I watched Pretty Woman I found myself in Southern California. The land of dreams. Wedding (actually eloping) happened, a lot of traveling, a house in Venice, first kid at 32, second attempt at graduate school, failed again; second kid at 36, becoming a stay at home mom. It was just happening to me. I had no plan.

And now I am 42. Yes, 42. How did that happen. At 38 attempt at another child. Failed. With the second baby I found out I had a genetic condition that makes it hard to conceive. Without going into much details, basically 2/3 of my eggs are bad. Useless. It was a little miracle, doctors said, that my kids were conceived naturally. But third time, no charm.

And that hurt. That still hurts. It hurts so much I really don’t like thinking about it. And I do not talk about it, not even to my husband. Because I am afraid I will break down. It hurts so much it is hard to look at old photos. It hurts constantly.

I think it is time to stop letting life happen to me and have another dream, a goal. The baby train has left the station, so I must turn around and find a new path. A new passion. For the last few months we have been talking about moving from LA. It was my idea. I have always had a love/hate relationship with LA, especially since I started driving kids around and spending ridiculous amounts of time in the car. But now… I have a feeling (and I will borrow words from another movie I saw recently “The Hundred-Foot Journey”) that “the vegetables in LA have no soul”. It’s not about veggies, of course, but I do feel something is missing here. Something is lost maybe. Or is it just that the grass is greener… and all that. Or is it that I lost my soul. Could it be that in the process of life I lost myself?

I want to feel passionate about something again. There are many things I like, a few a like a lot. But I want to feel that same passion that drove me to fulfill my first dream. That will keep me up at night. That will give me that feeling you get when you climb on top of the hill and see the magnificent view; the feeling you get when you hike through a rain forest; the feeling you get when you are caught in the rain. This might not do it for you, but you know what I mean. But to have a passion is to have a dream. And I don’t have one right now.

Where do I go from here?

(maybe that should be my blog tagline :))

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