Friday, January 13, 2012

Spin Cycle- Dreams

Ack, I'm late!  I really want in on Gretchen's first run at the Spin Cycle, so I'm hoping she's as nice about my tardiness as Jen was.  Or maybe it would be better if she's not so that I have to get my act together!  I'm going in whole hog, though, and even throwing up the button.  See it up there.  It's even a link.  Maybe that'll get me in.

The inaugural topic was "Dreams".  Which is fairly fitting considering PB and I had talked about dreams over the holidays. 

Back story->

A good friend had some folks over to his house over the holidays.  The guest made some disparaging remarks about the humble American Dream life- house in the burbs, two kids, dog, picked fence- you know what I'm talking about.  Now, this is the life our good friend aspires to.  The "dream" handed down to us from our parents.  The guest seemed to think that throwing away the idea the dream was like shedding your childhood, becoming an adult and making your own decisions.  The host seemed to think that growing up was accepting that the dream really is the good life.  A difference of opinions, to be sure. 

This is where the conversation started at home.  PB wanted to know if I was happy with our life.  Because, you see, I am living "The American Dream".  I have a nice place in the burbs, two adorable-happy-healthy little boys, a few pets and a picked fence around my pool.  We both have good jobs that we like.  I am close to my in-laws (in both proximity and emotion), and I think that's great.  My weekends consist of laundry, play dates and the occasional baby sitter.  Most of you are familiar, because you're here, too. 

I guess what PB wanted to know was do I feel like this is enough?  Had I outgrown the dream?  Was I itching to throw off the establishment and turn my family into a mini-revolution?  The answer is no, I don't feel like I'm missing anything.  I love my life.  I wouldn't trade it, and I do think I'm living the dream- my version.  My first response was that the first part of "growing up" is to realize that what your parents had, and what they gave you was really not only "not that bad" but pretty darn good.  But that short changes a lot of people that I have respect for.  People who have moved away from the traditional dream for good, in favor of forging their own path to happiness.  And I think they're great.

We then went on to acknowledge that, maybe, just maybe this person represented the shift in America.  There's nothing wrong with the house/kids/dog/fence dream.  But it's not for everyone, and not every one can or wants to achieve that. People are happy choosing to be single, or live with their significant other in a studio apartment, or maybe buy a farm and raise pigs.  The new status quo is that there is none.  No one is right or wrong to live their life in whatever fashion feels right.

Which brings me to today.  I think this shift in "the American Dream" makes some people uncomfortable.  If we all want the same thing, we can all be compared.  The euphemistic "keeping up with the Joneses".  But when we acknowledge that people are different and want different things, and so many different things are available- how do you compare?  How do you know if you've achieved?  You really have to look into yourself and decide if you're happy with where you are and where you're going.  And if not, don't look at your neighbor, look inside some more and change directions.  Ouch, how uncomfortable and, at times, almost impossible.  Far easier to say we should all be the same and remain comparable.

Am I simple because I've chosen the traditional path?  Have I not tried hard enough to make sure my "inner me" is fully out there?  My friend's guest thinks so, I'm pretty sure (yeah, they know me, too.)  But you know what I think?  Hells, no.  I still wear my converse sneakers to play dates and that's good enough for me. 


gretchen said...

Wow, this is so well-written and thought provoking! And I completely identify with what you're saying. It's something that Jimmy and I often feel differently about. He has a knee-jerk anti-establishment reaction that comes from his old hippie days. There are often things that I think are "nice" and "tasteful" but he thinks are "pedestrian". It just drives me crazy! I'll want to decorate a room so it looks like a magazine, and to him the worst thing would be the room looking like something out of a magazine. Usually we compromise by riding the fence between "American Dream life" and "crazy artistic life" - not an easy fence to walk!

You are never too late! THank you so much for joining in. You are all linked up!!

Ginny Marie said...

I definitely live the American Dream, in the 'burbs with two kids. But no fence! I love my life, but it's not for everyone.

CaJoh said...

I think we all want to be comfortable where we are. I don't think that if you move out to the suburbs and have the kids and the pet and the fence that is all that there is. Sometimes I wish I could own a home, but that dream is slowly fading the older I get. I will just have to make wherever I live my home.

Thanks for a great thought provoking spin!

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

Interesting and I hadn't even thought about that, but it's so true. Why in the world would we think that the American Dream would be the same for everyone? I think I'm still figuring out what mine looks like.

Michele said...

You wear Converse sneakers also? I knew I liked you.
Very well said, my dear. We can all make our own "American Dream".