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Froggie chose this week’s topic, and she said, simply, “It’s that moment where . . . ”
Many things popped into my head, so I went with the first: It’s that moment where you realize you will never learn to speak French.
Years ago, for a reason I don’t really remember, I had a burning desire to learn to speak French. It struck shortly before law school graduation, shortly before my first (and only) trip to Paris. I was young(er) then, young enough where I could still learn to speak a new language if I really tried. So I plopped down some cash for a set of Pimsler CDs and played them: in my room, in my car, whenever I had a few moments. It probably goes without saying I never exactly became fluent; although I can say “good morning” and “good night,” I was completely lost when I stepped foot off the train in Paris. I kept the CDs; I figured someday I’d really study and learn the language.
But I didn’t. And now, nearly a decade and a half later, I realize I never will.
I’ll never learn to speak French. Or Italian. Or Spanish. I’ll never learn to do Algebra. Or knit. Or swim. I’ll never be rich and/or famous. I’ll never write a blockbuster movie. I’ll never argue in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. I’ll never live in London. I’ll never visit Monaco or cruise the Mediterranean. I’ll never have a son or foster a child. I’ll never marry Jon Bon Jovi. And he won’t sweep me off to live in a castle in Europe.
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
At some point in my life, I imagined doing all of these things. I wanted these things. I saw no reason why I couldn’t have or do them. But now, years later, I know I won’t. In some cases, my age is the issue; in others, it’s financial (in one, it’s a pesky law against polygamy). And that’s okay. It is. I’ve made peace with these things, even as I realize their absence.
Do I still want these things? Maybe a few. But I can’t say my life is empty without them. Because for all the moments I realize I won’t ever learn to speak French, in the moments I realize what I don’t have, there are other moments in which I realize those things I do have that I never expected, never thought to wish for: the people, the places, the achievements I have that were never on my radar but which now fill the gaps left by those other things.
I won’t live in London, but I’ve lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Hollywood and Middle Tennessee. I didn’t wish for those things, but I got them, and they were (and are) good. I won’t have a son, but I have three daughters, all of whom are amazing and none of whom I’d ever swap out for a son. (And maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll get a grandson.) I won’t pen a movie script, but I have written a book – and maybe someday someone will even publish it. It won’t make me rich and famous, but I have a sneaking suspicion those things are overrated. (And I like my alone time much too much to ever be recognized wherever I go.) I have my parents, and they’re healthy; so many of my friends and relatives don’t have that privilege. I am also healthy, as are my kids; those weren’t on my wish list, but they sure should have been. They are now.
I’m not upset about the fact I will never learn to speak French. Would it be cool? Sure. Useful? Meh – not so much. There are dozens of other ways I’d rather spend my time. Maybe the reason I’m not upset is my priorities have shifted, and what once seemed important in my teens and twenties no longer seems to matter much. Maybe I’ve come to realize time is finite and I have less now than I did then – and I’d much rather spend that time with family and friends (or even writing this blog).
Don’t worry; other wishes remain: to become a published writer; to run my own business; to help my kids grow into responsible, healthy adults; to live in California again; to own a goat (don’t ask). And, of course, to meet Jon Bon Jovi.
But I realize I probably won’t marry him. Unless he knows how to speak French.
Then all bets are off.