One day I realized he was the American dream. I was looking at him, tall and strapping, healthy and smart, blue eyes and stubborn smile. An ethnic and cultural mélange that endowed him with all a young boy would need to make it, and make it big, in our bigger and scarier world.
Now, don’t confuse this with a compliment.
I mean, yes, I speak to his natural talents: the keen and analytical mind, the self deprecating charm, the physical strength, the work ethic, the drive to achieve.
But I also speak to the pettiness, the propensity towards dumb luck and the proclivity to rename such fortune merit. And I speak of the fear. You know that fear. It comes with the backlash insecurity of an overly competitive focus. It screams at you in the night about your neighbors greener lawn. It reminds you that his salaries bigger and his wife is hotter. It reassures you that atleast you aren’t that other neighbor. The one with the postage sized house and the dying weeds they dare to call landscaping. The ones bringing down the property value. Bringing down YOUR property value. Quick. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t let them date your daughter, Don’t get too close, failure is catching.
That beautiful and expansive American Dream. That fickle, selfish and opportunistic dream. A fair weather friend to all the is possible and he who shines on the horizon. That shameless and ruthless foe to any roadblocks on the path towards it’s manifest destiny. That memoryless and self sufficient American Dream.
When I met him he was generous and welcoming. He spoke of how beautiful I was and how beautiful we would be together. I swooned under the possibility of what we would be and what I might be in his eyes. And I loved him and I loved the hope. I loved his large and charging ego, I loved my ego beside it, swelling with lust for evidence of its just deserts.
And when I was good to him, he was good to me. He rewarded me for my achievements, and he punished me for my failures. He raised the bar, he increased the work. More for less, a 60 hour work week, but look at the results!
And happiness became a side bar to achievement.
And the anxiety.
It was unfathomable.
And the highs. They were almost, almost worth it.
But, I mean, who wants to get up at 6 am and work like a dog so they can go home to their estate for only a few short hours before they are forced to retire, for a few short hours on their mountain range of bed? Who wants to fuck efficiently when more important matters are already put to bed? Who wants to breed shame at the time they put towards love and leisure, who wants to disown their past every time they see a slightly richer future. Who wants to live for today when it involves forsaking all memories, when memories make you what you are.
And who wants to live with that fear, that earned knowledge that every mistake threatens rejections and failure. That there is only one path, and that every misstep is ten steps closer to the edge of abyss.
Well, honestly, I guess he did. He cherished the boundaries, he thrived under the pressure. He wanted a fast steep path up to a known location. And he wanted to carry his own load. But only his own load.
I myself learned that I only wanted a room with a view. A small space in a village with many roads to whatever mysteries that might lie at the end. A place in a villa of sorts with sea and siestas and wine and sex at two in the afternoon and plenty of time for work and play. A job to be done well when the work was called for. Equity of love and forgiveness. I mean, we all know that family down the street (we won’t name names) enjoys their wine a bit much sometimes, but who would hold it against them when they produce such beautiful olive oil and look out for little jenny like they do?
They are invited to every party we have.
And we were happy to see that other family go. I hope they make it big in the land of opportunity.
Good luck and good riddance.