Just me, my man, and a Jeep … by Deb Alicia

temp headshot 2Like most kids who devoured James Herriot books, I dreamed of becoming a large-animal veterinarian. I envisioned an adult life whereby I’d heroically heal a few cases of horse laminitis by day, then report to my night gig: singing on Broadway.

As a middle-schooler I realized that math and sciences just weren’t my bag (to put it very mildly). Plus another, more painful realization: I possessed neither the voice nor chutzpah to try out for the school play, let alone Broadway.

By tenth grade, I realized I’d have to choose something — one thingto really focus on. That one thing turned out to be writing. It was something I did all the time anyway, no matter what. My highly secret journal entries evolved into editorials and reviews for the school paper; when I started making meaningful connections with my peers through words, a speck of confidence was born in me. And it’s been enough to keep me writing daily since then.

Sometimes I wonder whether I gave up too easily on those early dreams of vet medicine and Broadway. Or, maybe early dreams must die away a little, in order to make room for the truer, righter dreams. (In any event, my chest swelled with pure admiration when my veterinarian-friend, Corey, described his first-ever, highly successful cat leg amputation!)

Amazingly, these days I find myself writing fiction full time, ensconced in a little apartment with my soul-mate husband and sweet old hound. More than one friend has remarked that I’m “living the dream.” And I am. Well, for now, anyway; who knows how long it will last.

Too, there are dreams I’ve yet to realize. I’d love to drive coast to coastjust me, my man, and a Jeepand see California. I’d love to master the art of mitered quilt corners. I’d love to live for an extended time in another country, and achieve fluency in another language. (French would be nice, but I’ll take Italian or Portuguese, too.)

Just like everyone, I’ve got my fair share of nightmares. Sometimes a blank computer screen and blinking cursor can give me a mild panic attack. Same with moths. And, for no logical reason I can identify, really big boats docked in a harbor. Whenever I drive past the Philadelphia Naval Yard, I block my peripheral vision with my hand, so I don’t accidentally glimpse those dormant, steel-colored warships.

But enough of nightmares! Instead I’ll wish you sweet, sweet dreamsthose that happen while you sleep, and those cherished goals you strive to make reality.

Please feel free to share your dreams or nightmares below. Maybe you, too, let an old dream die, in order to conquer another?

~ Alicia Bessette

23 Replies to “Just me, my man, and a Jeep … by Deb Alicia”

  1. i was going to be a chemist. i didn’t know what that really meant as an elementary school kid, except that I would get to use beakers. Perhaps the joy provided by Beaker on the Muppet Show fueled that idea? Either way, once I found out that chemists didn’t sit around mixing the blue stuff with the red stuff to make some other stuff, I lost interest.

    oh! and I get a weird feeling with big ships as well. i think because I associate them with large bodies of water, which freak me out. i don’t turn away from the rusting hulks at the shipyard in philly, though. i stare them down to let them know who the alpha is!

  2. As a kid I had the dream of going to the Air Force Academy and becoming a jet pilot. That dream faded into the smoky haze of the 60’s. Then a few swell road trips to Mexico hooked me on seeing new places. On a trip to the Peruvian Amazon I decided it would be fun to move here. My friends and colleagues (psychiatrists and psych nurses) thought I was nuts (still debatable), but I have never regretted my decision. I think people should identify their passion and follow it. One can never lose by trying. You and Matt are good examples of this.

  3. A long, long time ago, I had a dream about being a writer. But life had other plans and I went into public health and did all kinds of other things. I nearly forget about that early dream. And now … all these years later, I am a writer!

  4. I know you’re going to do that cross-country drive, Alicia! Congrats to you and Matt for taking a huge leap and sacrificing and believing and making it happen! One of my secret dreams is for my husband and I to be together all day, too — working and raising the kids side by side. But right now, with three kids and a mortgage, he needs to keep his day job. But I’m hanging on to that dream…

  5. When I was a kid, I never dreamed I would meet a strange wistful seventeen-year-old girl from Massachusetts … a girl who desperately wanted what I did not yet know I needed … a girl who would become the woman who shaped my life. But here we are steeped in storytelling sixteen-years later. Fate, coincidence, happy accident? Here’s to living on the fringe … and I’ll ride with you any day, Al.

  6. I always wanted to be an astronomer and study the stars, but then I thought I would have to stay up all night…. so I became a nurse, who works all night. But it’s interesting how we develop our passions.

  7. I definitely recommend the road trip. I’ve only done Oregon to Tennessee and Tennessee to B.C., never gone all the way to the east coast (driving anyway), but it’s pretty magnificent. We hope to drive across Canada someday! Here’s a tip…fly back. If you can fly back, then you can take longer on the trip across. And definitely do it with your man ’cause friends are a bit dicey. I know at least two people who did it with friends that they no longer speak to. But husband’s can be fabulous roadtrip guys. We had great times.

  8. Alicia, I have also wondered about other latent talents I might have nurtured. I’ve always been fascinated by theater and in school I tried out for plays. I got called back each time — which I took as an encouraging sign — but was never cast. I did not, however, take drama classes, or do much of anything to improve my chances.

    I’ve done two shows in my adult life and now wonder…what might my amateur theater career have been like if I’d worked harder at it back then? I’ve also since taken a voice class and finally figured out how to really sing. Maybe I’d be a theater maven by now…

    But, at the time I was interested in writing and orchestra class (I played the violin). As you said, something has to give and though maybe I would have been a good musical theater actress, maybe I wouldn’t be a writer, now.

    Anyway, there’s still time. I’m not THAT old.

  9. The only dream I ever took seriously was writing. I also wanted to be an actor, and did a little repertory theater in high school, but never took it in high school. The veterinary thing? I liked the books better.

    Sweet dreams. One with no hulking mettle or fluttering wings.

  10. Wow, I’ve probably had as many dreams as I have had jobs in this transient life of mine. When I was little I used to like giving my friends assignments and writing on the chalkboard like I was “Mr. Marquis.” I even took one teaching class in college but the paperwork and politics was a huge turnoff. I also had aspirations to be a lawyer or a judge but, again, the politics just didn’t do it for me. One thing I NEVER thought I’d do is work in computers…those fuzzy green letters on my friend’s old Texas Instruments desktop just made little sense to my left-brain…but here I am designing and developing websites. It wasn’t until high school that I found acting…or rather, I found a girl who liked acting…and since I liked that girl…well, you get the picture. So here I am in California with my wife and daughter trying to fulfill at least one of my many dreams. And when we’re done here, it’s on to the next one, whether that’s driving across the country in an RV, opening a vegetarian bed & breakfast on the coast or running a little barn theater all my own. Kudos to you for both recognizing and having the strength to pursue your dreams too!

  11. I didn’t have a clear idea of who I wanted to be when i grew up. I did however know that, unlike my childhood, I did not want to live in any house where the high pitched screech and moans of the birds and squirrels who fought and made amorous love outside my bedroom windows all hours would wake me up every morning at 4am thereby turning me into the sleep deprived zombie I was much of the late 80s and early 90s. Now I live in a house where my dog’s snoring wakes me up every morning at 4am so I’m clearly living the dream.

  12. I sometimes wish I were a scientist. It seems soothing. (Then I meet real scientists, and realize it’s not *that* soothing.)

    I’ve driven across the country! It’s wonderful. I needed to get my little Chevy Geo from Massachusetts to California, where I was relocating for marriage.

    I love hearing all these stories in the comments. Thanks, Alicia!

  13. Ah, for the life of a dental hygienist or cabaret singer! Too bad that I couldn’t sing, didn’t have the tuition or the guts. Now I’m contented humming with my electric toothbrush & flossing three times a day!

  14. My childhood dream for happiness revolved around helping others to find their happiness. Initially I took the conventional role of counselor and listened, then suggested. But being a Fairy Godmother for writers and readers is the ultimate dream job — read, then suggest.

  15. Wow, cool stories, everyone. Thank you for sharing. Interesting that many of us have dabbled in theater and performance. The lure of road-trips and travel seems to be a common theme, too. May we all realize our dreams … and not be haunted by what might have been!

  16. Matt’s post gave me misty eyes! As someone who has driven…or at least was a passenger cross country and back-take advil! Car seats have a way of killing the back! I actually went to school to be a journalist-the combination of writing and mystery solving lured me in. I quickly realized real news was not always that exciting. Switched to marketing … And ended up in pd? I dunno…fate takes you were you should be. 🙂

  17. I’m livin the dream…three kids and so proud of them…what more can a mom ask for then watching the dreams she had for her children come true. But now that they are…..hhhmmm…is there time left to become an airline stewardess, give hope to the ghettos, become fluent in a foreign language, go on safari, live on a beach, and sing and dance with the Lennon Sisters on Lawrence Welk?

  18. Ok, Al, here’s the Walter Mitty version: I marry, first, Prince Edward (before that blonde woman got to him) and then Daniel Day-Lewis (before Rebecca Miller got to HIM); lately, I’m the replacement for the late Senator Ted Kennedy (because all the other choices are so lame, but nevermind) and I do such an incredible job that I’m the next president.
    More reasonable dreams from my childhood: I wanted to be a writer, and never told anyone. Guess what? I guess I am. Hm.
    I don’t have anything in between, though I do dream of gardening full time and creating a self-sufficient life with the garden. But thanks for making me think about it!

  19. I may have abandoned my career dream (working on CG for films), but I’ve started to reap other minor dreams:

    1) Build the Lego Millennium Falcon. Check.
    2) Work for a company somebody (anybody) has actually heard of. Check.
    3) Put family first, work second. Check.

    Still on the list:
    4) Vacation in Saskatchewan.
    5) Learn how to play a real instrument. (Guitar Hero doesn’t count.)
    6) Open Benji’s Bagel Bar, including performance space and recording studio.

    Thanks for the weekly fix, Alicia.

  20. Beautiful post, Al! And oh, so true, how some dreams have to die away in order for others to thrive and live. Maybe having those initial dreams creates the necessary space for the dreams with purpose to survive.

    We have so much in common. When I was in college, I wanted to be a Marine Biologist so I could talk to and swim with the dolphins. I was actually running away from the writing, which until that point, had been so easy for me that I’d gotten A’s in high school and college without even trying. It’s a shame I kept failing the sciences and had to withdrawal from those classes. But when I went back to the writing, it was there with open arms, lovingly awaiting my return. I do believe I needed that distance from the dream in order to truly appreciate and embrace it.

    Keep “living the dream,” moment by moment!

  21. I hate to bring up facts, especially when facts really aren’t the point of such a moving story as this, but I have to disagree with your assertion that you “possessed neither the voice nor chutzpah… [for] Broadway.”

    I think we’ve come to learn through these posts and elsewhere on the web that you very much have the chutzpah, if even in an introspective sort. It takes something in addition to “pluck”–if not chutzpah then I’m not sure what it is– to get where you have today. It’s really a remarkable and inspiring journey.

    And as for the voice… I bet that your actual voice is worthy, but in any case, you’ve shown us through your piano that you have a voice in music to match that of your written word. In case anyone here is unaware, in addition to securing representation or her book, Alicia has released two CDs. It’s quite an artistic combination of talents.

    No doubt the trip across the country will come; I expect we’ll hear about it in one way or another. Thanks for sharing the stories with us!

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