Growing up in a deeply dysfunctional, stifling household I dreamed of escaping to America. That dream kept me alive in my teens, when the bullying at home wore me down and freedom after freedom was being clipped from my life, like prison walls closing in ever further. It was about getting away, but it became a very specific place - America - and I worked towards it. The one freedom I knew they'd never take away was my academic studies, so I targeted everything I did academically to being able to move there. I chose a college where I would be able to get a recognised degree. I worked, I networked, and... I got there eventually.
Was it my salvation? No - by the time I went, the situation had changed and I was already free: but I couldn't stay, either. I couldn't not go after working so hard for such a long stretch of my life. So I went, I lived the dream, and while it was hard most of the time there (NYC is hardly an easy place to "make it") the knowledge that I was living the dream meant I loved it. After some years of struggle I was finally willing to move back to Europe, not because I gave up the dream but because I had fulfilled it.
I'm a practical person. To me, a dream is only worth dreaming if I have a hope of making it come true.
And so, my man and I, we have a dream too. It's not mine alone, or his - I never even thought of doing this before I met him, and I'm pretty sure neither did he. But as we thought about our life together and what we want out of it, this dream was born, and we are actively working on getting to live it.
Like my dream of America, it won't happen overnight. It will mean years of work. But I'm patient like that, I will work on achieving this. I will make sacrifices because they won't feel like sacrifices when they become stepping stones towards the goal.
We dream of the day that we swap our river boat for a yacht and just leave. We'll explore the world, but mostly the nice warm places - the Caribbean, the Southern Pacific. We'll dive. We'll live on very little money, we'll probably work seasonally, and we'll love it.
Why are we in this rat race? Why is my Mr. working long hours, getting ulcers with the stress, only able to see his daughter in the evenings and weekends? What are we trying to achieve by doing that? Whatever it is, it's not what we want, thanks very much. We want to grow old on the seas. Live on island schedules, not tight deadlines. Our child(ren) will have rich educational experiences, not only aboard, but every time we spend time on land. Maybe when we're working seasonally, they'll attend local schools for a while. They'll certainly not lack learning opportunities, as the Internet's everywhere now - and socialisation? A tightly-knit family provides that, and living aboard does not mean being hermits; it actually means you get to meet many more people than most land dwellers do. Boaters are an incredible community.
There are many things I'm thinking through already, that are years in the future. As I said, I'm a practical person through and through. This dream is one of the reasons we won't send our child(ren) to school here - that would take the flexibility away that we need. And we want them to be self directed learners anyway. The dream is why I'm learning how to sail. It's why we're paying off our mortgage next year. No ties, no debts, nothing to hold us back when we are ready to go.
There's also a possible intermediate step. Mr's company has a site in America at the Mexican Gulf coast; if it was possible for him to be transferred there, we might be able to get the grandparents to move there with us and live there for a few years, live on land and keep a sail boat to use on weekends and holidays - get into it slowly, so to speak. That would be a lovely, gentle stepping stone towards taking the full plunge. I'd like that.
We'll see. But what I know is, dreams are for living, and one day we'll be living ours.