I just received a notification from my employer today. A sober, formal sheet of printing paper. They accepted my request for a sabbatical. In 4 months’ time, the two of us will leave and settle for 8 months in Western Canada and Alaska, in places that we have discovered together five years ago and that stuck right there ever since, just under the surface of our daily stream of thoughts. Places that we had been wanting to visit again, places that we had been lovingly reminiscing during cold winter evenings, sitting in our living room with cups of hot cocoa. But we just couldn’t drop everything on the spot and go live there, could we?
I wanted to give her that.
For five years (it is short; it is forever), I’ve seen us live. I’ve seen us age. I mean, we’re still very young. But I can see it coming. The fulfilling working weeks. The nice weekends, having a whole pot of tea for breakfast and a homemade soup-and-bagel a few streets away in our favorite lunch spot.
And there will be more. Elaborating teaching projects, brunching with our friends, catching colds, watching movies, buying new clothes, celebrating birthdays. Raising kids. Everyday days. Hopefully she will age and I will too. She will be beautiful. I will love her tiny, soft wrinkles at the corner of her eyes when she smiles.
And I would hate to tell myself:
“I did not give her that. I have been cautious. I have saved money. I have supported her. I have taken care of her. But I did not give her that: our Adventure; the Absolute Letting-Go; the person whom she originally fell in love with — and who, day after day, disappeared under layers of cautiousness, support and good care.”
My love, it is time for our Adventure. I will rob you of 8 months’ worth of retirement benefits. I will dilapidate our savings, I will take us away from our home and give it away to strangers. Worse: I will take the risk that we will topple over to the other side, and not want to come back. I will love you more than anything else — you see how literally I mean this.
I promised I would do so, on the day we married, remember? When I said
That’s what I was referring to: our Adventure. Our shared dream. The thing that, years from now, will make you reminisce about our wedding day, about the person I once were, soft wrinkles at the corner of your eyes, and exclaim:
“Yes, you did!”
Shared dreams are unvoiced promises.
We send them floating above us, thinking: “Someday, we will”. We need to honor them: because if we don’t, who will?
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