Last night, on my flight back home, I ended up sitting next to a little girl. It was a long flight, and she was obviously bored (I can't remember how many times she read the airplane safety card from the seat pocket in front of her), so she started telling me about herself. She's 14, but she'll be 15 soon. Her mom lives in Texas and her dad lives in California, so she travels back and forth a lot. She generally spends a couple months with one parent and then switches to the other. As a result, she doesn't go to school much. It takes them a while to figure out how long she's staying and then they get around to getting her enrolled, and then she leaves again. She's been in Texas since February, but since it's May and school's almost over, she won't bother going again until the fall. She also has a boyfriend that she's been with since she was 9. They are getting married when she turns 18 -- she already has a ring. She has two older brothers who are really good friends with this guy, and everyone approves of their plan. Her mom just wants to make sure she waits until she's married before she has kids, so this seems the best way to do that. Once they get married they'll honeymoon in Amsterdam before they settle in Colorado, because it's pretty there.
Now, I realize I got all this information from her perspective, so some of it may be off, but it still scares me. I'm not planning to write about how her family is failing her from a gazillion directions. Instead, I'm more concerned with all the plans she's made and how set she is on them and how devastated she'll be if things don't go according to them. And, let's face it -- that seems likely. This is pretty forefront in my brain, since I just divulged how I had these plans about imaginary children on a very real timeline. I hadn't figured out what schools they'd go to or which sports they'd participate in or anything like that, but I still had enough figured out in my brain to be disappointed when my expectations were delayed again and again.
Or, I could just be bitter that she has so much confidence that this will all work out and I wish I could still have that kind of hope. Instead, I find myself rewriting plans in my head all the time with caveats and alternate paths and worst case scenarios. I hope this girl's can be the kind of hope that turns a person into an eternal optimist.
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
2 months ago