I Don’t Do Dreams | Part 1 of 2

by Elouise

Fall in the 1990s.  I’m in my 50s.  A friend gives me a covered tea-cup.  It’s lovely.  When I get home I read the inscription on the cup and begin weeping.  This isn’t about me.  It’s about someone else.  I can’t even imagine my way into this approach to life.

On the lid of the cup:


On the three side panels:

A DREAM  is a daring adventure,
A journey to carry you far—
For when you can hold a dream in your heart,
you surely can reach any star!

A DREAM is a beautiful vision
that looks beyond what you can see,
Then lifts you and guides you and grows strong inside you
to help you be all you can be…

A DREAM is your door to tomorrow,
A secret reflection of you,
A threshold that leads to a wonderful future
where nothing’s too good to be true…

 * * *

Late spring 1960.  I’m 16 1/2 years old.  I just graduated from high school with high honors.  Everyone expects me to go to college.  I was in the college-prep track, on all the honor rolls, love to read and study, and have some musical talent.

So, Elouise, what do you want to do with your life?  What’s your dream?

I don’t do dreams. . .
I just work hard and try to stay out of trouble.
God already has a plan for my life.
My job is to accept it.

Follow my dream?
I would probably fail
or embarrass myself or my family.
Fall flat on my face.
Forget it!
I don’t do dreams.

To be perfectly honest,
I just want to know one thing—
What do you want me to do?
You, my parents.
You, my piano teacher.
You, my high school teachers.
You, my friends.
You out there, whoever you are.

Better yet, just tell me what I SHOULD do.
I’m good at aiming for that.
I’ve had tons of practice—
even though I don’t always hit the target.

What’s the prudent thing to do?
The wise thing?
The thing that will help me in life
no matter what happens next?
I don’t want to stick my neck out too far.
I’m afraid of failing.
I also don’t like being in the spotlight—
even though I long to be noticed and praised.

What do I want to do?
I don’t have a clue.
Does it matter?
I’m a girl,
so I need to be safe, not sorry.
I need to do something that will fit into being a girl,
someday a woman.
Maybe married.
Maybe a mother.
Who knows?
I don’t.

Do I care?
Yes, but not that much.
I just want to get away from home.
No, that’s not exactly true, either.
Of course I care.
I want my parents and friends
to be happy about what I do.

Since I don’t do dreams,
maybe I should just think about
a good, solid, basic education.
But not in a ‘secular’ institution.
That would not make my parents proud.

Mrs. Hanks, my music teacher,
thinks I should go to a big secular university and study music.
She thinks I could get a four-year scholarship.

Yes, I told my parents.
I also observed their responses.
Nope.  Nonstarter.
Too many unanswered questions.
Too expensive.  Too risky.
What would I then do with my life???

No, of course I didn’t look into the music degree!
That would be a waste of time and effort.

When I say I just want to get away from home,
I don’t mean I want to trash everything.
I want my parents to be PROUD of me.
And yes, I also want to be far enough away from home
that they can’t intrude into
every little corner of my life at college!
You know, checking in and checking up
and making sure I’m being a Good Girl.

In fact, the longer I talk about this the clearer it becomes.
I need a solid Bible college education.
That way they won’t wonder how I’m doing.
They’ll know I’m being a Good Girl and that I’m safe!
Unknown and untrustworthy people won’t be
trying to tempt me off the straight and narrow path.

Yep.  That’s exactly what I want to do!
Be a Good Girl and not get in trouble with my parents or anyone else.
Sounds like a dream to me!
I also don’t want to live at home while I’m going to college.
None of that live-at-home-and-save-money stuff
while I go to a local college for a few years before I go away.
I want AWAY, now!

So see, you’ve just helped me figure it out!!!!
I want to go to that Bible college where I already know
some women and men have gone and have come back
true to the faith, greatly admired by my parents and everyone else.
That’s the one that’s 150 miles away.
Far enough that I’m truly AWAY, and
close enough that I can go home for the holidays
and not worry about my parents worrying about me.
I just know they’ll be ecstatic about this plan.
Ecstatic and proud of their oldest daughter!

Yes, I feel sad and a little teary about
not studying the piano anymore.
But they do have a music program at this college.
I know, it’s mostly about their touring choir and private voice lessons.
They don’t have the kind of music program Mrs. Hanks wants me to be in.

But overall I’m relieved.
I don’t want to have to perform on stage just to get my degree.
And I really really don’t want to be with people who aren’t like me.
They scare me.  I want to relax.
Not worry about how I’ll be treated,
or whether everyone is good and sober.

Come to think of it,
I do have a few.
They’re about meeting my Prince Charming.
I know I don’t have much of a chance.
Nobody seems very interested in me now.
I’m not very pretty, I can’t go to parties and dances,
and I don’t have an outgoing personality.

But who knows?  I’m not counting on it, but
maybe I’ll find someone to love me and sweep me off my feet.
A lot of women go to this college and find men there.
I would never go just to do that!
But you have to admit,
my chances of finding a good man at this Bible college
are much higher than they would be
if I were at the big university studying music.
When is that application form due?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 Oct 2014