See Anna, you don’t have to wait ten years to live the dream. You get to live it now!
As always, mum is right. My dream was to live and work abroad as a writer. And now, I’m doing that! But what does it mean to “live the dream”?
Living the dream is piling my 1 and 2 penny coins into a recycled yogurt cup and walking 20 minutes to the store that sells the particularly cheap toilet paper. And once I reach the store and announce my presence with the jingling cup, a strange sense of euphoria overcomes me knowing that I am about to trade my useless pennies for a jumbo, economic, double-ply roll of toilet paper.
Living the dream is contending with the nightmares that have me convinced that my modern and plain apartment with absolutely no historical character or juicy past is haunted. But soon enough, the puppy videos I watch on YouTube just before I go to bed will convince me that the haunting presence responsible for the falling pictures is just a friendly ghost with the Slovak equivalent of “Casper” as a name. (Casperik? Caspuska?)
Living the dream is waking up at strange hours once in a while and yearning for my childhood bedroom. And for a moment when I swear I can hear my mum opening the linen cupboard or my brother clearing his throat across the hall or my dad opening the fridge downstairs I feel a whiff of sadness.
Living the dream is realizing that Slovakia is not my childhood bedroom but rather my whole childhood world. Everything is new and inflates my curiosity. I get to explore the universe with newborn eyes.
Living the dream is removing the rose-colored glasses and exploring the cracked pavement that surrounds the pretty flowers.
Living the dream is hugging or high-fiving a near stranger who becomes a good friend before I even know their name.
Living the dream is queing at the post office for over an hour, sustained by the prospect of a surprise package from my generous mum. And when I finally get my package after bouncing from one counter to another, living the dream involves the risk of death by the alarmingly heavy and fast swinging doors that shove customers in and out of the post office.
Living the dream is smiling during the most random and mundane of moments.
Living the dream is wearing a professional outfit that makes me unbelievably giddy and childlike knowing that when I last lived in this country twenty years ago, I used to dress up in over-sized lab coats, and princess crowns, and graduation gowns.
Living the dream is realizing that the life I’m living now was once a game of make belief, an idolized image in my mind.
Living the dream is realizing that I’ve chosen to live a bizarre, spontaneous, mundane, confusing, slightly risky, and wholly satisfying life that is expensive and invaluable and everything I was never brave enough to imagine.