have a friend who once admitted to writing a list of life goals. She showed it too me and it went like this:
She didn’t outline how old she wanted to be when she achieved these things. She just wrote six lines with love-heart shaped bullet points.
Things were working out swimmingly until she got stuck between goal four and goal five. Her chosen candidate did not, it seem, have a life list of his own. He was halfway through a teaching degree when he realized he wanted to be a fireman and halfway through that when he realized he wanted to be a t-shirt designer.
Without a proposal in sight, she is perpetually frustrated and stuck in a rut of her own design. Meaning I can never complain about my own sorry excuse for a husband without her getting teary eyed with longing for my supposed marital bliss.
My older brother had a similar life list although his features a bunch of luxury cars and no children. He is, however, following it to the letter. Serious girlfriend at 29. Tick. Married by 30. Tick. Retired by 40. Fingers crossed.
The coincidental timing in which he ticked off the former two items keeps me up at night. What does that say about my future sister-in-law? Was she just in the right place at the right time? Am I looking at the best example of settling since the invention of the ‘If I’m not married by 40’ promise? I’m so inspired, I’m using them as muses for my debut Mills and Boons novel, You’re exactly what I’ve always wanted… alive.
I am simultaneously in awe and disgusted by people who plan out their life like a shopping list. A beige shopping list full of bran pellets and apples — the tuna of the fruit world and an overworked whore that’s been everywhere and with everyone, ruining fruit salads and going all wrinkly in forgotten fruit bowls regardless of the season. I hate apples.
When I became an expat, any life plan I had went out the window. Not that I had much worked out.
I am ruled by a Sylvia Plath-induced image of a woman sitting under a tree where the branches represent endless opportunities. She is so busy considering all the opportunities that she never actually does anything and like in all Plath literature, probably ends up dying tragically. I don’t know. I’ve never read Plath and got the idea from a friend, although it’s likely I imagined the entire conversation. I tried Googling the “quote” and came up with nothing.
I don’t really see the point of life plans when so much is determined by external factors. I would hate to think that I was so hellbent on ticking things off that I missed some amazing adventure or unexpected opportunity. Of course, these are the famous last words of an eternal slacker who would happily float along the river of life doing everything except choosing its course.
But since this is supposed to be a column about living in the Tuscan sticks, I should tie it back to the Mother Country.
I live in a town with a huge population of senior citizens. Seriously, if they didn’t all flourish well into their 90s, we wouldn’t have enough residents to fill an SUV. All this week, I’ve been staring at them and feeling real fear. Not my usual fear of whether they’ll accidentally reverse into me, but the fear that one day I will be who they are now.
When I am 80 there will be no amazing adventures or unexpected opportunities. I will not be the old man from the movie “Up.” I will be the bitter senior citizen who constantly curses her good-for-nothing children for putting her in an old people’s home.
This realization was more motivating than any life list. There are things I want to do before I spend my days knitting that same three rows of red yarn on repeat. They are infinitely more exciting and trivial than the six things my friend had on her life list.
And I have decided to do them all because in the Gospel According to Drake, everybody dies, but not everybody lives. Amen.