Me and Mr. Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

I, like many other girls before me, had expectations for my husband. I dreamed I would lovingly provide a warm and inviting environment for him to come home to. It would be beautiful with feminine touches and strong masculine furniture. Nothing too dainty so he would never feel out-of-place. And he, would fix stuff. He would be responsible for all the “manly” things I have no interest in being bothered with: unclogging the toilet; mowing the lawn; making sure the AC filters are cleaned regularly; hanging the curtain rods, the picture frames, the fixtures; assembling, re-assembling, and repositioning furniture; installing shelving units; taking care of the cars; cleaning out the garage; getting rid of bugs and critters… You know, all the stuff you imagine the men at Home Depot are confidently going to do at home.

I had expectations. And early Sunday morning – dressed in my pajamas, rain jacket, and gardening gloves, wielding a newly purchased tree trimmer – I pruned my own trees in preparation for tropical storm Isaac. Not exactly what I had dreamed my role would be at 32 and three-quarters. As a single woman, I have had to “be bothered with” all of the above and then some. Tree-trimming in the rain was a cold and wet reminder that my expectations of my “role” have slowly disintegrated with each new task, taking an unfulfilled dream to its ashes.

So Mr. Hughes, “What, indeed, does happen to a dream deferred?”

I have had my share of dreams deferred. Halted. Squashed. Postponed. Laid aside for a better day, a better time, a better economic climate. Some, to my relief; others to my chagrin. Usually I find solace in knowing there are better plans, greater opportunities, more deserving people than what I had foolishly hoped for in my limited wisdom. If that is not an option, I chalk it up to the lesson in the experience. I consider where I veered off course, lost sight of my goals, vow to learn from that and move on. Then, my broken dream will at least have purpose. But what happens when all was going well? What happens when there were no foolish expectations? When the goal was in sight and the prize within reach? What happens when the only lesson is that dreams are sometimes deferred and the pain is just that, painful? Mr. Hughes wondered the same thing.

“…Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”

Something else happened on Sunday, beside my tree-trimming epiphany; my heart was deeply broken. A dream was… snuffed out…

But there is no one to blame. No unkept promise to grieve. No sore to fester and nothing to explode at. It was only a dream. God is sovereign. It was simply not His will for me. I accept that. And yet the pain is still, painful. It still sags like a heavy load and each jagged breath feels like dying. I want to scream it out, like Mr. Hughes! I want somebody to tell me – what do you do with it? I want somebody to know – this hurts! But I don’t know what to say, or who to say it to. So I find myself singing.

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It’s Complicated

I’m at Home Depot, where a really nice man helps me navigate my through an aisle of screws. I’m trying to find the right ones to hang a bookshelf on a hollow wall. Since I don’t own the tools to properly install the screws he thinks will work best, he also has to help me course my way though brackets that can provide extra support. Finally, after having been at the store for twenty minutes to pick out two items, I make my decision… only to return five seconds later because I’ve changed my mind. I want the medium silver brackets, not the small gold ones. To which he replied, “You’re a woman, you’re allowed”. I smile as I walk away, but that gets me thinking.

Now I’m at Target… in the feminine products aisle… still thinking. Thinking about how complicated it is to be woman. Thinking about how expensive that complication is. An entire aisle of pads. Why? Always, Kotex, Carefree, Stayfree, on and on and on. But those are just the brands. I already have that figured out. Then there are the sizes (regular, long, super-long, or over night); followed by the thickness (regular, thin, or ultra-thin). Will it be fragrance-free or scented this month? And if scented, which one, powder, fresh, floral?…

Now I’m thinking that all these scents are summery and springy. How come they don’t make any fall or winter fragrances? I suddenly imagine myself… walking around smelling like pine and everyone knowing why… bad idea. A better idea would be multi-packs; then I wouldn’t have to spend $4-6 on each pack. How come no one’s invented that yet?… Because then I wouldn’t be spending $4-6 on each pack!

Ok. Focus. It’s been ten minutes now! Back to the options that are actually on the shelves. This brand costs more because they come in cool neon colors. Hmmm, do I really want electric blue wrappers sticking out of my purse pocket? This brand promises that their wrappers are noiseless. Of course. I want people to imagine why I’m taking so long in the stall. This one is supposed to contour better to a woman’s body. That one is made specifically for a plus-sized woman’s body. And this entire line is made for different types of frilly underwear.

Sigh. I wonder if this is what it’s like for men at Home Depot… I consider it… but something tells me its way more complicated for a woman. At least they have Harold to help them. Who am I going to ask? “Customer needs assistance in aisle 10… Yes, can you be my Target Harold and explain to me which of these products is best for my needs?” N-no.

The good news is, I don’t have a headache yet. However, figuring out which count (16, 18, 24, 28, 32, 46, or 60) will save me the most money while accounting for all of my other options is sure to cause one.