We sit in an adorable new cafe which feels as though it could be in France or Spain. I have no desire to throw my smoked salmon croissant at someone and upturn all the tables. Neither does Elena I expect. But there’s a burning desire within us for a more subtle kind of revolt. We tell each other to ignore the warning light that creeps into your head when you enter into your late twenties. That feeling of needing to climb ladders and start families. Thirty is in sight now, and if you’re not married and successful at thirty then you never will be. But why should we have to have it all mapped out to feel content? Can’t we just enjoy the moment, trusting that things will work out?
Elena and I are haunted by a crippling affliction. It’s common, but most people try hide it beneath their smart suits in fear that those around them will think they are inferior. They've been told for most of their lives that it makes them stupid, naive, a dreamer, a loser. They've been told that they will never get anywhere if they let people know that they have it. Our affliction is a creative nature. If I tell people that I might like to be freelance again one day; an artist, a designer or an actor perhaps, I'm usually met with a sympathetic smile. I
daren’t even say that I have a blog. But when I say these things to Elena, she’ll pull out a piece of paper and make notes for me as she lists projects to get involved with, sources of inspiration and local contacts. She’ll grab hold of my visions and run wild with them and I do the same in return. Before we know it we’re collaborating on imagined projects. We talk about what we would do if money was no object and uncork bottled up ideas as the passion fizzes out of us.
The same happens with other topics of conversation. Other people will tell me that I need to be more realistic about what I’d like from a future partner. If it’s not that I should learn to embrace chauvinist or shallow behaviour, it’s that perhaps I should go on a date with someone I'm not even marginally attracted to just because he’s nice. Elena says screw that. Expect a great love story, you deserve nothing less. *
I work in a school because I hope to inspire young people. I want them to care about their education, but I won’t tell them it’s all about A grades and university. I want them to know that they are good enough already. I’d like them to feel that they can do anything if they try hard enough, that their future has no limits. I’d like them to have hope. I know many will share this sentiment, so why do the opposite for the adults in our lives? When it comes to our friends, why do so many encourage them to suppress past hopes and dreams? Surely we care for them just as much? Why is it that we want them to play it safe? Do we not believe in their ability, in their talents, in them? Sometimes people want to be reminded who they really are and what they really want. Be the person who encourages them. Be Elena.
*Disclaimer note to Mr you-know-who-you-are; I wrote this in the summer...