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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Born Free

Heading home today, my husband and I saw what looked like a classic Land Rover, circa 1965 or so, pulling onto the street in front of us. The sight made me remember how romantic Land Rovers seemed to me when I was a girl (not that I’d ever seen one in 1960’s Fort Myers Beach, Florida): they were part and Parcel of Born Free (okay, who else is old enough to remember the movie or the book?), lighting out for the bush, and rescuing and bonding with wild animals. The possible downside of encouraging wild creatures to trust humans did not occur to my ten-year-old self, only the wondrousness of such an adventure. Wolves (Mara of the Wilderness), lions (Born Free), wild horses (The Island Stallion)—my future no doubt involved work with such creatures, who would pick me out from other humans and bestow the approval not generally available from my elementary-school classmates.

These forty-plus-year-old fantasies had not entered my consciousness in decades, but the sight of a classic behemoth brought into focus the contrast between the life imagined and the life lived, one probably common to most middle-aged people. Whatever my imaginings might have been in those days (and it becomes harder to remember them, or to remember the child I was), they almost certainly did not involve tenure, retirement planning, and a house in a 1950’s suburban development in a small city in the industrial heartland of West Virginia. Surely I was meant for wild adventure, surrounded by animal companions and the occasional human with whom I would engage in intense conversations that involved extensive quotation of poetry, preferably by firelight. That is not the life I have. Or is it?

To be continued...

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