“Make your dreams a reality!” the creepy man voice on the TV exclaimed. As images of extravagant resorts, fancy houses and luxury cars flashed across the screen, my only thought was, “those are not my dreams.” Mine were a little more expensive, or less expensive, depending on your particular system of values. For me, an “exotic” vacation at a man-made resort, a fancy car and a large house were all wonderful but did not tip the scales in favor of dream fulfillment. Indeed, in the not too distant past, I was well on my way to having these tangible things. All the advertisements, and all the societal standards, and all the people I had surrounded myself with convinced me that I was “living the dream”. But for all the material success, and female attention, (OK maybe not that), that I had, somehow I felt empty. Maybe it was because the things I dreamed about as I grew up were locked away and remained in a state of dormancy, screaming to be released.
When I was nine, I wanted to be a superhero, to champion the cause of the underdog, fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. By seventeen, the superhero dream was shelved and so I decided to do the next best thing, become a graphic novelist. I wanted to write, to tell (figuratively) the stories of those forgotten by the system within which we exist, to change the world with every word I wrote, every illustration I made. Of course this was never going to fly. I was a teenager living on an island where people thought of comic book enthusiasts as freaks, geeks and weirdos…wait, that’s pretty much what they think everywhere but at least in other places, far away from here, there was hope of making a career out of something like that; following one’s dream. Cue my parents;
“Engineering is the way to go; you can make money doing that. Forget that comic book rubbish.”
Well maybe they didn’t say that exactly but it was implied in more ways than one. The day the application forms for John D*arrived on the dining room table signaled the ending of that particular dream. In those days, there was no GATE**and no online registration so going to UWI*** or any other tuition based institution and registering online were pipe dreams. Off I went to technical school. It was free then.
Ten years later, after being oppressed and all but forgotten my dreams staged a revolt. It may have been the fact that my boss at the phone company was wearing my patience thin with his mastery of the arts of “Sloth Fu” and “Bung-Ling-Do” or it may have been that the woman of my dreams decided she would play rugby with my heart. It may have been both. Whatever the trigger, my locked away aspirations conspired to convince me that I was not living the dream, but I was in fact asleep. I was much more than…whatever it is I was, much more. They soon took over, engulfing every part of my being and they knew I owed them, big time.
“We consolidate all your debt into one small monthly payment” the voice on the television blared as the frumpy woman with a worried look on her face suddenly became bright eyed. Debt… I owed a big one, to myself and to the world I thought, and I had to pay it. My installments had been amalgamated into this thing called film, a proverbial Mecha**** in the landscape of my being. All I had to do was get on board. With this “machine”, I could do everything I wanted to, tell the stories, change the world and be a superhero…well, maybe.
“You can finally be debt free.”
Time would tell. For now I was grateful that I could dream and not have to be asleep to enjoy it.
Next: My father the Republican or A trip to the Coca-Cola Factory, I’m not sure.
*The John s Donaldson Technical institute. Once the premiere technical institution in Trinidad and Tobago. The jury is still out on whether or not this is still the case
** Government Assistance for Tertiary Education. An allegedly endangered species in the Educational landscape of Trinidad and Tobago
***The University of the West indies, St Augustine, my Alma Mater and former employers
****A big effing robot usually seen in Japanese Anime