The Future’s So Bright, I Have to Wear Tinted Bifocals

No Telling

I gave my students a writing prompt today that bubbled up little pockets of angst here and there. Nothing wrong with that. In eighteen year-olds, frowning end-of-the-world moods tend to mean they’re actually thinking about something other than what to post on Facebook. I call that a win. The prompt was simple: Imagine yourself five years from now. What are you doing and who is around you? Five years from today, right now this minute, who ARE you?

The results were fascinating. Oh, to be young in a world full of possibility! Strangely enough, most of the young women saw themselves married at 23. Clearly they’re all snagging older men, though, because the gentlemen in my classes overwhelmingly said no to that sort of thing. They’re all waiting until they’re thirty-ish to marry. Probably a good idea, that.

Four classes of writing students – most of whom haven’t yet chosen a major – told me they will be gainfully employed and driving nice cars. A few wise ones said they’d still be in school, graduate school, and eating ramen noodles for another few years. Most anticipate careers that involve a minimal work for maximum cash, bless their hearts. I hope it all comes true for them.

It’s important to note that not one student mentioned anything about worrying themselves bald over paying off college loans. I guess it’s a lot like giving birth – you don’t believe the negative hype until someone tells you to push.

Of course, I wrote with them. Always do. In five years I’ll be fif…forty…um…six. I’ve been going backwards for a few years now and the math’s starting to confuse me. No matter.

There’s officially a lottery here in Arkansas now, and I’ve decided I’m going to win the Powerball. That’s the first thing. A gal needs a little pocket change to make it into her declining years without eating catfood, especially if she teaches for a living. The Powerball prize need not be in the ridiculous millions, either. I’ll be happy with 25 or so.

Five years from today I might very well roll the speedometer on the 2001 Avalon past the 80,000 marker. This may take a few extra trips to Little Rock between now and then because right now I’m on the cusp of rolling it over to 40k and it’s been a while. No, I won’t buy a fancy new ride with my Powerball money. I’m confident the Avalon is good for another ten years, easy.

If I wait long enough, maybe those flying Jetson cars will finally hover the showroom floors. I’m hopeful.

The Perfect Grandson will be in second grade in five years. I figure I can either shower him with gifts and sports camp money until he graduates, or hand him 10 million for four years of college. It’s likely I’ll do both while making a geriatric pest of myself in Em’s daily life. I can multitask.

Despite being flush, I’ll probably still teach. Can’t imagine not doing that, although all that grading might eat into my book tour. I wonder if I’ll be the first one to grade essays in Oprah’s Green Room? Guess we’ll find out.

There are some other things I wrote down about doing yoga and being thin, but that made me almost as angsty as my students, so I’ll stop there.

I told my classes that imagining themselves in a future place is the only way to actually get there. Making throw-away lists and having drunken epiphanies are unproductive and sometimes lead to a life in mom and dad’s basement. Several of them nodded, so I guess they must have uncles I went to school with.

Yes, it’s a hell of a curve-ball to throw the future at them this close to a Friday night. That’s fine. Like any coach, I plan to throw a few more until they’re swinging clean from pure muscle memory. In writing and in life, that’s the way it should be.