Reality vs. Fantasy: What You Choose Speaks To Who You Are

 Image credit: Dylan Spitz

Image credit: Dylan Spitz

"Every night i should be on my knees,
Lord knows how lucky i am.
i'll never say near enough, "thank god for this woman, amen."

His exact instructions made the adrenaline pump in my veins.

“Wait till the car has picked up some speed and prop half your body out of the car window.”

He was all camera as he stuck himself out of the back window. She was hitting the gas down the road like we were the only four people with ownership of this moment.

In some ways we were. You can see it in the looks my friend captured. My eyes speak of agency, of knowing who I am and owning my stories, of not needing anyone else’s approval before deciding to love and be proud of myself. The look, it’s the way my eyes fixate when I’m in love. It’s the way my hair moves when I feel free. It’s the way my lips part when kisses are just an appetizer. It’s my hand hanging out the window like I know I’ll be safe whether we’re speeding or standing still.

In the middle of this fantasy the only truth that would stay once I put the seatbelt back on is who I am, the ways I consistently show up as myself. I’ve fought for years to love the woman in the mirror, to be proud of her as she navigates the ins and outs of life and love and loss, for her to never need to create a different persona just to deal with complicated feelings. I fought so that her relationships, her career, and her reputation would never be how she defines herself. Instead, if you ask, she’ll tell you about her heart. About how her only drug of choice is love. 

****

With every look I gave to the camera, I brought reality into what was without a doubt a moment of pure fantasy. I will probably never again find myself sticking my head out of the window for a picture, but in that moment, I took it for what it was worth.

As a result, every image will tell you stories of how I’m embracing every inch of me, every bit of beauty, every scar, every moment of tragedy that I turned into a lesson on resilience, all of it is a gift I’m giving to myself, to the man who looks at me and thinks, “mine.” 

Every few seconds we’d sink back into our seats as he’d rattle off “holy crap that look” and I’d fix the hair the wind had made its own. Then it was a few seconds back out the window to feel magic that was reminiscent of a magician’s touch. I would smile because I knew this would end the minute we hit Route 33, but until then there were four of us, an open road, laughs that built memories, and the realization that not all fantasies are destructive, some of them are God-given reprieves.

This was a reprieve for me. Back on Route 33, we would all get hit with the realities we go home to. The sadness, the joy, the brokenness, the pets that need to get fed and let out before you’re able to sink into the couch. 

Heavy on my mind lately was not wanting to make the same mistakes my mom made. I love her, but her mistakes were hers. I’m breaking cycles. 

I’ve been known to hold out for substance and vulnerability in a way that she just couldn’t afford to. 

****

"I'm sick of, sick of games
No more time, you lit the, lit the flame"

**** 

With my seatbelt back on and his foot on the gas we sped down the road. No amount of gas would help us outrun our demons, and I was with a group of people who wouldn’t even want to try. 

I breathed it in. 

What this world had to offer me lately had me at war with myself. There’s a line in an Andy Grammer song that begs to be answered by my heart and the heart I hold, “show me where it hurts.”

It’s the bridge that takes us from the fantasy world we create for ourselves - the one on Instagram, the one that has us putting in more time with our computer than with our real people, the one riddled in addictions, distractions, and vices - to the real world, the one where if we’ve made good choices, we’re accepted and loved for who we are. I’ve had so many moments of reckoning, so many times when things crumbled, but my people didn’t. I choose reality over fantasy every day because fantasy doesn’t ask me to show it where it hurts, it asks what I can produce today to feed it. It's the difference between another item to check off your to-do list and someone doing your laundry for you to take a load off. Fantasy asks me to give, my reality asks what it can take off my shoulders.

So, my reality is full of broken promises, and mended hearts, and love that stays, and love that runs. It’s a reflection of who I am and who I am becoming. There’s something comforting in knowing that it isn’t too perfect because there’s something comforting in knowing that I’m allowed to make mistakes. I’m allowed to be human, to hurt, to crave. 

There are parts of me that very few, if anyone, has seen. They tell stories of pain and resilience. They tell stories of a little girl abandoned, they tell you why I’m so protective of the future of another little girl who has been on my mind.

Because I know where it hurts and I know how the hurt got there. I know that fantasies scarred me and that reality was where I had to deal with them. The backseat of a cab at age 5, that was the last time I saw my biological father. I couldn’t pull him out of a lineup, but the feeling of the car’s leather on my legs is something I will never be able to forget. 

I have higher hopes for the family I want. I want moments with heads out of windows and pictures captured for posterity. I want a reality we like putting our seatbelt back on and staying under the speed limit for.