by Aleigha, college student by day and radical dreamer by night
The Dream is dead now. Buried there, somewhere within the parameter of that white picket fence. They came the other day, wielding the news that our dream had grown too large and too fast. We didn’t have the funds to feed it and ourselves. It would have to be put down. We’d known the day was coming, had heard the rumbling in its gut and its hungry cries. We knew that soon, the beast that had taken over our lives would have to be put out of its misery. That doesn’t mean we’d been ready. We still wept when the men placed a gun between the eyes of our Dream and pulled the trigger on everything we had worked so hard for. The Dream was dead, but at least the men who came to kill it were kind enough to dispose of it for us. They even marked its grave for us. A red and white sign with a single word written on it. Foreclosure.
“It wasn’t supposed to happen like this,” a nation of middle-class parents say to their children, “it was supposed to be better for you. You were supposed to have it easier than we did. From the fields to the mines to the cubicles, all of it was for you. All so that one day, you might be live a life that your forefathers — and your foremothers — could only dream of. You were supposed to make it big. You were supposed to have it all. Just when it started to look like you might be able to score a home among the elite, the gas prices and the food prices and the tuition prices and the everything prices, began to outgrow us. We should have known better, but we trusted their sweet talk and we fell into their trap, and now it looks like you’ll spend your life like us.”
Now you start to get angry. They promised you that if you worked hard and did well, you could have anything you dreamed of. They promised you could have it all, just as long as you worked hard, but the day you were ready to clock in, they told you to go home. There are no jobs to be found here, no money to be made, no Dream to claim as your own. Oh yes, you’re angry. You ask them for help and they turn you away. You’re sick and you’re hungry and you haven’t got a dime to your name, and they turn you away. They say look a little harder, go a little farther, but your eyes are tired and your feet are sore. You’re angry, oh so angry. You’ve watched your neighborhood go from a kingdom of suburban glory to a graveyard of Dreams grown too large to feed. You know that there’s only one job for every five out there searching. You know the truth, and you’re angry. You end up wandering to their front porches and camping out. You curse them for what they’ve done and what they haven’t. You yell and you scream, and you make a big ol’ fuss, you get on TV for it. You start a movement and it spreads across the nation, it spreads across the world. It spreads so quickly that you start to believe that it might just change the way things are done around here, you start to think that the big guys might just listen. They say they hear you – and maybe they actually do — but there are donors to please and campaigns to fund, and they have to keep the money coming in. They can’t help you in the way you ask them to. You’re angry, but you’re tired. You go home.
You return to the graveyard that you once called home and began to count the tombstones. So many corpses, so many homes, so many families that used to welcome you as a member of their community, so many Dreams. All of them buried here, a civilization full of people whose ambitions simply outgrew their resources. The growth has stopped and you begin to wonder if it will ever begin again. You can’t take the hopelessness of it all, you can’t stand to accept that the Dreams of your nation will simply lay here in the ground, forgotten like a long dead family pet. You grab a shovel. You start digging.
You dig as long as you can and as hard as you can. Blisters grow on you palms and sweat trickles down your neck. Even now that the Dream is dead, it manages to occupy every inch of your mind. You are obsessed with the idea of resuscitating it, of bringing it back to life so that it may grow again. Maybe you can restore it to its former glory. Maybe if you work hard enough, you can even make it bigger.
You look into the hole you’ve dug and you realize something. It’s not nearly as large as the Dream your ancestors have created for you, but it’s more than large enough to bury yourself in. You ask yourself: “is it worth it to keep digging?” Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s time to bury this Dream for good, and start looking for a new one.