When my wife and I first started dating, when we were still in the nervous early phases of the relationship, too nervous to say the things we were thinking, worried we would come on too strong and scare the other away — we invented a term to sum these things up without having to elaborate.

We called them Kettle Corn thoughts. Don't ask me why. I guess because we both liked eating Kettle Corn.

A typical conversation might go like this: "What are you thinking?" I'd ask.

She'd say, "Kettle Corn," and I'd know she was thinking about the far-flung future. A possible scenario in which we married, had a kid or two, a home and something to look forward to each day.

That was more than seven years ago. We were married on Oct. 4, 2014.

Now we own a home in a cute neighborhood in Arkansas with friendly neighbors. The kind of neighborhood you can turn your kids loose and let them play. We have two boys (and she inherited my son and daughter from a previous marriage), two dogs and a little quiet deck surrounded in plants in our backyard that's all but hidden from the outside world.

But we don't talk about Kettle Corn anymore.

What would that look like anyway?

Imagining our own retirement? Our empty home, with children moved on to live their own busy lives? Restoring an old RV and driving across the country?

Getting old and bent and tired, succumbing eventually to age? Saying goodbye? Holding hands in a hospital room? Being alone after a lifetime of being together?

It hurts the heart to think about some of these things.

But there are decades spanning before us. Before all of us, each of you reading this, and me and my wife as well. And I think that's my point here.

When my wife and I first met we spoke in hushed whispers about our dreams. About our hopes. And now, more than seven years later, we still talk about our dreams. But we don't talk about our dreams of each other quite as much.

And you might think that's sad.

But I don't.

It's because we're living them. We are living the Kettle Corn dreams of our youth. Each day is another dream realized. The things that used to make us blush to imagine are now our reality. The good old days are now. But more than that, the good old days always were. Looking ahead too far, and you can miss them. Looking behind too far, and you can miss them too.

And once they are gone, there is no getting them back.

Travis Simpson is an award-winning journalist and author living in Arkansas. He can be reached at or on twitter @trvsimpson or on website