There once was a young man who wanted the world. He was strong and brave, like a good man should be, and he told himself that he would have the perfect life. He’d have a house on a hill, a white picket fence, two kids and the love of a beautiful woman.
Three years after he returned from the war, he found the girl he’d been waiting for. She was at a club, where she danced in a long skirt to that swing music their parents would have hated. And even though she was wild and a tad unpredictable, he fell in love with her anyway.
They went on to have a great life, though they never had much money. When they got their first apartment, two tiny rooms in a shady part of town, the girl put a jar up on the counter with a single word written across the lid; London. He had told her many times how he wanted to go there and visit an old friend, but it was far too expensive. Of course, she was too stubborn to believe that, and so every day she put in a few pennies, and told him they’d be going there in a month, at most.
But they never got to go. The man finally put away enough money, years later, but his wife had already passed away. Despite that, he never regretted any part of his marriage, and he decided to pass on the jar to his son.
The son was a young man who wanted the world for himself. He was charming and savvy, like a good man should be, and he told himself that one day he’d have all the things he wanted growing up; a big house, a pool, an island and a beautiful girl on his arm. One day, he met one at a concert, where she danced in a black t-shirt to that rock music their parents would have hated. His realm was business and hers was art, but for years they loved each other anyway.
But their relationship was rocky. The enormous house he had bought was filled with the sounds of screaming and fighting. It never ceased for eighteen years, until finally the house went quiet, when the two of them went their separate ways.
But before the divorce, the fighting couple had had a son of their own, and he was now alone in the house he’d been raised in, squatting there while his father tried to sell it. He lived in the basement, his belongings stuffed in a duffel bag. He practiced his guitar all night, and spent his days playing in coffee shops and on street corners. He was resourceful and determined, like a good man should be, and he told himself that one day he’d play in front of thousands of people, in a stadium so big you couldn’t even see the roof. But, for now, he lived off of the meager pay he got from his gigs and the tips he accumulated in a pickle jar he’d found in the closet, making just enough to keep his stomach full and the lights on.
But one day, he came home to find his possessions tossed out in the street, and a realtor’s sign in the front yard. He sat on the porch for hours, wondering what to do. All he had was his duffel bag, his guitar, about five dollars worth of groceries and the jar.
Having nothing else to do, he dropped his things off at the home of a friend, who was more than happy to help him, and went to the coffee shop where he was supposed to play. He half-heartedly strummed out a tune, confident that the audience wasn’t even paying attention, until he felt something. The girl behind the counter sat a cup of coffee in his hands and said, “You look tired,” before returning to her post. The two of them smiled at each other, and he began to play with passion once again.
He couldn’t take his eyes off the girl at the coffee shop, who danced behind the counter while he played that new age music their parents would have hated, and, years later, when the two of them had an apartment and money of their own, he found the jar and a note his grandfather had written his father, explaining how important it was to him.
The grandson had never known how significant this old jar had been to his grandparents, but, now that he did, he knew there was only one thing he could do. He went to his girlfriend, whom he was hopelessly in love with, and asked her a question while holding the completely full jar in his hands;
“Do you want to go to London?”