some old geezer once reprimanded me.
Grow up. Grow up? Hmmmm, grow up. I could tell from his particular parlance that he meant to grow up and put childish dreams behind me and go get a real job. But grow up. Grow up. Isn’t growing up being the person who can achieve wild dreams? Isn’t growing up, growing upward—like a vine can grow up the wall—and not just older, not even just more mature, as I’m sure the man was implying?
But was I supposed to give up on the dream? What if I packed my bags and left five minutes before the call that’d change everything? Unlike Lala Land, I didn’t always necessarily have a man in my life who’d come after me to let me know that a major casting director wanted to see me.
But then was holding on to the dream of that call magical thinking? Or was it holding true to my dreams? Or….
Isn’t it enough to want something with all your heart? Isn’t it enough to hang in there year after year, keeping a great attitude and not giving up? Or….
Maybe we can’t get it wrong, I thought in one of my rare moments when I wasn’t feeling like a sponge that’d been wrung out way too many times. Whatever we do..... here we are. Loving, living, laughing, learning—no matter what we’re doing, those things don’t have to stop. And everything we do leads us…somewhere.
I once read an article about Condoleezza Rice, which said that when folks would ask her how she got to where she was, she’d say something along the lines of, “Well, first you fail at being a piano major.” How crazy great is that? She loved playing the piano, obviously, but her soul had other plans. Maybe the piano just kept her busy and happy while her being was being sculpted into being a person who could be Secretary of State. (Lots of being in there!)
And that old dude who told me to grow up? He probably gave up his dream too soon and always regretted it. People can turn into pickles when their creative juices are not allowed to flow. We can always tell the ones who’ve soured—they’re the ones who are discouraging us. And me pursuing my dreams might’ve made him sad, but it’s easier to be mad than sad. He actually wasn’t all that old age-wise—just way old before his time. Giving up the dream can do that to people.
The thing about dreams is to have the essentials covered. Then we never have to give up.
I was starting to wear down, though. I was so lonely for people, but people were the last thing I wanted to be around. Cara, Skye, my improv team, and the odd casting director and her little gaggle of helpers were the only exceptions.
There were days—weeks, in fact—when blissful denial would kick in and I’d get a lot done. I’d help Skye, run errands, and go to a bunch of auditions. I started teaching a couple of Zumba classes at the gym. I even got another client, a friend of Skye’s. But soon exhaustion overwhelmed me.
Human beings actually need to be in a fair amount of denial just to make it through the day around here—meaning on this planet. If we really saw the destruction we do with so many of our choices, we’d go crazy. But we do need to see how we’re destroying the planet, killing someone’s spirit with a snide remark, seeing our best friend contemplate suicide right in front of us.
And when the shroud of denial comes off, we can also see what we’re supposed to do—buy a hybrid, don’t say that snide remark, save our best friend from her thoughts and herself.
Oh, that. Will I ever get over this? Will I ever forgive myself?
I can’t imagine being a young, working mother and having my spouse killed in Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere, really. Still having to take care of the kids and go to a fulltime job while dealing with pain that must be worse than this—oh, it was inconceivable. But…..at least she had kids. Sometimes my heart would ache and my clock would tick loudly over that little part of life that I’d skipped for some reason. Why? How did that happen? I’d always wanted children.
Although it doesn’t compare to losing a spouse or a child, what about the grief of never finding a partner? What about the grief of never having a child? What about the grief of not living the life you wanted? Sure, we can find other sources of joy, but the grief over what we’ve lost can still live way down inside there.
My grief for Cyndi brought up every dredge of grief about every fucking mistake I’ve ever made in this miserable life of mine. Okay, that was just some days. Thankfully, it wasn’t every day. And on the days my mind wasn’t being my best friend, I’d take Cara out to lunch or stay in her office and eat peanut butter on crackers with her. She gave—and still gives—the best pep talks.
“Go to Paris, get swept off your feet, and come back well fucked and married.”
Okay, some of her pep talks were better than others.
Married. That seems so far away that it’d be on the other side of forever. And….we can’t just get married to check it off our to-do list, can we? I remember a friend of mine saying that as she was about to walk down the aisle, her only thought was, “How can I get out of this without making a scene?” For some reason, her thought had a big impact on me. She didn’t get out of it then, but she did a few years later. Maybe I always figured I’d just cut to the few years later part.
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