It occurred to me in high school that some kids were already jockeying for positions in life—posturing themselves for a grand entry into a world they instinctively understood. I could only imagine these same individuals lulled by a Bach sonata in the womb…their parents calmly reciting Shakespeare during the crowning moment, and when those determined bundles of joy appeared, they were off to the races in the Nobel Prize fast lane.
I just didn’t understand the rush, particularly since during the teen years the mere task of arranging colored beads on my Campfire Girl vest presented a challenge.
Maybe I should have hung out with ‘go-getters’ more. Instead I leaned toward the drifters who were as high as half-baked helium balloons. The type when asked the yearbook question “if you could meet anyone twenty years from now, who would it be?” answered that they wouldn’t mind re-meeting their stoner friends and smoking a doobie under the bleachers.
No surprise, I married young…and for many gleeful years lived quite happily with not a damn thing going on under that blonde ponytail…nothing. I spent my days dropping kids poolside, contemplating the right granite hue for the kitchen, and donating time to this and that…but if you asked me what was happening in a small inflamed pocket of some obscure country outside the U.S., dollars-to-fucking-doughnuts I wouldn’t know what you were talking about. What’s worse? I hadn’t a clue I was light as a Twinkie. If ignorance is bliss…Well, let’s just say that I single-handedly played an integral part in the coining of these illustrious phrases: One Egg Roll Short of a Pu Pu Platter, Her Screen is Missing a few Pixels, She’s Like The Venus De Milo..Pretty But Not All There….I could go on, but you get the picture.
Most definitely…I skated freely on the surface of life’s rink. Never wanting to truly carve an edge into the depths of my existence. Whenever a party conversation probed beyond the superficial…I pulled a Double Sow Cow with a Triple Toe Loop and stuck a landing perfectly into another tribes’ trivial pursuits. For years I perfected this modus operandi…convinced that after seeing more than a few people in my circle go to their graves doing it, I too could tread water in the shallow end.
The fluff, the frill, the fiesta…my social calendar awash with soirees, galas, openings, closings…never a dull moment…until one night at an after polo party. A well read artsy and strangely exotic European viscount left me standing at the Grey Goose ice sculpture with a kind eyed stare, and the words, “If you can’t live with reality…then reality will surely come to live with you.”
My little train jumped the track for a moment. I have no idea how long I had been transfixed on the frozen vodka fount, but suddenly someone called my name and I awoke to the focus of everyone in the room. I recovered nicely, making some quip about iced geese and ganders drinking Russian anti-freeze. Integrating my way back into the party I couldn’t escape the provocative weighty echo of his statement among the mundane ramblings.
Then came the brutal smack down years when reality did come to call. Two divorces later…I was no longer young, wide-eyed, and ignorant. I hadn’t calculated the pressures of doing it all alone. A divorce comes with a pretty hefty price tag if you put in the time it takes to become whole and happy. I felt old after the second go-around…in need of a job that pulled in some serious figures to support three kids, pay bills, a mortgage,…and still fit in a nervous breakdown between soccer practice and the orthodontist.
When I look back over my life, in all the many stages and transitions, one of the most startling things I’ve come to recognize is an overwhelming urge to be more than I am at the moment. I realize most people at certain points wish for more but I wonder how many are truly cognizant of the fact that they are being ruled by a desire to be someone else. There is this sugarcoated longing to hurl ourselves forward in hopes of becoming someone worth the price of earthly admission. What a ridiculous amount of time I’ve spent projecting happiness for future times!
Finding joy is a balance. It takes listening to our hearts with gentle ears. I have learned not to condemn the woman I was who chose to live on the surface of life, but instead, to accept her with open arms. I am trying not to judge the path, but accept the traveler. And in all this candid sentiment I wish to leave you with one last 20/20 hindsight pearl from the voice of experience…Stop rearranging beads on your Campfire Girl vest and pick up a book.