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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Finding Fly

At some point in my youth, probably the same point you did, I was sure I would have life completely figured out by the time I was 30. Being young seemed mundane. I would flip through the pages of the JCPenney catalog and imagine myself as an adult. Snappy business suits and form fitting casual wear paired with big gold jewelry. It was the 80’s. Girls like me were raised to believe it was our due to have it all. Susan B. Anthony had given us the right to vote, and our mothers had burned their bras, giving us the freedom to shop in Victoria Secrets.

We never questioned the fact that we could grow up to be anything we wanted. Geraldine Ferrara ran for president. She lost, but we saw the shine and allure of the yellow brick road. While we tied our Keds, we imagined the power pumps we would one day don, click our heels, and knew our turn was coming. And it couldn’t come fast enough.

All these years later, I find myself sorting laundry, trying not to argue about the actual physical completion of someone’s 6th grade homework assignments, and scrubbing dog pee out of the living room carpet. One moment I find sincere satisfaction and gratification out of my three kids, and the next, I feel I would hop a bus and live anywhere, anywhere, but here in this small town, in this life, at least until they are old enough for a glass of wine. How, how did this happen to me?

What would I do if I could do anything? What if I could just do ANYTHING? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not brave enough to figure it out. Maybe if I could take back 30, rewind the perpetual motion, I would go back and change everything. There is not one decision, one indecision that I would re-write in indelible ink.

~Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals"
Corinthians 15:33

I have told people that if I had my life to live over, I would start over in the ovary. Literally, I would begin again as the egg to be fertilized and repeat nothing. But that’s not totally true, I would repeat motherhood, I would be a mom again, but it’s the only thing I would repeat. Nurturing a person into reality is a must-do-over. Meeting people you have nearly single handedly brought into this world, is a must-do-over. It’s just that I would select my circumstances instead of letting them select me.

The Valedictorian and Salutatorian of my class were both girls. I took an AP English class with them and though I knew instinctively the Mormon dressing, but very sweet Valadict and the upper crustish, well coiffed salutator were my intellectual superiors in everything else, they didn’t hold a candle to my love of literature and my insatiable need to prove myself. I think I understood literature because I had lived a little more than they had. It’s easy to understand Roscolnocov’s impulse to murder his landladies, when disfunctionary living leaves you breathlessly ready to commit homicide on a daily basis. Easy to understand the bittersweet flight of Soloman, or the Gumplike tragedy of Owen Meany. Did you know the BBC created a list of books, and bet that most Americans had not read 6 of them? It’s true, I read the check-list on Facebook. I greeted many of the titles like old friends, I checked 50. I read many of them while I was a 20 year old stay at home mom of two, waiting for the birth of my third.

The undercurrent of our classes was this: the quiet girls with the polite and appropriate answers would outdo the boys. We believed in scholarships for sports and academics, but the truth of that became abundantly clear soon enough. Scholarship money is small and far between, and it counts against your state aid. Grades counted, but just because you got into a school didn’t mean you could afford to attend it. These are facts my step father reminded me of quietly, in hushed whispers, “you know we can’t afford to send you to college right? It’s expensive and we just have no money for it.” I wanted to go to Harvard and attend law school. A big dream I know. I also wanted to become a model and pose for Avon make-up catalogs. I wanted to be the girl with the white teeth and slightly open mouth selling eye shadow, or a new perfume. I had big pouty lips, come you know what me lips, the kind adult men comment on when you are just shy of 17 and bagging their groceries. I knew I could do it.

Enough. Finding Fly has to be about more than my girlhood dreams and sordid past. It has to be about what I’m going to do with my life, who I really am now and who I will be in 8 short years when my youngest is 18 and I am 42. That woman, looming out there ahead of me, the one who never let her hair go naturally gray. What am I going to give her? What am I going to prepare her for now? God knows the girl I was never gave the woman I am now a chance. It’s up to me, now to prepare 42 year old me for her future. After all, the country is in an “economic slump” everyone, even 35 people at my husband’s plant have been laid off, I spend every Sunday night reminding myself I am lucky to have a job, even if I hate it (since writing this~I am no longer employed). My BFF is living 300 miles away from her husband who left the state to find a job, and I am living 3000 miles away from her because her mother put on her pumps and moved her away when we were in high school to climb a ladder and built us girls a ramp.

So, after hemming and hawing and failure to launch myself, it’s time for me to take one more glance over what I loved and hated about myself in the past. I think, if I do that, I can finally, finally, unearth the yellow brick road to my future.

But, where do I start?

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