When I was four-years-old, I wanted to disappear, which must have worked, because I didn’t even notice it when it started, and I don’t remember a single thing about that year. Then maybe I reappeared before I was ready. That’s ok, though.
At seven, I really wanted to grow up to be a movie star married to Uncle Jesse from Full House. I’d even go so far as to say that I not only would have taken Danny Tanner and Joey as consolation prizes, but I would have happily been involved with all three. That was high thinking for a seven-year-old, but it had to be that way. I already knew what it was like to disappear and reappear, and never at will. I would have taken all three, but Uncle Jesse would have been the grand prize above all.
Scarlet is seven now and I don’t think she thinks that way, but I overheard her playing with a toy cell phone on the school playground, saying, “My boyfriend just texted me.” Gobsmacked is an understatement. What goes on in that little world in that little girl? That little girl in her big world. At seven, I had such deep feelings for Chris Jenkins in Miss Alpert’s class, that I would tell my mom at night that I liked him so much and would like to kiss him. He used to give me snacks and coins. I’d be sitting at lunch and a bag of potato chips (good), or cheese balls (best) would appear in front of me. I’d turn around to see where it came from, but somehow I was never fast enough. The phantom snack giver would disappear into the crowd.
Eventually my best friend, Becky, sat across from me at lunch instead of next to me, and caught the snack giver in the act. It was Chris Jenkins – the boy who stirred my pretty deep feelings. Deep for seven. Heck, deep for 27. So when my brother told Chris that I liked him, and he came to me and said, “Your brother says you like me?” That would have been the perfect time to say, “Yes. Yes. I really do.” Instead I denied it, and I’ll never know what could have been? It’s ok, though. It wasn’t time.
At 13, I wanted to be a filmmaker – so surely – up until I took a film class when I was 16 and I got to be the director. “Direct!” My teacher said. “You are so full of ideas and passion but do you even want to direct?” I didn’t, and I’m still that same girl now. I don’t want to direct. I want to be directed and make you cry happy tears with my attention to your directions, or I want to go rogue and ignore all senses of direction, in every sense of the word. I’m not born to direct. And that’s ok.
I brought up that dream again with a film internship in college. I thought you could magically become a filmmaker in one day. I was waiting for inspiration to strike me, and I listened to my 30 and 40-something co-workers tell me how life beat them down, and would surely beat me down, but I didn’t want to leave a beaten down legacy. I didn’t want to direct, and I didn’t to project either – project movies, that is (and more) – so there was nowhere to go from there, except out. Upwards and out.
Later in college, and always, there was writing. There was photography. I wanted to be a household name, but not in the way I did at seven, or 13, or even 16. It was a transcendent way. It was not yet discovered. I also wanted not to be a household name, but not in the way you forget dreams – not at 15, or 20, or even 36. Sometimes it’s about being a good parent or a good person, but honestly – I’m not always this, and I’m not always that. It can be about simpler things. Getting through the days. Being published in other people’s books. It’s about having deliciously happy children who are always up for adventure.
I can’t tell you that there isn’t still the intrigue. That there isn’t still the dream, and maybe my dream of being a household name is more a dream of not being a household name, but still getting under their skin, and in their hearts and minds.
I think I want to not fade away, because I’m afraid I’ve been doing that for 32 years. Sometimes I allow it. I speak softly and tread lightly and stand behind the camera. Sometimes I speak loudly and wear the brightest colors you can imagine.
So it’s weird that I’m an ambivert with situational anxiety and sometimes my body language says, “away”, but I’m thinking, “stay.” And it’s weird that I’m still searching for my legacy, while also understanding that it’s been building for years. It will always still build. Fade in and out. Lose focus, gain focus. Come closer. Stay away. Push and pull. Maybe another way?
Is it albino moose under northern lights? Is it photographs on gallery walls, or in the pages of my own non-fiction novels? Is it saving lives, or publishing books that save lives? It’s funny how it changes, but it lets us know we’re alive and still spinning.
This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “I want my legacy to be…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on any of the matters: HERE.