How Not To Do What You Want To Do

When I think about what I want to do…the list is long. When I look at my life and wonder what I’m actually doing and where the time is going…it’s a lot different from what I want to be doing.

How does this happen? Where does the time go? Today is my brother’s 27th birthday (happy birthday, big bro!) and it was an old friend from high school’s bridal shower…a friend I have now known for ten years. That’s a decade. When did I become old enough to have friends for that long?

Well, since I’m almost 24, I guess awhile now.

When I met this friend, during our freshman gym class (we bonded over swimming–we were the good swimmers in a class where the majority of our peers were afraid of the pool) I had visions of where I would be in a decade–sort of.

Who thinks of decades when they’re fourteen? I thought of traveling, having a boyfriend (it was not my most ambitious year), making friends, being pretty, going to college. Maybe making a difference in some vague way.

(On a side note, whenever I think the term “making a difference” an image of Jane Goodall with African kids and chimpanzees comes to mind. Maybe she’s my idol, a little…I bet she thought in decades at fourteen).

Anyway, alone in my room at night–this was the first year I actually had my own room, as it took my father about a decade to finish the basement– I would sit at our old crappy computer and write.

I don’t know that I had much ambition to be a writer, per se, but I just wrote. I carried around a diary and wrote it in during most of my classes, sometimes at lunch, filling the pages with my day.

I found a bunch of these journals in the basement (which, now after several floods, is back to half-finished…thank you, Montana) the other day as I was “packing” for my impending move.

Which leads me to yet another question: when did I stop writing so much? When did I let life get in the way of my writing? I never seemed to let class get in the way of my writing, as evidenced by the number of journals I wrote, and certainly my social life never impeded on my writing time, as evident in the number of stories on my old hard drive. (Proof of this can also be seen in the volume of books I own and in the leftover journals–how could I talk to anyone when all I did was write in those things?)

I suppose I stopped writing so much when I started college, actually got a viable social life–and spent my years of college making up for lost time in the social realm–and started to see some of the world.

Even with these changes, being a real writer has always been a little seed of a dream at the back of my head. I’ve accepted and also forgotten that I’ve always wanted to write–and always figured I would, someday. I’ve given it up at rejection, gotten distracted by other pursuits, been convinced it wasn’t sensible, convinced myself it was too competitive and maybe I wasn’t good enough. But it’s never gone away. I’ve also accepted that I have a million other things I want to do, too. (Like Jane Goodall-ing around the world, perhaps).

However, pursuits and travels aside, an English Lit degree in my hand, and I find myself back where I started–alone, in my room, at night, writing.

Have I come full circle? Is writing a dream I’ll ever make come true, or is it a dream I have just to dream?

I’m confident I’ll find a new dream, another dream–maybe my new job will lead me in new, unknown directions, and open the door to a new dream that never entered my mind. I know I’ll keep my writing dream–maybe even realize it–or maybe I’ll never make money from writing.

But it’s comforting to know I’ll always have writing, even if I only ever write for myself (or this blog, although thanks to my relative silence I’m not sure if anyone reads it). It might be an unrealized dream, it might be a line I never cross, but the true dream, really, is dreaming.

Small Towns

While the idyllic small-town life is a lifestyle many want to attain, I’m here to tell you, think twice before moving to those homey streets where everybody knows your name.

There are several reasons for this, but one of the main ones that I run into alarmingly often is the awkward encounters with a) people you would like to avoid or b) people you don’t know who somehow know embarrassing stories about you.  Oh, those degrees of separation can be killer…

Now, I know that, wherever you go, big city or small, you’ll likely run into someone you don’t want to see–but I seem to have a particular knack for running into the dreaded friends-of-friends that, upon learning your name, say “Oh wow! So-and-so told me all about you…”

Last Wednesday, while out on the town for my friend’s birthday, I ran into an aquaintance from high school (yet another reason to get out of this place) who thoroughly enjoyed the retelling of the infamous Prom Night 2004.

This in not, unfortunately, the first time a relative stranger has recounted this night to me. I’m not sure what makes it so hilarious: the fact that, in all the pictures  I look out-of-my-mind drunk (what made my eyes DO that?) or that, apparently it wasn’t just pictures, but I did in fact, look drunk, as I was immediately Breath-a-lized upon my entrance in the Prom.  Not the most elegant entrance, and the fact that I was the least likely of most of my classmates to actually drink, still makes me ponder the education/drug testing system.

Oh, and there’s a small matter of me crushing in the sliding door of my parent’s van on the back of a beastly truck (damn Montana and it’s huge trucks…and by the way nobody could ever open that door again, so we had to crawl through the front doors, until they finally got a new car a year later…we’re sounding a little white trash here) and that my date, who happened to be my very-recent ex-boyfriend’s little brother, spent all night making out with a picture of his girlfriend. (Don’t ask me why I took him to that Prom–I think I was trying to prove that my first boyfriend dumping me for another girl totally had NOOO affect on me).

That’s just the beginning–there’s also the part where my friend was with Mr. Broomstick (who, unfortunately, had been invited to go as “just friends” by my Chem lab partner, before dumping her in favor of taking a “real” date), and that said Broomstick (so called because of his inability to dance–just in case he reads this, I’m sure his dancing skills have improved, but either way he doesn’t seem to have too much trouble with the ladies) had us all over for a fondue dinner, which was freakin’ delicious but also the type of dinner where you can hear everyone chewing. A lot.

My excellent fill-any-silence and connect-with-anyone skills were not fully honed at this time, and of my two girlfriends who were along I am definitely the loud one. Add in the awkwardness of your date being someone who, about two weeks ago, had walked in on you and his brother making out, and  that Mr. Broomstick was only willing to discuss the chain mail he was making, and it was quite a fun night.

(Yes, chain mail, as in the stuff from the age of knights.  I didn’t pay much attention to this part of the conversation–I only made several Ivanhoe references which did nothing to endear me with my audience–but upon reflection, it might have been interesting to know exactly how he was making this chainmail, and why).

The moral of this story is, it might be time to move away from the town where you went to high school, if you’re anything like me. They say you can never truly escape your past–especially when people still be approach you in bars, saying “I hear you dated all three of the Smith brothers till you passed one along to your sister, is this true?” (And NO, I only dated one. My sister took the youngest brother of my ex and my Prom date to a dance too…her reports were also of extreme awkwardness. It’s either us or them).

Upon reading this, I kind of feel like I really do live in one of those “idyllic” small towns where stuff like this actually happens.  Is it weird that someday, after I live in several cities and countries and rise to the top of my chosen field, I also want to live in another small town–just not this one?

One that’s preferably closer to the beach, and preferably does not contain any of my former classmates that know any embarrassing stories about me.


p.s. Thanks to any of you who stopped by and checked out my SuitMode post! They are tabulating the numbers as we speak! 🙂