I have written before about my struggle figuring out “what I wanted to be when I grow up.” Rereading that now I can see that what started out as thinking on my issues with being insecure and with my body turned out to be just as much about my being comfortable with who and what I am today as it is about anything else.
What prompted my thinking about what I wanted to be when I grow up again? Ironically, another email from a friend. Facebook is a delight in that it allows you to stay in touch with the people that you genuinely enjoyed from other parts of your life. From not only your past, but from social and intellectual arenas that you no longer really belong to, but that you may very well still hold dear.
This is a roundabout way to say that I live vicariously through the lives of my friends from my youth that have pursued their dreams as Actors and Artists. For so many, many years that was what I wanted. I wanted to be an Artist, specifically an Actor. Yup, with a capital letter A. Many of my close friends have asked me when I lost the bug. Or when I stopped thinking about it… and I don’t really know when it happened. I know it makes me get choked up now, like thinking about falling out of love with someone. To me there is nothing more heartbreaking than the idea of falling out of love. And I guess there was a moment somewhere along the way that I fell out of love with Acting.
Like most things that are hard for me to talk about I have a standard response to that question. The “when did you stop wanting to do theatre” question. “When I realized I loved wallpaper.” Somewhere inside me I knew that I didn’t have the “it” that makes that life a real possibility. I didn’t want it more than anything else. I wanted wallpaper.
Wallpaper is not permanent. But I’d guess that anyone that has ever sworn and sweat their way through an afternoon with a steamer and a trowel knows that removing wallpaper is about as pleasant as a divorce. It sucks. And the whole time you are thinking “why the fuck didn’t I just paint?”
I know now that my “wallpaper” was marriage. And a Family. (See how Family gets an uppercase letter, just like Artist. That makes me smile, that I think it deserves one now. I didn’t always.)
Recently I have been feeling more and more comfortable with who and what I am. In part because I have been so fortunate in recent years to feel more joy than sorrow, certainly. But also because I have come to peace with the fact that this Family that I enjoy, this delicious new husband and this incredible daughter, they take work. And sacrifice. And love. And sweat. And swearing, just like wallpaper. And just like Art. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, this goal. This Family.
So, when an old friend, a friend from college who has no idea that I poke my nose in to her facebook pictures and look longingly at her insanely gorgeous headshots and laugh until I cry at her youtube videos, wrote me recently and said “you are such a beautiful mommy…..honestly, i sneak peeks at you and sweet emily all the time on fbook” I cried. Because this woman that I admire, that I secretly wanted to be when I grew up even when we were twenty-two years old and drinking 40 ounce beers while we water-colored our Costume Design final exams… she said she sneak peeks at me. And what she sees is a beautiful mommy.
And it made me cry. Because I smiled and thought “god damn right, I am.” And I was proud. That, my friends, is progress.