When I was in fourth grade I knew, beyond any doubt, what I wanted to be. When other girls my age were clamoring to be Farrah or Olivia Newton-John -it was the 70’s don’t judge- on the playground I wanted to be Jack Kerouac. Okay so maybe it was more like Judy Blume. I would either be a writer or a forensic pathologist, hello Quincy was the bomb!
I wrote endlessly in my Holly Hobby and Strawberry Shortcake scratch-n-sniff note books; spinning tales of beautiful young intellectually liberated princesses in their “Kalvins” -after all nothing came between me and my fantasy of rocking those jeans Brooke style- who shrug off the mantle of doing dishes to thwart scourge of evil younger brothers on their way to being the first female Supreme Court Justice by day and roller derby queen by night. Writing made me feel powerful, emboldened and when I won my first award for writing at age nine the feeling was oddly visceral. I’d found my voice.
Life changed somewhere around age twelve. The strength I felt when I was writing buckled under the weight of social awkwardness. There was nothing empowering about being a buck toothed, be-freckled dork who’s mother braided your hair so that you channeled Laura Ingalls on a daily basis. It simply was not cool to have the biggest vocabulary in class and have already read A Wrinkle In Time the summer before Ms. Lundy assigned it in class. Somewhere between daily taunting from the mean girls collation of prepubescent delinquents and my grandmother telling me that boys don’t like girls who don’t do their hair -the woman slept with toilet paper wrapped around her beehive- that voice started to soften to a murmur.
California went nearly bankrupt, my dad a state employee, lost his job. I escaped with Steinbeck and my journal. In those pages I held deep conversations with myself and began to hear that voice again. We moved from the sticks to a “thriving” crap hole metropolis along the California/Mexico border when I was thirteen. Seeing this as an opportunity, I reinvented myself. I became a fashion plate -my ability build a wardrobe on the Kmart layaway program is legend- a cool kid, someone to be noticed. The early arrival of a B cup didn’t hurt either.
Somewhere along the way I’d stifled that voice and replaced it with The Cure, black plastic bracelets, Aquanet and the team captains of my teenage world. In the intervening years I learned to ignore that faint whisper. Who really cared that I had wanted to be a writer once upon a time? I mean really, how many smokin’ hot writers are there out there? It’s like ohmygawd so not cool. I sold my voice for pom-poms and Wayfarers.
I would go on to try on a number of hats…party girl…college drop out…Naval Airman…wife…mom…analyst…caterer…divorcee…mom again…wife again…mom one more time. Often times I’d wonder why it was I couldn’t just “be”. There has always been this restlessness in me as though I’d lost something but was never really sure what it was to begin with. Don’t get me wrong I was good at lots of things, I’d found happiness with an amazing man -cliche as it may sound, my soulmate- I enjoyed being a mom. Life was good if not what I’d imagined it would be.
Then came “the” day. While stuck in traffic chauffeuring kids from one activity to the next and lost in the deep though of, what do I make for dinner, I passively listened to a radio squawk show. The disembodied host was prattling on about how blogs where killing newspapers. Ever the know-it-all, it bugged me not to know what the word “blogs” meant. So I looked it up. People where actually writing whatever they wanted, about whatever they wanted and other people where reading it. This was that “Brave New World”.
I would BLOG!
I harbor many few delusions that I am now, or will ever become, a great writer. What this blog has done for me though is awaken that fourth grade girl in me. Some of her boldness, bravery and even her naivete have come back to be part of me. Those who take time from their own lives to read my ramblings, you give me more than you’ll ever understand. Blogging has started to give me my voice back.
I am wife, mother, friend, daughter, professional, dreamer, insecure, hopeful, neurotic and empowered…a writer finally writing again for what it’s worth.
Can you hear me now?