The world would be a million times better if we saw it through kid glasses. The world would be a million times better if pinatas hung in our skies, and the wonders of our worlds, like butterflies and sand crabs, were placed under satellite dish-sized magnifying glasses.
Kids don’t ask themselves the question, “Am I really supposed to be a… writer/philanthropist/interior designer?” Because unlike grown-ups, kids know that if you’re asking that question, the answer is probably “yes,” you are. So stop asking questions, and go be whatever your “it” is. Get up! Go be your dream. Eat off the dollar menu at McDonald’s and buy some insurance from Costco. Note to self: it will be worth it and you will survive. You might get Scurvy from living off of Mc-menu items, but you will live.
As we graduate in grades, we tend to drop joys like crumbs tying a trail backwards together through our yesterdays. The strength of the special, little things, fade a little. Well, I guess everything fades a little. I was at Von’s today and I wasn’t wearing my glasses and everyone and everything looked fuzzy. You know you’re 25 when… you can’t see anything at the grocery store because you refused to buy contacts for three years and never wore your glasses. Someone needs Lasikkk…. but someoneeeee can’t afford it….
Today my Mom texted me, “Watching Brene Brown on Oprah’s Lifeclass. You are Daring Greatly!!!!!!!” Six exclamation points. I smiled back “:)!” and so she smiled “:P” and she added an “I love you!” and I sent a reciprocal “I love you, too” and that made her “:P.” My grandmother called, and in the course of conversation, she offered to alleviate some of my financial woes (without my hinting or asking). Talking to her, I glanced up at a photo of my sister Nina’s cute smile brightening my bulletin board, and realized quickly how fortunate I am. I am so lucky for my family, for my roommate/best friend, to have the opportunities I’ve been given, and to be from a city that acts like a Cabo Spring Break in the middle of October. Imagine bros in white tank tops that say “Silly Girls: Rights Are For Men” holding margaritas in 90 degree heat. At least they don’t fist pump.
Every day, I color my face like a coloring book. I lean over my sink to dab black mascara on my lashes, unsure of what awaits me in the next 12 hours. But while I do a lot of the same things, like brew coffee and put on makeup, my days don’t look the same as they did a year ago. My life is not Groundhog Day anymore, and it certainly was. Now I interview people who know Kelly Slater well, and wonder what I’m going to wear to a black tie event. Maybe we should fear boredom and lifelessness more than we do taking risks and being in danger.
I have no illusions about it: my income is not steady, which = “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” And darkness, like wrinkles, creeps into my world sometimes. My (ex)boyfriend/it’s complicated is finally going to move away in a few weeks, and I’ll miss him. Those unfair things, like the Alzheimer’s and the silence at the other end of emails to writing jobs I apply to – those take stabs at my bravery.
If life were a circus, when you’re running headlong towards your dreams, you’re the tightrope walker. In my heart, building my own business or writing my own book feels right. So I put a foot out on the wire. But the second I feel the thinness, the swaying beneath my foot, I have visions of breaking every bone in my body by falling ten stories onto sawdust. And I’ve broken enough bones, thank you very much. I’ve hit my limit with nurse-botched intravenous needles and resultant sore inner elbows. Eff that noise.
But here’s the thing: I’d rather face the consequences of having tried my hardest and failed, of having tiptoed towards my heart’s truest desires at the other end of that wire, and fallen all the way to the bottom. I’d rather break every bone in my body than never broken anything by playing it safe in a lifeless job where I could never understand the point. I’d rather risk it all than dwell in a place where I wondered every. single. second. of. every. single. day: is this all there is?
On the wire high above the ground, or looking at myself in the mirror puffy-eyed and red-skinned and snotty, I really wonder how I’m going to get through it. I wonder how I’m going to feed myself, pay my rent, and not crawl back to my parents with my tail between my legs. And right now, right this second, I feel a little like Miley “Just being Miley” by putting so much out there. But just because you’re not advertising your fears and worries for all to see, doesn’t mean that you too, don’t get scared and sad. No one is exempt from sabotaging themselves, drinking too much, eating their feelings, or crying themselves to sleep. Hopefully not all of those together, but don’t we all have our Miley moments?
There’s this woman I know whose husband is a fisherman. He’s gone eight months out of the year, and besides her small talk with the grocery store cashiers, she’s alone 24/7. She stuffs her sadness down with QVC purchases and 24 Hour Fitness aerobics classes. But when she draws her curtain back slowly to glare at me, or defiantly slams her windows and doors, I can tell she’s drowning in sorrow.
If you have darkness, I wish I could hug you and hold your hand. Because that’s what I wish someone would do for me sometimes. I wish I could be there for you, because why not? Sometimes it’s the girl who starts a conversation in line behind you at Von’s about your Stone beer purchase that turns your day around. I wish everyone would know we’re more similar than we think, and we can make profound differences in each other’s lives. Maybe people know it, they just don’t feel comfortable doing it.
If we could all just be brave enough to do what’s most scary for us. If we could all just realize that the thing that’s hardest for us to face is also the most important.
I am confronting this new reality: commit to writing completely, TAKE A GIGANTIC RISK, cross the rope, or don’t do it at all. It’s time to be a writer (period). Not a writer /slash. Not a writer/paralegal or a writer/social media manager. A writer (period), no slash. In my crystal ball, I see…Ramen Noodles, and perhaps living in my Volvo, but it will be worth it.
My roommate/best friend, Tiffany, and I joke that “we want to be Tami.” Tami is my Mom, but my girlfriends and I call her “Tami.” Tami worked her ass off for forty years and now she’s retired – she’s more than earned her days couch-dwelling days. Since she retired, her days consist, mostly, of two things. One: watching television, and two: giving our adopted cats exercise with a laser pointer. Shrek, kitties chasing a red light in circles, an e-cigarette, a pot of coffee (6 cups of coffee), and pajamas are my Mom’s existence lately, for the past year actually, and Tiffany and I are jealous.
Tiffany and I shout from our respective bedrooms what age we want to be sometimes, like we’ve got ageist Tourette Syndrome. “I want to be 22,” Tiffany whines randomly. “I want to be 35…now.” I whine. “I want to be Tami. I want to go to Hawaii and Europe for a month. Don’t worry, Nat, you’re going to find a Jim (my perfect, saint of a father who no man will ever live up to).” “No, I’m not,” I whine back. Like Lena Dunham, we whine – we’re girls, we’re worrying about paying our rent, and confused about our lifes’ purposes and whether or not we’re really meant to have children. I want to drive up to my (ex) boyfriend’s place to drink beer while locating the sharks in GTAV. Raising another human seems a bit beyond me at this moment.
I’m grateful for these conversations and for my roommate, though. We complain about our twenty-something feelings, while my Mom gets sad because people don’t notice her in grocery stores anymore. According to her, people start to look through you as you get older. The grass is always greener, yeah?
That’s the thing about all this. About this happiness project, about my writing, about my bank account. If I don’t think I’m living a full life now, if I’m not happy now, then when will I be? Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect – it means you’re willing to look beyond the imperfections and be happy anyway. As long as you’re trying your best to become better every day, what more can you ask of yourself? Really! There are 11 more days until this happiness project hits a year, and it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. But have I done well? Yes. But still, I know I can be braver. I know I can be better. I’m really trying, and I think I’m improving. That’s all I need to know right now. I think I’m going to make it to the other side of the tightrope. In fact, I know I will.