This week’s “Let’s BlogOff” is a difficult one for me. The prompt involves a question I’m sure most of us are familiar with: “What did you want to be when you grew up?” It could be that I must complicate everything, and/or that I am a warped person, but I had a hard time remembering the answer to this relatively simple question. I was hoping for a post that was sweet or charming; or the very least, harbors a success story–something good and motivational. I am going to have to think of a prompt that will do this and pitch it to the prompt-creator. Meanwhile, I want to form a good habit doing this “Let’s BlogOff” thing (even as I remembered this morning), so I didn’t feel right ditching this time, this 2nd post. You may have wished I had, but thank you for your patience anyway.
When I was little, I didn’t think that growing up meant you became someone different. You were a seed that shot up through the earth’s crust and stretched and blossomed. It was later that I learned about perennials and annuals and trees; about iterations, chapters, cycles, eco-systems; about scars, displacement, healing, and grafting; about ambition and survival.
I think Writer was in there fairly early on. I loved books and reading and writing (especially in nonsensical cursive) and I loved to play pretend. But I didn’t have to wait to be a Writer. I didn’t have to grow-up to be one. I wrote a story about Aliens coming to Vilseck when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. I think it was called ‘Aliens Come to Vilseck.’ I wrote this play in the 4th grade, I cast, directed, and starred in it; I remember it with some embarrassment and that it had a strong environmental message and dramatic pauses. I didn’t know to dream “Published Author,” and I still don’t. The green construction paper cover and illustrated folded pages about aliens was passed around and read. I’m pretty sure it was a class assignment, and I am certain I took it seriously. I am guessing it was more like my daughter’s own belief when she was smaller. You wrote a story, bound it, and went and put it on the Library shelf. Her great novella of the early grades? Monkeys in Space. We should have gone and put copies on Library shelves.
I do recall wanting to be like Indiana Jones in latter grade-school years. He sounded like he had the best career in the world; travel and adventures and myths. I didn’t mind snakes, but when I thought about possibly having to eat fish with some obscure tribe in some heavily foliaged area with a river running through it, I couldn’t overcome that image. Still, even into High School I had an interest in Archeology and into University I excelled in Anthropology-driven courses. I love Anthropology : more the Cultural side, but Forensics is fascinating, too. One of the things I adore about Ursula K LeGuin’s writing? Her anthropological approach to her imagination; her translations of the human condition into fictional (oft fantastical) story and then extracting it back out by The End. Yep, back to reading and writing.
I initially intended to go to University as a Conservationist. [Back in 1996.] I was looking at the greenest tree-huggingest schools around the country, because I did know that when I grew up I wanted to live Away; maybe have a house here and there; international. Last minute opportunity took me elsewhere and I didn’t have to think about what I wanted to be during general education and dorm-life and my first serious relationships with boys. But I couldn’t stay. Who could? So I thought, Anthropology or Pre-Med for the next University. The latest–much later? Finish that damn English degree and go onto Library/Information Science. And no, the latest Minor was Film Studies, not Writing. Really all my Mama wanted was for me to get a degree, any degree (she didn’t have one). Dad figured I could do anything I wanted, but I should probably listen to my Mama.
I have never been terribly ambitious, but it borders on ridiculous when I think about how I didn’t do most everything I’d thought about becoming when I grew up—since Junior High on. My dreams about Future Me were small, simple, and singular. I would have a degree and a job and friends and three houses that I would probably time-share. I didn’t dream about my wedding. I figured I would marry at some point, but I never worried about shelf-life. I didn’t dream of mother hood; and actually that was one impossible vision for me. I was never the girl who wanted to hold or coo over your baby, let alone be responsible for it. I did see: I would live comfortably, do something exciting and important, and travel. I’m still young . Let’s just say what we are all thinking. So that last bit about what I did see is still possible. And I have travelled, so check, I guess.
One could think the question of “What did I want to be when I grew up?” would be depressing, considering (even at 33). That maybe “I do not clearly remember,” is a coping mechanism in the face of failure, wasted time. But I never thought about being a Mother and I am one. I love it. I think I’m pretty good at it. And, yes, it still frightens me. I became a Wife sooner than I had anticipated (at 25), but I love that too—a lot. I think having a vision as a directional arrow makes moving forward easier, and infinitely less terrifying. Goodness knows I think about how to get from one place to the next, both practically and impractically, for myself and the husband and daughter, and even for friends and my greater family. But when I think about now, then, and the could-be, and the lens I use to view it, it is so different from before I grew up. I couldn’t see myself clearly enough; I’m certain I still don’t. The realization that I do not clearly remember is a hopeful one. It is comforting. It does help me cope. It helps me take risks. It helps me forgive poor choices. And it helps me embrace the good choices more fully.
What did I want to be when I grew up? I do not clearly remember. But I am fairly sure that I am not what I wanted to be, and I know that I am yet who I wanted to be. *
* like a better grammarian. could be ‘who’ or ‘whom,’ couldn’t it? arguably? simultaneous subject/object? is there a term for that simultaneity? <deep and troubled sigh>
photo: yep, that is me when I was little.