Friday, March 11, 2011

Still Finding Myself

After working for the past 7 months in the home care field, I have decided to go to nursing school. I love my job, and the people I work for, but there is no training, no learning. I want to be able to actually do things. So, after working all through college to be a writer, I am back to where I was in high school, the health care field.

It is ironic that my life has taken this turn, yet again. I had been searching for a profession that would actually pay, in addition to writing, and I'm lucky to have found one I like so much. It just makes me feel as though I wasted all those years at school.

It also makes me think of a story I wrote for a workshop a few years ago. This remains the only piece I have had 'published', and that only in a school magazine. If anything, it reminds me to not overreach.

How to Fall in Love

Age 4
Go to play group and feel far superior to all the other children who do not yet know how to tie their own shoes.

Watch educational programs on public television, mostly Sesame Street. Decide that you will one day marry Savion Glover. Tap dance around the house as often as possible.

You will be a ballerina when you grow up – throw a screaming fit in the middle of the department store when your mother refuses to get you a tutu. Get kicked out of Brownies for informing the scout leader that the Cubs have more fun.

Age 6
Go to preschool and are not yet embarrassed by the fact that your mother sometimes helps the teacher with the class projects. Learn much later that your teacher is the daughter of the guy who played the grandfather in The Princess Bride – this will be very cool at a later age. Inform the boy who puts sand in the Stone Soup that he was not helping, and should never attempt to help anyone again. Get reprimanded by your mother.

Chase your ‘boyfriend’ around the playground – the fact that he lets you chase him rather than punching you means that you will marry him one day. You go to his house for a play date and play Duck Hunt, your hands barely big enough to use the laser gun. He beats you, badly (you have never played a video game before, and will not again for another thirteen years) and you decide he is not fitting husband material.

You do not see your father this year, as he is in graduate school. This is The Year Dad Lived in the Basement. You want to be a teacher when you are older. Survive off WIC checks and the money your mother makes babysitting neighborhood kids. Learn that not all children have toys, so you play with pine cones with your next-door-neighbors.

Age 9
You are in fourth grade with thirty other children in your class. You are the only student not of color. This is normal to you. You are also one of the youngest – one of the older girls leaves halfway through the year because she is pregnant. You still have not heard the word ‘sex’. You are mortified when your mother comes to the principal’s office in a fury – you cringe when she bellows that you sit in the office, while the boy who hit you in the head with the chair during lunch sits in class. You weep from exhaustion when you are up late doing the assigned 150 math problems. You will weep again, twelve years later, when you see the obituary for the teacher who assigned them.

You fall for the Indian kid in your class – he reminds you of Patrick from that movie with the magic cupboard that makes toys come to life. He is the only one in class who can beat you at Minute Math tests. He is worthy of your affection. You write your initials in the backside of your closet door. You blush when he applauds your presentation on Diane Fossey. You are going to be a wildlife biologist when you grow up.

Your mother works in the middle school library in a district an hour away from home. You don’t see her much now. She hates her job and cries often. Your father teaches you to make pizza, to burp on command, to quote Shakespeare. He writes poetry that you don’t understand.

Age 11
You are home schooled this year. Your parents want you to get a good education before you switch to a private school, and since they were teachers for seven years, they know they can instruct you better than the teachers in your inner-city public school. You are unsure of what sort of catching up you need, as you are already light years ahead of your classmates with math and reading, but you don’t question. Your only contact with other children this year is through your string symphony and soccer team.

You are unaware of males this year, simply because you are not exposed to any. You don’t miss them.

You have a new baby brother and you learn childcare alongside algebra and cartography. You become the unpaid babysitter. You wonder if your parents waited this long to have him on purpose. You decide that you will one day study wolves in Alaska and live in a tent. You will have no husband and children.

Age 12
You attend private school and hate it passionately. There are fewer people in the school than there used to be in your grade. There are no black kids. No one speaks only Spanish. You have no friends. You watch The Mask of Zorro and fall madly in love with Antonio Banderas. This is the one true celebrity crush you will ever have. You immerse yourself in fantasy and convince yourself that if you can be like Elena, Antonio will fall in love with you too. You decide to learn to fence.

You find a fencing club in your city and you are the only girl. You like it that way. You have found that you are more comfortable in the company of boys. They tell you to your face when they don’t like you. Your coach is beautiful. He is European and tall, with an easy smile and a thick accent. You will grow more infatuated with him over the years but never tell him of your attraction. Your first sex dream will feature the two of you in the equipment room – masks and swords flung to the floor as he pushes you against a wall. You will wonder why you are so tough with people when you really desire to be manhandled.

Your teachers inform you that you will make no money as a biologist, so you decide to be a veterinarian. Your classmates inform you that this is a girly profession, so you decide to be a doctor.

Age 13
You beg your parents to remove you from your private school and they say you can leave at the end of the year. You know they are secretly relieved – the tuition is far more than they can afford. You move this year from the only house you can remember living in. You leave all your neighborhood friends for a house in the middle of the country. Your little sister hates it – she misses the sounds of traffic at night. You love the silence, as well as the cows next door.

You have your first boyfriend this year – you go to the science museum and the movies and hold hands, but nothing more. Your big date is seeing the Harlem Globetrotters at the local university. Go to the school dance at the end of the year. You both sing along to You’re the One That I Want as you dance.

You are happy to leave your private school. You leave few friends, and when your boyfriend breaks up with you, you only regret that he was able to do it before you could.

Age 15
You love high school – not because it is so wonderful, but because it is so much more enjoyable than your middle school. You are in advanced math and science courses, and you take classes on entering the medical field. You hate history, but then, you always have. You play in the school orchestra and relish in the fact that the music program is worthwhile.

You fall in love in Spanish class. A friend of yours tells you he wants to raise his children bilingual, and you realize that you want his children to be yours as well. Fall in love again while you watch him in the school play. Glow when he smiles at you after the show, cry when he winks at the prettier girl. Talk about poetry and Marley, try to ignore the always present smell of weed. Never tell him how you feel, but shed more tears over him than you thought you contained.

Resist more feminine activities – go to summer science and sports camps. Make one of the best friends you will ever have at the latter. Talk every week on the phone for hours, but only see each other every few years. He will adopt you as his little sister. Apply to his college, get accepted into a pre-med program. Dream of being a pediatrician, of going to Africa and spending your life helping. Your deep love of children has surfaced slowly, but it is strong. Truly never think about the money.

Age 18
You graduate high school, realizing at the last minute that you have no real desire to become a doctor – only to help. You take a year before starting school again to think. Work three jobs, hate them all in their own unique ways. Learn to detest the smell of popcorn and ice cream, learn to love the music of Wham!. Go to Europe for the summer with a friend – realize your dream of falling in love with Venice. Promise yourself that you will one day live there.

End your trip in England, meet an American from NASA. This one will hurt. You think he likes you too, but it doesn’t work out. By the time you let your feelings show, he has given up, moved on. You won’t forget this pain for the rest of your life.

Determine that, with your father’s influence finally settling, you need to work in the movie industry. You know only that you want to be behind the camera, nothing more. You also want to study religion. If you can’t believe in it, at least you can learn about it.

Age 19
Start college. Your mother moves out in the same season you do – you are very grateful to have left home. Realize only later that you attempted to bandage this wound with your own love. You fall in love many times, are hurt more than once. You draw the line at a fling with your TA, but it is a near miss.

When a friend tells you of his affection, you jump. You have been wishing for love, any love, for so long, you are happy for any. And he is nice. He doesn’t take advantage and then leave. He doesn’t tell you how badly he wants you while his fiancĂ©e sleeps in the next room. He holds you while you cry for the destruction of your family, but he doesn’t relate. You lose your virginities to each other this year. You conclude that sex is overrated. Ignore the warning signs when things start to come apart. Make up for differences by spending too much time together. Lose friends, try to tell yourself that you don’t care.

Bury yourself in school work – it pays off. Get into the program you desire. Cry with happiness.

Age 21
Study everything you love – you have found that you love history as well. You realize that you are truly your father’s daughter, and have become a writer. Write screenplays that gain tears from your mother, and respect from your teachers. Have new life goals. You dream of the English countryside, half a dozen children, a career that you love. Move into your own apartment, don’t see your boyfriend for an entire summer. This summer you meet the man of your dreams.

This one is the hardest. He is perfect and you know it at once. For the first time in your life, have no faith in your own feelings. Ignore than as best as you can. This is hard when he lives twelve feet away. Almost destroy your relationships with both him and your boyfriend before learning that the only way to make anyone else happy is to make yourself happy first.

Choose the man you have dreamed of your whole life. He makes you laugh and doesn’t make you cry. He wants as many children as you. He supports your dreams. He wants to help those in need. He, too, does not think of the money. He is the most beautiful man you have ever seen. You conclude that sex is not overrated. Conclude this many times a day. Finally feel complete.

Look at him now, fall in love with him again. Repeat for the rest of your life.

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