Monday, June 3, 2013

ADULTHOOD: Crushing Dreams and Lowering Expectations since 1829

I’ve been out sick with bronchitis for the last two days (cue sound of me gasping and wheezing like an asthmatic porn star), so I’ve had a lot of time to sleep, watch “Masterchef”, and think about my childhood dreams.  Dreams are weird.  And by “dreams” I don’t mean the funky “showing up at school naked” shit that runs through your head at night like a streaker on peyote; I mean your hopes for the future.  Your ambitions.  The “what I wanna be when I grow up” stuff that as you grow older you slowly start scratching off of your list and filing under “it ain’t happening”.

I’m not saying that dreams die as you get older.  They just get. . .downsized.  Like your list of the Perfect Guy.  Want to know what mine was when I was in college?  Seriously, this was the ACTUAL list I uncovered when digging through some crap during my recent move. . .

Suffice to say, these days my list is a bit shorter. . .

My career ambitions were loftier in days of yore as well.  As a child I dreamed of being a prima ballerina.  Then when it became abundantly clear that I had neither the physique nor the gross motor skills to achieve said status, I was determined to become an Olympic gymnast.   For me, that sport held the dual distinction of being both high-profile, and singular.  I am not a team player kinda gal.  I don’t get the whole esprit d’corps mentality of wearing matching jerseys and smacking someone’s ass next to the Gatorade. I’m a lone-wolf-git-er-done-stay-the-fuck-out-of-my-way type of athlete, which explains my penchant for sports like distance running, yoga, and rock-climbing.  It’s all me on the side of that rockface, folks, and if I plummet to my death I have no one to blame but myself.  But if I make it all the way to the Olympics and find out that I missed out on the gold medal because my teammate fumbled the ball or my partner dropped me during the triple-axel-toe-loop-salchow then I will make it my life’s work to hunt that sorry asshole down and systematically destroy them.  I am THAT vindictive.  But I make no attempts to bedazzle my bullshit, so I own this dark part of my soul, and keep it as far away from other people as possible.  So, gymnastics seemed like a viable activity. . .until I realized that you have to actually train a bajillion hours a day, and my lack of ambition, coupled with a desire to actually ingest food dashed my hopes of Olympic gold against the rocks like the Exxon Valdez.  In retrospect, it’s just as well; these days the Olympics just seems to have lost its swagger.  We used to have the basics: run, jump, swim.  Now we have trampoline, badminton, and ping pong.  Now, color me cynical, but I don’t think any activity my 71 year old uncle can perform hungover in his backyard can be classified as a “sport”.   If the Olympic Commission is going to allow things like badminton, then I think they need to allow some other outdoorsy company picnic-esque activities.  Granted, some of those beefy East German women could probably outpull me on the tug-of-war but I am one stealthy little motherfucker so can guar-an-tee that I would kick some multinational ass at kick-the-can.  And hide-and-seek?  Pfft!  Bitch, please.  I’d be all Anne Frank up in that.*

*Although, some of those Middle Eastern countries may have a distinct advantage in that sport.  I’ve seen “Zero Dark Thirty”.  If those sorry bastards don’t want to be found then there ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no spiderhole deep enough…

But, obviously my dreams of Olympic gold never quite came to fruition.  So, as I entered my teen years I chose a career path that was a LOT more accessible:  movie star.  I know it sounds far-fetched and pathetic, but to this day, I SWEAR that the theater and I go together like Liza Minnelli and Vegas well drinks.  Acting was made for people like me:  overdramatic, larger than life, and more desperate for attention than a busboy at Hooters.   But while I had a lengthy and illustrious career in community theater. . .*

*My portrayal of Raindrop #3 in the epic "One Day In May" production is of particular distinction.

. . .and starred in every high school play sophomore through senior year, I still lacked the necessary attributes to reach super-stardom.  Which is to say, I wasn't ethnic (Halle Berry), quirky (Julia Roberts) or jaw-droppingly gorgeous (Charlize Theron) to make it from the local stage to the silver screen.  And while I did receive a couple of offers to appear on film in college, they generally involved roofies and some type of "naughty schoolgirl" scenario that just seemed. . .wrong.  So, I majored in Art History because the textbooks were pretty and minored in Political Science because I was the sole armpit-shaver on a hippy-dippy campus and loved nothing more than to go all Mike Huckabee on these little tree-hugging motherfuckers during classroom debates.*

*In truth, I think Huckabee is a smarmy little peckerhead, and my political leanings are relatively liberal; but I liked to "Limbaugh" shit up for dramatic purposes.  I was an asshole back then, too.

Since degrees in Art and Poli Sci leave one ill-equipped for any career not involving an apron or a name tag, I tried law school which was just. . .no.  Then I did everything from barista to retail employee to waitress to pay the bills.  Of course, the irony that someone with my blatant lack of social skills and general distaste for the majority of humanity was working with the general public should convey to you the whorelike nature of my existence at that time.  Then I got married.  Then I had kids.  Then my life was all about three other people, and my dreams just sort of got. . .forgotten.

I won't bore you with the details of my marriage and divorce; feel free to TiVo any LifeTime movie or episode of "Intervention" to get the Clif's Notes version.  Just know that eventually, I found my dreams again.  Like I said, dreams don't really die, they just get downsized and amended, and in some cases, what you get by accident turns out to be what you wanted all along. Today, I have two amazing short people, a Master's degree, a house I own, a coterie of wildly inappropriate and fiercely loyal friends, and a rewarding job that fills me with so much joy and pride.  I have achieved all of my dreams. . .not the ones I thought I wanted. . .but the ones that I was meant for.  Well, all except for one dream.  I was feeling morose and self-pitying the other day about never having found "The One", and I showed my old list from college, the list of attributes of "The Perfect Guy" to my friend Kelly.  She perused the faded paper and smiled at me, shaking her head.

"What do you mean, you never found 'The One', Jen?"  she laughed, handing me the list.  "You found 'The One' long ago."

I furrowed my brow in confusion.  "What do you mean?"  I asked.  "Dylan?  That didn't last."

"But the REAL 'One' did."  Kelly replied, tapping each item on the paper in turn.  "Dark hair, loves to laugh, a writer, strong arms, dimples, loves to hug, plays guitar, loves kids, a great cook, likes country music, can fix things, has a good job. . .except for blue eyes and a dog, you pretty much described yourself."

I stared at Kelly incredulously as a smile slowly spread across my face.  All of this time I'd been looking for the perfect person and like Dorothy, I had the power to click my fabulous heels together and see she'd been there all along.  I'm 'The One'.

And you know what?  It's the best relationship I've ever had.



Anonymous said...

Look, I'm probably half your height and am gayer than a fendi bag full of fuckin' rainbows but I'd marry you in a fuckin' heartbeat.


Anonymous said...

As one of those "wildly inappropriate and fiercely loyal friends," I just wanna say that you are INDEED "the One." Rock on with your bad self, sistah. I think you and you are gonna make it after all.

asplenia said...

LOVE this post. I died laughing at the two lists -- same as mine (except I like brown eyes in the former). Be my BFF?? haha <3

Frances Gronlier said...

Amen my friend amen.

Mothers little hleper said...

I am inspired each day by women who do take back their lives and realise their downsized dreams. Love reading your posts!
....but don't give up on the one...

Jen said...

JOSH - I would marry the shit out of your gay ass, my friend. And "Fendi bag full of fucking rainbows" made me laugh so hard I think the Starbucks barista thought I was having a seizure.

MISTY - ((spinning and throwing beret in the air)) I love you mad hard, Gorl. xoxo

ASPLENIA- Well, DUH! Total BFFs, yo. :-)

FRANCES- Took a while to get here, but it was well worth the trip.

MOTHERS - I think the universe has sent me a pretty clear message that I'm meant to be on my own. Tired of fighting it, and just loving my freedom and independence.

tbunni said...

"If you cannot find it inside yourself, you will never find it in another." Pretty sure I screwed up the quote, nevermind I can't remember who said it (thank you, senior moment): You HAVE found it - it was right there inside you all the time.

BTW - having realized you are complete in yourself, you may find (reluctantly) another - who doesn't complete you - he just complements you in ways you could never comprehend. Just saying - this is what happened to me 32 years ago. Still complete in me, still complemented in him.

Jen said...

TBUNNI - I'd love to find a man who complements me. Unfortunately, they only tend to do one of three things: abuse me, or leave me, or both. Not sure I can handle going through that again.

Valerie said...

Awesome people of our level will always have trouble finding The One. Too bad cloning technology isn't there yet. I'd totally do myself. And you know what? It would be spectacular.



TheChickIsRight said...

You are so fucking awesome. That is all. :-)