Today, I am at home, sitting in my messy living room as my children play with random toys and the folded-up boxes I have leaning against one side of our couch in preparation to start packing and sorting things. I am also facebook-stalking old classmates and wistfully thinking about what might have been.
I went to an arts school in 9th and 10th grade. My family had just moved from Middle-of-Nowhere Pennsylvania to Charlotte, NC the summer before 9th grade. So in one fell swoop, I was suddenly 600 miles away from my friends, in a new city, going to a new school that was much more liberal than the conservative, sheltered home that I'd grown up in.
Ninth grade was a little rough emotionally, to say the least. How was I - an overweight, shy, average-grades, four-eyed, self-conscious girl, supposed to fit in with kids who knew they could act/sing/dance/paint - who knew they were destined for Broadway, or Hollywood - destined for greatness? I didn't even know what I wanted to be when I grew up. All I knew is that I loved music, loved singing. And this arts magnet school would give me the opportunity to be surrounded by music all the time.
I awkwardly shoved my glasses up the bridge of my nose as I walked down the hallways past dancers in tights and leotards, actors who created their own unique wardrobes, and even a girl who claimed to be a witch, and wore a silk cloak to school. I fought with myself when it came time to answer questions in class, I derided myself for weeks if I sang a wrong note in my musical theater class, and don't even get me started on how I handled my most-of-the-school-year crush on a boy who turned out to be gay.
I was surrounded by people I simultaneously looked up to and couldn't understand. How could they feel so comfortable with themselves, with who they were, while I was standing here wanting to crawl out of my own skin?
I will never forget the day that I threw a fit before school because I had "nothing to wear." So I haphazardly put together some kind of shoddy combination of a white-and-blue plaid crinkle skirt, a blue college sweatshirt, navy blue tights, and these hideous Xhileration sneakers from Target. I was so embarrassed, but I ran into my crush in the hallway and he stopped, smiled, and told me how nice I looked (!). For a sliver of a second I clung to hope that maybe...maybe... And then I laughed. I looked nice? Ha!
I only started realizing that people actually noticed me at all at the end of my 10th grade year. I was not going to be coming back to the arts school the following year, as I had felt that both my faith and my grades were slipping. (Not cool when you get As in all the classes you sing in, and Ds in Algebra 2.) As one of our last class sessions for a leadership class I had (we were sort of the student government), my teacher had us all sit in a circle and, one by one, we all had to sit in the middle while everyone else either gave us constructive criticism or told us what they admired about us. There were several seniors in the class whom I greatly admired but thought they didn't really know who I was. They teared up as they told me how they admired me, for being so true to my faith, for singing beautifully, for doing any number of things I thought no one had noticed that year. I was so shocked. That day is one that will stay with me forever.
I left the school after that year, but I always thought back on my experiences, wondering what everyone was up to now, wondering what I might be up to now.
Well, apparently half of my class from that school now lives and works in the great New York City, pursuing and living their dreams. I mean, Broadway actors, dancers, directors; celebrity hairstylists; you name it, they're living their creative dreams.
Where am I?
Nashville. In a messy living room. With kids who fight over baby carrots and flashlights.
But you know what? I living my dream. Because my dream was always - even if I didn't fully realize it or understand it at the time - to be a mommy and a writer. Sure, it may be fun to perform on Broadway, to sing and act and get standing ovations and have my name in lights. It may be fun to make music, go on tour, and have thousands of fans screaming my name. But I couldn't possibly leave these two beautiful, amazing children at my feet. Just thinking about it makes me sad. I don't even like to be away from them for a whole day. (Alright, there are days I'm okay with being away from them for the whole day. But not frequently.)
And I am currently working on the first draft of the third book in a trilogy I'm writing. And even though it's not published yet - even though no one out there knows yet how this story has moved me to tears, how the of it has changed me - I know that they will. Someday soon. Because these words are my dream. These pages are my stage. And though right now I only have an audience of one, I that one day, this dream will go live.
And when it does, I'll have my husband and my two awesome children by my side.
What dream could be better than that?