I’ve been feeling a bit stuck lately, in my writing, in my work, in general—stuck. I hold my breath and hold myself back. There is something I’m not seeing, something I’m missing, some door that isn’t opening. On the outside, I appear cool and confident and on the inside I’m a bundle of nerves.
It’s funny, people will tell me I’m courageous and that I’m a risk taker and I’ll be quaking in my boots or wondering if I’m making the ‘right’ life choices.
When I was waiting tables at Old Venice in Manhattan Beach back in the 90’s a gal that I knew from high school came in and I had to wait on her. I wasn’t exactly embarrassed, even though it was Halloween weekend and I was in cat makeup. I was more uncomfortable, worried about what she would think.
After I brought them their drinks, while taking their order, we caught up a bit. She went to college, law school and got married. “What about you?” She asked.
My cat ears were twitching. I’d rather chase a rat than tell the story of my life up to that point to someone that together.
“After UCLA I worked on some features, then, after my Dad died, I worked for Camden Artists, then Triad.” I said. She was leaning toward me, looking up; she seemed interested in what I had to say. “Then I went to Europe for 6 months and I found a job at a patisserie…” I said.
It went on from there. How could I tell her every detail? I didn’t. I didn’t tell her about my move back home, the garage sale where I sold all just about all my stuff—including that fabulous orange flowered print skirt and matching shoes and ribbed mid-drift pullover I bought in some crazy expensive store in Santa Monica.
I didn’t tell her the details of how I found my first apartment and my first job and all the other jobs when I moved to Santa Barbara where I worked as a waitress – at The Jolly Tiger coffee shop, at the San Yisidro Ranch, at a bowling alley, at Pascual’s Mexican restaurant, then there was the Turkish company, Telanav, they were doing something shady and they wouldn’t let us leave for lunch, then there was Market Place Media—that’s where I learned how to use PageMaker.
I didn’t tell her that after Santa Barbara there was Venice and Value Health Sciences, Inc.(VHS) and that the reason I left Venice and moved to Redondo Beach was because my roommate was a psychopath who delivered a bag of garbage to my office with a note that said: ATTN: CAROLYN, because he was mad I was moving.
I didn’t tell her that only way for me to get promoted at VHS was to leave and move to Phoenix. I didn’t tell her that I worked in the marketing department at Eye Care Plan of America—they turned the storage closet into my office—ahhhh my first office.
I told her that I hated Phoenix because I tell everyone that mentions Phoenix that I hate Phoenix—when you’re wearing jeans and cowboy boots on a 90-degree day, side-stepping cockroaches the size of my dying Mustang convertible, it’s time to head back to the beach.
“So, I moved back to Redondo Beach and I also work at Gold’s Gym in Redondo.” I said, summarizing best I could. “I want to be a personal trainer.”
“Wow.” Her smile seemed to go from ear to ear. Her husband was smiling too. “I envy you.” She said.
“Why?” I asked. She was the grown-up here. She had a career, she had a husband, she had a house. She was a real person.
“You’re so courageous,” She said. “You didn’t just do what you were supposed to do like I did.”
There have been quite a few more lefts and rights and even some U-turns since that conversation 20 years ago.
I am still zigzagging along on my path.
It seems these days that I’m not the only one, there are others. The world has changed and the straight and narrow isn’t as straight and narrow as it used to be–we are explorers all of us.
Still, at times, I find myself gasping for air.
I sometimes have to remind myself to breathe. I have to remind myself that I have courage, that I am brave, that I am in the right place at the right time, and that if history does indeed repeat itself, well, I’ll be just fine…actually, I’ll be much better than fine.