Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Steinvic was out of town for work overnight, and I woke up at 4:18 a.m. (I looked at the clock) due to tiny woofs and whimpers from our pup. We crate him at night in a blanket-lined cage in our room…something we started the first night he was home with us. I listened to him, working through whatever monster-filled encounter he was having in his sleep, heard him let out a big sigh, and then he was back off to dreamland…hopefully one that featured large flower-filled fields and sunshine.

I was, however, wide awake.

I’d been dreaming, too. In my dream, a girl I’d gone to junior high with was now an adult, critiquing my art book. I remember feeling confident showing her my book, but as she paged through, none of my drawings were complete. They weren’t how I’d remembered them, either...much more amateurish than what was in my mind's eye. I found myself embarrassed at first and making excuses, but then admitted that they weren’t as good as some other things I’d done, and maybe I needed to just buy another book and start over.

The Girl…I remember her well. She was very popular. She seemed older than everyone else…a ring leader of sorts for her clique. Instead of the trendy, 80s clothes the rest of my class wore, she had her own conservative, expensive style. Perfectly manicured, long, oval nails. Impeccable handwriting. Pretty blonde hair – there was never a bad hair day in her world. She wore a tiny amount of tastefully applied makeup. When she laughed, she was reserved. She was not silly and didn’t act out in class. I remember that she had a few steady boyfriends, but no one gossiped about her. She made great grades. I’d heard (not in a bad way) that she sometimes drank at parties and smoked a little weed with the other kids, but never that she’d made a fool of herself. In retrospect, she was a grown-up in an adolescent body.

I, on the other hand, was a mega-dork.

A five-minute sketch of me, in all my dorky glory, circa 1983.

I was skinny, had permed, stringy hair, wore glasses and bulky train-track-style braces. I had no boobs to speak of (or not speak of) and absolutely no style. I hid my lack of shape and style in loose, brandless jeans, polo or denim shirts and an occasional shaker sweater from The Limited that my aunt sent me. (My family really couldn’t afford The Limited at that time.) I giggled and freely acted dorkily, with my small, tight clan of dorky friends, all of us wishing we were less dorky, but having no idea how to achieve that. I for sure wasn’t going to parties, drinking casually or smoking weed…most of my Friday nights were spent drawing at my Dad’s desk, peripherally watching The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Dr. Who.

I can remember a couple of instances where I dared to try to talk to The Girl…once chiming into a conversation before chorus where there were just a few of us in the classroom. I think I said I thought she’d surely win a seat on the student counsel if she ran. She shot me down saying something like, “I don’t remember asking your opinion.” I slinked into my second-row alto seat, red-faced, slumping back into my dorkiness and pretending to read something important so that no one could see the humiliated tears trying to form behind my thick glasses. (I was a foolishly sensitive kid.)

In the eighth grade, at the end of the year, everyone was passing their yearbooks around, getting cleverly crafted signatures. “Stay sweet!” “LYLAS!” (Love ya like a sis!) “KIT (keep in touch) I mean it!” While mine was being passed back to me, The Girl intercepted it. I saw her writing and wondered what she could possibly have to say to me. It said something like, “I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch to you.” No, really…that is what she wrote. I was a little concerned that the word “bitch” was forever in my yearbook and that my parents would see it and I’d somehow be in trouble, but more, I felt somehow…taller.

In ninth grade, I had contact lenses and had discovered mousse and learned to feather my hair. Money was a little less tight so my wardrobe had improved. My braces were off and I was permitted to wear a little more makeup to school. I still didn’t have boobs, but realized that a lot of thinner girls in my class were in the same predicament, so I pretended not to care. Mom gave me Chanel No. 5 that year and I was starting to understand the allure of girly things, the art of passing notes instead of trying to talk in class and began to develop a thickening attitude – healthily calloused – of not really giving a damn about what others thought of me.

And, most importantly, a new girl in school ended up in my homeroom. She was very, very cool and worldly. And pretty. For some reason, she took to me right away. The popular girls wanted to be friends with her. And so, they started to be kind to me. Including The Girl. Like…I got to sit with Those Girls sometimes. I wasn’t part of their clique per se, but I could sort of pass.

The Girl went to a different school for tenth through twelfth grade. A school I’d always dreamed of going to. I maybe saw her once at a football game or something, far away and out of the corner of my eye, as she talked with former classmates, but I've never talked to her again.

Back to today. Out of curiosity, I googled (yes I used Google as a verb, and I did nosily look someone up online) her name and found that she seems to have a wonderful life. She looks grown up, more weathered and outwardly more approachable and authentic. I’m totally not surprised at all...she's always been so talented. It made me happy, if not a tiny bit jealous, to find her excelling in a profession I’ve dreamt of and living in a part of the country that Steinvic and I adore. She actually has a blog and I thought, comment? No, too creepy. Maybe not. What would I say? “Hello from Cincinnati. I had a weird dream about you that made me curious about what you’re doing and I found your blog. Happy that you’re doing so well and wistfully envious that you’re in a career that should be mine, living in a place that my husband and I would love to live. Yes, I’m still jealous of you. But in a nice way. I swear. I’m not crazy.”

No. If I were her reading that, I wouldn’t believe the not crazy part. Instead, I think I need to get those art books out and really start working. I have a hundred story ideas in my mind, a thousand projects, a million little lightening bugs flickering around in my brain, but I haven’t done a damn thing about any of them. She has. She knew what she was going to be when we were kids, and she’s done it and done it well.

Steinvic and I have a good life here...lots of blessings. Who knows...maybe some would envy our lives a litte. But I belive that what I bring to our existence could be richer, if I apply myself.

I keep saying it, but now I have to do it. I have to get busy on me. Thanks for the kick in the pants…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can do anything you put your mind to...btw, like the new look of the blog, too!