One o’clock AM on December 3rd. 38 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The temperatures are finally dropping. Alabama is like this during autumn. 70 degrees one day, 30 degrees the next. It goes on like this for several months. Pack a light jacket, but prepare to take it off.
A few years ago a friend left her job as a teacher to open a bakery. She chased a wild and crazy dream and it paid off. She was featured on a reality show and in a few short years made a name for herself in her area. She deserves it too. She worked hard for this dream.
She’s closing the bakery however. She wants to make cakes and sell her cakes. She isn’t quitting that. But, no more storefront. No more tea parties. No more face-to-face. And for some reason this makes me incredibly morose.
Things change. Dreams change. Sometimes you build an idea of what you think you want your life to be, and then you get it, and then you’re okay with letting it go. I’ve experienced so much of that myself. I always dreamed of owning a historic home but the reality is that it requires a lot of upkeep and it’s expensive. I still love my home and always will. But, once you achieve the dream, it’s easy to finally wake up from it.
My first celebrity crush was Charles Grodin. You may not recognize the name because he left acting in the 90’s. But, for about 3 decades he was a big, big deal. My generation knows him primarily from Beethoven. Yeah, him. The dad from Beethoven. I had such a crush on him when I was a kid. Not because of Beethoven. Because of The Great Muppet Caper. He played a rich, handsome villain and for some reason, that became my small heart’s ideal of manhood; he was just so sexy to me.
But, I sort of forgot about him until this evening when we watched that film with my daughter for her first time. And all those feelings came rushing back. And I looked him up on Wikipedia because it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t heard of him recently. And for good reason: he quit acting. He won awards, starred in great films, and happily quit. He achieved the dream and walked away. Things changed.
I’m at a crossroads in my life. I’m in need of change. I’ve already allowed for some changes, but others are on the way. I’m in my 30’s, my mother is dead, I don’t know who my father is, and I’m sort of an orphan now. I’ve got no one else to tell me who I was supposed to grow up to be and while the open-endedness of it is exciting, it’s also overwhelming. Because sometimes the more things change, they just change. That’s it. And those changes scare me; even if I know I need them.
I’m looking at my life as this terrifying journey unfolding before me. I always relied so heavily on my parents to tell me who to be and how to be it. Even when we were at odds, I wanted their approval. But, now there’s nothing left to prove, no one left to impress; just myself and my own family. And the task of being myself is daunting.
When I was 22 I did a brief stint in a covers band. At a fall festival I belted out Stevie Nix’s “Landslide”. I took each word to heart and at that stage in my life, it was both fitting and timely. I listen to it now and it’s still appropriate. The situations are so vastly different but, the message is the same: I’m afraid of changes. Because I built my life around my mother. People get older. And I’m getting older too. And now, the person I built so much of my life around is gone. And I’m seeing my reflection in snow covered hills.
I think maybe now more than ever Stevie Nix’s sentiments ring true. It’s funny how you think you understand something so, so well when you’re a young adult. And then you get older, you get hurt, you lose people, you lose your hopes and dreams, you all but lose yourself, and suddenly you really do understand those songs, and those books, and those films, and those ideas. I struggled with suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide twice before I was 22. But, I can honestly say I am sadder and more hopeless these days than I have ever been. And I think that’s why I know…it’s time for a change.
And as Sam Cooke said, “…I know a change gonna come.” It’s coming for you. And it’s coming for me.
And I’m terrified…but, I think, maybe, I’m also ready. So, I’ll pack a light jacket and hope for the best.