I am walking with Husband and children to a restaurant for dinner. Liam comes up beside me and takes my hand. I squeeze his hand, happy he’ll still acknowledge me in public, and wait for what usually follows this intimacy: detailed descriptions of the new level he’s opened in “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” or the nuances of a goal scored in an international
soccer football match about which I know almost nothing and care even less.
Liam: “Mommy, do you think that you could’ve been more than…this?” He waves his hand at the air. Clearly “this” means my entire life up to the point he’d asked the question.
Me: “More? You mean more than being professor? Or instead of being a professor?”
Liam: “Well…yeah. I mean you were so smart and everything, do you think that maybe if you’d worked really hard at whatever it was, you could’ve been, you know…more?”
We are headed to Pizzeria Olivella, a new pizza place that has just opened and is mirabile dictu, within walking distance of our apartment. The boys say that the pizza there is almost – almost – as good as their current gold standard, the pizza at San Marzano‘s, on New York’s Lower East Side. Our conversation – or rather, Liam’s interrogation of my life choices – continues over dinner.
Me: “So what do you mean by more? Do you mean richer? More famous?”
I realize that to say “more” famous connotes some tiny degree of fame, so I correct myself. “You mean, famous at all?”
Liam: “Did you ever want to do anything else, where if you’d been really serious about it and worked at it, you know, like maybe a doctor or something, then you could’ve done that?”
Me: “I wanted to be a ballerina for years. I danced all the way through college.”
My dining companions about kill themselves laughing. I am wishing maybe I stayed home and ate cat food by myself in the dark.
Me, trying again: “And I always wanted to be a writer – always, since I could hold a pencil.”
Liam: “So why didn’t you just write a Harry Potter story or something, why not write for a living?”
Because I had kids, aka black suckholes of financial need, and had to get a job.
But I don’t say that. That would be mean, right?
Me, instead: “Because, I guess, I didn’t have faith that I could do it? And also because I’d started teaching high school and I really loved it, and then I got a job teaching, and then I got my doctorate, so…”
Liam: “Oh. So this is it then?”
Me: “I know you think I’m really really old –”
More vigorous nodding.
Me: “But I don’t really think that I’m done, actually. I mean, I think that I’m still doing things and trying things…”
Liam, pityingly: “Right. But aren’t you like almost fifty?”
little does Liam know that while my life might not be “it,” there is a whole lotta IT going on at yeah write. link to the challenge grid, the hangout grid, or just settle in for a lot of good reading. then come back and vote for your faves on the challenge grid. that’s it!