"you're a worrier, aren't you?"
i was having a meeting with a lovely playwright who will be my professor next semester. we had been talking about my work, his work, our love of a particular academic, our experiences growing up how and where we did, mutual friends...it had been a good conversation. it was still a good conversation. we were wrapping up when he asked me where i saw myself in 5 years.
this is not a new question. as i've mentioned before, i used to work with people on their goals. i used to work for lululemon where on the walls workers placed their 1, 5, and 10 year goals for everyone to see. i've spent a lot of time going over where i want to be in those increments. in fact, just days before my breakup, i had going and written down those 1, 5, 10 goals in my journal. i remember wondering if i should include my then boyfriend in them--the gut knows when shit is happening even if your brain hasn't caught up yet. i remember debating whether i should keep it general or not. in the end, i put his name in. it was my vision, after all. it is what i wanted to see happen.
a week later, i knew those goals and that vision wouldn't come true the way i thought.
i haven't really been able to look at the goals since.
anyway, this playwright was asking me and i was answering. and in some ways, i have been consistent over the years. i also say that i am writing--not just plays, but books and poetry and novels and articles. i say that i am successful, but not necessarily on broadway. i am teaching kids. i have a nice home and a lovely family. things are quiet. they are simple. the house is always clean and minimalist-like. i feel happy and calm.
at least this is what i think i am saying.
in actuality, it comes out something like this. "oh, in five years, i hope to be writing. it doesn't have to be my bread and butter writing, i know how hard that is, but i am successful enough. and i have a great husband and a child or am closer to those things than i am now. and my parents are hopefully still healthy..."
i use hopefully a lot. i backtrack. i don't commit to saying i want the career, and the house and the husband and child in five years. i give the vision room to not be what i really want.
and this playwright noticed.
playwright: you are a worrier, aren't you?
me: ha. um. yes.
playwright: it is your vision. it can be whatever you want. you keep changing it to allow for different outcomes--instead of the one you want.
yes. i do. i have a hard time imagining the future. especially now. i am so afraid that i won't get the things i've worked hard for or the things i really want in life (i mean, aren't most of us afraid of these things?). the past four months have filled me with even more fear and most times when i am feeling low and sad, i sit and realize that really i am just really scared and really worried. any time i begin to feel bitter toward someone who seems to be getting the things that i want--plays produced, fellowships, nice new boyfriends, engagements, babies, apartments near the water in california, etc.--i realize that i am just really fucking scared life is not going to look the way that i want it. i am worried that i won't find someone who actually loves me and wants to be with me longer than two years (aka i am worried i am defective and unloveable), i am worried i'll never have full-length plays produced and will never reach a certain level of success with my writing (aka i will never be respected as a writer and will never make any money and will be a failure), i am worried i'll be the old dog lady everyone knows in the neighborhood (i really want another dog, guys...), i am worried i'll choke on something home alone and no one will be able to help me (thanks for this one, 30 rock). and that's just the tip of the iceberg. it is exhausting. worrying all the time. and, of course, no one's life ends up exactly the way they imagine and we all have disappointments and things we have to work out way through so that we come out not as attached...
but we also have to dream. we also have to hope. we also have to have a sense of where we'd like to end up even as we acknowledge we may not get there.
in a play i wrote recently, i have a bunch of characters share some of their worries. another character then says "you do realize that worrying isn't going to do anything, right?"
worrying doesn't do a damn thing.
all it does is prevent me from dreaming.
and so, here is my dream for 5 years from now. the one i should have shared with the nice playwright yesterday, but couldn't. here it is without the worry:
5 years from now...i am 34 years old. my 35 birthday is only a few weeks away and i can't believe i am going to be 35 because that sounds so adult and people still card me at the bar. also, i am in the best shape of my life so...what is age anyway? i live in a nice apartment in the west village, but my husband and i are considering a move out of the city. we aren't sure yet where, but we know we'd like a little more nature, some body of water nearby. california is always an option since tv peeps keep trying to get me to come out there (cough, cough, shonda rhimes, cough cough), but we feel weird about moving to a place that is an earthquake away from disaster (my words, not my husband's. he is far more sensible than me). our west village apartment is nice. it fits us personality-wise. quirky, slightly minimalist, with closets filled to the brim. it is a nice size, enough for the three of us--my husband, me, and the little one who is about a year old. but we want more children and nature...so... oh gosh, though, it is hard to leave new york. my parents are here. my grandparents are still alive. my grandma is 101 and my grandpa is 106. i want my children to know them as long as possible. plays of mine are being done throughout the city after i won two prestigious fellowships over the last two years and i've just been asked to teach next semester at a mfa playwriting program in the city--so the move may have to wait (unless we move upstate, but EVERYONE is doing that now even though it was in the nytimes five years ago...we secretly think about it all the time though. so maybe. we could get a farm...this is when my husband reminds me we aren't farmers and i tell him to hush because WE COULD BECOME FARMERS. HAS HE NEVER SEEN BABY BOOM?). anyway, everyone, including my agent, says i am going to win an obie this year and i am inclined to believe them, even if i am nervous just thinking about it. i try not to think about it as i spend my days teaching middle schoolers creative writing, working on my new play and finally finishing up a novel and this memoir-ish book i've been working on and are due into my editor the next few days and blogging, spending time with my child, loving on george (who is 10 almost 11 years old!) and the pup we got two years ago, training for my 12th half marathon, finishing up another wine course that basically makes me a sommelier and a meditation course that means i find zen on the daily, and date nights with my husband which consist of sometimes going to jazz clubs/flamenco concerts/dancing, sometimes going to nice dinners (theater does not count as a date night anymore), but mostly hiding in our bedroom after the baby has gone to sleep and watching reruns of old tv shows and having sex and eating oysters and having wine. i am freaking busy, busier than ever before, but i feel grounded and calm. i am enjoying it because, i am a worrier, and know that life comes with bumps and changes and so i relish every fucking moment.
it was so scary (and ridiculous...) just allowing myself to dream, guys. i'll be really happy when this phase of fear and sadness and depression passes and my normal dreaming self (hello, i am a pisces. it is what i am supposed to do) comes back in full force....but giving myself the ten minutes to write that...that was nice...and scary...and full of worry...and i almost cried from my inner voice saying none of that is going to come true...but i did it. may not seem like a big deal, but it is. for me. right now.