When I was five, I wanted to be a mother. My mom was a stay at home mom, and I wanted to be like her. She was always busy with 1,001 projects whether it was for our house or church. She always had time for Lindsay and me, plus a rotating cast of characters. She was an incredible musician that could step in at the drop of a hat. So comfortable in a jack of all trades role, which to me is the absolute delight of knowing a little bit about everything.
I thought I’d be the one with one or two kids, and yet 15 because their friends wouldn’t leave. I am not sure when that dream changed, but it wasn’t when my mother died. It was when I realized I loved women. It was the early ‘90s, and there was no model for the life of a lesbian Kool-Aid mom. Dana and I were both in our 30s before we realized that going to an OB/GYN and talking to a doc about getting pregnant was a thing we could do. Things worked out the way they were supposed to, but I cannot even imagine what a mess our kid would have been… and I mean that in the Texas sense. A mess is a good thing. A kid with both Dana’s and my mannerisms and expressions makes me keel over laughing even now. We shared a brain, and I will always wonder what it would have looked like in thirds, fourths, and fifths.
I think I was onto something. I think even then I knew that my purpose wasn’t to be the story, it was to record it. My mother’s job was tied into telling my father’s story, and I think that’s the path I thought my life held as well. That’s because I’m comfortable when I’m not the story. I like being the “go-fer” on a project. I like being someone’s Girl Friday. It gives me time to create and reflect, which I do all day every day with blogging.
THe first time I knew I was a writer, I was in fifth grade. My teacher had us write a response paper to a story about adult illiteracy. I called it “I Forgot My Reading Glasses.” It was a huge hit.
The second was English 101. Prof wanted to see where we were in terms of writing, so the first day she had us write a couple hundred words on nothing. The professor said it was so good that she wanted me to read it in front of the class. I wasn’t well-liked after that, but the prof was smokin.’ I’m always going to go with the hot Indian professor, fuck yo’ bell curve.
I started my first blog, Clever Title Goes Here, while I was in that class. It was 20 times more popular than this one, and I lost a lot of capital when I tanked it. At the time, I was tired of the blowback and it wasn’t worth it. Pretty sure I screwed myself out of being able to blog for a living with my short-sightedness, but I’ve never known a person with ADHD and Bipolar II disorder that could futureproof more than five minutes ahead- even with a map and directions.
I laughed my ass off in the movie “Contagion,” where blogging is called “graffiti with punctuation.” It’s true. And at the same time, it’s also writing by osmosis. You’re letting everything in your environment touch your skin, some of which you use that day and some words burrow deeper for later.
For instance, I was on the phone with Zac and he said that the military asked him to make “a list of everything that’s wrong with me and why.” I didn’t even breathe before I was like, “can I use that as a writing prompt?”
I am not constantly down on myself. I know that there is also a list called “everything that’s right with me and why.” It’s just time to take an inventory, and happiness writes white. The ink isn’t dark enough to be memorable, or hasn’t been yet. I think that’s because I tend to write about what happens when it’s negative in order to process it out and leave it behind. Not carrying it around with me all day is paramount to success “in real life.”
And I never would have thought about it this way until now, but I’ve been doing it since I was five- this thing where I make a coloring book or a wide ruled notebook the evidence I have a soul and it lives on the page.
For better or for worse, I’ve known since I was five that I was going to be a writer…. Because if you think about it, aren’t all stay at home moms the keeper of the memories? Mine was, and I feel the job has been bequeathed to me. It’s my turn to have adventures and make memories, putting them here so that they are safe.
By saving the memories here, I’ve let you into a sacred space and given you institutional memory. You know my story and it will live on long after me. I couldn’t have predicted I’d have an audience at five, but I definitely knew that I wanted someone to hear my stories.
…..and some of them actually happened.