It happened last August when I was walking along the path in front of the vast concrete hulk of the San Diego Convention Centre, leaving one fabulous party and heading to another. I was walking in a party dress with high heels, a purse containing nothing but a phone, a credit card and a lipstick. and I felt …. good. Good meaning happy. Energetic. Joyful, even. I had been jetted in by a company who thought for some reason that I was cool enough to give me a free trip (thanks again, Ford!) and put me up at a stupidly swanky hotel. Party hopping, movie star treatment, going to meet wonderful friends for drinks and laughs. My 13 year old self would have been boggled.
All I knew of San Diego when I was 13 was the Padres, who rarely played my beloved Expos and who had, it was said, some strange crablike mascot who scuttled around the stadium at irregular intervals. But still, it was mysterious and exotic, far, far away in California, the land of tanned movie stars and beaches year round. It seemed far away; impossible to get to, impossibler to navigate. Cities were scary places filled with crime. Faraway cities in California didn’t bear thinking about. Older people go there. Important people. Not me.
It happened again, this feeling of impossible fate, in February in Nashville at the Opryland hotel. I sat at dinner with a rep from Warner Brothers where we discussed their latest TV shows, what we loved and what we didn’t. This was two nights before I was standing five feet from big music stars who were playing to an exclusive audience. My TV-addicted 13 year old self would be agog at this whole scenario, her words tumbling over themselves to tell this poor man how much she loved whatever show they were talking about and when is this or that going to happen and wow, do you KNOW that guy? Movie stars were big, bigger than life, and at 13 I didn’t even understand that for every TV show or movie or band there were thousands of people who work in the industry who never even appear on camera but who have everything to do with getting it put there.
Sometimes life feels strange. Like it’s yet to begin, or I’m halfway through and I haven’t even started yet. Sometimes I panic at the thought that Judas Chripes I’m already 42 and what the what and whose arse is that in the mirror? Some days I feel old, older than I should, feeling like if I walk down the street people see me as wrinkled, matronly, past dates. Why is she wearing that? Those are young people’s clothes.Who is she kidding? Sometimes I look back and all I can see are moments I missed. Things I didn’t do. Places I didn’t see. Specific days when I chose to stay in bed instead of going on adventures. Why, you lazy fool, why?
But then I remember that despite the times I didn’t seize the moment, there are plenty of times that I did. Or sometimes, the moment even seized me. And then moments strike me where I realize I’m living out that 13 year old’s childhood dream. That awkward, frightened kid, who sometimes thought she knew everything but too often felt like she knew nothing. The kid who dreamed big daydreams that usually were some variant on being a kickass princess who still gets rescued by a kickass prince. A kid who worried and fretted too much, way too much, but never ever said it. If someone had told that kid that someday, a day that feels surprisingly soon, these things will happen, I would have been boggled. How do I get from here to there? I would have wondered. Is it a fairy godmother? Magic?
No, little girl. It’s you.
Nobody’s life is perfect. It isn’t all glitz and travel and parties or whatever it is that delights you. But we all need to remember some days to stop and pinch ourselves, because no matter how mundane our lives can be, we’re living out someone’s dream.
Maybe even our own.