July 28, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me


It's another cold rainy day.
We finally got some sun yesterday--it was glorious! During rehearsal breaks everyone went out to the playground to bask in the brief, but golden light.
The clouds rolled in again overnight and at about 10:30 as I lay sleepless in bed I heard the first slow patters of rain on the window. I don't think the downpour has stopped since then, and it's predicted to last through Monday at least.

So, happy birthday to me!...and Allison, Eri, and Erica.
I wouldn't say that 32 feels particularly old, but I also can't say I feel very young anymore either. True, I still have some of the same insecure fears I did when I was 12: I still sometimes have to write myself a script before I make a phone call, I'm still shy around others and usually operate under the general assumption that the social order tends to flow best when I remove myself from the mix, and I still feel prone to making the juvenile kind of mistakes that are forgivable when you're 12, but embarrassing burdens when you're 32.

Still, if I'd been given a crystal ball at the age of 12 and had been allowed a brief glimpse into my future, I think my eyes would've bugged out with exuberant surprise to see some of the things I would experience in the years to come. For instance...

***I'm spending a summer in Austria by invitation. Somebody looked at my resume and believed I would fit in well among a group of other professional musicians, and so here I am. I was also similarly invited to attend the Spoleto Festival back in 2003. Multiple invitations to perform in Europe...never thought I'd see the day.

***I've attended both Juilliard and Northwestern--the two institutions I'd fantasized about since high school, but dismissed out of hand because I didn't think I'd ever be good enough to go to "the same school where Wynton Marsalis teaches at," and didn't think I could ever afford to go to Northwestern. The latter may still prove to be true, but I'm not going to think about that just yet.

***I've worked as both a professional musician and a professional artist. My artwork--both hand-rendered and laser etched--adorns hundreds of saxophones and trumpets around the world, and I've recorded for movie soundtracks, performed in Carnegie Hall on 3 separate occasions, soloed with orchestras and bands, and shared the stage with many of my musical idols...including Wynton Marsalis.

***I've learned to operate a telescope and find amazing and beautiful objects in the night sky. This skill has provided opportunities for me to share these sights with others and has also led to my volunteer participation in star-gazing programs at Bryce Canyon National Park--through the kind invitation of a good friend of course. Being a park ranger will likely remain a "fantasy job" for me, but helping out as a volunteer is the next best thing.

***I'm in love with a wonderful man who loves me back and is far better to me than I probably deserve. I don't look at this good fortune as an accomplishment, just as something to be grateful for. My 12-year-old self...and later especially my 16, 17, 18...year old selves often thought I'd live a lonely life without romance. I didn't think I'd ever be pretty, or interesting, or even just normal enough to attract the attentions of a good man. I think those selves would look into their future and blush with anticipation!

***I am also infinitely grateful that at 32 I remain childless. I mean no offense to those with children and my best wishes and sincere admiration go to all who take on the momentous task of rearing them, but for me the thought of becoming a mother has always left me with an immense feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. My mom would always say with a hopeful air,"Oh, you'll change your mind someday," and I would grit my teeth and squirm and vehemently deny the possibility. Meanwhile somewhere in the back of my mind the sinking thought of "what if" would creep over my being like a shadow. I'd have visions of myself trapped at home gray-eyed, dreamless, and failing miserably to quiet a screaming baby. Say what you will: maybe my desire to forgo motherhood makes me selfish, but my 12-year-old self is breathing a deep sigh of relief right now...as am I.

I would hope however that my 12-year-old self might be spared seeing some of the difficulties she'd face in years ahead, as well as some of the deep failings that remain within me to this day. Though I've accomplished a lot in some areas, I can't say that I'm satisfied with the sum total of my life as it is right now.

My current relationship with my family is tense, complicated, and fraught with anxiety. Having grown up in a loving--if divided--family, I never imagined I'd be faced with this type of struggle. That I'd one day have a pronounced fear of going home never crossed my mind, and is perhaps partly why I find it so difficult to address now.

I wish I felt compelled to draw more regularly these days--and could lose myself for hours at the piano as I once did. I wish I could run 6 miles. I wish I were fluent in another language (German would certainly help at the moment!). I wish I were more at ease with who I am, and more at ease in my relationships with other people.

It is obvious I still have a lot of growing and accomplishing yet to do.

Looking at the years ahead--without the benefit of a crystal ball of course--I can honestly say I'm tenuously optimistic about what's in store. I don't have a life list or anything--no specific "100 things to do before I die," but I am encouraged by the fact that I still feel passion and hunger in my soul to see, and do, and love, and live. I think that as long as this fire doesn't extinguish I have as good a chance as any that I'll look back on my life after my next 32 years and say, "Wow...I never imagined I'd actually be able to do that!"

1 comment:

  1. I love you so much!! You are such an inspiration to me and I thank God for you in my life. Happy birthday to you!!!!!!!