Thursday, February 07, 2013
On Racing Through Life
I've been kind of stuck with my dollhouse lately. It seems like every part hinges on another part. I want to put in the flooring in one room, but if I do that, I should paint the walls first. If I paint the walls, I should figure out the ceiling before that. Should I make a decorative ceiling? Should I add a fancy chandelier medallion? I want to install the bay windows, but I should paint the insides of them before they go in. So what color are the walls going to be? Wait. Before the walls come the ceiling.
See what I mean?
It's enough to make me stop cold and just stare at the house for a looooong time.
When I bought the Beacon Hill, I saw it as a 10 year project. I've already eaten up half that time by letting it sit in storage for so long. Now that I'm working on it, I realize it won't take 10 years, but it also can't be done in just one year or a few months. My main problem is that a bunch of the amazing people on my dollhouse forum work REALLY FAST or they have more time than I do. I get jealous and impatient with myself when I see how fast they are going -- how beautiful their houses are becoming. I know I shouldn't do that to myself, but I can't help it. Hurry up! You are falling behind!
One of my greatest fears in life -- one that I've spoken about over and over so many times I could puke -- is being left behind. It's a recurring theme in Blondieland. I first truly addressed this issue with Shrinky back when I was living in Chicago. I was in her living room, and I was in a kind of trance. Shrinkydink was really good at hypnotizing me. Her voice and spirit were so calm. Under her guidance, I found myself returning to the "first time I felt left behind." Care to take a guess where I was? The hallway of my Middle School. Of course.
I was a late bloomer. I got my period when I was 13, even though some of my girlfriends got theirs as early as 9. They all grew boobs; I didn't. They all had boyfriends; I didn't. My mother had cancer twice during this time period. I was scared and thinking about death. I was SO JEALOUS that my girlfriends didn't have these fears or worries. I was terrified that my mother would literally leave me behind. And my sister was already dating, out in the world being a good teenager. My Sissy grew up and didn't want to play with me anymore.
At 12 years old, wandering nervously through the hallways of middle school, I could see the writing on the wall. My friends were leaving me behind. They were going off with boys, turning into women, and I was not. I was different. I had braces, glasses, horrible hair, and baby fat. It was awful. I felt very Alone.
And so like any good brain, mine captured that moment, that feeling of isolation. Wait for me! My friends didn't wait for me. They blossomed and shone with that magical shimmer that only middle school girls have. They looked stunning and wonderful and just on the verge of becoming teenagers. They were moving so fast -- first dances and first kisses and first bases (oh, there were so many bases). Meanwhile, I watched. I observed. That's when I became a really good writer. The best writers notice all of the details.
Right at the end of 8th grade, I finally got my period. I still didn't have any boobs. But I grew. I grew FAST. I sprouted straight up into a willow tree. I was suddenly skinny and at least six inches taller than the majority of my girlfriends. I started washing my hair and styling it real purty. I figured out make-up. I taught myself how to swagger. But it was still too late. By freshman year, my friends were already rounding home plate, and I was waiting on my first real kiss.
This theme followed me into college and after. My friends were always 10 steps ahead of me. They were marrying and having children. If not that, they were working on their 4th or 7th year of a relationship or living together or planning on it. My willow tree branches swung in the wind, lost.
I didn't realize how much this all affected me -- that I even had an issue with being left behind -- until that moment on the chair with my eyes closed in Shrinky's living room.
When was the first time you felt left behind? Let's go back to that moment. Take me there.
The reason Shrinky guided me back down that dark middle school hallway was to teach me something new. She had me speak to that Young Blondie and tell her that one day she would grow boobs, even if they would still be relatively small. She would grow SO TALL that she would forever be the tallest girl in all of the old, fading photos. She would lose all that baby weight and gain it again and one day even out with a womanly figure. She would leave Farmsville behind and go on grand adventures around the country. She would find love, and lose it, but she would Make It. She would find other things in life that meant more to her than long-lost prepubescent boys in the middle school hallways. She would shine in her very own way. Older Blondie taught Young Blondie about marrying too young, divorce, step-parenting, single mother/fatherhood, and all of the pain that can come with moving too fast.
It's helpful to have these moments with yourself because of whatever is happening in the present. The Blondie sitting on that chair with Shrinkydink was crying because her boyfriend had just left her, and once again, she was being left behind. Now, if I close my eyes and speak to that particular Young Blondie, I can tell her: It will be OK.
You will mourn and feel horrible and go through a very tough year. But then you will leave Chicago and move back to Farmsville and find a kind of peace that you've never known. You will squash old demons and learn how to work through them. You will wake up one day and have no idea how you've survived everything that's happened so far, but you have. You'll still get sad and you'll STILL feel left behind, but you'll learn to take things at your own pace. And one day, far in the future, you will stop racing.
I haven't stopped racing yet. I still feel behind -- with life, love, family, and even my dollhouse. Instead of allowing myself to have my own unique version of life events, I beat myself up for falling further and further behind. I need to recognize that I'm right on time in Blondieland. I just do things a little bit slower than everyone else. I am the tortoise surrounded by hares. Can I learn to be OK with that?
One day, many years from now, I'll close my eyes and speak to This Blondie, the one that's typing right now. And I'll be able to tell her all of the wonderful things that have happened and how much life has changed and how young and naive she was at 35. Knowing what I've been through and doing these mental exercises helps me know that this moment is only fleeting. There is so much more to come.
It's never really about a dollhouse is it?