“I thought you were going to do something more with your life.” He stops himself, this friend and classmate I haven’t seen in 20 years. “I mean, I know you’re an amazing mum and done some cool things. But, you know, I thought you were one of the ones that were going somewhere special.”
He means it as a compliment. It hits me like a close-range shotgun shell in the chest. Because I believed what he believed about me when I was 16, too.
He’s a pilot for my nation’s airline, and we’ve just spent four hours going over how hard it was for him to get in that first officer seat. How he floundered in those formative years we shared in the back end of rural-ville. Both of us aching to get out of there, filled with ideas and notions that got us nowhere fast in an ag-centric town, lacking the role models to make the leap our deeper natures knew was possible. “Why don’t you grow up to write and paint and be closer to your higher self,” said no one.
We’re both drunk at this point, so I forgive him this low blow (not to mention there’s nothing like seeing a cute boy turned into a good-looking man without the painful in between). Next morning, after he leaves, and through my IPA of a headache, it hits me that I’m my own best role model. The work I’m doing now. The writing, the scribbling and filling composition books and pretty little journals is a solo journey. Belief in the art, in the making of the art, and that I am the right person for the job, for society, for my own sanity. It’s a tall order. Sustaining the belief that choosing words and creating stories that just won’t sit down in the bleachers of my brain is a necessary part of my journey.
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