Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Birthday

Today is my birthday, and to celebrate that fact I stayed in my jammies this morning and watched Fame, the original movie from 1980. This movie had an enormous impact on me when I was 13. I already had the performing bug bad (although at that time I was dying to be a ballerina), so when this movie came out and I learned there was a real school for the performing arts in New York City... well, that was it. I HAD to go. No way was my family going to uproot from California to New York City, though, so instead I practiced singing and dancing and performing with more dedication and passion than ever before, imagining that I was just like the students in the movie, and if I worked hard enough, I too could be famous.

Then in high school, my drama and choir teachers told me about the performing arts school in San Francisco. My choir teacher knew people in The City and was able to get me an audition and a place to stay so I could go to school there. I was so excited! My dream was going to come true. At last I would be a real performer, on a real stage, not the stage in the cafeteria at the middle school in Kelseyville where I lived.

But my mom said no.

I will never forgive her for that. I'm sure she had her own, what she believed to be, good reasons (fear of sending her 16 year old daughter to a city far from home?), but for the rest of my life I will wonder what would have happened if she had said yes. Would my dreams of acting have come true? Would I be a singer? A dancer? Would I be in New York City right now?

Today when I watched Fame I felt the same sense of excitement, mixed with regret and anger that my mother wouldn't let me have the chance. Inside this 43 year old body is that same teen-aged girl with stars in her eyes who loves to sing and dance. I miss the theater, miss acting, miss standing in front of an audience with my heart pounding so hard in my chest I can barely remember my lines. So much has happened in 30 years and my life is nothing like I thought it would be. I guess no one's is.

Despite the way things turned out, I feel that I've accomplished a great deal, and I'm proud of who I am. Yes, I regret not pursuing my dreams with more fortitude (when it came time for me to go to New York or LA I chickened out, discovering I might have the talent, but I lacked "the balls" to audition). I put myself through college. I embraced writing and started my own press, and I fulfill my love of the theater by writing plays. And when my daughter is older, I'll be able to be in plays again. Maybe I'll even sing in a band (wouldn't I make an excellent Souxie for a Souxie and the Banshees cover band?).

More than my outward accomplishments, I am proud of who I am. I was dealt a shitty hand in this life, but I was also given intelligence and resiliency, both gifts that have held me together through storms and tragedies. I have love, something I never take for granted, and I have incredible friends who are loyal and true. I have my daughter who drives me crazy sometimes, but who has also taught me more about myself and how to live life with joy.

Once again, I am able to sit here and say, I have everything I need.

Although I would like someone to invent a face cream that actually worked on wrinkles and that would put my eyelids back up where they're supposed to be (and my boobs, too.).


Terri said...

Happy, Happy Birthday! Loved Fame too! You have accomplished much and have many gifts... add a little cake and it's a wonderful celebration (and by the candlelight what went where just doesn't matter that much--just don't blow them out!)

leah said...

Happy Birthday! You definitely have the gifts of intelligence and resiliency. I hope you had a good day!

If you ever find someone who invents the miracle anti-wrinkle cream, let me know. I could definitely use some, too, lol!

therextras said...

Self-assessment is the stuff of middle-age, isn't it?

While you will have reason to curse the effects of gravity on your anatomy for the rest of your life, you have the opportunity to experience more peace if you forgive your mother.

You seem to have forgiven yourself for the lack of will to pursue the same goals just 2 years later.

I'm pretty much of a fatalist; believing everything happens for a reason. How can I fault my Mom for decisions she made when I know how much I struggle to make decisions regarding my own children's lives? In fact, I sometimes marvel at how well my parents did. They were the ones with the rough and poor childhoods. When I visit my Mom in the assisted living center now, while she depends on my sibling to make the decisions that guide her life; I want no regrets when I'm saying my final goodbyes to her.

(about 10 years ahead of you)

thecatsmeow said...

Hi...found your blog through a comment you left recently on MY blog. It's interesting to see the "other side" of sorts, to catch a glimpse of the mother side of things and gain a little bit of insight into why some things happened the way they did over the course of my growing up. Of course, they didn't know enough about my various issues to have any sort of real understanding (sometimes I swear they still don't, applied labels and analysis notwithstanding), but at least these days mama and I have called a truce and can behave like civilized, rational adults most of the time. That's not to say there aren't still moments when I feel like I've been catapulted back to the age of about seven when she makes some offhand dig at a part of my character that she's not fond of...

P.S....we're both February babies. My birthday was yesterday!

Katy said...

Happy birthday!

Pride of self is so important--I'm glad you have it.

I want to add that it's never too late, you know. Might be too late to be a ballerina, but a performer? Nope. My husband step-mother started writing plays about ten years ago, and while it doesn't pay the bills, it waters her soul.