Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'll Never Be Famous

Brahm won an award for his Lego airplane sculpture at his school's Reflections Contest. He didn't know he had placed until it was announced at an assembly to which Brooks and I were secretly invited. Here we are in the multi-purpose room beforehand with Oliver at the camera.

This has nothing to do with my entry.

I only posted it because photos add visual interest to blogs. (And because Brooks is so handsome. He keeps getting better-looking with age. Sigh...)

A mid-life crisis was averted two months ago when Kami A. and I headed out to the community garden on a cold, wet Saturday morning. We were stringing lights for the pumpkin festival scheduled for the following weekend and doing a good job of catching up in the process. I don't remember what I said but the gist was some kind of musings on a general malaise that had come over me at the time. I couldn't quite put my finger on what was at the core but Kami did.

"I think for me it was summed up a few months ago when I realized that I'll never be famous," she says candidly from across a few garden rows.

"What?" I query. This seems so off topic.

"Yeah, I woke up one day, realized I'm thirty, married with kids and a mortgage and my name isn't recognized in most households across America."

Oddly, I see where she's going with this. I never considered it before but I begin to see how I, too, carried some kind of hope throughout my adolescence and early adulthood that I would make something of myself. I mean, really be someone. This, of course, translates into a certain amount of fame and recognition, maybe money, too. At twenty-one, the sky is the limit. The future has yet to be defined. Anything could be in store. Now at thirty-four I have settled into a structure that has narrowed down the possibilities quite a bit.

A soft rain falls. I pound stakes into the ground, Kami follows a few feet behind stapling the lights into them. She's still talking, developing the theme as we go and I consider her words.

A blur of new hairstyles, Botox, crash diets, fancy cars, wardrobe upgrades and career changes flashes before my eyes. When that passes, I see a woman wearing her husband's cast-off parka, wet hair sticks to a face laced with hairline wrinkles. She lives in the Sandy ghetto and drives a ten-year-old Subaru station wagon that usually has two little anklebiters affixed to the back seats. Her college degree is gathering dust and the only time anyone ever recognizes her out in public is, well - never.

And then the unexpected happens. Instead of feeling like I somehow failed or sensing the rise of resentment, I feel relief. Yes, relief! This is strange. It's like M. Scott Peck writes in the beginning of his landmark book, "The Road Less Traveled": Life is difficult. And once we accept this truth, suddenly it's not so hard. Once I identified the disappointed expectation, somehow I wasn't so disappointed. And somehow, I don't care about fame or recognition at all. My compulsion to be someone has suddenly dissolved and settled into the satisfaction of simply being.

We finish and head to Hagermann's for sandwiches and more conversation. I consider the good fortune in all areas of my life but especially that which comes in the form of good friends like her.


Nae said...

Kami sure can get a person thinking ... and remember that you are famous among small circles of people in Sandy!

Kami said...

That was a good day. I went home happy, just having talked about all of that stuff that had been in my brain for years. It's nice to have good friends, especially ones that you don't have to build up walls with. I've always loved our honesty with eachother. It makes for GREAT conversation.