pull up a chair
{scintilla day 16}


What would it have been like if your life had turned out
the way you wanted when you were a kid


Early in the morning, and sometimes late at night, this is the chair I sit in. A strong chair, as the Cowboy Junkies song goes, one sturdy enough to hold me in place while I write or dream or drink tea and stare out the window. A chair strong enough to keep me grounded. And so I sit here pondering this question, trying to remember all the things I wanted my life to be like when I was a child.

It’s a hard question to answer at my age, hard not to filter my response through everything I’ve learned since then, hard to remember what I really thought when I was seven, or ten or fifteen.

I remember that I wanted to be a photographer. I remember that I was painfully shy and awkward and what I wanted most was to fit in. I remember that I always felt different, and what I wanted instead was to feel special. I remember that there was always this strange ache in my heart that I could neither define or relieve. But that makes it sounds like I wasn’t happy, and mostly, I think I was.

I don’t remember wanting to be a poet. One day I just started writing. But I didn’t really think about it, I never thought about growing up to be a writer. I just wrote when the poetry was there, like an impulse or a bodily function. I wrote through all my fears and awkward years, my first heartbreak and my tears, all that angst and lost girl floundering.

In school, I wasn’t the artsy type. I was a nerd. A full-blown geek, one of the smart kids who dressed like a dork and got almost perfect grades. For a while, in high school, I tried harder to fit in, I bought designer jeans and permed my hair, I got contacts and the same shoes that all the girls wore: docksiders and clogs. But I never even managed to fool myself into believing that I was like them. They knew too many things I didn’t. They saw the world in a way I couldn’t. They knew how to do their hair and apply their makeup, how to flirt with boys and get asked to the prom, how to sneak out for parties, how to run with the crowd.

I was never that girl. By the time I was a senior, I stopped trying to be. No, I stopped wanting to be. I dressed like a hippie (when this was so NOT in fashion). I let my hair grow long and straight and parted down the middle. And mostly, I kept to myself. I was waiting. For my life to start. I hadn’t yet figured out where I wanted to be, but I had figured out where I didn’t want to be.

My guidance counselor tried to talk me into going to college for engineering. I had the grades, but absolutely no inclination. And I admit that there are times now, in moments of bill-paying, when I wish I had. When I consider how my life could have been if I’d walked down that path. But my soul would have been miserable. I knew that even then, though I couldn’t have put it into words.

Ultimately, the real answer to this question is that my life would look almost exactly the way it does now. If magic existed and I could change things, there would be slightly more money and lots more windows.

And I might be driving a ’67 Mustang.

But other than that, I’m good.

I have this chair and a pencil and these words and some stories.

And I love life.

It can’t turn out any better than that.




this post is part of the scintilla project. see more here.

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{scintilla day 16}

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