I was bitching to my Mom this morning on my drive in to work, about my job, like I often do. It’s been a particularly stressful couple of weeks while I’ve been working on another Really Big, Important Project, and she worries about me working so much overtime and not enjoying my life. We are very good friends, me and my Mom, but occasionally the “Mom” side crops up unexpectedly, like this morning, when she was sympathizing with me about my current work experience, based on similar things in her own work experience:
Mom: This is not what I wanted for you. I sometimes wonder if I should have done something different. I feel bad you ended up in an office.
Me: Mom, I don’t know what you could have done differently. Make me go to medical school or something? With what money? I was never interested in any other career path than performing, not for years and years.
Mom: I know. I couldn’t even get you to attend college for free at a school where they didn’t have what you thought was a good theater program (she worked at Case for years).
I felt bad then. She has tried so hard with such limited knowledge and resources. She always backed my creative aspirations and said to shoot as high as I possibly could, she would back me however she was able.
I know I have little reason to complain, given other people’s problems, and it brought things into perspective quickly. I backpedaled and told her how I felt lucky to have what a lot of people, especially other creative types who work full-time as artists, don’t necessarily have; health care, a dental plan, even eye coverage, paid vacation days and paid holidays, a tiny amount in a retirement account. I chose this path because of those things. I needed them, particularly the health care, with my years and years of illness and surgeries.
It’s true though, that I never wanted to be anything but a performer. For years and years and years. Recently, some very generous and kind friends of mine held a miniature “film festival” wherein we played several of the local, no-budget/low-budget, independent films I have appeared in over the past 20 years or so. It was funny, humiliating, a great walk down memory lane and a fantastic time. To see the early 20s-me on screen and remembering how reluctant I was to wear a bathing suit because of how bad I thought my body looked then – I would kill to have that body today! When I learned to shoot a gun for the first time. My first sex scene onscreen. We even watched a theater performance of mine I’m particularly proud of that someone captured on video, which seems like a lifetime ago in so many ways, and yet that girl is inside me, too. It was humbling and embarrassing but also, as the person I am now, refreshing to see how far I’ve come, how I’ve lost a lot of my self-consciousness I had back then. I still worry about how I look, but it’s not an obsession like it was then; take me as I am or get the fuck away is more my motto these days. I know I have friends who love me and care about me and enjoy my company, the me I am today, not the starving, skinny girl in platform shoes from years ago, but the Mom-body me, the office-worker-ass-me, the starting-to-sag-skin me. It did my soul a lot of good, I tell you.
As Captain America and Draft Day shoot in Cleveland, I feel once again what I felt when I lived in LA – the proximity to my dream life taking place so close to me physically, and yet a place where I do not belong. I don’t have permission to enter, I am not in that world. Maybe I never belonged there, and I belong in the world I’ve carved out, but one that I hope continues to change. One I hope that, looking back some years from now, I’m surprised at once again, seeing how far I’ve come.