When you get to a certain age, you start seeing doors close. Possibilities that you always thought were for granted are suddenly not so granted.
And while that is a hard lesson to learn, a harder one is learning to close a door that you kept open.
I was born in 1965. That makes me on the first wave of Generation Xers. A child of the 70’s. My mother was raised in a generation where women married, popped out as many kids as they could and died. Having a credit card, bank account or even owning a house in their OWN GODDAMN NAME was illegal.
Can you imagine that?
My mother dreamed of being an artist and going to art school. That was squashed by a family that told her that college wasn’t for people like them. She needed to get a husband until she found someone to marry her. If she could*.
That’s what my mother did. She got married, got a job that her family thought was BIG TIME*
I was born in the first year of her marriage. Not a planned pregnancy, for sure. She actually had a bet with her doctor that she wasn’t pregnant; I was a tumor or something else. In the end, she had to pay off that bet with a Coke.
Still, my mother had plans for me. She wanted so much more for my future than she had been given in hers. And, when I showed signs of being gifted* she was sure my future would be full of academic wonders, scholarships and I would have a Career and not just a job.
She always impressed on me the idea that I had to go to college. It was the only path to success.
However, she had no idea how to make that fantasy come true. And, being poor, not athletic and, unfortunately my “gifted” youth did not bleed out into my high school days. My family was a mess, domestically, and to deal with that, I went inside my head. Not a place to excel academically, it turned out.
SO, I didn’t go to college after high school. I got a job. A proper sit down job.
And then I got married.
One day at work, my mother called me. She was angry and I think maybe a little drunk. The only thing I really remember about that phone call was her telling me that, “You need to think about your future. Do something about it now. Do you want to end up like me?”
We never really talked about that phone call but I can still hear the ripples of it.
Time went on and on and on. She died. My father died. I had kids and I finally did go back to school and got my Associates.
Yet, still, I can hear her.
I think that’s why I have been on a rip for the last few years about getting my Bachelor’s degree.
Not for me but to quiet her voice.
So, I started the process. I got into the University of Virginia, School of Continuing Professional Studies with a concentration in Writing. All virtual. All internet classes.
And today, I got the bill for how much it was going to cost for ONE class.
FOR. ONE. CLASS. And it was a intro class on how to take Liberal Arts classes. You know those bullshit classes that maybe benefit a 18 year old but at 55 years of age, I should be given a pass for.
So, I had to make a decision. I could scrabble up the money, sacrifice some groceries, pay less on a few bills but….why?
Why am I doing this?
Do I really need a piece of paper to say I am a Writer?
Because, Sweetie, I have a bookcase of MY OWN BOOKS to show that I am a goddamn writer.
Why am I doing this?
It was then that I realized that I wasn’t doing this for me. I was doing this to quiet the voice of a dead woman.
And I’m sorry, Momma, but I’m not living that life.
I got married. I had kids. I have a litany of crappy crap jobs but….I am living the life I want. I don’t cry on Sundays because tomorrow is another day at the bank.
And that’s why I am pulling my enrollment, closing the door on that inherited dream and breathing a sigh of relief.
*My mother once told me the story of the day her mother threw a paper bag at her and said, “Wear these. Maybe someone will give you a second look.” It was a pair of falsies. She was in high school. WTF?
*She worked at a bank. It was a sit down job and in her family’s eyes, that made it a Classy Job. (She hated it. She worked there her entire life. She used to cry on Sundays because the thought of going back to work on Monday was THAT awful.)
*Insert eye roll