Tuesday, November 15, 2011
RUNNING OUT OF TIME
The sense of time passing changes. I remember when a day seemed so long -- so many, many things that were going to happen, things I was waiting for, endless waiting for a friend to arrive, for a walk, for hop-scotch on a sparkling sidewalk, a trip, for a game to begin or end, waiting to eat, rest, put away my toys.
I remember when time was a school day, stuff to learn, memorize, study, draw -- crayons, chalk, scissors, colored paper, glue, and homework. And tests -- tests, tests, tests -- blighting my life, hovering over me.
Then came the time when I was getting nice looking -- time was time to scrub away blackheads, shampoo time, time to check in the mirror, time to try different cosmetics, and my period -- oh dear -- was Aunt Jane going to arrive? (The euphemism, back then, was "Aunt Jane" or "the curse.")
And then came the "time" for dates. A second later it was time for getting married. Wasn't I too young? Did I need legal permission to say the vows? Were vows important? Oh my --I thought, at age 18, "I am running out of time -- if I'm going to be famous, I have to make it, do it, become something extraordinary now."
I was running around a racetrack, the clock. And its numbers -- 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 9 10 11 12 knelled the hour, the date, the day of the week, the week of a month, the changing seasons, the year.
Twenty-five -- I dreaded that birthday, thinking "I'm old." thinking, "No I'm not." Thinking "better hurry, you'll be twenty-six in a minute."
I knew I wasn't old, but I knew I better look out or I was going to turn into one of those older girls, who weren't girls -- they were women, committed to some career that I knew wasn't really what they had in mind when they were children. But wasn't that life? You had to conquer what you wanted to get, and get it while it was still within reach, or it was gone, gone.
Thirty -- bad day at "black rock." I didn't want to climb over the rock and ever be 31, or horrors, 35. I read biographies of older women and men who managed to be successful after 35. Time was an hour glass, filled with colored sand. trickling down, running out of the top awfully fast, and the sand wasn't really sparkling, like sidewalks used to be. The sidewalks I hurried along didn't sparkle when I was rushing from morning dance class to a rehearsal, to see an agent, to discuss publicity photos, racing to another class. (In your thirties you know that the sparkling flecks in the cement sidewalks are an illusion created by the sun.)
Faster and faster I went -- went to a shrink to learn how to slow down, enjoy the present. Oh dear -- he fell in love with me and turned patient Em into the doctor who had to "cure" herself, and him.
And hold onto what I knew was the essence -- to do something, be something that no one else was, and be famous. In books? I was already in some books. Be great? I wasn't great, but I was exceptional. Be successful? I was more successful than most people I knew but what was successful? Who would I, could I be other than me?
Hurry, hurry, I thought, when I found myself weeping for things I lost -- love lost -- chances lost -- dreams that vanished.
I learned how to create time by being super efficient, remembering things, making lists, planning, organizing, hiring help, buying time.
I woke this morning as an older woman, and thought I am not running out of time. I have more than enough time to do whatever I decide to do.