Bonnie is a 27 year old writer/performer, living it up in Los Angeles. Her future aspirations include being the female version of David Sedaris, having a heart to heart with Oprah, starring in a Broadway Musical and taking of of those novelty photos where she is holding up the Tower of Pisa.
It’s so easy to feel alone in the belief that your own “You are Here” sign is an unattainable distance from that “You Want to be Here” sign glowing in the distance. Lately, I haven’t even been able to see that neon spark. Nonetheless, I still find myself believing for that miracle.
I have to ask myself- is it an issue of standards, or if it just whether the glass is half empty or half full. I hope it’s not standards- because frankly, I’ve been able to keep them high this long and I hate the idea of backing down now. As for the glass- as of late- I’m guilty of not only seeing mine as half empty, but being aware of the crack down the side and the hole at the bottom where drops sometimes slip through.
No man is an island. I remember being on the edge of age six and standing at a podium in a huge synagogue and reading that quote at my sister’s bat mitzvah. At the time, I was mostly swept into a few thoughts- including “who are all of these people and why are they looking at me like I’m a little pink satin cupcake they’re about to eat?” and “…I wonder if I can trust the person who told me that the S in Island is silent?”
More than 20 years later, I’m struck by the precision of this quote- “No Man is an Island,” and a little sheepish about how long it’s taken me to understand these words and be able to apply them.
I’d also like to ask, readers, what do you need to ask for in your life??? Post it as a comment. Or ask the people that you need this from directly.
Sometimes we just need to ask for the things we want and need.
A friend posted the following quote on his facebook today. “When life hands you lemons, if you ask nicely for help, sometimes people will make lemonade for you!”
Never were truer words spoken. You know, as I’ve come across bushels and bushels of lemons in my mid 20s and been told to make lemonade- I’ve often despaired that I don’t know how to make it. Literally.
So, if you’d like to help me make some lemonade. I’m setting up shop at this link.
I’m an emotional creature. (Hold your gasps of surprise, please.) Though this trait has never been much of a secret, I’ve spent the last several years doing everything in my power to prove otherwise. Not surprisingly, those are the two things I’ve lost in the process- power, and time.
I was not looking forward to my birthday this year. More than anything, I just wanted to turn the clock back several years and get back the early 20s I always pictured myself having. The 20s that have played out like several rounds of hide and seek where no matter how obvious of a hiding place I’ve chosen, no one seems to find me.
As my last moments of 27 ticked away, I could feel the unresolved tension of my year simmering and my defenses kicking in as someone brought up an unwelcome topic.
But as I’m learning about having friends who aren’t just in it for the fair weather, they saw this too.
And so it was, that I spent the first four hours of my 28th year condensing half a lifetime of things I never got around to talking about into a conversation where, several times, I lost my fight to stay composed. Where I realized I was most authentic at my least composed. Where two of my most trusted friends rolled up their jeans to wade with me instead of throwing me a life-saver and hoping for the best. Where it didn’t matter that the subject matter was probably uncomfortable for all parties or that we were being hit by sprinklers at four in the morning.
Enough is an exclamation used to indicate a lack of enjoyment of a situation or behavior. We say “Enough” but we really mean, “that’s too much- I can’t possibly handle any more of this.” Enough is just reaching a passing mark, and giving up. Enough is the amount of water needed to quench our thirst through the required mile, but not a sufficient amount of keep us from becoming parched if we feel the pull to challenge ourselves to go just a bit further than intended.
I’m turning 28 on Friday. As I entered my 27th year, I tried to say “enough” to appease a challenge I’d been trying to free myself from for several years. As soon as I took on this mentality I felt all of my defenses shutting down, though I was told to just stay strong and that I’d find that I had “Enough” strength to get myself through. And I did. Just enough that I spent a whole year treading water with just enough breath to keep from making a scene calling for help.
Just enough will never be good enough. Enough is a mistake we make, not expecting God or the universe to provide. Not thinking people will come through. Not thinking that we can thrive instead of merely get through. If all we want is to have enough, then we have already given up.
I don’t want to come right out and say something embarrassing like I constantly compare my life to a movie musical. I mean, that just sounds silly, right? (Then again, I need something to think about while I’m out and about in the world and everyone else is playing on their iphones as I manage with a prehistoric 2009 phone that I don’t even use to access the internet.)
But in my personal movie musical, I imagine a big opening number where the screen gets divided into several portions- like the airport hugs collage in Love Actually, and each little square contains someone updating their facebook status instead of telling people how their day was in person. And then my square lights up — Cue the wistful, but driven ballad from a girl who has more to say than will fit into a status box.
“I’m fine,” I told her. And I was.
Tina nodded her approval and everyone moved on. I cried less. And no one even needed to ask if I was okay, but if they did, I knew the correct answer.
Gradually, though, I made it my mantra- calling on those two little words as a default- particularly when they weren’t true.
They led me through several situations, where I gritted my teeth and told no anything other than “I’m fine.”
Even in my late twenties I catch myself falling back on what I know and expecting to be warded off at the slightest hint of vulnerability. “I’m fine,” I say, no matter what is really going on.
I can’t help but look back and see how I would have been spared from several negative ongoing situations if I hadn’t felt it necessary to be “fine” in the public eye. I’d go into it, but I also prefer not to be seen as bitter as well.
I suggested that we save the final balloon for anyone who had been forgotten, and as the rest of the family shouted their greetings of good riddance, I watched the over-inflated red balloon waft into the sky, making my own silent declaration of freedom.
Part of me thinks it sounds too easy. But, maybe it’s supposed to be that easy. After all, it’s usually our own choices that put us in these situations where we feel trapped by difficult things or people. It’s something that’s been weighing heavily on my mind lately, like a balloon filled with gravel instead of air, and the ceremony felt so cosmically ordained that it took all of my years of theatrical training to hold myself together and stay detached they way I typically do when my family is around.
So in the wake of the family balloon sacrament, I’m continuing on my own journey with no lofty expectations other than the fragile, but secure knowledge that I am one red balloon lighter than yesterday.
Sarah raises an eyebrow and Janine looks at me like I’m from another planet- a look I have come to know well in my adulthood.
“Why are you so excited?” Janine asks- giving her audition to be the next Daria.
I don’t even know what I said to that. That’s cool, Janine. We don’t have to be BFFs. Though I admit to having been kind of put off by her disdain, what I remember most about that brief conversation is the feeling that I’d done something terribly wrong.