Considering who you wanted to be

Firefighter, archeologist, mad scientist, doctor, nurse, prime minister, teacher, writer, movie star, policeman. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, the encouragement of grade one ambitions most likely thwarted by bad luck or practical considerations once coddling questions disappeared. Left in an over-stuffed room to paw through the shelves and wonder what serendipitous material you might knock up against in the absence of what you once had. That confidence of direction which allowed you at the age of three to proudly tell everyone that once grown up you would be a singer in a restaurant, because the sagging dinner act you saw during a trip to San Francisco was the most glamorous thing you had ever seen and you saw nothing ridiculous in the declaration. If you really can grow up to be whatever you want, why not a declining voice in a smoky pasta bar? Seemed as good as anything else, until you saw Dennis Lee reading “Ookpik” at the public library and came home believing that you could fill scribblers full of rhymes like his with no effort (He’s never locked in the zoo. He lives in a warm igloo.) and attempted to do just that. Which lasted until the time mother took a university course and came home talking about the pygmy tribes of Africa, put a copy of The Forest People on the bookshelf and anthropology entered your vocabulary. Study other people, far away places, a little like archeology but without the bones and dirt? That sounded okay, got tried on for awhile and sounded impressive to adults (every kid wants to dig up dinosaurs, few want to study other cultures). But then, they always said you were a good arguer and People’s Court was your favourite show so you started watching every law and court drama on television you could in preparation for becoming a lawyer. Perry Mason was dated, but everyone listened to him and it was rumoured that lawyers made lots of money. Which carried you through into a first job at the local A&W, getting stoned before or after work and wondering if what you wanted ended here. And was it enough to live the rest of your life on?

One Comment on “Considering who you wanted to be

  1. Nice piece! This made me think about the list from my childhood – it would make a good writing exercise if I were writing: Strip tease artist, nun, farmer, marine biologist, writer, rock star, psychotherapist, metaphysician – and in that order, starting at about 3 during a “look at me I am naked” phase. . . It’s interesting to see where all these interests have led and in what way we have incorporated them into our lives.
    Congratulations on your wedding announcement by the way – I’m super excited for you both – look forward to seeing you soon.

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