Versions: All the People I Want to Be


I’ve spent the past two months in some varying degree of ill-health, overcome by strep throat that came and went and came back, then went again and came back. For a week in early May, I spent days in bed in a fevered haze, unable to swallow and plagued by weird half-dreams - at one point I swear Don Draper came in to serve me iced lemonade. Also, my overheated brain began shooting out epiphanies. Life Stuff. Most of these epiphanies related to time, being busy, managing time, too much to do, not enough time, stressing about time, to-do lists. Blah blah blah. Reading over my previous blog posts, this seems to be the theme of my life. I see now that I wear the “busy mom” persona like a cross, knocking my way through each day making sure every single person knows just how much I have going on.

Screw it. As the fever broke and I returned to normal/diminished brain function, the first thing I did was consult the calendar. Step One: Cancel Everything. All plans, erased. For the foreseeable future, my days will be reduced to three things: Writing, Teaching, Family. My life is nothing but WTF.  (ha)

Step Two: Dial down the dreaming.  It turns out, I still have a million versions of my future mapped out in my brain. If you ask me what I want to be in twenty years, around the time I’m pushing sixty, I’ve still got as many answers as my four year old does. He wants to murder skeletons and zombies, and he wants to be an astronaut and a dancer, and of course he wants to drive a garbage truck. He’s even got me intrigued by that notion. As he’s oft pointed out in his little person way, you’d see some cool s**t if you drove a garbage truck.

I don't really want to drive a garbage truck. But when the Leafs made the playoffs, I was reminded that I really do want to be a sportscaster. I know a lot about sports, hockey in particular. I can talk no-touch icing and the politics of the crease, and I’ve got blond hair and a vaguely husky voice. I could totally hold my own sandwiched between Ron McLean and Glenn Healy at that glass desk. I could do that job.  I always wanted to do that job. What happened to that dream?

The trouble is, that wasn't the only one. In my twenties I also considered medical school. Sometimes that one still bubbles up too. The fantasy involves me going to medical school now (which is easy and just whizzes by), becoming a doctor then getting a part-time job in the ER. I work twelve hours or less a week in a harried but heroic scene with a George Clooney doppelganger by my side, taking pulses and shouting orders to the nurse. There’s not a lot of blood and everyone lives. That would be a great life, right? It's not entirely impossible.

Then there's politics. I've always thought about that. I’m cool with being in front of people and I speak broken Francais. In Grade 12 I bet someone $100 I’d one day be Prime Minister. These days, in the spirit of easy-act-to-follow, I imagine myself running for mayor. How hard can it be to build a utopia? If I was mayor, we’d have subways all the way to Barrie and every streetcar would have lemonade stands and a jazz quartet at the back. Drivers would reach out their car windows to high five cyclists and vegans and abattoir employees would band together to turn parking lots into playgrounds and plant trees up and down the length of every major highway.

If was I Mayor, though, I probably wouldn’t have a lot of free time to take up curling, which diminishes my odds of making the 2018 or 2022 Winter Olympics. I always figured I’d make the Olympics someday. Ideally I'd win a medal too, but at this point I figure just getting there would be pretty cool. Given my age and level of fitness, curling’s probably my only hope.

Then I see what all my friends are doing (Facebook is awesome/horrible for that), and I want to follow them to greatness. I want to be a therapist, or make dresses, or run 10K really really fast, or move my family to another country, work abroad, bake homemade bread, become a professional photographer, or an actor, or open a restaurant. I want to renovate houses and then get my own TV show as the quirky woman contractor who renovates houses. I want to be a world-class rapper like Macklemore, but still have time for curling.

Likely this is the effect of approaching forty, the early throes of midlife. Life now necessitates that I shed some versions of myself, not in a death approaches way, but because I want to be good at what I'm actually doing. I love teaching and I love writing. I love having some time on my hands. Ya, so I'm probably never going to be a doctor, or a sportscaster, or an Olympic curler. Oh well. Let those be someone else’s glory. I'll live vicariously through them. Again, Facebook is good/bad for that.

(I could totally still be mayor though.)