Recap: In Intro Part I we discover me, Naomi, recalling her life at around 40 years of age. She was not happy with her life. She’s heard that one needs “more” in order to achieve some type of contentment in life. She made a list of “more.” We are now dissecting that list.
Item# 1. Spouse/Long-term boyfriend.
Status: Unachieved (see Intro Part I for details.)
Item #2. Baby.
Status: Over it. (In summary: babies are loud, messy, attention hogs, who steal your sleep like some REM sucking vampire. And knowing my luck I’d get one that was a serial killer. For full dissection see Intro Part II.
INTRODUCTION PART 3.
Items # 3, 4 & 5. Satisfying Career. Financial Stability. Property Ownership.
My plan at twenty-eight was to move to New York, get an agent, act on Broadway, meet a guy, get married, have a kid, do another show, have another kid, be happy. After three years of pointless auditions and only meeting an agent in my fantasies, I realized it was time to alter my plans. So, I did the smart thing and decided to become a successful writer. I figured I’d write myself a movie, sell it, cast myself, win an Oscar, and then get to Broadway. Made sense to me.
So, I wrote a movie. I wrote another movie. I wrote a third movie. I sent blind submissions to agents. I submitted to contests. I even submitted to the ridiculous Project Greenlight. Clearly the movie writing didn’t work out.
I actually had financial stability for a short term. Certainly I wasn’t on the path to being Warren Buffet, or even buying an apartment, however I was making enough to buy the good cheese and not worry about rent. But in order to achieve this comfort I had sold my artistic soul by working at an ad agency. Day by day the fluorescent lighting and recycled air eroded my joie de vivre and turned my skin an unseemly green-gray.
I started asking myself questions, trying to put the puzzle of my life together. And that was it. That was the beginning of the end! ( Self-reflection is so overrated.)
The end of a steady income and the beginning of a turbulent spiritual and emotional free-fall that landed me working as a barista at at the in-store Starbucks at Barnes & Noble at 40 years of age.
How the hell did I get here? How is it nothing worked out the way I had planned?
With the gift of 20/20 hindsight, I can safely say it’s because I never actually did plan anything. Oh sure I planned trips, short term, fun stuff. But a big life plan? Goals that were achievable without the assistance of the lottery or stepping into a Garry Marshall film? Not happening. I grew up in an artsy household, which tends to invoke a perpetual state of suspense (read: anxiety) and change (read: instability). When I was a child, it was a rarity to see a nine-to-fiver corporate type in our living room. I thought everyone’s family friends included men with capes and walking sticks who could recite the entire Shakespeare canon. My father, a freelance opera director, came and went with every gig, and my mother held down the fort. My parents never had a plan.
Maybe Toronto in the 60s and 70s wasn’t a planning type place. Certainly we struggled financially, but that’s what I knew, so that was normal. It didn’t even occur to me to make a life plan because things would just work out. Oops. New York in the new millennium was not the Canada of my parents’ generation.
Time marched on, but my career did not. There were plenty of opportunities to examine why this was so, but I liked to ignore them. Why? Well, by ignoring them, they would just go away, and then my life would unfold. Repression is a very handy tool. We all use it for willfully forgetting our worst life experiences: high school, horrifying one-night stands and Ishtar immediately pop to mind. Repression was my go-to tool of choice.
I figured since I came from a “good” home with parents who didn’t beat me or sell me for a goat, I was set. After all, I’m personable, witty and a snappy dresser. Shy is not a word that is often used to describe me. I remember birthdays (even before auto-reminders) and like to do “stuff.” But many a weekend I would go home on a Friday and not get up out of bed until Monday morning. Calling upon repression’s first cousin denial, I decided there was no way I, Naomi Major, the most outgoing person everyone knew, was depressed. There was no way. I was just tired, that’s all. Tired.
Well, time passed at the ad agency and I became an expert on erectile dysfunction, clean teeth, and dog food.
Oddly enough, I eventually grew weary of my Madison Avenue education. And thus began a three year adventure, wherein I quit the steady job and set out to become a published writer. Now if this were the movie of my life, starring Penelope Cruz as the newly Spanish me, we the audience would know that by the end of this book I’d be happily married, living in an apartment bigger than a panel van, earning my keep as scribe and when the credits roll, outtakes of my struggles would pop up on the screen and we’d all laugh at my once sorry state.
Reality is, at 40 I was still living in my apartment more suitable for hobbits then full-size adults, a date is something I would only get from the grocery store, and I would actually laugh when I checked my bank balance because I was so damn tired of crying. All I can hope is one day an agent will read this manuscript and think, “my God, where has this woman been hiding?! I must sign her and give her a million dollar advance for her next project!” As of right now my parents are the only interested parties. And I’m pretty sure my mother just wants to make sure I didn’t go all “Mommie Dearest” on her.
At 40, everything I believed that was required to form a complete life was absent from mine. But somehow I was still on the verge of happiness. Which makes no sense but it’s true. Every morning I would get up, open my curtains, and think to myself you know Naomi, it’s not that bad. Or at the very least, it’s certainly not as bad as it once was or could be. Except for my coffee. I make terrible coffee. The coffee is as bad as it once was, but I can live with that.
The List of More final status report.
1. Spouse/Long-term boyfriend. Status: Unachieved (see Post #1 for details.)
2. Baby. Status: Over it.
3. Satisfying Career. Not even close.
4. Financial Stability. Had it. Lost it. Miss it.
5. Property Ownership. Ha! really? Just ha!
And there you have Naomi at 40 years old. Seriously, if we knew there was a happy ending it would so be a Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie.