i make my list depending on the season: alternately <<the things i want to be when i grow up>> or, more simply & perhaps more immediately: <<to do>>. like anything else that comes around a few times a year, it is something i both relish and worry over. i will enjoy it, and i will fear it, believing the process to be like a recipe marbled with “dashes” in the place of “teaspoons”. finally, and as always: it will be impossible to get it exactly right.
i try to leave off the current list those things i have already accomplished from earlier lists… say, those from ages 7 to 10.
i have been a bank teller, a reporter, a cafe jill-of-all, a temp, a long-term-temp, an office manager. i have counted, in short, bills in a bundle, words in a graph, olives in a salad, minutes in a morning, poems printed in a cubicle, number of drafts in a final document….
sometimes i worry – that i haven’t seen enough of the world yet, or that i haven’t started doing the things that will ultimately define me. sometimes i have the bizarre notion that my hair will never accumulate enough gray pigment to become, actually gray… this is, you see, the same bizarre notion as arrives when i imagine that i will never accumulate enough experience to be an interesting person, to have a personality, or a lifestyle, or an ambition, or the product, whatever it could be, of having some ambition, some insistent, infections, presiding, maturing ambition.
then i write a sentence, all of a sudden, in the middle of a page that i have, all the while, been thinking of as a letter – a letter which i have not addressed, nor for which i can imagine there being a natural recipient – other than, maybe, everyone i have ever met – and i realize: this is it.
i make a list. when i say make, i mean write.
i write a list.
at some point in 2007, no – more specifically, on the eve of the year 2008, i discover the word “storyteller” as if it were a new word, a word, say, for a fruit that i had not previously encountered. i write down “be a storyteller”… i don’t like new year’s resolutions because i am consistently bad at promises, but i write this down anyway. not as a promise, but as something more like a prayer, more like something i do, or would like to, believe in.
sometime again soon, i am due for a list. titles like <<life goals>> and <<graduate programs>> begin to push the <<when i grow up>> thing off the page.
i ask myself if it is time to “go back to school”… then wonder if there is some grant i could apply for – a grant that would allow me to live as an intern or volunteer, build my own curriculum and live inside it. i want to be a literacy volunteer, a folklorist, maybe even a goddess… what do you think?
is it ambition that will give me the gift of believing in my own being as being enough? at the interesting age of nearly 27, believing at last that my thighs are the shape they should be, i am changing the list altogether. tonight it starts, simply, <<i want to>>
– – i want to – –
recover lost faith,
write. i want to write
& i want to show everybody…
i want to say: look! this is it: this is what you missed
the first time around. and man, you better believe it’s only gotten better.