When I was in college, I used to dance in musicals. Before each musical, our group, fondly called Hoof ‘n Horn, would recite these words and the rest of the poem, written by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, to get ourselves hyped up. These words were always magical to me…they truly made me feel that we could do whatever we wanted. I had been pretty much told and convinced that Duke University was an awesome, sensible college and that I was privileged to be there. My family had always supported my decisions to dance and play the oboe in the band, but never had said “you can actually make a career out of it.” When I scored a high grade on my SATs, the words “Oh wow, now you can become a backup dancer for Janet Jackson” (which was truly a dream of mine) never crossed their lips. What did come out of their mouths was “you can go to Duke with that score.” And so I did. Duke was great, a great school, no doubt, and I did want to go. But what made me happiest wasn’t the curriculum, the intellectual dribble spit out from the intellectual snobs during classes…it was when I danced that I felt most alive. Because we were the music makers and we were the dreamers of dreams.
So what did I do? I studied German and Comparative Area Studies. I went to Germany to teach for a year. I worked as an administrative assistant for the LL.M. in Bankruptcy Program at St. John’s School of Law. And then I went to Georgetown University Law Center. I stopped dancing. I pretty much stopped dreaming.
A year ago, I started writing…and it felt good. I felt like I was rediscovering that creative young woman who had once graced a stage with poise, grace and excitement. Me with my laptop, in cafes, in libraries, writing…writing pages upon pages at a time. It felt natural, like I had been missing some crucial part of me for some time, and finding it was amazing.
I told my mom. She actually giggled a bit, but she asked to read my writing. She read it. Her comment, “Wow, you can actually write! And you are actually funny!” Thanks mom. But I appreciated her desire to actually read my writing. She has been incredibly supportive ever since. Now, the rest of my family, their support has been somewhat lacking. I mean, writing isn’t going to Duke or Georgetown Law, now is it? As some close family members just told me, “That’s like being an artist or something.” The look of distaste on their faces was hard to miss. They actually said “forget this writing thing…what can you do to make an actual income?” Dismissed me without even asking if I was any good, if they could read my stuff to judge for themselves. Writing is a dream, but what if it isn’t an impossible dream? And why are people so loathe to believe that dreams can come true? When did we become so cynical…I mean, people make their dreams come true all the time, why can’t I? Don’t get me wrong…I do need an income. I am so broke, even the creditors have gotten the picture and have stopped calling me (OK, OK, my phone has been disconnected, so that is probably the main reason they aren’t calling anymore). So I will get a 9-5 or whatever type of job to make ends meet. But I am going to keep writing. And everyone who doesn’t agree can kiss my music making and dreaming behind.