Not to be too heavy or anything, but do you ever catch yourself washing the dishes and wondering, exactly HOW did I get HERE? And where do I go from HERE? It’s been on my mind lately and I am acutely aware of the fact that God has a weird sense of humor, because if my 16 year old self happened to bump into my 40 something self, I think 16 year old Alice, might be a little surprised…and perhaps somewhat disapproving. For one thing, 16 year old Alice would have NEVER in a million years have believed her 40 something year old self would own a MOM swim suit.
What a let down.
If we were to time travel back and have a little chat with my 16 year old self, she certainly envisioned something quite different.
So, 16 year old Alice, tell me about yourself and what you have planned for your life?
“Well, let’s see. About me? Well, my parents are kind of nuts and they don’t believe in money, really, they also don’t believe in the way society has set us up to simply maximize the GDP as my Dad would say. We have a VW micro bus and we eat a lot of brown rice. My Dad is a beatnik that hates the government and big business…and organized religion…and commercialism….and milk. Yeah, and my Mom hates printed t-shirts, perms, and bad novels. She kept her last name because she’s a Lucy Stoner according to my Dad. What else? Ummmm… my secret boyfriend is Alex P. Keaton? And what am I going to do with my life? Well, I have not totally decided yet, but, I would either like to be a World News TV reporter and live in New York City orrrrrrr I will own a ranch. One of those two things. I would love to have horses and cattle. Or travel around the world, and be on the news every night.”
Yes. Two polar opposite ideas, but 16 year old Alice, was 16, so give her a break. She also bleached her hair out very dangerously with Sun-In, while slathered in baby oil in the noon day sun.
Alice did not know anything about the military, really. Her Dad was old and had a Purple Heart from WWII. But he did not talk much about his experience, other than long diatribes on the dangers of the Military Industrial complex. 16 year old Alice lived in California in a tiny house with one bathroom and 3 little sisters. She surfed in the summer and she lived in a hippy town where everyone wore Birkenstocks and the women wore bandanas around their breasts instead of bikini tops. 16 year old Alice took a political journalism class at the local community college. She wrote studious reports for the County Democratic newsletter on candidates for supervisor and sang into her hairbrush to Wham. She taught her baby sister to moonwalk and really all she knew about the military was what she had seen depicted by the movie Private Benjamin. That Goldie Hawn sure was cute in her helmet.
In fact, I am embarrassed to admit, that at one time 16 year old Alice and her best friend Laura, sat and cried until their eyes were puffy slits and they were surrounded by balls of Kleenex, about how MEAN and STUPID their mothers were. If I recall correctly, their mean and stupid mothers had not allowed them to go to the river with some “popular” boys. 16 year old Alice and 16 year old Laura could not make their mean and stupid mothers understand that they were perfectly responsible and NOTHING would happen. And after trying, unsuccessfully, to plead their case to their mean and stupid mothers, they retired to Laura’s bedroom to weep copiously into her light blue chenille bedspread and plot their earliest possible escape from this hell hole called security. They would run off as soon as they turned 18 and join the Army, like Private Benjamin. There, in the Army, they would be exceedingly adorable in their helmets and fatigues and would eventually marry officers. See? I told you it was horrifically embarrassing. 16 year old Alice knew nothing about the military except for the badly misleading Hollywood version.
Anyway, some years went by and young Alice became neither the serious and beautiful World News Reporter, nor the rancher with a herd of Herefords.
Alice got married and her husband became an officer in the United States Air Force. God must have been somewhat moved by the earnest and copious weeping into the Chenille bedspread.
Alice and her husband had 3 children in a 3.5 year time span. The next 20 some years were a blur of moving and getting settled, parenting, making friends, getting ready to move again and doing the whole thing over again.
And just as quickly as those three children came into her life, they grew up, spread their wings and FLEW off to their own very busy and important grown up lives.
Which left, older, more haggard Alice at the kitchen sink wondering, just how she had arrived here and what on earth would she do now with the NEXT 40 years? She has no easily translated to the workplace definable skills. Obviously she was good at organizing, multitasking, and attention to detail, because she had managed to move that many times without LOSING something…her household goods, a kid, the dog, her husband….her mind. But, no one cares about that on a resume.
Older Alice can whip up a meal out of nothing on short notice, but no one is around to eat it anymore. Well, except for that military officer. But she hasn’t figured out how to cook for fewer people, so he is eating a lot of leftovers. He is either smart enough, or kind enough, not to complain. She is not sure which. She has the skills to be a caregiver, but frankly she has wiped enough butts to last a lifetime.
She has some well practiced skills for making snarky comments at the drop of a hat, but she has not seen an ad for someone to do THAT in Craigslist’s Help Wanted. A pity. Because she’s so talented in that arena. She also knows most of the words from every song circa 1965-1995, and can sing non-stop on a road trip all the way across Texas. But, this is also not a highly marketable skill.
And so here I am older, less tan, and far less blond, at a crossroads, praying for some guidance and annoyed with God for being so silent on the matter at hand. All I am looking for from God, is something simple and direct, like a post it note on the fridge. It should say something like:
“Dear Alice, do THIS to be needed, useful, inherently fulfilled and HAPPY. Much Love, GOD”
You would think, for someone that parted the Red Sea, this would not be a tall order, but, still….nothing.
Are you there God? It’s me, Alice. The one who sings in the car, has rocked babies to sleep, taught kids to read and kissed away booboos for 20 plus years. Is there anything I can do now to be useful, that I would love, that would also provide a marginal income…and that preferably does not involve butts?