I wish I knew who else I would have been.*

I wish I had drunk a little (lot) less during my first go at college and finished in Richmond though I know I had no idea what I was doing back then, 17 and a little loopy at the prospect of being out of my parents’ reach.

I was in Richmond to study art…do art…be creative…paint, design, doodle, sketch, make things pretty, cool, original…but I drank too much and who the hell suggested scheduling Art History first thing in the morning?  I don’t think it’s totally unrealistic to hold Hall of the Bulls responsible for the different path I would eventually take because the class was so damn early (and boring).

I wish I could see my other future, a la The Family Man.  Except of course I’d be Tea, not Nicolas.  The future where I gave up being an artist because of the coma-inducing classes you have to take to be one.  The future where, halfway through my second semester I would march into my counselor’s office and tell her that I remembered. That I remembered that the one thing I always wanted to be, the thing that came before, after and in between hopes of being a veterinarian, schoolteacher and singer (what?) – was a writer.

Please, stop laughing about the  singing bit.

I wanted to write in Kindergarten.   I wanted to write in grade school, junior high, high school.  I just never had the confidence to ever follow through.   As a high school freshman, I wrote a short story, pulled from small bits of my life at that suddenly dramatic age of 13/14.  My dad pushed me to enter it into a Seventeen magazine writing contest.  I kicked the idea around and even thought I would actually mail it off.  I then proceeded to nitpick it to pieces and still, at 34, I have every version and copy I ever penned or pecked off with the typewriter.

I wanted to be on the lit mag, the newspaper.  I was so ridiculously shy and the cool kids were on the lit mag and the newspaper.  I knew them but I wasn’t one of them.  My writing probably sucked anyway.  As a sophomore, I wrote a short story, an essay really about an old man and a hot dog cart titled “The Old Man” and submitted it to the Lit Mag.  It’s on Page 29.  But I remember how nervous I was just handing it in, and how many times I agonized over every letter of every line on the page.  As a senior, I submitted my college applications essay to the Lit Mag and it as well was published at the end of the year.  That was it for my mass publication career.

After my untimely release from higher education I tried my hand at living on my own as my parents left Virginia for Illinois.  I followed less than a year later and in less than a year after that I was married and picking out baby clothes.  I still wrote, but it was always for me…added entries to the journal I’d kept since the seventh grade.  To make excuses, young (19) married, a mother and broke doesn’t add up to a whole lot of opportunities to pursue any great writing career.

When the most interesting thing I put to paper usually consisted of “Tyler rolled over/walked/slept/talked/scratched his name into the side of Todd’s car with a rock plane (thanks, Tyler) today!!”…well you know what they say when you don’t exercise your talent.  It gets fat.   And lazy.   And wastes away.

Which is not to say I was never struck with the urge to write.  I was.  I did. I do.  I have folders and notebooks and computer files full of all kinds of one liners, paragraphs, chapters, ideas and a fair amount of utter gobbledygook.  But that’s all I have.  In the 17 years since my last official publication all I have to show for what I once wanted to be are some scribblings on scattered papers.  (And a lot of trees killed in the name of that book I’ve been writing)

“Don’t do like I did and not send your writing in, it’s good, ” my mom told me, even though she hadn’t read anything recent.  (Not that there’s anything recent to read)

But your mom has to love you and support you and nudge you and tell you that you can sing well enough to audition for American Idol even though you’re just going to end up one of the auditions that I can’t not watch and wonder who on earth told this person they could sing well enough to do this.  I should know, as a mother, it would be a mother.

But that book I started and a scattered handful of people read, they all liked it.

But they’re my friends and they have to.

Or this is what I tell myself.

So I’m left standing at the backdoor watching the dogs when a sentence comes to me and I think I should write that down but someone wants dinner, lunch or is trying to beat the world record** for repeating the word “MOM!”  Or I’m taking a shower and trying to write a blog in my head when something really good and interesting pops in and is gone before I can get out, dry off and find a pen that works, let alone a piece of paper.  Or I’m just lazy and think, well I could write…  And I’m then literally staring at the wall completely blank.

I wish I’d studied writing.  Not because I think you have to be formally trained in writing to excel at it.  In fact, I believe the exact opposite.  I wish I’d studied writing because then I would have gained a respect for utilizing what I have and what I love.  I would have learned some of the finer points, gained a foundation, learned to love my ability and watch it grow.

If my dandelion wish came true and I did get that peek of who else I would have been, then what?  Would I be a writer?  A good one?  A journalist, novelist, blogger?  Would you be able to find me on Amazon and download me to your Kindle?  Would I be happy?  Have eight furries to snuggle at any given time and three kids who are growing up too fast?  Would I be working on my 90th anniversary with my husband?

I’ll never know.  And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t give it up.

But it would be nice to peek.


*I love my kids, yes even when the boy is being teenagery and the girls are being preteenesque.   I love my husband even when I look at him and think holy crap we’ve been married for like 75 years already, and this blog in no way should be interpreted as stating anything else.

** There is no current world record for repeatedly saying “MOM!” I totally think my kids should enter.



  1. rach Said:

    Nothing’s stopping you doing it now mate, make that dandelion wish happen, you can do it, you can I believe in you (plus Garran would like a house in San Fran when you’re rich and famous k?) xx

  2. mom Said:

    This mom would not tell you to send it in just because she’s a mom. She would tell you it “was a good story”….or maybe that she liked it. But she WOULD NOT give you false information. Don’t believe in building false self esteem. SO SEND THE DAMN THING IN. Grab that dandilion wish!

  3. jennifer Said:

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