Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"What are your goals?"

Like most little girls with a fondness for sparkles and playing dress up, I wanted to be a princess.* As I got older and more aware that I was neither of royal birth nor princess a viable career goal, I set my sights elsewhere. By fifth grade I wanted to be a writer, urged on by a teacher who could see that I had an above average ability to string words together in an artful manner. Then I wanted to be a meteorologist followed by an astronomer. My parents, probably pleasantly surprised that I was naturally steering towards the sciences, bought me various gifts that other nine year olds would have turned their noses up at -- a microscope, a toy that created a planetarium in my darkened bedroom, and an Audubon field guide to the night sky.

Unfortunately for my nascent career goals, my father gently reminded me that I would need to learn physics in order to become an astronomer. Physics?! Though I was a smart girl, I had struggled with math since third grade when the concept of long division had utterly failed to compute. I even had to take Algebra II twice since Mr. Wolfe gave me a D in seventh grade math. And twenty years later (and having long since mastered long division though fuzzy on the concepts of algebra), I am still bitter about being tossed from smart kids math to the remedial level. It was a serious blow to my confidence. If only my teachers had realized that I needed to learn abstract concepts in a non traditional way and I might have been a scientist!

Let us pause while I shake my fist at the ceiling.

After jettisoning my astronomy plans, I fell back into earth sciences, meteorology, and later writing. I even went to college for writing, but when my aspirations were eviscerated by mean grad students, I came back to art -- my first love. I taught myself graphic design, even used my scientific curiosity to learn computers and HTML.

My point is that life changes, goals change, people change, we adapt to new outlooks. When I was out with Lawyer Girl and another friend of mine on Saturday for dinner, she asked us, "So does anyone have goals?"

Sure, we all have goals. Who doesn't?

She then went on to list all the very specific things she would like to achieve in her lifetime. Become a judge, live in suburbia, raise kids, live on the water, etc. "What are your goals?" she asked me.

I thought back to all the goals I had had during my life, from princess to astronomer. "If I've learned one thing in life," I answered, "is that everytime I think I have my path planned out, something comes out of nowhere to change it. I've learned to go with the flow as I would have never have guessed that I would have ended up in New York. I love the city, so my goal is to be here right now."

By answering Lawyer Girl and noting her very specific goals and her preference for suburbia, I somehow felt that I had answered myself out of the running. I thought Lawyer Girl couldn't possibly be interested in me when she learned that I had no qualms about raising children in the city -- if I wanted children, that is.

"You'd let your kids take the subway?! Wouldn't you worry something would happen to them?!"

"Sure, if I trusted them," I said passionately. "I don't want to isolate my children at the end of a cul-de-sac."

Lawyer Girl looked at me incredulously. It seemed like we both had very different goals. Then again goals change and so do people. Can Lawyer Girl and I bridge our differences? Hang on, am I even dating her in the first place?? My new goal is to find out what is going on between us.

* I suddenly realize that had I started out life as a little boy with a fondness for sparkles and playing dress up, I would have ended up a drag queen. Yet as a girl I still ended up gay. Those are the mysteries of life, my friends.

1 comment:

La said...

Seems a shame to write off the sanest woman you have met yet over such long-term goals.