Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Perceived Perfection

(Editors Note: This is a non-fiction/fictional piece I wrote 2 years, 7 months, and 2 days ago. When you read it, you will know how I know. As I just turned 30, hitting the age I determined in this piece to be "perfection", I thought this was fun to reread.)

 This is not how I imagined my life would be at 30.  Ok, so I’m not 30 yet, but let’s face it, how much can really change in 2 ½ years?
By the time I was 30 I was supposed to be Mrs. Warwick. You know Mrs. Warwick, or maybe to you it was Mrs. Ponto or Mrs. Unwin – I loved Mrs. Unwin like a second mother and always looked up to her, but to be her, nah, she had 5 kids, 4 of which were boys. Even as a child I knew that was too many kids, and way too many boys!

In my mind Mrs. Warwick was the modern Donna Reed. From the perspective of the knobby kneed, gangly, freckle faced thirteen year old that I was Mrs. Warwick was perfect. They owned a beautiful house, had two polite kids, in the perfect order (big brother, little sister), nice cars, and to top it all off a dream job.

I suppose that now would be a good time to tell you that I don’t know what she did for a living. I’m racking my brain here, and I truly do not have any idea what her job was. But she had a job and everything else she had and did was perfect so of course it was her dream job. Right? I’m probably wrong, but the point is that she had meticulously built this life around her that was easily perceived, from the outside looking in, to be perfection.

Mrs. Warwick is not the only one whom I looked up to or unconsciously figured to fashion my hypothetical future around.  Mrs. Unwin always had a snack on the table when we got home from school, and the kids cleaned their rooms twice a week. Mrs. Fisher always had Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips in the house so that any time Penny and I felt like it we could make cookies. Aunt Barbie was the queen at dishing out comfort be it a hug or bible verse, plus she made the perfect mashed potatoes (which by the way, is one of my top 3 comfort foods right up there with chocolate and brussel sprouts). I never saw Mrs. Clark touch a dirty dish or run a sink of soapy water but yet her dishes were always clean.

My own mother always made really elaborate home-made Christmas presents and Birthday treats that were the envy of the class. I suppose a few of my childhood friends froze my mother in their images of perfection, even if she didn’t have the perfect daughter. Whoa I’m not talking about myself here. it was my sister who was hell on wheels. I was perfect, my room may not have been clean and nor my homework done, but I was loving, generous, helpful, obedient, respectful and an out and out joy to be around. Unless, of course, I was told to clean my room or do my home work. 

Together all of these women and facets of their lives have woven this image of what I thought my life would be like by the time I was 30.  I don’t even know if these women were 30 when I froze them in my mind.  Perhaps Mrs. Warwick was close maybe 32, but as I began formulating the image of my future sometime between 8 and 13 these women were grown up and grown up was 30. Not 30 and older but 30, as I could not yet even imagine what it would be like to be 20, anything higher than 30 was old and life was supposed to be figured out before you were old.

So now here I am 2 ½ years and one day away from being old and I can honestly say I don’t know how I got this way.  It was like somehow 27 ½ just came out of nowhere, slowly since being 13 I have grown up, one day slipping into the next, years fading away into distant memories. It never occurred to me that this hypothetical dream was really in more ways a plan and that a plan needs to be put into action in order to achieve the desired result.

It’s not to say that I don’t have anything figured out, or that I don’t have a life. I do have a life, a very real life. Perhaps that’s the problem.

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