Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Packing up your entire life for an out-of-state move is no small job. I have already spent countless hours in a hot, dusty attic sorting through boxes and bags. Knowing that I have to fit my belongings into a home with less than ½ the amount of space (but nearly twice as expensive, and don’t get me started), I have been quite motivated to purge. The process of downsizing is not an easy one, although I have been surprised with my liberal attitude toward just plain getting rid of things. But these belongings are mostly items I have held on to for many years because of there sentimental value or what they represent to me.

As I have dug around the boxes of old clothes, photographs, and keepsakes, I have come to realize that most of this worthless stuff either represents memories from my past (senior pictures, slam books, programs from my performances), or my hopes for the future (prom dresses for a little girl’s dress up, a size zero pair of Capri pants I may someday fit into). Sorting these items may prove to be as beneficial as a trip to a therapist.

The trigger for all this self-reflection was dragging out a box of high school memorabilia. I pulled out the journals, the Class of 92 coffee mug, and my West High School present’s Pippin sweatshirt in florescent orange and blue-(I am not sure who designed that one, but I am guessing they did not make it in the world of graphic design). Underneath it all I found a shiny blue and gold trophy. A trophy. Not participating in athletics, this was the only trophy I ever earned. I won the prized possession for taking first place in a forensics prose competition in 1991. I have held on to the damn thing for all of these years. Although hardly a major accomplishment, I was never so proud or excited as the day I won the honor for reciting a short story about infertility. It strikes me as odd now that a 16 year old teenager would act out the part of a grief stricken woman unable to conceive. Ironic that years later, I actually experienced the pain of infertility first hand.

Seeing that trophy I had a flash back to the girl I used to be. I was miserable in high school, insecure, moping around after a boy who wasn’t interested, obsessed with losing weight, and generally hating myself. Today, as I look at my high school treasures, it pains me that I was so hard on myself. I was great. I was active and involved, running from rehearsal, to voice lessons, to forensics, on to the peer helper group I was elected to. I studied hard and got all A’s and B’s. I had so many interests. I won a freaking trophy. No, I was never invited to a cool party in the woods with a keg, and on that dreaded day around the Valentines holiday when perky cheerleaders delivered roses to the most popular in homeroom, my stomach ached, for I would never receive one. But I see the pictures of the “ugly” girl I thought I was, and I see a prettier than average teen, and wonder what the heck my problem was.

I miss the competitiveness-in forensics winning a first or second prize, on a paper earning an A, getting “Highest Ranking Senior” in the University of Wisconsin’s Child & Family Studies program. Today, there are no trophies, A’s or scholarships for being a sometime-contract recruiter and a stay at home mom. Maybe that is why I adore interviewing so much, “winning” the job, impressing others. And perhaps that is why I am so disturbed about my inability to be a truly exceptional housewife. I am simply not good at keeping a tidy, organized Martha Steward-worthy home. I wouldn’t even get a bronze medal for that.

They say that hindsight is always 20/20. Given my regret for my teenage years, my guess is that someday I will look back on my thirties and think I was an energetic, social mother who gave her kids all types of fun experiences, and that although I own not one, not two, not three but probably four junk drawers, and that my refrigerator always has crusted food stains on it, I was great

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