Saturday, February 8, 2020

I Dreamed a Dream

RHYS BOWEN:  Did you have big dreams as a child? Did you dream of being a world champion or a ballerina? Did you have a clear vision of your future? I know there are some people who want to be a doctor or a teacher or even a writer from early childhood and go on to fulfill that dream.

My first dream was to be a ballerina. That was because I suspect it had been my mother's dream, not allowed by her parents, and thus she enrolled me in ballet school when I was three. For a while all went well. I had nice solos and I won prizes in dance competitions (including a couple at the All England). Then I turned eleven and I shot up to the size I am now. Five foot six and a half. Not incredibly tall for these days but definitely tall for a woman when I was growing up. And too tall for a ballet dancer. A ballerina has to be no taller than her male partner when she is on pointe. So around five two is perfect.

Nobody said anything but it became clear I was not destined for ballet greatness. In the next ballet the teacher called out various girls' names: You will be the wood fairies, she said. Then she pointed to the other side of the room. And you will be the water sprites. And then she pointed at me: And you will be the tree.  I was the fricking tree! I had to stand and sway while the dear little water sprites and wood fairies danced around me.  If I could have dropped a branch on them I would have done.

So that was the end of my ballet career (but I can still sway really nicely). So, never being a shrinking violet, I decided I wanted to be a movie star. I started writing scripts for movies for me to star in: all really sad and dramatic. And I created a complete persona for myself. I decided what I was going to look like and where I was going to live. My house in Beverly Hills and my retreat in Palm Springs. At this stage I had never even seen Beverly Hills or Palm Springs but I knew they were where movie stars lived. I pictured my Palm Springs house surrounded by lush palm trees amid the hills.  I can't tell you my disappointment when I first saw Palm Springs years later. As we drove in past strip malls , mobile home parks,and every fast food restaurant in the universe my heart fell. This wasn't MY Palm Springs. And I never became a movie star either.

I decided I'd never be good enough an actress and never beautiful enough either, so I went into the production side of BBC drama, started writing plays and the rest is history. Fast forward to this year. We had been spending the winter at a condo in Phoenix for ten years and decided we needed more space (at least I needed a separate space to write). So we looked for a house and bought one in a small community on the mountain in North Phoenix.

And my office is upstairs, far enough away from the rest of the house to give me privacy, with a balcony that looks out onto the mountains. (The views are from my office glass doors) As I sat at my desk for the first time I looked out and I thought: this is my dream house in Palm Springs after all these years! Maybe not quite as luxurious as I dreamed it would be, and certainly not with the butler and maids I'd planned for, but with the same feel that I'd always wanted! And I also realized that all those movie scripts I created for myself actually honed my writing skills to bring me to this place.

Isn't it wonderful when life turns out as we had planned?
So what were your childhood dreams? Did they ever come true?

34 comments:

  1. Yes, it is nice when childhood dreams come true . . . .

    I got married, had children, taught school . . . all things I dreamed about when I was a child. There may be a wish or two still lingering, waiting to come true, but life is good . . . .

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  2. I don't know that I ever had one dream. I know at one point I decided I was going to be a diver. A couple of problems with that. I hate heights. And I'm not nearly flexible enough to get into the positions they do for dives. Yeah, my diving career was very short lived.

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    1. But you got into other sporty achievements

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    2. I did indeed. But I hadn't heard of ultimate Frisbee or mud runs as a kid.

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  3. I wanted to be the starting center for the Boston Celtics. A lack of playing talent and height conspired against that dream coming true. But I did get into coaching basketball on the youth league level and won a number of championships coaching a Celtics team. And one year for Christmas my parents bought me one of those fake contracts/news announcements they used to sell in ads that made it seem like I'd been hired to coach the actual Boston Celtics.

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    1. This is great, Jay. I’d say realistic fulfilling of dream

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  4. It's very sad, but when I was a child I wanted to be a teenager. (I'll wait while you get up from your ROTHFLMAO...) There were a couple of teen girls across the street and I couldn't wait to look glamorous like them. I also imagined somehow overseeing the building of a new freeway, and all the workmen would be so impressed by both my looks and my smarts. Totally pathetic, I know.

    All the things I actually did well - ballet, writing stories, being over-assertive - I never imagined growing up and doing for a career. In high school I realized I was good at learning languages, and while I didn't become an interpreter for the UN, I did get a PhD in linguistics. I'm sure glad the fiction writing thing circled back! (And the over-assertive part never left.)

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  5. Rhys, isn't it wonderful when that happens? It's nice when dreams come true. I am surprised that five feet six inches is considered tall because I feel "short" at five feet six inches, considering that my family are mostly tall people. Ballet is wonderful. I was reminded that the actress Jane Seymour had to give up a career in ballet because of a knee injury.

    At the moment, I cannot recall what my childhood dreams were. It is five in the morning. I woke up early and could not go back to sleep.

    It's wonderful reading all of the comments. And I love the photos and the post about childhood dreams.

    Happy Saturday,
    Diana

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  6. I was born with sensoryneuro hearing loss. My parents always told me it would get better so I was 18 before I realized my childhood dreams of being an astronaut or police detective could never be. I was not good in chemistry and advanced math (algebra, etc.), so being a veterinarian was also out. What I was good at is writing. I majored in English, worked as a technical writer, and ended up being a college writing instructor.

    Here's the hilarious part. During freshman career week in high school (late 1970s) we took a test that indicated what careers we'd be good at. The result was a bubble chart -- my bubble was nowhere near the other bubbles. Translation: I should be a gas station attendant or a writer. Yes, really! I cried for a week. It took me years to realize I *did* become a writer. LOL

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    1. I should add that I've published scholarly stuff, so now my dream is to write a mystery novel. Writing fiction is a big change from technical and scholarly writing, so I'm trying hard not to get discouraged with my crappy first draft.

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    2. Isn’t it sad that school assessments like the one you took can sometimes destroy dreams. Glad you found your path and I know the book will get there

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    3. Oh no please don't be discouraged Cathy--all of our first drafts are dreadful! Then the editors step up and things improve. That aside, it's a lot to learn and most of us don't get it right until after lots of trial and error!

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    4. Never be afraid of the "SFD," Cathy. I like to quote Nora Roberts: "I an fix anything except a blank page."

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  7. I lived in the attic bedroom as a child, reading, dreaming, and scheming. I knew I would be a writer and live near the ocean. After the youngest left for college, I hunkered down to write my first book. Still working on the ocean part in land-locked Ohio.

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  8. Rhys, I'm still smiling at you being a swaying tree.

    Where do dreams come from, anyway? How did I know I wanted to be in fashion? From my mom's cute work outfits? But why did I want to create them by sewing? Who knows. And I didn't care what aspect of fashion I ended up in, whether it was as a seamstress, a designer, a buyer, or a model. And I did become all of those things, at one time or another.

    The reality was similar to others' dream arcs: once I got there either the level of talent was lacking (model, I mean, have you met me?), or the abysmal lack of income related to it (buyer, which was not glamorous, at all), not to mention drudgery (seamstress). But it was fun finding that out!

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    1. You still have that flair, Karen and your sewing is fsbulous

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  9. I sort of had two competing dreams when I was growing up. On the one hand, I always loved books and got really positive feedback on my writing from a young age, so I always thought I'd be a writer. But on the other hand, as a child of Appalachia, growing up in a household driven by the seasonal nature of construction income, watching my stay-at-home Mom and perceiving her to be powerless, I very much dreamed of becoming a powerful career woman. In fact I remember a very specific image I used to cherish of me leaving a big hi-rise at the end of a workday, briefcase in had, getting into a little sports car and driving out to my rustic-yet-contemporary home a where a bearded, artisan husband awaited. That moment felt like all I wanted my life to be.

    I never did become a writer of books, but my writing skills have been a central feature of my professional life, first in marketing and now in fundraising. I did the corporate climbing thing for close to two decades before finding I just didn't enjoy it any more. My sweet hubby is definitely NOT an artisan -- as inept at creating things with his hands as I am -- but he has always been supportive of whatever path I wanted to pursue, and I feel like our marriage captures the spirit of that dream if not the specifics. Oh, and I DID have the sporty little convertible for about five years in mid-life.

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  10. As a kid, I knew I'd never be a ballerina. Heavens no. What I wanted to be was a teacher. My mother tried to dissuade me (it was a "woman's" profession, barely a cut above secretary or stewardess). But for the first fifteen years of my professional life I taught. Elementary school, then at the college level. And loved it. I still teach, it's part of my professional life as a writer, and I love it still.

    Rhys, I think your amazing posture must come from your ballet aspirations and classes, and being a swaying tree.

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  11. As a kid, I wanted to be a jockey — by age 9, I was already too tall! Around 16, I decided to be a writer. It took longer than I thought it would but I think — for me — life had to be lived fully before I had something to say.

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  12. Ah, yes, childhood dreams. I can't remember ever wanting to be anything but a writer. I wanted to write for a newspaper. I wanted to write books. (Okay, I'd have loved to have been a model, but I stopped growing at just short of 5'5" and I turned out to be curvy and I was ethnic looking when we were all supposed to look like Carole Lynley or Sandra Dee. And once, in my twenties, I did a charity show and discovered I didn't want to do that ever again, as my contact lenses fogged up from the make-up and I spent the whole time worrying about falling off the damned runway. End of THAT dream!) And I wanted to travel, but when you do it for business, it gets old fast (and so did I, but that's another story).

    Somehow, I wound up at a college that offered only ONE writing course at the time, and that was in essay writing, and the professor didn't "get" my little horror stories, so I stopped writing (except in journals) for a decade. Somehow, HOW to be a professional writer eluded me, so I wound up in law school. Hated it, hated the practice, hated being a pioneer (but you go where life takes you). Kept wanting to drop out and write, but wasn't sure I had anything to SAY.

    And then, in my early thirties, it all gelled: I discovered copyright law and earned a Certificate in Media Law at NYU. I started freelancing (does a thousand or so articles in print make me a writer?) and I wrote books (now nine!) and one even won a fairly nice prize.

    So yes, it is nice when childhood dreams come true. Now all I want to do is cover expenses and write more books. That may be a contradiction, which is why I'm still practicing law. (Small confession-- I actually LOVE explaining, negotiating, and drafting book contracts. Who knew?)

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  13. My dreams varied but were impractical for the times. I was really interested in being a park ranger or a forest ranger. I even looked into the federal requirements. One of them was you had to be a man. So that killed that. Dad brought home a recruiting booklet one day for women and the military. I was in junior high and it looked so glamorous! The dress uniforms! The travel! All looked exciting until I checked out the jobs. You could be a nurse ( not nursing material) or a glorified secretary or clerk. That was all. So, dreamwise I moved on. In my family I couldn’t consider student summer jobs at national parks either. Mom was adamant that I wouldn’t make any money so it was not worth it. Darn these Depression-era people! She relented on some of these things later to the benefit of my younger sisters but it was too late for me.

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    1. Pat,

      My talented mother wanted to be an artist, but her Depression-honed parents insisted she have a real skill, which in her day meant teacher, nurse or secretary. She chose the first, and her older sisters went the nurse and secretary route (all until marriage, of course, when they stopped working.)

      My siblings and I always said if Mom had been born a generation later, she would have made a fantastic CEO. She had enough energy to run a corporation, that's for sure.

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  14. They have retired volunteer rangers at many parks these days, Pat. You can put that dream on hold for the future

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  15. Rhys, I love the way our dreams are fulfilled in ways we never expected! I wanted to be an actress, and studied for my BFA and half-way through the program was told, in all kindness, that I was "adequate." Which of course is not good enough to actually make a living in the arts.

    What a delight it was to discover I was a writer; now I set the stage, compose the sound effects, direct the action and play every part, all from the comfort of my own home office.

    And I suspect you'd probably get annoyed at having a butler and maids underfoot all the time!

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  16. Rhys, I bet you were the best swaying tree ever, and your ballerina years before the tree sound most impressive. I guess the first dream career for me would be an archaeologist. I wrote a play about an archaeologist in Egypt in elementary school, and my class put it on for the school. But, the part of writing the play was fun, too. Of course, when I was that age at that time in our world, girls weren't encouraged to be archaeologists. My next dream was to work at a book publishing company, and I dreamed that into college, but there was discouragement about living in a big city like NYC and the dangers of it. So, I became an English teacher, got married the year I graduated from college, and had children a bit after that. I have not regrets, and I did go on to make one dream come true that I developed after I got married. I wanted to get my Masters in Library Science, and finally in my late 40s I did that. I've never been a practicing librarian, but I'm still known as the Book Lady to friends and family.

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  17. I don't remember wanting to be anything when I grew up. Honestly, I'm all these comments and wondering what I had ever dreamed of when I was a little girl. No dance classes in my family, Girl Scouts and church choir were my activities. My senior year in high school I thought a park or forest ranger but as I started college I discovered that I needed math and science, both of which I struggled in. I did finish college, recreation degree, and started a recreation career, It didn't last long. I've been a nanny/preschool teacher, that didn't last either. I finally have ended up were I didn't want to be when I was growing up, in an office, looking at a computer, which wasn't an option in my school days. I do not make one dream, if you can call it a dream maybe it was a assumed goal. I never married and no kids.

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