But I Want to Be a Mermaid
Whether navigating, consuming, or sitting by the shore absorbing the rhythm of the tide, water is my oxygen.
In my earliest days, a little plastic pool in the yard was all I needed to be enraptured by joy. My folks had one in our yard, and my grandparents who lived a handful of houses down did as well. One of Grampa’s favorite lines was my two year old self’s mantra: “Jump in the pool all day Grampa, jump in the pool!”
My grandparents were also snowbirds, so they lived down off the coast of Florida on Hutchinson Island about four months out of the year. As a result, I spent a few weeks a year upgrading from the yard’s portable pool to the Atlantic Ocean, and you couldn’t pull me away from it. I would swim, wave dive, and body surf for hours a day. The only compromise for me to leave the ocean was the amazing pool at the Holiday Out. I would float, dive, and perfect my water ballet extravaganza.
I'm a bit of a fish out of water these days, living in landlocked Wisconsin. Lakes totally do not cut it as a replacement for the ocean, I need salt in my bodies of water. As a result, I dream of “the big break” that will allow us to afford relocation back to the coast. We moved back to the midwest to raise our daughter, and it was the best decision ever for the life she has here in Madison. However, I lose a bit more and more of myself each year, to a fear that my daydream will not actualize.
We raise our youth with a nurtured confidence to dream their reality. To live their passions, and indulge their daydreams. We enable the luxurious concept that we can become whatever and whomever we imagine.
But I wanted to be a freaking mermaid, and where did that get me?
I also grew up with aspirations to be a Prima Ballerina. When I got my chance, my ticket “in” by being accepted as an apprentice to the holy grail of dance companies in New York at age sixteen, I bailed. Not because I didn’t want to go professional, but my pragmatist self knew that my time onstage would be a snippet of my life's time, and all likelihood would lead me to becoming a teacher when I retired. To go pro so young, I would miss out on going to college. The reality was overwhelming limiting to my teenage self. And for as much ballet filled my lungs with air, having to teach it was a sentence I would abhor.
So design it was, a sustainable profession to feed my creative soul.
After college, I went on for fifteens years navigating the corporate ladder and design farms. And what gave me the confidence to quit my corporate job on a wild hair while being a heavily relied upon wage earner within my family?
Eat Pray Love.
I shit you not.
The literary phenomena Eat Pray Love, gave me the confidence to quit my reliabel job, and dive into the abyss of possibility.
I have shared that it was a moment I was on the phone calling home from Hong Kong when I knew with certainty that I wanted better for myself and my family. What I haven’t shared publicly, is that reading Eat Pray Love on my flight home between Tokyo and Dallas, is what cemented the confidence within my being to do so. And what inspired me in the book, is the most overlooked part. The first teeny tiny bit of it.
While reading Eat Pray Love, what was transformative for me was not the search for romance, or even the global path to self discovery. It was in those early pages, when reading of her misery, that I saw myself reflected. And I did not like it one bit, nor was I going to allow myself to be swallowed deeper into the abyss of misery. I had an entirely different circumstance with a marriage I was not looking to leave, and the additional responsibility of a gorgeous three year old being to consider how my life changing move would affect. However, I fully identified with the emptiness of my professional success, and the ringing misery it imposed.
So on the last leg of my trip home from Dallas to Madison, I needed to peel myself back to consider why I became a designer. What I loved about it it. And how I wanted to live my life as a wife, mother, friend, and hopefully someday, a mermaid. What path would get us back to the coast when we where ready?
Quitting my job was one of my best decisions ever. And since, the past nine years, to spin a cliche, have been both the best and most difficult of my life. And beyond what my husband and myself have been able to stitch together for a quality of life as a family, being able to make a living off what feeds my creative soul has been a dream I am extremely grateful for.
But as I have mentioned, the times are changing in a scary way both online and for small businesses. Things are getting extremely dicey, and creative souls are not highly valued entities in times such as these.
And at the core of the Mermaid Matter, I feel my heartbeat longing for a return to the sea. When I left Detroit, I made the ridiculous, but wonderfully optimistic. statement that I would never again live where there was snow. Ironically, we moved to New England, and then Wisconsin. But in New England, I had the sea. We have been landlocked, once again, this past decade.
My daughter declared last year that although she loves growing up in Madison, she will be California bound after High School. And I totally get it. It’s what I want for her, and love her aspiration. It’s why I spend two hours a day in the car getting her where she needs to be for school and activities, so she has the wings to fly when it’s her time.
However, it all leaves me wondering if I too will be able to migrate to the coast in my next chapter. And these days, I joke (not joke) about wanting to be a surfer girl in my next life, but still hold hope for my mermaid actualization in this one.
What about you? What is your inner daydream? What has you still wishing and hoping for your future self?