Now that I am a parent, I often think about the role I play in my children’s lives. There is the obvious of course, that I will feed them, clothe them, keep them healthy, make sure they get an education and give them lots of love. But when it comes down to my desires and vision for their lives, how much will reality match the fantasy? What really decides our paths?
Facebook has been an amazing look into people’s paths and how they often go in strange and unexpected directions. When we step out from the consciousness of our families, we attract to our lives the situations and challenges that test us and bring us into our own. When I was in high school I became fascinated with all things “unique.” I would take weekly trips to vintage shops and artsy/New Agey stores and just walk around, mostly looking at clothes I loved but didn’t have the nerve to wear. I was attracted to guys with long hair and piercings (too young yet to be into tattoos). When I met a perspective boyfriend, I’d often ask “What do you do?” with the hopes of an answer like write poetry, paint, or play guitar. All of my serious boyfriends did one of those three things. The sirens of creativity called to me, even if vicariously through other people and places. These days the vision I hold for my life is a marriage of creativity and spirituality. My path, with its odd detours and speed bumps, seems to have brought me to me.
I have a friend named Toby. You will meet her tomorrow in the first in a series of four click stories. For a short period, Toby and I walked our path together. We spent weekends hanging out with boys with long hair and piercings. I tasted artichoke for the first time in Toby’s kitchen standing between her and her mother. We played soccer and rode in Heather’s convertible Firebird singing Hotel California together. I took my very first college road trip to visit her at NC State our freshmen year of college. We were both poets and loved to write. She was a lot more outgoing than me, but other than that we were very similar.
The last time I was with Amy we sat on her bed (she was on bed rest) and looked at each other’s Facebook pages. Amy was so excited to share that she had found Toby. I honestly don’t remember the exact connection but Amy and Toby were also pretty close friends. Amy was the first to tell me that Toby had been a heroin addict. When Toby and I finally connected on Facebook she was quick to share with me what she had overcome. I also learned that she was a proud new mama who was finding her way back to writing. Despite how drastically different the past fifteen years had been for us, we were now on similar paths…maybe even inching our way onto the same path.
Toby has now sent me four of her stories and has started her own blog. As she put it on Facebook the other day, she is “writing furiously.” I read her stories and am greatly aware at how simply and easily our lives can be changed…but also how we at some level create these challenges. In one of her posts, Toby shares how she was always fascinated with heroin. She read books and watched movies about addicts and fantasized about her own relationship with the drug. And just like she always knew, the drug found her, was even presented to her as a birthday gift. She made a choice that day and it was the only choice she could have made in the moment. It brought her to where she is now.
What I think is that we are here to choose our on paths and make our own destinies. Our parents will raise us, teach us, and love us but in the end who we really are will find it’s way through. Sometimes we are just like our parents and families, sometimes we are not. There are many crossroads. Sometimes we make choices that could be described as selfish, careless, or just plain fucked up. And sometimes it is those very choices that ultimately bring us salvation, even if that salvation comes after a long and hellacious battle.