Tuesday, January 8, 2013
A Deadhead That Never Was
Growing up, I always looked to my television idols for advice. Sure, I could ask my Mom questions about the future or go talk to a guidance counselor- but why bother when I could look to the likes of Joey Potter & Mary Camden? (Please tell me I'm not the only one who still thinks of Jessica Biel as the preacher's daughter with a hint of a lesbian vibe from 7th Heaven.) I was comforted by the idea that it somehow always worked out in the end for my teenage TV cohorts. No matter what trouble they got into, things always turned out kind of great. I foolishly believed real life would follow suit. Unfortunately, things outside of the television screen are a bit messier and full of loose ends and unanswered questions than script writers and executive producers would have you believe. In the real world, your entire group of friends most likely didn't end up attending the same university. And upon graduation, you'd be one in a million if you wound up with your dream job/dream boyfriend/dream four bedroom rent-controlled apartment with the snap of a finger. It just doesn't work that way.
I've recently been watching one of my favorite shows again on Netflix. (I won't say which show because I'm about to spoil the ending in a second.) A big life decision one of the main characters ends up making at the end of the series has always intrigued me. Instead of going to college or riding off into the sunset with a boy, this character instead becomes a Deadhead. (Now a few of you probably know what show I'm talking about.) For those of you unfamiliar with the Cherry Garcia flavor of Ben & Jerry's- a Deadhead is a hardcore fan of the Grateful Dead that follows the band around on tour. This got me thinking- why isn't this a viable option now? Or, more to the point, why wasn't this a viable option when I graduated high school? I mean, I'm not really into the Grateful Dead at all. But what if this same kind of "Deadhead" phenomenon existed for our favorite bands? What if we could travel around the country, trailing Tegan & Sara or the Foo Fighters? I, for one, would do it in a heartbeat. Or at least I like to think that I would.
That's the thing though, isn't it- these options that don't really seem like viable options for the future are actually possible. When I was 18-years-old, I was so by the book. Everything I did was what was expected of me, due, in large part, to my "people pleasing" nature. Of course, all of my decisions were my own, and I wouldn't be who I am today without them. I've just always wanted to succeed in something. Which is why the future always read "college, job, promotion, promotion, promotion." I don't have anything against that, even today. I just can't help but wonder what would have happened if, instead of following some sort of unwritten plan, I packed up and became a Deadhead (or a Foohead, as the case may be.) Or locked myself in my room and wrote a novel. Or popped out a kid or two. Or went to law school. In some ways, I feel nostalgia for choices I never made.
There is this huge part of me that feels like I chose everything wrong- like if I could do it all over again, I'd pick completely different things. But then I get this overwhelming fear. And the one thing I know for certain is that I couldn't give up the "me" that my past decisions have created. I couldn't give up the friendships, the experiences, the mistakes and the laughter. Given a chance to change it all completely, I don't think that I would. It's been a hell of a windy road to get here, but I'm finally finally finally starting to feel like the "me" I'm supposed to be. I know that's a whole lot of cheese right there, but it's true. All the blunders, the student loans, the tears shed over missing my parents... I just have a sneaking suspicion it's all going to be worth it. Don't you? I guess, more than anything, I'm finding my way back to the inner-kid in me who still holds out hope; who still foolishly believes in happily ever after; who believes in making a wish at 11:11; who wishes for things far beyond her reach. Somewhere along the way, I don't know where or how, but I lost my blind optimism. And I miss it. So... I'm taking it back. On this Tuesday morning, I choose to believe it will all work out. It has to, right? Otherwise, whoever is executive producing my life is doing a really crappy job.
(Still, given the opportunity, I really would like to become a Foohead or a Teganhead or whatever for a year or two. Just putting it out there... If anyone has any connections. You know where to reach me.)