It took a 2,400 mile trip back home this weekend, sitting in the bedroom where I once spun hopeful, cotton candy plans for my future, to make me see that I have spent the better part of my adulthood chasing a dream that was never meant be.
It hasn’t been easy this past year or so to recognize that the pattern I cut for my life never did quite fit — much like the blue jean overalls misfire from my Home Economics class.
I was 14 then and like most girls in my junior high school I took a “HomeEc” class that included learning to sew. The final class project would involve a fashion show where the class of girls (no boy would be caught dead in a HomeEc class) would model their creations. I worked for a semester on those blue jean overalls. The item was all the rage and I wanted so badly to have a pair hanging in my closet. I was determined to get it right. I combed through bolts of fabric to pick out the denim material. I scrutinized the complex sewing pattern to make sure I knew how to get from raw material to finished product. Ever so carefully I measured and cut the tissue pattern. After I pinned the tissue I held my breath and began to cut. I engaged in what felt like epic battles with the sewing machine. Sometimes it won, and I had remove the thread to start the bib or the leg all over again to get the seams straight.
Finally I stitched the last stitch. I triumphantly carried my new outfit home. As I went upstairs to my room to try the overalls on for the first time my mind filled with thoughts about how I’d look in the fashion show.
Only the images in my mind didn’t align with what stared back at me from the mirror. I had grown at least two inches since the class had begun on my way to six feet tall. My blue jean overalls turned out to look like the worst fashion faux pas of junior high school. I was wearing flood pants. I gutted it through the fashion show and never wore the overalls again. I never attempted sewing again either.
A few days ago as I drove through the neighborhood where I once walked to school, maneuvered a cart through the aisles of the grocery store where my mother once shopped each Thursday, and checked out the back of the bedroom door where I once measured and marked my ever-changing height I slowly came to see that I had to let go of the carefully constructed plans I once laid for a part of my life that wasn’t meant to be.
Instead I have to wear what does fit.
Epiphanies don’t come every day but when they do they feel so obvious, don’t they? Tell me about one of your “ah ha” moments.
In the meantime I have some closets to clean out.
P.S. For more on trying to reconcile the past with the present to figure out the future, one of my favorite Canadians has more on this subject on her blog: A Woman My Age.