i’m not sure i know when the lying stopped. and if i’m being honest (reasonably so for today) i would ask if it has ever stopped.
it’s a hard lesson to learn: the fact that your dreams have no footing in reality, or at the least in your future reality. but what do you know when you’re 14 and your inner life is arguing so forcibly with your outer life? when how you feel on the inside doesn’t jibe with the expectations of the outside world? if you even think about it so realistically–realistic thought truly the privilege of time and distance from the moment’s reality–you may have just shrugged your shoulders and thought about something less complex and less frightening.
but no, it’s a more visceral response you’re having, you may even find if you dig deep enough now that your memory of the time is nose to the ground, the scent of what is considered right so conflicted with the actual scents you are smelling; the sounds you hear differ dramatically from the sounds you know you are expected to hear; the close ones expected, the distant ones the truth. (this ‘knowing’ of course has been observed and not explicitly explained to you, o.k. perhaps once someone may have said, “men and boys don’t cross their legs at the knee or ankle, robert.” but still.) even your vision is affected by this confusion, the deafening blur of an unspooling reel of film clacking and shuddering through the projector in a final rush of what your life is or might be; the images of the now so clear and those of the future, well those are only hinted at, a feeling really, perhaps occasionally glimpsed: in a magazine, on the television, a boy diving into the swimming pool one summer, or your neighbor’s father shoveling snow after a blizzard.
you construct a delicate balance (pls. note the theatrical reference), a seesaw weighted on one end with someone else’s expectations and on the other with your desires and dreams — as ill-formed as they may be at this time in your life. when you stand back and look at this scene you see yourself seated at either end, a stereoscopic postcard from the turn of another century (for your story is not new and never will be; it is just one of many–i would say millions, but who could count them all, perhaps a neuron-physicist in lab coat and thick glasses or a wizened white-bearded astronomer [how you may envision god had you been me then] gazing at the night sky as it blossoms overhead.)
i’m sure i could give you a timeline of my short, but potent theatrical glory, but what would be the point of citing this production and that one, this newspaper clipping — with a photograph! — in the “living” section of the local daily paper and the awards stacking up, actual trophies — a competition that did not involve a ball, a bat, a marching band (exclusive of your dreams of starring in “the music man”), and cheerleaders. although the idea of cheerleaders during the production of a play has some merit, and i suppose the greeks had it figured out with a chorus commenting on and encouraging the players from the sidelines. hubris in abundance.
but my dreams, as it turns out, were exactly what they needed to be: an escape hatch, an ejector seat, a lifeline, a savior (jesus with the long golden hair and the big brawny fireman, the leather clad motorcycle daddy and the gray-flannel-suit-wearing banker**). they leadeth me through the valley of the shadow of death and deliver me to a life that i could call my own.
*not a pejorative.
**that damn banker referenced once again.