Saturday, April 05, 2008

Has Anyone Seen My Life?

The other day I wore to work a motorcycle jacket I bought the evening of Nov. 24, 1988, the day before Thanksgiving, from Wilson's Leather store in Christiana Mall, for $248 (I have a weird memory). After work, I stopped at Safeway and, before getting out of the car, slid my BlackBerry into the inside pocket.

As I did so, it struck me: I was placing a smart phone in a pocket that was created when cell phones and the Internet didn't exist, at least among the common population.

It got me thinking back to that year, when I was a junior at the University of Delaware studying English literature and journalism and working as an intern at the Wilmington News Journal. I was living with V.L., the earwax artist, in Southgate Aparments, and having one hell of a time.

Imagine being a reporter before the age of faxes and cell phones and the Web. Yeah, we actually had to go get documents, call information, knock on doors, track people down.

In 1988, I had a Radio Shack Tandy that had no hard drive; I inserted a floppy disk to install a word-processing program every time I used it. It was connected to a daisy wheel printer that never worked quite right.

Our phones had cords; CDs were new, and mostly we listened to cassette tapes.

And I had dreams.

I was to be a magazine editor in New York, with a red convertible '67 Mustang.

Previously, in my adolescence, I had aspired to be (in no particular order) a go-go girl (I didn't know what it meant, but saw the sign on the way to visit my aunt in the city); a nun; a spelunker (before I realized I was claustrophobic); a jet pilot (before I realized I was afraid to fly); a cop; a firefighter; a cosmetologist; a best-selling author; and a stay-at-home mom with lots of kids.

In high school, I realized I could write. And I realized that the only sure way to make money at writing would be to become a journalist.

So I did.

But now, I can't help wondering where the life I dreamed of went.

My close friend Shaken Mama and I have an inside joke where one of us will say, "I thought it was different!" And the other will say, "No, it's just like this."

I recall a wonderful piece that was published -- I thought it was the NYT but now I can't find it -- by a woman who married a man who developed a brain tumor and died. I read it about the time SM and I were deciding whether I should accept Mark's offer and move to California and get married. This author said she didn't think she would ever get married, and she felt like her alter-ego, the woman who didn't get married, was the persona stuffed into her back pocket.

I have often felt that way: There's me, and then there's where I thought Me would go.

I thought it was different.

But no, it's just like this.

2 comments:

Shaken Mama said...

Your jacket pocket was thinking it was different and your BlackBerry said no, it was just like this.

General Barnicky said...

I thought your 1988 was a very good year! Vintage, in fact.