Last night’s dream picked up where last night’s episode of Girls (“Free Snacks”) left off. Except I was one of the Girls, so naturally I was hanging out and being Special. They were all younger than I was, but they knew my story (jumping the career ship to live the dream) and they were all my besties. Lena Dunham was herself (writer, actor, producer, director) instead of the character Hannah; I know this because the conversations in my dream were way more interesting than they are on the show.
Suddenly my age comes up and I’m a little thrown because I’m sure they’ve all known. I mean we’ve talked about it a million times. It’s an important part of my story. And then they erupt. Lena is mortified. OMG! She can’t hang out with someone as old as I am. She literally pushes me out of her apartment, an apartment that we share. She’s grossed out, appalled, embarrassed. I have cooties. Can age be contagious? I don’t get it. Not only am I surprised that they are surprised but I don’t understand what the big deal is. “I’m only 32!” I am shouting at the door over and over and then muttering to myself as I pout my way down the sidewalk to find comfort with my friend Ryan. “I’m only 32.”
I wake up and the first thing I do is giggle. I am 43. I am only 43. Ouch.
In last night’s episode of Girls Hannah has her first successful day as a sell-out. At first she’s energized by the compliments and the free snacks and being talent adjacent — she’s in the advertorial writing group at GQ. Hannah falls through the trap door, hitting the dungeon floor with a THUD that shakes off the fog of security, making her realize that this place is going to suck the Special right out of her.
Me? Instead of falling through a trap door, I took a leisurely and scenic ride on an escalator with excellent companions. I wanted to make a living doing something that was interesting. I must have figured that my path would reveal itself, my opportunities to CREATE would appear. And they did! Those opportunities did appear. And I did create. And I had a great ride on that escalator. Every once in a while I would be in a situation, though, where I’d be in the presence of a storyteller (a TV writer, a filmmaker, an actor) and the daydreamer in me would scream: THAT SHOULD BE ME. And maybe I would be motivated for a second. Maybe I’d dust off one of my books on writing. Maybe I would start a story. And maybe I’d even stay with that story for weeks or months. But I would always drift away again, back into the routines of living, which were deadline-driven and time-consuming. But the nagging only got louder as I descended farther away from my dream, and I finally had to call my own bluff: Go all in or Let it go.
Obviously that episode of Girls set something off in me. Shame for wasting so much time? That exists. But my unconscious did me a favor with the “32”. I just turned 32 when I started working at MTV News, and although I did feel “old” already because many of the folks I worked with were younger, I had such a good time working there, I learned a lot, and I made good friends. That was my life and I enjoyed it. Maybe the part of my dream that is more significant is that I was shoved out of this group of 20-somethings. I’ve already lived that. I don’t get a do-over. Create from where I am now.
Because here I am now with an entire day, week, month, year in front of me to write. My gift to me. And I’m only 43.