My life has been ordinary by popular standards, without fame and fortune or hordes of Tik Toc followers. Days and weeks distinguished by joy and sorrow, just like everyone else. Precious hours lost when I wasn’t paying attention. Until four years ago when the shit hit the fan so hard, I couldn’t relocate, start a new hobby/relationship/job, or new pet my way out of it. I had to stop. And face the annoying truth about how the fuck I got there, single, living in the damn south, and the recipient of AARP propaganda.
I could have been your neighbor, or someone you noticed at the farmer’s market, competing for kale and cramped parking. Your favorite, or worst waitress, ever. The most unlikely accountant in the history of accountants. The airport representative who took no bullshit, including your enormous carryon and undocumented “service animal,” but bent over backwards to help you get away. The chatty yoga student on the mat beside you, and the one who rolled her eyes when you took her favorite spot. Someone you knew long ago and forgot. The one who’s laughter and snarky commentary were both contagious and irritating, and who’s silent, but deadly, facial expressions, inherited from a gene pool of pirates and other delinquents, left no one guessing.
I didn’t find a cure for cancer, or any other deadly diseases. I didn’t climb Mt. Everest or save anyone from a burning building. I didn’t solve problems of physics, world hunger, or poverty, and I didn’t devise a way to save the planet from self-destruction, or in any way, significantly contribute to the betterment of humanity. I lied and told the truth. I was bullied and befriended, kind and cruel, indifferent and jealous, angst-filled and resentful. But I didn’t hold a grudge, was loving, caring, yet horridly self-righteous.
A Catholic high school graduate, I attended college, dropped out, and finished ten years later with a practical, but unexpected degree. My maximum tenure at any one job was ten years, and I had more jobs than flies on roadkill. I married and divorced and had several occasionally meaningful relationships. A daughter, a sister, a friend, a stepmom and partner; loving and supportive in some relationships, embarrassingly inept in others.
Embodying all that charm and privilege, I lived a “Plan B” kind of life, under the radar and ignorant of my heart’s desire for most of it. A classic underachiever confirmed by high school teachers and my father. A life of do overs, both hilarious and heartbreaking, always on to the next thing with little or no plan, ignoring the not-so-subtle signs along the way. I had no faith that the writing and swashbuckling dreams of my youth were possible.
So, an enthusiastic but occasional writer, I never truly committed to the craft (see underachiever above). But after two years of alcohol-infused grieving for the end of a relationship, I started to write again; first, in a tear-schmeared, fuck-filled, bedside journal, then pounding away at a keyboard. Instead of baking, learning a new language, or humanitarian undertakings of the pandemic, I wrote about my quirky life, crying, laughing and muttering to myself softly so as not to disturb curious dogs or neighbors.
Some of my unconventional backstory was amusing or affectionate, a comfort in the middle of the night. Other memories so painful, I’d denied their murky presence my entire life. Yet, I stopped resisting. Scary, but doable in small doses when it’s not raining or near major holidays. A girl’s got to get out of her head now and then and mingle, have coffee.
I’m not done yet, but old wounds lost some of their sting. And maybe I’ll let go of behavior that’s outlived its shelf life. Maybe. It’s time to let go of the bullshit and move on. It’s time for freaking Plan A. An awesome, cranky, caffeine infused, writer, kind of life.
Cynthia Gilmore’s journaled since second grade when she stole a pink Cinderella watch from a black-robed, veil-sporting nun. Penance provided ample time to consider her criminal future and other pesky distractions including her brothers, the state of inequality under her own roof, and a distressing lack of funds making escape impossible. She is currently seeking representation for her book titled, Dear Mom, Wish You Were Here, letters to mom considering life’s trials and negligible victories. She’s been published on IrishCentral.com, and in the Tangled Locks Journal. She spends hours untangling things or picking lint off sweaters when she could be writing her memoir, surrounded by books, unfolded laundry, and heartbreaking humidity.
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