I was four. I lined them all up on the edge of my bed. Teddy bears, brown and white. Barbie dolls with chopped up hairs. The only Cabbage Patch doll in the entire neighborhood. They all faced a wall on which I taped a map of the Philippines securely. I stapled bunches of scrap papers together and passed them out. Ruler in hand. Fake glasses on. I taught my class with ease. And fun. I was a teacher.
I was seven. My best friend next door owned a book about our solar system, and I took advantage of it. I read it from cover to cover. A hundred times. Okay, maybe less. I borrowed it when I could and marveled at the colors of space. I played rocket ship during the day and dreamed of planets at night. I often stared at a wall carpet we owned once. It pictured a little blonde girl atop a mountain so high; she was able to touch the stars with her fingers. I wished that girl was me. During blackouts, my friends and I sat by the gutter. Eyes straight to heaven. We counted as many stars as we could. My eyes sometimes shut close in admiration. I pictured myself not on Earth but rather on the light side of the moon. I was an astronaut.
I was nine. I participated in every single talent show, dance show, or acting show in school. I was a triple threat. I excelled in monologue competitions. I was always part of a dance troupe. I did the same outside of school. The stage was just my sandbox. I liked being on it. A lot. I saw it happen on television: young girls like I was, acting, dancing on shows. I saw myself doing the same. So naturally, I went with my friends to an open casting call and read some lines for casting directors and producers. They liked me. I was the only one who got a callback. That’s when I told my parents what I had done. I told them over the phone because they were abroad. They made me promise never to go back. And I listened. Yeah. I was an entertainer.
I was twelve. I finished primary school with a bang. Flying colors, they say. Bright future. My yearbook admits that I wanted to do business. Or was it psychology? Nah. By the time I started high school that year, I wanted to be a lawyer. I was President of my class and Secretary of the student body. I was Editor of my school’s literary publication, and I wrote mostly about the current societal issues then. I participated in community public hearings and read Sherlock Holmes as if Sir Doyle wrote it for me and only me. I admired politicians that were lawyers and thought then that all politicians should be. I wanted to defend what was right and uphold goodness in the courtroom. I was a lawyer.
I was thirteen. I had a slight skill with graphite. I liked to draw. I also liked to look through my sister’s grand and almost obsessive magazine collection. I had just moved to this country and was going to sophomore year, as a thirteen-year old. English Honors. World History Honors. Geometry. Physical Education. Fashion Design. Art. And maybe Spanish. My art teacher recommended I take more classes to hone my skill. I intended to but just never did. I loved art class. Anyway, when I first walked in to Fashion Design, I thought I’d be needing my sketchbook. I thought I’d be learning how to be the next Versace. It turned out to be a sewing class, which I absolutely loved. I owed many things I know now to that class. I relentlessly drew and created so many things. I was an artist.
I was fifteen. I was a junior in high school. I was in the yearbook committee, and I also wrote for my high school’s literary publication. I even submitted sketches here and there. This was around the time when words rushed to me like a flash flood waiting to drown everything in its path. I wrote and wrote. Mostly lyrical things such as poetry and songs. My poetry was naive, immature. I knew it was. So were my songs. But I kept on because it was a free release. I was a poet.
I was sixteen. I was just about to start community college. Major: Undecided. I took AP Art History in high school. It was an awesome experience besides the time when my teacher coerced me into joining the Robotics Club. That was funny. Anyway, one of the very first classes I wanted to take in college was Art History. 101. and 102. I was so fascinated with cultures and architectures and art itself. Art. So broad and captivating. I imagined myself a renowned archeologist in excavation sites finding King Tut for the first time or immersing in newly discovered remote tribe in Timbuktu. I went to museums around the area repeatedly. New collection? I was there. I knew their ins and outs. I was a curator.
I was eighteen. By then I knew I wanted to get into the scientific field. Seriously, this was it. I was finished with community college and was moving on to university status. Ecstatic. Yes. I got into a pretty darn good school and better yet, a pretty exclusive program. Neuroscience. Wow. It was a shot in the dark. Nah. It really was my essay. No kidding. I could write. A bit. It was an MD or PhD track; I could’ve gone either way. I wanted to do medical research on the brain. I studied the brain so much, that my brain hurt a lot. It’s such a fascinating, fascinating, fascinating thing. The human brain. Around the time, I did much personal research on the universe as well. Was I back to being an astronaut? Not quite. I was a scientist.
I was twenty. Life began happening erratically. I got a better scholarship at a university closer to home. So I moved back. The neuroscience major did not exist there, so I had to take psychobiology. Different names, same psychotic things. However, this time, I was more honed in to the psych parts. With the biology shoved aside a bit, I began to focus more on learning about the human psyche. Another fascinating, fascinating, fascinating thing. People. Humans. Forget research. I was a psychologist.
I was twenty-three. I stopped school for a while. My scholarship ran out. I worked. And worked. Nonstop. I told myself, frequently at that (as if pacifying my lurking anxiety), that I was still young and had all the time in the world for a career. I did everything. I did nothing. I began to look upwards more as I tried to ask questions of faith and such. I got the opportunity to fly back to my native country to witness, or rather be reminded of, life lived in poverty. I lived with the poor. I ate with the lonely. I helped build their homes, and I shared their hopeful dreams of opportunity. I wanted to stay there. I wanted to do more, much more than I ever could. I was a missionary.
I was twenty-five. I was denied the impractical life of a missionary. So I channeled my frustration inwardly. I tapped into my artistic tendencies and got into performing. On stage. In front of a crowd. In front of a mirror. I sang. I danced. I played music and made music. In my most wakeful states, I thought of music. In my sleep, I dreamt of notes and rests. If I wasn’t walking, I was sitting in front of a piano. Fingers to keys. Soul to the chime of the beaten string. If I wasn’t with a piano, I held a guitar around my shoulders, a violin under my chin, a harmonica by my lips, a shaker in one hand and a tambourine in another. Otherwise, I didn’t do anything besides stand in front of an echoing microphone to let my voice softly ring. I was a musician.
I was twenty-eight. School became part of my life again. I worked the graveyard shift, and I loved it. I slept during the day and lived at night. Humdrum, it was indeed. Until I realized my life was never going to be the same. I had been carrying a miracle in me. She was a miracle when she came to Earth, and she is a miracle now. Then shortly after, there were two. My daughter and my son. The only absolute wonders of my life. They make the best even better than best. I stopped school. I stopped working. I became a mother.
I am thirty. And I’ve only just begun. I’m still that seven year old astronaut. It’s just hidden there…where our deepest secrets and strongest memories carve themselves out, making us who we really are. They say old dreams never die; they just get filed away.
I am a writer. At least, that’s what I want to be when I grow up. I think.