Friday, September 09, 2005

The Laura Pact

At 41, I’ve been teetering on the edge of adulthood and feel like the death of my cousin Laura last week has allowed me to fall forward. All my life, I’ve been really good at playing. I’ve lead the artistic life of a dancer with a jazz dance company here in Chicago for almost 18 years. I’ve traveled through England, Europe, Russia, New York and dance festivals throughout the East Coast and the Midwest. But I’ve always supplemented the idyllic bohemian lifestyle with the fact that I’m bright, resourceful and articulate. I’ve worked as a freelance writer all during that time and have won numerous business association awards for my work.

Since leaving the dance company last December, I’ve been making motions towards becoming the adult—moving from freelance to fulltime; starting an online Masters in electronic business. Unfortunately, I haven’t been trotting down my new path willingly. I’ve been watching my waistline grow and I’m not happy (where did that girlish figure go?). I’ve begun drinking too much and have even got the shape-up or ship-out talk at work (not for showing up drunk or anything, but certainly getting a bit too red and a little too happy at cocktail receptions). I’ve been able to sneak in one musical during this busy work-all-day, school-all-night schedule, but it was rough.

Then seeing Laura bravely battle cancer and finally succumb at 37 has forced me to say, hey you. Tinker Bell. Grow up. Stop whining. Fulfill your “destiny” … But not in the way I was despairing. In the way Laura lived. Laura never became a novelist, screenwriter, painter or dancer. She lived life “artfully.” That to me means thinking past set parameters of logic and reason, and then turning around and dancing with them. Seeing what’s there and barrel beyond. Becoming more than who I am now, because she would if she could have.

My dragon has been detail. All my life I’ve been about style, saved only by an ability to think on the fly. The Man of Substance comes from the systematic collection, review and command of detail. I’m not afraid of this man anymore. Laura has allowed me to expand his definition; she’s helped me see that he only earns his substance if he retains and indulges in his artistry. Man, I really want to do this guy now. But more importantly, I’m ready to be him.


Anonymous Kevin said...

So this is what it has all come to? You are starting to look inside the box that the present is contained within, instead of how artfully it is wrapped? If so, congratulations. And in one sense, I think that part of the soul of your cousin lives on inside of you, enhancing your horizons so that the two of you can together see the future from a shared perspective.

9:39 AM  

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