I was in bed last night, thinking about this and that and the other. And in between these thoughts I was turning my light on and off and on and off, and reading Everything I Knew by Peter Goldsworthy.
And all of this led me to the thought, the realisation:
I don’t know what I dreamed of becoming.
I thought of myself on the school oval at lunchtime, or on the benchseat leaning against the wall, or walking from class to class. I thought of talking with my one very best friend, of gossiping with the bigger group, of laughing on the year eleven camp. I tried to reimagine the conversations that we shared.
And I can’t pinpoint a particular aspiration. Not of mine and not of anyone’s.
I remember in year eleven, in our economics class, the girl who said to me she wasn’t worried about her job because ‘I believe that married women shouldn’t work’. I guess she said ladies not women. I was gobsmacked (I have tried to think of the word we might have used in 1984, but I don’t think there’s a gobsmacked equivalent) which makes me think it was an unusual conversation. I remember one friend did a modelling course one school holidays. I remember another came to Adelaide to do a secretarial course and one of our teachers said it was the worst decision any of us could make, but to me it seemed neither good nor bad, just something else I hadn’t known you could do. Girls left school to do hairdressing, but they were girls who were good at art and wore interesting clothes. It never seemed like something I could do.
I know that I have always carried an affinity with words, a knowledge that words are what I get. The same way some girls got hairdressing or some girls got netball or my best friend got maths. I got words. My ‘mock interview’ was at the local newspaper, but still and all the same, it never really occured to me that I could be a journalist. I didn’t know that journalist was something to become.
Perhaps I thought I would live my parents’ lives. Civic-minded teachers, surrounded by other passionate teachers and political activists. I remember telling the mister he should be a science teacher, so I guess on some level I was trying to recreate their life.
But my mum didn’t want me to have her life. Or more precisely, she didn’t want me to have the limits of her life. And the only thing she knew to say was ‘don’t become a teacher’.
And now, I’m back to where I was at two o’clock this morning. I don’t know what I dreamed of becoming. Which doesn’t matter. It’s not something to fret about or to add to the lists of things that keep me awake at night.
It’s just – as they say in yoga – an observation.
One of those rare thoughts that has remained as interesting in the light of day as it was at two a.m..