This morning I did a little surfing in the blogopshere within the immediate vicinity of Arlo. He is surrounded by creative, fun, probably somewhat unstable, yet awesome people. As one person said, Arlo’s life will definitely not suck.
It made me think of the path not traveled in my life. As I get further in time (and space, as it turns out) from my college career, it becomes clearer to me that there was a Turning Point back then. The choice I made set me on a path very different from what the other choice would have done.
My freshman year at Brown, I took an introductory art class. Why? Because I’d taken art all through high school. Because people told me I was good at it. Because I liked drawing and stuff. My teacher… what was her name? James had a good nickname for her, too. I want to say Marla, but I’m sure that’s not it. Anyway, at the end of the class, which was sort of a technique-survey class (one week with charcoal, one week with collage, one week with watercolor, etc.), Marla asked me to choose art as my major. I think I was flattered–though clearly not enough–but I said no, thanks. I was going into biology, or environmental studies, or whatnot.
And that, as they say, was that.
It took me seven years to get back into doing any kind of creative work, and even then, it was making newsletters with a computer. As I worked, at various jobs in various states, I gradually did more creative stuff, on the web, a little in print. My creativity found an outlet in freelance web design, on my own sites, in our life a little. And I was fine with that. Then a couple of years ago (three years now?) I took an oil painting class at Iowa. And I loved it. I flat-out freakin loved it. I loved being creative, I loved oil painting (which I had never tried before), but mostly, I loved having the time set aside to dedicate to being creative.
In the work I do now, I try very hard to be creative. And my employer, earning my undying gratitude, have seen fit to let me expand my job duties such that I can make things: signs, posters, creative stuff. My life is very busy now, with Aidan and… well, with Aidan. It is just not easy to find the time to do non-critical things, and when I do, there are so many of them that they crowd each other out and leave me feeling spent, with nothing to show.
It’s life. And don’t get me wrong, I am not unhappy.
But reading about Arlo, and immersing myself a little in his life, I find myself feeling a little wistful. I wonder, from my current path, where I would be had I made the other decision back in 1989. Brown is cheek to jowl with RISD, one of the premier art and design schools in the country, and I could have taken classes there, even transferred. My sister was living in NYC, and I probably would have moved there after college regardless of my major, but as an art student, I would have explored/seen/enjoyed a whole different world in the City. I might find myself in Arlo’s circle, or in a similar one. As it was, as an environmental studies major, I was just biding my time until something drew me away.
And something did, and it was marvelous. Love, family, Aidan. The other path might not have given me any of those things, and so I would never trade for it. Despite the entirety of this post, I have never regretted my life, and I still do not. I do, in fact, love my life.
But I find myself wondering if I couldn’t straddle some space between these two paths. I’ll have to think on that. You know, when I have time.