Everyone else had it nailed. They seemed to be sure of who they were and what they wanted out of life. My friends graduated from school with plans. I graduated with a half-baked idea of umm … hairdressing. I think. That was after notions of becoming a marine biologist or a photographer idled through my mind.
A few years out of school I ran into a friend at a train station. I was heading home after spending the day in Sydney working a modeling shoot. It was during one of her interludes between our homeland and the States. She’d met an American fella when he was visiting Australia some years before. It was an encounter that solidified her path and had her spending much of her time in America until they eventually married and she settled there permanently.
“How’s your sex life?”
No, she didn’t say that, but it was the first thing that popped into my head when I spotted her; along with fuzzy memories of a Diesel concert, Love Cats and Working Class Man. Ah, the impression people leave in our minds – crowded school halls, The Cure and Jimmy Barnes scrawled over her canvas bag, and her staple line reserved for me when our paths collided.
“Hi Kimmm, how’s your sex life?”
“Steamier than 91/2 Weeks.”
We both knew the only thing happening between my sheets was a whole lot of sleep after some imaginative fantasies starring Michael Hutchence, but that’s what made this quirky exchange even more interesting.
I wish I could say the same when faced with her incoming statement on the station that afternoon. Sometimes, snippets of conversations can stay with you for eternity. This was one of them.
“I always thought it would be you with the exciting life and not me.”
I mean, what the actual fuck? I was 19 years old for crying out loud. Did she expect me to have an exciting life already? What constituted an exciting life anyway? I was smothered in studio make-up after a day beneath heavy lights and a fast stint on location, and that didn’t spike her “excitement” radar? Was America where the excitement was at?
I walked away feeling somewhat flat. I didn’t have an American boyfriend. My guy’s idea of adventure started and began with the car engine he kept mounted in his bedroom. Throw in a Van Damme flick, a bowl of weed and some munchies and it was happy days.
I never had it sorted. The modeling career was short-lived. I discovered very fast how much I loathed being photographed, and I couldn’t work out which was worse – the catwalk or the cameras. When my agent told me to drop five more kilos for a gig in Japan, I walked. I turned down an opportunity to experience excitement. Was Japan where the excitement was at?
I’ll never know.
Not long after, I was walking home from the bus stop when a man drove by. He hit the brakes, chucked a “uey” and parked up ahead of me. He got out of the car with a huge grin. I was thinking I had a nutcase on my tail. Nothing new there but there was no place to go other than forward – he was on my street. I could almost spot my house if I squinted hard enough.
“Hey.” Keep walking.
“Wait – I saw you and I had to stop because I know you’re perfect for a job.”
Stop walking. I was in-between jobs and needed cash.
“It pays well, 100 bucks an hour plus tips. You’ll get A LOT of tips, trust me.”
“A-huh, what’s the job?”
No, I’m not going to tell you he was looking for a hooker. He ran a high-end underground gambling house and wanted me to be their waitress-cum-eye-candy-cum-grope girl. The look on his face said it all.
He pushed a card in my hands. “Call me. You can start right away.”
Was working in an illegal gambling house where the excitement was at? I never made that call. I’ll never know.
There was another conversation that stuck with me. When I turned 40, a friend told me that I was going to love the 40’s. I was skeptical.
“Because those are the years you discover who you really are and begin to own it. You just don’t care about as much – only the stuff and the people that matters.”
Sounded good. Maybe even a little exciting. I wasn’t sure that I believed him, though, because this was coming from a man who’d never had kids. He lived the life of a carefree artist without responsibilities. Enter wife and kids and that’s all changed now. I wonder how that’s working out for him. In his 40’s.
But it begged the questions: Who was I really and how would I find out?
I was never like everyone else. I’d spent my life trying to be like everyone else and feeling at odds with myself because I wasn’t. I mean, time and time again I’d turned down excitement, mostly because my idea of excitement didn’t gel with the usual. Or maybe because I never knew who I really was or what I wanted.
There were years when I devoted my life to my children. They filled the void. That happens, you know. To mothers. Children can provide that sense of purpose. Except, it’s a farce that cannot be sustained because we are not here for our children and nor are they here for us. They are here to fulfill their own destinies as we are.
Some people know right off the bat what they want out of life, but I never did, and I’d spent years trying to figure it out. I remember thinking that I probably didn’t have a “purpose” like other people. I was just here and that had to be enough. But it never was, and it wasn’t excitement that I craved; it was purpose. Soul purpose.
The moment I let go and stopped worrying about “why I was here” was the moment I knew where the excitement was at. It wasn’t in America or Japan, or an underground gambling house. It was in the little things and the big things, the simple stuff and the complexities. And it was ingrained in my experiences.
- Desire and yearning – feeling the pain and learning how it shapes you.
- It’s in creation – carving out your life and choosing something different.
- It’s taking chances, believing in yourself that little bit more and cultivating faith.
- It’s listening to your gut, following your heart and claiming your joy.
- It’s getting vulnerable, making mistakes and breaking the rules.
- It’s passion – deep kisses that last forever and making love till the sun comes up.
- It’s not caring if you lose sleep.
- It’s letting the small stuff slide.
- It’s feeling your baby kick for the very first time.
- It’s forgiving people and forgiving yourself.
- It’s taking a deep breath and telling someone you love them.
- It’s pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
- It’s choosing not to play it safe.
- It’s daring to dream and appreciating each step it takes to realize your dreams.
- It’s failure and disappointment, then gritting your teeth and trying again.
- It’s tears and missing somebody until your heart cracks.
- It’s finding a message from someone special.
- It’s recognizing the rare.
- It’s the person that makes you feel things that you never thought possible.
- It’s the one that takes your breath away.
- It’s in the grit and the profane, the utterly crude and rude.
- It’s the beauty and the mysterious.
- It’s the sun emerging from the sea and the star soaring across the night sky.
- It’s the way your heart flutters when love comes calling.
- It’s learning to love yourself.
- It’s in the perverted underground clubs.
- It’s the hookers and hustlers working the strip.
- It’s the filthy homeless man asking for a dime.
- It’s getting stuck out in a summer storm and laughing like a mad person in the rain.
- It’s finally being to true yourself and having the courage to follow through.
- It’s plugging in and plugging out.
- It’s not equating death with the end.
- It’s discovering your connection to life.
- It’s music and dancing like a crazy person.
- It’s exploring the unknown.
- It’s not being afraid to love through the storm because you know it’s worth it.
- It’s not being afraid to be different.
- It’s the way someone looks at you.
- It’s the way you look at yourself.
- It’s spending time with the people you care about.
- It’s finding your wings – realizing who you really are and filling in the missing pieces.
- And it’s finally knowing your soul purpose and being good with however things turn out.
Excitement never eluded me; it was already there, every step of the way. And my purpose? When I stopped overthinking it and searching outside of myself for the answers it found me and I realized that too was always there. I just wasn’t looking in the right places. Maybe my friend was right about the 40’s after all, because these years belong to me, and I’m owning them.