About 1,000 years ago when I was in college, my best friend had a very serious boyfriend who suffered a terrible brain trauma. It was a very scary time, and it was made all the more intense by the fact that his family was not supportive of their relationship. He was in the hospital for an extended period of time, and his family did not want her visiting him. He made a full recovery but their relationship did not.
Part of the reason for the tension was based on religion. I found the whole thing quite fascinating, so I decided to write a screenplay based on their story. A modern day “The Way We Were”, I called it “Stars and Crosses” because apparently, I couldn’t find another ironic title to illustrate a fight between Jews and Catholics. I wrote it on my 1994 unbelievable new technological miracle: an electronic typewriter that you could actually see your writing on a tiny screen, one sentence at a time. It was 180 pages, and when it was done, I decided it was terrible and never looked at it again.
One year ago, I started this blog. A year ago, I never could have imagined the twists and turns my life would bring. A year ago, I was afraid of a lot of things that I am not afraid of anymore. I was afraid to go on tour with Sam, that my family would fall apart without me. I was afraid to start writing a blog and have my inner thoughts exposed to the people that I usually just smile and say hi to. I was afraid to leave my job for 6 months, even though I had grown so weary of the work. I was afraid of travel, of staying in hotels, and of doing anything new that I hadn’t tried or experienced in the previous 40 years. A year ago today, my friend Audrey died.
But today, I look back and am stunned at all of the changes in myself. While the world around me still looks the same (guns are still everywhere, we are still a nation torn socially and politically, and carbohydrates are still, unfortunately, bad for you), I have completely changed. I took risks last year that surprised everyone around me, but I mostly surprised myself. I flew on teeny tiny planes without Xanax (ok, maybe I took one or two here and there); I got on a train with a stranger (but he really seemed like a non-serial killer); I went kayaking and white water rafting; I lived on a bus and in hotel rooms with strange stains; I ate dinner at the Dollar Store in Erie, Pa and I let a very beautiful young woman live in my home with my husband and children while I was away. I missed events in my children’s lives, I told everyone in the world about my boobs, and I quit my job. I even started taking a weekly cardio strip tease class, and while I have realized I would have made a terrible stripper, as long as no one is secretly videotaping it, I really don’t care.
And so, as I reflect on this past year, I am thinking about the courage that it takes to change not just the world around you, but within yourself. As I head into a new year and a new life, I hope that I will continue to try new things and to surprise myself. There are no guarantees that any one of us gets another year, or even another day. I hope that all of you out there are inspired to go out there and fight for change and speak up about what makes you mad (even if it is that person in front of you in the parking lot at the mall that just stops and starts analyzing all of the parking spot choices while you sit helplessly in your car behind them.) I hope you look at yourself and do things that you never thought you would do.