Sunday, March 14, 2010

Work in Progress

Shabbat #11

Guests: Missy and Matt and their children P. (3) and G. (5). Missy and Matt live around the corner. After dinner we discovered that our kids can use the backyard "cut thru" as a short cut between our houses. Love that.

Menu: St. Patrick's Day Nouveau - Beer Bread, Rosemary & Garlic Grilled Lamb Chops, Steamed Vegetables with Cheddar Stout Fondue, Vanilla Ice Cream with Crème De Mint

What I Learned:

Last Halloween Missy and Matt invited us to their house for a neighborhood party. Although they lived just around the corner and we had children of similar age, we didn't really know each other beyond the polite exchange of hellos.

We arrived with a triple batch of cornbread and Dale Earnhardt and Minnie Mouse in tow. Missy opened the door dressed as a witch with a kid on one hip and a glass of wine in hand. I knew immediately that I was going to like her.

But it got even better.

Missy's house is one of the grandest in the neighborhood. A mustard yellow Mediterranean easily three times the size of our humble Tutor. Lots of curb appeal. Big yard. And a new addition.

She led us back to the addition where the party had gathered. Something was a little ... different. It was unfinished. Well basically. It was framed in with working windows and doors. But plywood floors. Studs for walls. Just a wide open space. Instead of furniture (for the most part) there were Fisher Price climbers. Tricycles. And all of those big, bright toys I’d convinced Ben he didn't really want because I didn't want them in my house.

And there was Missy in her makeshift “kitchen” stirring her yellow squash chili seemingly unfazed by the entire situation. Happily willing to invite the entire neighborhood in for a look. Even though it was still a work in progress.

She was, well, real. And to me this is perhaps the most appealing and authentic thing a person can be.

I was journalism major, but I never became a journalist. I couldn't take criticism well and deadlines scared me. Plus I didn't think I'd be any good at it. So I became a lawyer and learned (later) that criticism and deadlines were the nature of the business. Now I don't practice law and I write for free. Go figure.

I met Steve in law school. On our first date -- ironically Rosh Hashanah -- he told me that he either wanted to be President or a cowboy. Right now both are, shall we say, out to pasture.

Ben and I talk a lot about what he wants to be when he grows up. I tell him he can be anything. He says he wants to be a monster truck driver. I smile and scramble for the "doctor's" bag, paleontologist kit and firefighter costume. (Just so he knows there are options.) But he's steadfast. And if he ends up being a monster truck driver, I'll tell him to be the best one ever. And I'll be his biggest fan.

Which got me to thinking.

Why do Steve and I tell Ben that he can be anything he wants to be, but it’s so hard to take our own advice? Sound familiar? Did we stop dreaming?

In a way, there is something enviable (albeit microscopic, I can barely see it, infinitesimally small) quality about Steve’s situation. He gets to reinvent himself. Start over. And ironically, maybe the worst part of his situation – that the decision to do so was not his – is the best part. He’ll never be that guy (maybe you know him) pining away at a job he doesn’t like instead of following a dream because doing so would be too irresponsible. Too risky.

By dumb luck (or lack thereof) Steve has to to start over. He can be anything he wants to be. Well, almost anything. I don’t think he’ll be a jockey. Or President. But there are still lots of choices. And that’s exciting.

He’s a work in progress.

I hope that Ben does not let his dreams go. I plan to teach him to keep dreaming. And even when he needs to temporarily adapt the dream to accommodate life’s responsibilities, I want him to remember what he wanted to be. And then work towards becoming that person. Because he’s a work in progress too.

After all, there once was a boy who dreamed about flying to the moon. And you know what? He did.

As for me, I love Steve. Even though he’s not going to be President. But I might love him even more if he were a cowboy.


  1. Rebecca, I've only just discovered your blog. What an inspiring post; a simple yet profound idea. I can't wait to go back to read others.