What Does Your Price Tag Say?
Doctor: So, you dropped out of your PhD program didn’t you?
Doctor: Well, now what are you going to do, I mean, why would you drop out of it, I mean, you should be doing so much, I can’t remember, what do you do right now?
Me: I’m a teacher and an artist.
Doctor: (scowl and smirk together cross his face) An artist? A teacher? Are you just trying to be poor. I mean, what are you going to DO? You can’t just do that the rest of your life.
Me: Actually, I am really hap…..
Doctor: What about law school? What about the PhD program at U of U? Have you applied there? Have you thought of that. You’re such a smart girl, you should be doing more than what you are doing. Your life isn’t over you know.
Me: um, yeah, I know. (insecurity strikes…and for some reason, i get dragged into this conversation that I don’t know why is taking place–with my Doctor, who comes across really poorly in this interaction, but who is usually such a great guy)…but yeah, law school, that would be cool.
Doctor: Exactly, now you’re thinking….blah…blah…blah…on and on…and…on…. ….and my mind wanders to what I am doing with my life and I start to feel a bit smaller. Am I wasting my life in small town USA? Obviously my doctor thinks I am a smart girl. Obviously he thinks I am capable of a lot more than what he currently sees before him. And obviously he sees me passing time as just a teacher and just a struggling artist…. according to him, and probably most people in the world, I should try to remedy that quickly.
“Alas, we– Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness– Could not ourselves be kind.” ~ Bertolt Brecht
When I graduated from NYU, I could have followed my head and been on the fast track to fame and fortune. I worked for a very “important” woman. Again and again she let it be known that she was the one who would give me my big break. She lived on Fifth Avenue, her son was a multi-million dollar film producer, she was a published writer, and she, like Madame Pericand in the novel, believed that people had price tags.
And, for awhile, I allowed her to treat me like my price tag was much, much less than hers….and in return, I would get what everyone wants. All her assistants had. Sometimes I find myself thinking back to my stint in the big city….wondering what I gave up. There was a time in my life when I was on a first name basis with the people at Dior. There was a time in my life when I was able to go shopping at Versace and people rushed to do my bidding (well, her bidding really). There was a time in my life where men in white gloves opened all my doors and pushed all the elevators buttons for me, a time when I got into black limos, a time when I got the first bags released from Gucci, and a time when I got high off of this type of living. People envied me. For the people who heard my tales, my price tag was high, I was living THE life. I had it made. I was going to be famous. I was going to be rich. I was going to be everything this world tells you that you should strive to be.
And then….I decided to move back to Utah. No one understood. Many still don’t understand. Now, instead of Dior, I help my dad weed his garden. Instead of making reservations at the newest five start restaurant, I made dinner for my brother last week. Instead of looking out onto Central Park West from the penthouse apartment, I had a late night girl chat with my sister. And, instead of getting that screenplay into the right hands, I helped my baby sister write her resume yesterday. And now, instead of a million nameless faces pushing past me on the street…each in search of that dream, my nieces and nephews know my name…. They didn’t before.