It was a New York crowd, intimidating to this West Virginia girl. I was at the wedding with a date who had been part of this crowd once himself, a crowd of former prep students and elite college grads. There were beautiful girls in mini dresses and high heels, their long hair professionally ironed flat.
My hair frizzed in the humid evening air. My Ann Taylor dress made me look like a sorority girl among rock stars. And I did what I knew how to do best: I shrunk.
I’d heard there was a writer there. She was holding court on the balcony at the after party. I observed her charming the group encircling her and thought She is so brave.
Writing. She was doing it, while I was spending my days Social Working and searching for the perfect shade of lipstick for my freckled complexion. (Maybe the lipstick would give me a boost, you see.)
Too small to join in the conversation, I found my place in a corner and nursed a champagne.
Several years later I was reading a book review and the author’s name sounded vaguely familiar to me. I Googled it and learned why: he and I had been old friends from a high school writing camp at the University of Virginia. That night I dug through old boxes and found several pictures and letters from him. The boarding school boy I knew had graduated and gone to an Ivy League college, and he’d just published his second novel.
He is so brave. Boldly, I emailed him. A fan.
Over the years I’ve seen both of their names on bylines, in print. On Salon.com. Publishers Weekly. You might have, too. But instead of thinking about how brave they were- or how their words resonated- I’ve thought about myself. The path I’ve taken. The shrinking.
Reflecting on all of this today leaves me with a different thought entirely: I could do that. I could be brave.
I don’t have an Ivy League education or any publications to my name. I have an hour of quiet on good days and a notebook I fill with words. Thoughts. Ideas.
Life, I think, has changed me. Motherhood has caused something to unfurl.
There are three sets of eyes on me, learning how to live, learning how to shrink or be brave.
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned blogger. She's pursuing a career as a freelance writer, and her work has been published in Sleet Magazine and featured on many popular websites. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, focuses on the small reflections - MOMents - in each day that make life beautiful. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!