"When I grow up, I want to be..." Do you remember what it was? A doctor? An astronaut? A veterinarian? Truth be told, my list included an olympic gold medalist, a neuroscientist (not kidding), a lawyer or... a marine biologist -- who writes books (of course). And what was stopping us from becoming any of those things? As far as we were concerned, we could do anything, be anyone we wanted, right? Until we got our first credit card (mine was at 14) and realized we'd need something to help pay the bills, put food on the table... something a little more practical.
Growing up with the "mouth I had on me" as my father called it (referring to the fact that I never shut up), I was always told I'd be a politician. I didn't quite know what that was, but from the way my dad said it I knew that it was something bad. Given my tendency to always try to make him see the other side in every argument (for which I was always called "contrary") he eventually declared that "this kid" was gonna be a lawyer. I don't know how much that influenced the path I chose, given he was not in my life much when I was making these decisions, but it was not before long that I was mailing out my law school applications, ready to take on the world. Until I came to Washington D.C. in the Summer of 2001. Much in the way Jimmy Stewart's character in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" did, I fell in love with this place and knew it was where I belonged.
For 2 years, I've been working in government/public policy here in our nation's Capitol. I have the privelege to say that I work for the most influential Conservative thinktank in the country. As my workload increases and my tasks become more demanding, I only feel more empowered and proud to work here. Though this is a non-profit organization (which believe me, means there is no profit to be made), it has been the most fulfilling job experience I've ever had. Yet still, I can't brush aside my childish dreams and give up on going to law school entirely. Eventually, I'm sure I will, whether this year or next. But what about all those other dreams?
While I'm sure that in the physical state I'm in now I won't be winning (or competing for) any Olympic gold medals anytime soon, and that I won't be using my political science degree to operate on anyone's brains (I hope!), I still have always kept that desire of being a writer. Yes, my job has given me the opportunity to do a good deal of writing on environmental, energy and regulatory policy, but there is still that creative side of me that I've struggled to maintain while working in the policy world. Today, those childhood dreams came true for me.
This morning I got a call from an old professor of mine writing to let me know that he selected a play I wrote in college to be in his upcoming book - a sequel to "From the Heart of Brooklyn" (my hometown). I recall the play "The Interlude" vaguely, if only because I still can recall how my heart pounded when he stopped me after class and asked me to stay and perform it with him for his advanced class. I was so excited. In my thick Brooklyn accent, I shouted out the lines from where I sat. "Angelo what are you tawking about?" My professor put down his page more than a few times to wipe his eyebrow and laugh. He told the class that I was a promising playwright and I remember it striking me so funny because in all the writing that I'd published at that time (mostly poems and short stories -- and none in novels of any kind), none of them were plays. It's funny... how sometimes you forget your dreams, but they don't forget you.
I'm glad I had a big imagination as a kid. I'm glad to know that just because I chose one path doesn't mean it's the only path. There's still so much possibility. That goes for you too, you know...