"You don't actually want that, do you?" My mother said and after that there was no desire I could ever have that it was easy for me to be sure was real.
And I wanted all sorts of things.
Like I wanted to be famous, and like I wanted to be a pageant queen.
But I knew, more or less, not to ask. My parents weren't going to let me act, and the pretty girls at school were gonna tell me I wasn't attractive enough to do it anyway. So I sort of sneaked and cajoled and backed my way into all sorts of things.
Like Miss New York National Teen-Ager 1987, which I sent my picture in to all on my own and when they chose me for the state finals I told my parents I had to go and then got my orthodontist to pay the $300 sponsorship fee. I didn't do well; he died a year later; and it was only a year or two ago I realized the national organization had Phyllis Schaffly on its board.
A year later I wound up reading on camera for some agency in Times Square in much the same way. I lied to my parents about it and said it was just that I had gone with my friend Lisa and they were more interested in me. I had gone with Lisa, true, but they liked her just fine and worried after my teeth. Still. My parents said I was lucky it wasn't like Fame, that no one asked me to take my shirt off, and that I got away with not even a warning from them was pretty darn lucky.
So I didn't grow up with a force of will. Just a sense of how to sneak, how to get away with things, and how to move between the grasses. Maybe. Just a little.
Which is sort of funny, when everything I do now seems to involve staring things down or playing, at least a bit, a little god. Horses are like that. So's fencing. You've got to be sure.
I used to take flying lessons, a long time ago. I was 22, and I'd seen another plane go by in the air on a flight to Chicago and decided I wanted to learn how to fly.
It wasn't really how I imagined it would be. Cesnas aren't jets; they sort of waft about in the sky like flying lawnmowers. It's not a powerful feeling, but still, you've got to be sure, drifting over houses in New Jersey.
Of course I wasn't sure of anything, -- hell, I was 22! -- but I was expected to stare down the sky.
I wasn't so good at it really, the flying -- a bit queasy, a bit nervous, and with an instructor who didn't have enough force to bring out the authority that surely lurked in me somewhere.
After all, I wanted to fly.
Before dawn I would take a cab to a bus to a NJ airport and then walk a mile to go up before work, and I shelled out a lot of money for the privilege. That's got to be some sort of certain.
Anyway, I never got far with it, never got my license. Ran out of money. Ran out of time. But I thought about it, I've talked about it, for years.
"I can sail a boat, ride a horse and fly a plane. Can't drive a car though." I say it at auditions when the casting folk want to know something interesting about me. It works like a dream.
This summer, it so happens that I will finally be out of debt. Which means that this summer, it so happens that I'll finally have money to fly again, to rent a plane I'll whisper to as I climb her wings to check the fuel, knowing I look just a bit sexy doing it.
Flying has been a part of my story for so long, even with merely 14 hours in a log book and a headset on my living room bookshelf, I don't even have a choice about doing it now that I can afford to. But I do wonder if I've learned enough to pull it off. If riding a horse, if holding a sword, is somehow enough. After all I still don't have the authority to handle dogs, and yet here I am, somehow telling you that I've grown resolute enough to stare down the goddamn sky.