Most days I’m a passenger on the struggle bus, usually right in the front seat. I don’t get up to let anyone take my place, meaning, I usually don’t let people help me. I struggle with who I am, what I want to be, where I’m going and most recently, getting old. I know those are not original thoughts. I also know I’m not the only passenger on that struggle bus. Some people look into the windows, see all the passengers and wonder to themselves, “Why is Gina on that bus? Why is she in the front row of seats?”, but there I am sitting quietly in my seat. I ask myself that same questions and get angry at myself on days when I refuse to get off that bus. If you are a regular reader, you know my life now is nothing compared to, what I call, Single Mom Gina Days. I have an amazing husband; he is smart; he is ambitious and will do anything for our kids and me. I only have to work a few months a year and just if I want. That job doesn’t consist of having to be at some office building at 8:30 every morning, sitting at a desk looking at the clock on the wall, impatiently waiting for 5:00 so I can get in my car and drive home. I recently got rid of my little Fiat 500 and bought a brand new fancy car. I can get into that car at noon on a Wednesday, head to a Starbucks and pretend to be a writer.
I say all that not to brag, but to convince myself that I don’t need to ride that Struggle Bus. But all those things don’t in any way help me figure out those big questions; who am I, where am I going, and what do I want to be or help me with the feeling that I am old. When I’m out working I travel around the States and Canada, part of my job is to take care of the talent. That often bleeds into taking care of some of the Crew and if we are being honest, I love it. I love how a simple hug can make someone miss home just a little less. I love how all my years of bad can translate into some small words of wisdom that can make someone’s day just a little better. I love how I don’t have to really think about anything, except where the talent is, are they ok and when is dinner up in catering.
It’s the time that I’m not touring that gets me and I often find myself spending too much time just sitting on the couch watching too much CNN, spending too much time on Facebook and WAY too much time on Instagram. I fool myself into thinking it’s all for my blog and my book, but in reality, I’m just stuck. The other day while I was sitting there, wearing a dent in my couch cushion, I decided to play with Instagram filters. I don’t usually play around with those filters and I never post the results, but this day was different. I looked at that face that the filter produced and that was staring back at me. I knew it was me, but it was a little different, no actually, it was a lot different. It was a more rested, even skin tone, eye shadow wearing, version of me. I looked and looked at that filter-face. I knew why the original face wasn’t wearing eyeshadow because I don’t own any, but why on earth did the real face look tired, for goodness sake, I don’t usually wake up until 9ish every day. The more I stared at that filter-face I wanted to live inside that Instagram filter. I took the highly unusual step and made it my profile picture on Facebook and posted it to both Instagram accounts.
I spent a good half hour just staring at that picture and thought to myself; you look beautiful, why can’t you look like that every day and in real life? I pulled up the Pic Stitch app on my phone and did a side by side comparison. Yup, the Instagram face was a beautifully rested version of me, the original face was a tired, worn, uneven skin tone version of me. I’m not brave enough to show you the side by side comparison, but let’s say the difference was startling. In that instant, I felt every single one of my 52 years with a few years added in for good measure, and I looked around for my ticket for the Struggle Bus, but today I did something different. I decided to get up, put on some pants that didn’t have an elastic waistband, some shoes, and some make-up, grabbed my computer, and left the apartment. I got out into the sunshine and drove to Starbucks. I sat among the businessmen my age or older and a few, what I can only assume to be, college kids. I all of a sudden didn’t feel old, ugly and unaccomplished. I opened WordPress and my draft folder and looked around and took an inventory. There were several posts in varying degrees of completeness, two finished books, Frank and Reenie and the Rhinoceros. There were also two unfinished books and several posts that were waiting there for me to finish.
Right there and then I decided that I would no longer be a passenger on that Struggle Bus, I will no longer look in the mirror and decide that 52 years old might as well be one step away from the grave, and I will no longer tell myself I am ugly. I decided that I was, indeed, a writer because I write every day whether a publisher likes what I write or not. I found myself once again giving myself the same advice I give others, “Gina, just be gentle with yourself,” and I stepped off the Struffle Bus, hopefully never to get back on it again.