Claire; a simple enough name, really. It doesn't sparkle or ring or attract attention. It's just a name. It's my name. It means clear, bright, and famous. Odd name for a girl who's fairly certain she's never felt any of the above. I guess my mother didn't plan for a child like me. She's beautiful, my mother; I mean, really beautiful. She was an actress, not the kind you see in blockbuster movies, but the kind that performs on Broadway. She was really something up there. Her voice brought audiences to tears and her performance brought crowds to their feet. You really can't help but fall in love with her. So, who would expect her to have such a plain, ordinary child? At the age of 22, I have accomplished, well, nothing. I currently live at home with my perfect mother, after having given Julliard a shot and failing in every possible way. It's truly amazing that they ever accepted me in the first place. My voice is good and strong like my mother's, but my stage presence is seriously lacking. My secret? I am painfully and cripplingly shy. Once again, who would have thought, right? The only daughter of the great Vivianne turns out of be the most socially awkward creature to
grace stumble onto the stage.
Can you imagine it? Really, though, can you? Growing up gangly and clumsy with such a woman to live up to; it really takes its toll on a girl. Sure, they tell me I've really "grown into myself," whatever that means. But I still see that silly little girl that never says or does the right thing. That's the me that I'm aware of, no matter what they say.
So, singing wasn't for me...neither was acting or dancing or performing publicly in any capacity.
What now? I haven't the slightest idea what to do with myself.
My mother, bless her heart, is trying desperately to understand but just can't get a handle on my seemingly fatal flaw.
There's nothing wrong with being shy, not really. I'm sure there are thousands of people like me. There have to be. You just don't know them because they settle into quiet jobs and quiet lives. They are the people that sit quietly reading on the metro, in delis and on park benches in understated suits. They don't talk to strangers and they certainly don't call attention to themselves. Though I don't know their names, I feel connected to them in our disconnection from the world.
I tell Annie all of the things I've been feeling. I try to explain the fog I find myself in whenever I try to do or plan anything. I like to imagine myself in certain careers and life scenarios, but the vision is never quite clear enough to become real. She doesn't really understand. She's the most motivated and goal oriented person I've ever met. She's currently finishing up her master's and will start her internship next fall. She is petite, slender and truly a force to be reckoned with. How is it, that with all of my imperfections and awkward ways, I find myself among such perfect company? I digress. The point is that the person who knows me best in this whole universe doesn't understand. She tells me to just find something I love and strive to be the best at it. Easy to say for someone who's good at everything. I tell her I'll try. She tells me that I spend too much time "trying" and not enough doing. She's right of course.
I head home from our lunch dejected and fully prepared to pity party my evening away. As I walk, I monologue in my head about how sad my life is and how I've never been good at anything. Needless to say, it's a familiar monologue, nonetheless, somehow I get distracted from my walk and find myself on an unfamiliar street. I do this more than I'd like to admit. My mother moved into a new house my freshman year of college and I have yet to become familiar with the area. I glance around, getting my bearings. Cafe on the corner, bookstore next to it, deli...it's almost exactly the same as every other street in this town. I don't mind so much that I'm lost, I'll find my way eventually and I've got time to kill, so I go over to the bookstore, hoping to find a novel to throw myself into. However, the first thing to catch my eye is not a novel, but a journal. Leather bound and nondescript, I feel drawn the book. This book and I have similar souls, I think. What in heaven's name would I do with a journal? Write in it, I suppose. That's what people do with journals. Such a silly question. I buy it on a whim and after an hour or so of wandering, I find my way home.
A billion pens in this house and it takes me a solid 15 minutes to find one that works.
I curl up with Sophie, my darling, massive mastiff and I write. I write everything and nothing. I write what I know and what I want to know and even some things that I don't know. I write until my hand cramps and my eyes blur.
When I stop writing, I realize I've taken up several pages of my brand new book. I examine my handwriting and the way it starts off neat and clean and progressively digresses until it's hardly legible.
Then, I read what I've written. In my words, I find something new, something entirely unexpected.
In the scribbled words on these formerly bare pages, I find me.
For the first time in my life, I am able to look through myself and into clarity.