I remember the movie vividly, like I saw it yesterday. Vivian, a prostitute, in a king size bed at The Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, talking to Edward. Her disheveled hair fell loosely around a thick white bathrobe, and he wore an expensive suit. His hand was on the door.
"Three thousand, for six days, and Vivian, I will let you go."
After he leaves, she smiles and says, "But I'm here now."
It was a temporary situation that didn't make any sense, this uncertain scene from Pretty Woman, and Vivian had no idea what would unfold. What she did understand, though, was the present. She stayed in the moment.
I know the movie well; I was a teenager when it came to the big screen. The story is about a quirky, street-smart prostitute who is funny, yet strong. She is adventurous, kind, and willing to underestimate herself just long enough to learn what she does not know. She is naive to the point of innocence, hence the white bathrobe, and everyone watching the movie knows that she has not fully realized her potential.
I've held onto her "But I'm here now" mentality since I was a young girl, because that was when I realized how quickly life could change. Vivian had a safety pin holding her boot together, and a minute later she's riding shotgun in a Lotus Esprit...until she gets behind the wheel.
I think we all loved how she took control, because we are creatures of habit. We lose sight of what is innate, and we do what we have to do for survival, similar to Vivian, which is exactly what I did for the past ten years.
I don't mean prostitution, although I do like boots. What I mean is that I forgot what came naturally to me. I forgot who I was and who I wanted to be and instead did what was familiar. I worked with doctors and patients in the medical field because it was what I knew best.
But I resigned from my job recently, and people thought I had gone mad. They asked me if I knew how difficult it would be to find something else, and if I was sure about my decision.
I had never been more sure of anything.
Erich Fromm once said, "Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties", and he was a philosopher. Surely he knew something.
I quit my job because it wasn't fair to stay; when I was there, I was distracted. Restless. I had so much to say and for me, writing is how I do it. Words were emerging and coming to me at the speed of light; I couldn't write them down fast enough. I started writing on my breaks, jotting ideas down on my lunch hour. I was compelled. I was the female version of Jerry McGuire and his "mission statement", and like Jerry, I didn't know what the future would hold. I just had to trust that it would be something good.
Every morning after that I woke up infused with enthusiasm. It was as if my internal "battery" had been super-charged overnight. And the words were still materializing like they did for Jerry before he took his "memo" to a copy mat in the middle of the night and the shaggy-haired clerk told him, "That's how you become great, man. You hang your balls out there."
(Shaggy-haired clerk's words. Not mine)
So without a job, I had time to write, but financial challenges did present themselves. I learned that a savings account won't last forever, and retirement accounts are, well, designed for retirement.
But I'm here now.
I found the time to watch a movie someone had loaned me called The Secret. One year later, and I finally had the time to watch it. For those unfamiliar, familiarize. It teaches you how to visualize and use the energy within yourself to create abundance, if that is what you desire.
Of course I was skeptical, but I started visualizing anyway, and within two months of quitting my job I had three new job offers.
One of the jobs was for a large company in a big city, and it was offering to pay more money than I had ever made in my life - but it would've entailed doing almost exactly the same things I had been doing. I knew what I didn't want was another job that would anesthetize me.
The second was a lesser-paying apprenticeship position, to work under an editor's wing. It involved writing articles and taking pictures for a local newspaper, and getting a commission for ad sales. It also offered the flexibility I had been yearning for.
The third was a freelancing opportunity for a small magazine.
Unsure of what to do, I met the editor of the newspaper at a restaurant to hear what she had to say. I didn't finish eating, so the server asked if I wanted the food wrapped, and the next thing I knew, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" was the in-house music, playing over the speaker.
I love that song, but still, I had no decision.
I kept thinking about my New Year's Resolution. "This year I will write and rewrite and I will buy a plane ticket." I had promised myself adventure.
And then it happened.
My lunch came back to me in a paper bag that was printed to resemble an old newspaper from London. I looked closer, as if I needed bifocals.
Directly in front of me were black and white classified ads for Medical Doctor Assistants, and my food was inside.
"Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high...there's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby."
It felt like an out-of-body experience. I don't even remember driving home that afternoon.
I knew if I didn't take a chance, I would be looking at classified ads for Medical Doctor Assistants for the rest of my life and that it would become a colorless pattern. But if I didn't take the big job, how would I...economize?
I would visualize abundance, that's how. I've always been a risk taker.
The next morning I sent an email to the large company that had money to pay and explained that I would be accepting a different position. What was I going to do?
I was going to write and rewrite and buy a plane ticket.
So I spent the summer writing and working for the newspaper while my young daughter looked on. She swam in the pool and I wrote. It was probably the best summer of my life.
When summer ended my daughter went back to school, and one of her first assignments was to write an essay about her parents. She wrote about how her dad is an artist (which he is), and about how her mom is a writer.
"My mom is a writer."
She only watched me write for three months, but she saw me embrace something I love and it became real to her.
"Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true."
This hasn't been an easy decision, I will admit, but nothing worthwhile comes easily. After all, Vivian was a prostitute and Jerry got fired - and he left with a goldfish.
But I'm here now, following my heart and teaching my daughter to do the same. I realize the plane ticket may not come this year, but it will happen eventually. It may have to carry over into next year, like a remainder.
So until then I will remain a flight risk, naive yet redefined.
I already have boots and a white bathrobe, but I don't have a goldfish...yet.