A Flight of Fancyby Meghan
The first job I ever really wanted was to be that person in the airport who takes your ticket to board the plane.
You see, I've always had issues with my ears, and so flying was painful; and, therefore, being a pilot or a flight attendant was out. But that didn't bother me. I was not interested in being those things. I didn't want to fly. I didn't want to go to new places, or to explore the world. That sounded terribly boring. I wanted to stand in the same place, day after day after day, and watch people scurry about a contained space like ants in an ant farm. Can I take your ticket please? Thank you. Enjoy your flight.
This was who I wanted to be at 10 years old. I am the same person now that I was then --meaning, when I get attached to an idea, I get really attached. Like a dog with a bone, as they say. I will then move heaven and earth and go through hell, whilst dragging my loved ones through that hell, to make it a reality, regardless of whether the end result was worth all the effort. So this wasn't a flight of fancy (pun intended). At 10 years old, if I said that this was what I was going to do, then everyone knew that I was going do it.
My parents, however, were having none of that.
No one from my father's side of the family had a college degree. (Yet. My father completed his last four credits 25 years after leaving school, receiving his degree at age 50.) Generations of my family had not scrounged and saved and schlepped and worked themselves to the bone while living in tenements and places like Paterson, New Jersey (City Motto: "At least we're not Trenton!") so that the end result of their lineage and the struggles of at least a dozen Sicilian-Italian immigrants could be a job that could be gotten with a 9th grade education.
Not to mention, my father had already endured the indignity of having girls, three of them in a row. He had already given up on his dream of having a Michael Jordan Fredrich. He had already accepted, with all the sadness in the world, that his life was going to be determined by four women he considered to be certifiably insane, who were never going to let him have a moment of solace again for as long as he shall live.
And so my large, imposing, intimidating, insanely intelligent father bore down.
And I bore down, too. Or up, rather. The pasta fazool doesn't fall far from the tree.
This standoff lasted years. In those years, the standoff took on other forms. Math team, cross-country, AP Biology. (These are the things my father wanted me to do. I quit all of them, one by one, for speech team, drama club, and extra English classes that my father called "useless.")
In a way, this story is about how I rejected everything my parents ever stood for, and how well they took that. (They did not take it well.)
You could also draw that this story is just a rip-off of Chaim Potok, who told it first and better. (You'd be right.)
Ultimately, for me, this story is about how my father finally won the stand-off. I did not become that person in the airport who takes your ticket to board the plane. I went on to college at an elite East Coast school with a prestigious and generous scholarship, got a Bachelor of Science, and became the first person on my father's side of the family to get a college degree, just like he always wanted.
It was the only stand-off he ever won.
But in doing so, he took his eye off the ball. He won the battle. I won the war.
That elite East Coast school was Emerson College, a place for freaks that made my mother cry the first time she visited it. The B.S. was in advertising, which is the most perfect coincidental pairing of all time. And I still ended up with a career that only really requires a 9th grade education.
Sucks to be you, Dad.
So let's hope this whole Carrot thing works out. (We're off to a really good start.) Otherwise, there's still plenty of time left to get back to my original airport ticket-taker ambitions and thoroughly destroy my father's dreams for me, once and for all.
Meghan joins us as a senior creative copywriter; she honed her skills as a freelance writer and product innovation copywriter at RG/A, among other adventures.