Around 35 years ago I discovered something that has been a vital part of my life. As a child with a more vivid imagination than those around me, I was starving for an outlet, a playground for my imagination. What I found was the world of television and movies. I was bewitched by the fantasy, the stories. So much so that I began writing my own stories by the time I was six years old. I wanted to be a part of that magic.
I can’t recall the first movie that weaved its spell on my young, ravenous imagination. I do, however, remember the first movie I ever saw when we finally got cable (The Boogins). It was terrible, but I loved it anyway.
And here is the magic part, as much as I fought with my mother, we always found common ground while watching old movies together. These little two hour journeys were somehow the key to my sanity in a world where I wasn’t allowed to show my true self. I was allowed to have a small amount of imagination while these movies were playing. I fell in love with old men and glamorous women that my peers had no idea even existed.
She took me to see Gone With the Wind at the Esquire in Cincinnati when I was about 10 years old. It was pure magic. It was the first time I had seen something from the Golden Age on the Silver Screen. It was a real movie theater, not a movie-plex with a dozen screens playing what my friends wanted to see. It was a real movie, full of pomp and fancy dressed southern belles.
But for me being hooked on movies was not about recreating what I saw on the screen. I did not go out searching for ways of making my own movies. It was my means of escape. What it unleashed within me was the need to write my own stories. And I did. For many years I did just that. I wrote.
My mother and I continued to have a strained relationship throughout my childhood and adolescence. She would watch old Gene Kelly or Audrey Hepburn movies with me, but never let me watch the sci-fi and fantasy I really craved.
That was where my great-aunt Georgie came in. She was a sweet 70-ish year old woman who indulged my every movie whim. When we went out, she let me pick the movies. Imagine a 70 year old woman seeing Tron with an 8 year old. She was completely perplexed by the 3D glasses. So I asked to see Jaws 3D next. It went on like this for years, I wanted to see a movie that stretched my mother’s tolerance for imagination, so I’d ask Aunt GG to take me. Even at home I walked the tightrope of her tolerance by sneaking into the kitchen at midnight to watch Doctor Who on our little 13” black and white TV.
I felt like there was something calling to me when I was watching the forbidden. The seed had been planted for me to want more than just a sneak-peak at the imagination of others. I wanted to be a part of creating the worlds that other little girls and boys escaped into. And I wrote them. Until I was around 19, I wrote them.
Flashforward 20-some years later, a woman wonders what it would have been like to have listened to her inner voices instead of the voices from those who supposedly know what’s best for her. Those voices that said she wasn’t good enough to be great at something. Anything. But were those voices from other people or were they her inner voices all along?
This is what I have come to learn since taking a giant leap of faith and moving to Austin, I am meant to be great at something. Everything I choose to do, I am meant to be great at it. I did not move here to make movies. I moved here to learn what my love for them has always meant. I moved here to learn how to embrace my love for stories and how they are told. I moved here to learn how to tell my own story without the limitations of my own mind.
I have begun to learn from those who do put their imaginations on the screen. I am learning to make my stories into something more than words on paper. I am becoming what I began as a headstrong, rebellious child. The path has always been set before me, I was just too afraid to let myself walk too far into the unknown.
And I am once again writing my stories.
Moral of the story: It’s never too late to start over.