I am old enough to know that I might never be anyone's mother, and that I might spend the rest of my life alone. I am old enough to know that it's not realistic to quit my job and write a novel instead. I am old enough to know that dreams don't always come true, no matter how much I would like them to.
But that doesn't mean I give up on them. I know more about pregnancy and birth than most people do. I research foster parenting and adoption. I have various novel drafts on my computer. I tell myself that I'd rather be alone than with the wrong person.
And, on most days, that's true. But on other days, I am overwhelmed with the desire to trade places with someone else. Someone in a happy marriage, someone with a baby, someone who loves her job, or better yet, a happily married novelist with a baby.
On those days, my cello saves me. There are so many components to learning how to play the cello, that when I sit down to practice, I can't think about my life. I can't think about anything except the cello, the angle of my arms, legs, and hands, the placement of my fingers, and the pressure on my bow. In that moment, the only thing that matters is figuring out how to make that massive chunk of wood sing like I know it can, even if its song eludes me most of the time.
When I was younger, I thought that it was important to get my work done faster. And sometimes it is, but other work, the most important work, takes months or years. Even when I have a rough practice day, like today, when almost every note sounds like death, and it would be easier to put the cello in a large box and ship it somewhere far away, each day I practice is one step closer to the dream I have for myself and my cello. That dream is to play Saint-Saen's The Swan. I don't know whether I'll ever play it, but I do know that like all of my other dreams, I'm not ready to give up on it yet.