Doing Big Things
By Z Zoccolante
What’s your dream? The real one. The one that kept you up at night as a kid tracing patterns on the walls of your mind. The one you daydreamt about while working your 9 to 5, or sitting in brain-dead traffic on the highway. The one you wrote about in your journal and put little stars around the page. Maybe the one you’ve never told anyone, the one you’ve never uttered out loud.
What is this dream of yours and how would you feel if you were living it? What would you want in this life if you knew you couldn’t fail?
When I was little I wanted to be a ninja. I’d dress in black and wear these fisherman shoes my neighbor owned and practice sneaking around in silence. I’d throw ninja stars at the tree outside for hours trying to get them stuck just right. But on the inside, there was a part of me that knew I’d never be a ninja because I grew up in Hawaii and knew exactly zero ninjas there.
There were many things I wanted to be, but when I think about it most, the one thing I did consistently was something called “make pretend”. Yes, that’s exactly what I would say, “Let’s make pretend . . . ,” and I’d follow it with whatever adventure I wanted to go on that day.
Deep down, I always wanted to be different people, to have the ability to jump in and out lives like hands in a puppet. So I read a ton and wrote my own adventures. In this way, anything I could imagine was possible. In this way, magic existed and I could live in worlds I’ve never seen on earth.
So I wrote. My whole life I wrote – to escape, to keep my secrets between lines on a page, to explore my mind, to record my different incarnations.
Today, I did something big. I completed the draft for my second memoir. Let’s call it a book. The last few weeks I’ve set the first book in motion for publication. I remember when I wrote the last word of the first book. I was sitting in the food court one summer afternoon, at the mall when I typed the last word and took my hands off the keys as though they were made of taffy. Sitting back in my chair, I looked around at the people walking by, shopping for shoes or sandwiches, manapua or pearl necklaces.
No one knew what I’d done. The world went on as though the last 10 years of my life and recovery from my eating disorder wasn’t concealed on the table. No one knew. No one cared. But I was in wonder. It was the first huge thing I’d completed because it wasn’t for me, it was for the me’s to follow, all those who were out there like me back then. It was the book I would have wanted to help me recover when I was struggling all those years. It was what I needed then that didn’t exist, the story I would have wanted to hear. No one knew. I smiled.
This afternoon, years later I typed the last word of the next book. This one traverses the last two years of my life and talks of love and heartbreak, sex and God, finding roots and also flying.
This one was different. I couldn’t write it in public because of all the tears I’d cry and how I’d fill my trash can with crumpled toilet paper to the brim as my dog Vega flipped on her back and looked over at me with furrowed brow concern.
This one was a letting go and as I read the last page out loud I felt the tether release. All the information, the emotion, the story I’d been holding to remember how to get it truthful . . . I could let that all go now.
No one knew.
I texted my best friend, telling her it was done.
Writing is a solitary thing. You’re alone with your fingers flying across the keys. You’re alone with the thoughts and words and images racing in your head. But it’s never felt like being alone. I feel as though I am surrounded with all the world.
I wipe my eyes. I go and run water over my face and I smile in the mirror. I know this girl looking back. I remember when I couldn’t look her in the eyes. Today, I watch her stare back and we smile at each other. I nod, my head raised, and give her a smirk. We’ve been through a lot together, me and her, but she’s solid. She’s made of fire and honey, laughter and stars. She’s hair blowing in the wind and flying like a kite untethered in the blue sky. I’ve worked really hard to become her and she is someone I love.
There was a time when I couldn’t say that about her, but now we’re tight like braids in my hair intertwining all these things, making something new.
We see each other for what we’ve been, what we are, and the possibility of what we will become. My greatest dreams await and I’m being pulled towards them by my future self. Yes, my greatest dreams await. . .
How about yours?