Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bowling with Doctors

"What do you do?" one asks.

I gave him the line about freelance photography but felt like I was lying the whole time. So when the next one asked, I tried a joke. Or the truth.

"Nothing."

The woman who's been a doctor for four months laughed a little breath. "Housewife?"

"No," I said. Though I resented the implication that being a housewife would be nothing--I just did the laundry and have things to clean up and should make a dinner. I sleep the doctor's schedule--and then some but that's because I'm in the midst of a probable depressive episode.

That's what I wanted to say. 'I'm a manic-depressive. I'm sleeping a lot these days. I'm lucky I dragged my ass out of the house to go bowling with you people. I don't even know you; do you have any idea how much work this is?'

But I just laughed her laugh and said, "I'm a freelance photographer, and I work in a restaurant. Nothing much..." I didn't feel like telling her I'd been an honors English teacher and a journalism adviser. I didn't feel like justifying my life with the awards and titles of years ago.

I didn't feel like being a nothing in the midst of doctors either.

When I'm a girl who works in a restaurant and I'm married to a doctor, a resident, do I become a trophy wife who isn't even that pretty?

I told Justin I felt embarrassed and inadequate, but he assured me he was not embarrassed by me, that he's proud of me, that he doesn't care what I say I do.

I thought of how I love my work as an art model the most, and how I'm actually good at it, and considered using that as an answer.

"You could say you're an artist. That would cover the range," he said.

The problem, I know, is that I should not care what they think of me. I know that I am not the sum of my income, the title of my job, the level of my education. I am not a doctor.

Bowling with doctors, looking at the bench, I imagined the probability that I was bowling with all the nerdy-kids from high school. And now they were all doctors. I, a nerd among them, became nothing. Just a waitress.

I love what my friend says about us being human beings, not human doings, but it is what we do that makes a conversation topic.

I am a human being who bowls with doctors that want to know what I do.

Laundry.

2 comments:

OakMonster said...

You are an artist! J is right. I tell everyone that about you.

"My friend Olaina is an artist. She paints. She photographs. She writes. She does graphics. She art-models. And she's waitressing on the side."

"Wow. That's incredible," is what I get back.

Be proud of you, you! :)

KI said...

Second, third, fourth, and fifth what Oakley said :-)