Lifestyle January 12, 2012 at 01:00 am

Clarity, at Last!

Stephanie Chukwuma January 12, 2012 at 01:00 am

January 12, 2012 at 01:00 am | Lifestyle

I remember the day it was pouring outside, the clouds all gray and heavy, with sudden bursts of thunder every now and then that scared my sister and I. What a contrast it was to my great mood, and the smile that lingered ever so gently on my face as if someone had pasted it there. My Grandma was downstairs cooking beans. I knew that distinct smell anywhere. It was the same uneasy scent that woke me up early that morning feeling nauseous and holding my stomach. It’s actually kind of weird now that I think about it. I like the way beans smell fully cooked and seasoned with a mix of cherry red tomatoes and freshly chopped spinach; I even like the way they tasted, but something about the smell of beans boiling over a hot stove made me sick to my stomach, (and I don’t get sick often).

Anyway, like I was saying my sister and I were stuck in the house for the whole day. I didn’t really mind much; I always found something to do to pass the time that seemed to go by unusually slow on days like this. My sister on the other hand was quite the outdoorsmen, but today she sat fixed on the couch for hours watching “Sagwa,” show, after show, after show.

Soon enough, I became annoyed at the sight of her lying there as if she were embedded in the couch. I ran down my creaky burgundy staircase and dragged her up the stairs. I shut the door tight behind me and gathered my art supplies. I searched under my desk and brought out my beloved light pink, box shaped, pencil case filled to the top with Crayola markers, crayons, pencils, scissors, tape, and my chunky white eraser that removed mistakes off my paper with ease. I grabbed a couple of crisp white sheets of paper out of my printer, took two books out of my heavily decorated book shelf for my sister and I to lean on, and then announced that we were going to make purses.

I quickly grabbed a piece of paper off my mahogany wooden desk and showed her how it was done. I folded the first sheet of paper several times, running my fingers along the surface creating four creases, just enough to give the appearance of an envelope. Then I used my blue metal scissors to cut strips of paper horizontally. I bent them and taped them shut into a chain of circles and then stapled it onto my envelope looking purse. Then of course, we decorated them. I got my glitter to add a little sparkle then I added my galaxy glue. We let it sit and dry on the table as we went back downstairs to relax on the couch where the imprint of my sister’s scrawny body still remained as if she had never left.

 A few hours later I had made my way back upstairs to my room to see the pieces of paper completely and utterly transformed into a purse. That was the moment I realized what I wanted to do, rather who I wanted to be—a fashion designer. I put my bag on and walked like a model toward my Grandma to hear her praises about how great my purse was and how she wanted me to make her one too. I was on top of the world; nothing could stop me. I was a raging bull, fierce and determined. I soon began to make many more of my own unique creations. The day after, I made a denim purse with lime green embroidery out of a pair of jeans I had grown out of and a sleeveless top that I had stopped wearing.

 This memory remains in my head clear as day. In fact I think about it all the time because it reminds me of a point in time where I was free and relaxed. I was able to pursue my own interest and the amount of time I had to do so was limitless. I recall this memory with a hint of nostalgia. I long to go back to the days where my life was simple and knew for sure who I was and who I wanted to be. I look back at this memory and see how I have changed.

When I was younger, I remember people used to ask me all the time what I wanted to be when I grew up and I would usually answer, “a fashion designer.” Today, the answer to this question remains the same, but my actions prove otherwise. Between the destructive state of the economy, my Mother’s disapproving looks and sly remarks I have chosen the route of practicality. Being afraid to be a “starving artist” as my Mom would say, or unable to provide for my family, I’ve chosen the common path.

 I remember sitting around with my Father’s side of the family in Pennsylvania the summer before college. We all sat in the living room watching the television on the big screen and out of no where my cousin asked me the question I dreaded most, “What are you going to major in?”  I replied, “accounting” with no enthusiasm whatsoever. “Oh, another accountant in the family” he replied jokingly. “It’s a good job. You make lots of money, and can find a job anywhere,”  my uncle, (the accountant) added.  “Yeah, I know” I replied, thinking about how many times I had heard those statements come out of someone’s mouth.

The truth is, even back then, I knew it was something I wouldn’t be interested in. Well actually, I was still a bit unsure. I enrolled in an accounting course in high school, but ended up dropping it because I wanted another free period, but in the end I had sat in on a few classes with the permission of the teacher, even took the test, which I didn’t really need to, and did well. I told myself it wasn’t so bad and as time passed I found this to be true, but many questions still remained in my head, bothering me, one after the other. Did I still want to become a fashion designer? Could I, even if I wanted to? Should I abandon my childhood dream?  Could I perhaps pursue both accounting and fashion designing as my career?

The answer came to me in a series of television shows and a brief conversation with a friend. The first was “Project Runway.” I literally watched this show for hours on end. One of the designers, I can’t quite remember her name, but she was 47 years old and was both a fashion designer and a physical therapist. She claimed that being a physical therapist enhanced her designing capabilities because she had such an immense knowledge of the human body from how it was shaped to the bones and structures.

The second television show to reinforce my new idea was “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Oprah spoke proudly of a man named George Dawson, who she had on the show a few years ago. At the age of 98, he went back to school to learn to read and write. He had never had the opportunity to even learn the alphabet because he worked full-time at the age of eight.

The third event was a conversation I had with my friend who is a professional event planner. I was asking her a lot of questions about one of the designers that I always see when I go to fashion shows and she told me that she had attended university and obtained her degree in nursing and she had just begun designing 3 years ago.

Just like that, in a series of interesting events and in such a direct manner I came to the realization that accounting wasn’t exactly for me, but it was important to me. All this time I had seen it as my path, when it was in fact only a stepping-stone along the way. It was only a means to an end. After all, who says I can’t have a career in both? Why do I want to limit myself when there are enough people and obstacles in life that try to lead me astray from pursuing my goals in life?

Suddenly, the rain and the clouds left the sky. All that was left was the bright sun. I took in its warmth and embraced its peaceful presence.

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