“If you came out here to act,” she said, “you must have had the same dream.”
“Yes and no. I don’t know. It was kind of a childhood dream too, I guess. When I first left home, I really felt like I was embarking on this great adventure, that everything was destined to work out, but after being here for a while I felt like: What have I got myself into? I’d still like to believe that there is something I should be doing, I just haven’t figured out what yet. You know?”
“I’ve only ever wanted to act.”
“You’re lucky. I think if you even know what you want, you’re half way there.”
“Did you always want to be an actor when you were a kid?” Alison asked me.
Did I always want to be an actor? The thing is, I had always acted in school too, but I don’t think I ever believed that I’d do it professionally. Like Alison’s parents, mine also thought that acting was a foolish thing to do, but the difference between me and her is that I believed my parents. I’ve never really known what it is I want. I’ve never known where to go or how to get to where I don’t know I want to go. I still don’t.
My older brother, on the other hand, who’s a couple of years older than me, always seemed to know what he wanted and I’ve never understood that. He joined the army after 9/11, right out of high school. Whereas I have a very strong sense of self-preservation, he seems to have a strong death instinct. Anyway, he left proclaiming that he was “going to kill some rag heads” while my parents bade him a tearful, proud farewell. From then on, my parents would always say how proud they were of him, how brave he was, how he was a man. As for me, they were not unloving, uncaring and so on, but they never acted as if it were even plausible that I could or would do anything like my brother—not that I wanted to.
My other brother is four years younger than me, so he slipped under my parents’ radar. But I felt like they looked on me as a loss. Unable to live up to my older brother, no matter what I did, but nor would they leave me alone, like they did my younger brother, I felt trapped. I always thought it was the middle child who was supposed to be neglected and here in my case they wouldn’t ever leave me alone. It’s as if they use me as a barometer against my older brother.