My beau bought me a book, The Moment, in which 125 writers and artists (basically none of whom I've ever heard of) describe a moment that changed their life: when you knew it was time to leave him, when you first felt like an independent person capable of making decisions about your life, when you decided to come out to your family, when you first kissed her, when you almost died and realized how much you had to live for.
They're all short, and I find the shortest ones are the best ones. I also may have a very short attention span, so the 1-3 pages of each entry is perfect for the time I'm willing to give strangers describing very intense moments of their lives.
It was the summer before eighth grade.
My mother and I were in her stationwagon, in the grocery store parking lot.
She was very angry at my father over something related to money.
Well: more specifically: over something related to financial freedom.
(My mother has not worked since I was born.)
She slammed her hands against the steering wheel.
"Emily: I want you to remember ONE THING!"
With every word of the next sentence, she slammed her hand, accenting her lecture:
"SHE. WHO. MAKES. THE. GOLD. MAKES. THE. RULES!!!"
At that moment, I realized that I never wanted to live by anyone else's rules.
So: I needed to make my own gold.
I became the first female in my family to go to graduate school.
The first female to be unwed at 27.
The first female to be childless at 30.
The only one still working, except for a younger female cousin I suspect won't work after she becomes a mother. Which I suspect will be before 30.
But I make my own gold.
I don't have to follow anyone else's rules.
And I am really proud of who I've become.