It all started with the closet under the stairs.
Once upon a time, I was a writer. I got paid to write for radio, print, tv and the occasional magazine along with newsletters, direct mail, lobby displays and bus sides. I worked in advertising as a copywriter. That was the job title, then. These days when I say that, and I almost never do, people want to ask me questions about copyright infringement and I have to explain I was a writer not a lawyer. But, I do believe I did write for ads for lawyers, doctors, dentists, even a political campaign for a judge. Oh, and a 'head' shop called Pype's Palace, which is still in business and even has my radio spots on their website. (Maybe I should have done more for those lawyers, after all.)
But that was a long, long time ago in a corporate world far, far away.
And I thought I'd left it all behind in the dust. And nobody, nowhere would even know. Heck, I'd even forgotten most of it. Until one morning this week, when I cleaned that closet under the stairs.
The closet was full to the point where I regularly tripped over shoes and boots just to get to my yoga bag. When, I stuffed the outdoor cushions into the overflowing space, wreaths fell on my head along with old silk flowers, wrapping paper, bags and an old broom. It was time to clean it out, get rid of the old, dusty flowers, bags and shoes. When I started, I figured it would take no more than an hour. Boy, was I wrong.
After cleaning out the things I knew were in there, I found a few surprises. A stack of my old paintings in oil, acrylic and pastels. Two mystery boxes. Inside one was my mother's wedding gown, which I'd worn in 1982, now archival packaged up for her. But she didn't want it back, so I'd shoved into the back of the hall closet. In another ripped box were 3 artist portfolios, 3 framed awards, a plaque and old audio and video cassettes from my advertising days. And a very huge spider.
I killed the spider. Vacuumed. Dusted. Loaded my paintings, seasonal wreaths, Christmas decorations, yoga bag, purses, scarves and coats back into their new places. Hauled out the boxes to go to charity. Recycled the papers and threw out the trash.
Then, I took the advertising portfolios to my art studio and unzipped my past.
There on the floor lay ads for companies from seafood, milk, beef and hotels to real estate developers, transportation, health care, finance, tech and energy. There were print ads, bus sides, billboards, tv and radio spots, brochures, book promotions and invitations. And among the framed awards(Best in the West, New York Art Directors, PAF's) the biggest surprise of all, my CLIO award, which I do not remember ever seeing or receiving for that matter. How did I forget that?
Because, you see my work was my baby. That is until I had a baby.
Then, everything in my world and my work changed. I chose to go from full time writer to full time mom. I got 8 weeks maternity leave. There was no tele-commuting then. No half time or part time or parenting time. Advertising was a busy, exciting, competitive, stressful business and women weren't the majority of the employees, then. When I was working in advertising, I was all business. But when my baby was born, I resigned and she became my biggest creative project.
I never regretted my choice. I never looked back. Until this week.
What did I find? That I was a very good writer(ok, hard to say, 'award winning' writer) My only hope is that I've been almost as good a mom.
I was only going to clean out the closet under the stairs. I knew it would be very dusty but I had no idea I'd find my past in there. (And that very, very BIG spider.)