"Road to Nowhere" by the Talking Heads has been one of the most important songs in my life. Just when I think I have my life all figured out, something bizarre and unexpected happens: I get bored. I can't dance. The World Trade Center falls from the sky. I fall in love with a man across an ocean. I don't impress the people I'm supposed to.
At 18 I had my life all planned out. I was going to be a Broadway Star: I loved the limelight, I loved to sing, and I loved to express myself in a grandiose fashion. Not all of these things have changed, BUT my life did not go as planned. "Road to Nowhere" is an acknowledgement of the obvious: we have a lot less control over our destinies than we think we do. Sure, "we know where we're going, and we can't say what we've seen..." It's not that I don't remember everything, but more so that I really don't think I can tell you.
"Give us time to work it out..."
My name is Catherine Maverick Schoetz.
I live in Eastchester, New York, with my husband and young daughter.
I am sometimes thirty-five.
I have insatiable curiosity and boundless energy, though it is true that most of my summer was spent fast asleep in a dark, air-conditioned room.
I used to be blond, but now my hair is red.
I used to be nervous, but now I am bold.
I used to lose interest, but now I am patient.
It is true I love to cook.
It is true that I love to eat.
I like a well-cooked steak. You know the kind that I mean? Barbecued on a charcoal grill? Some teriyaki sauce? But I digress.
My story starts long before I arrived at Mamaroneck. June of the summer I was twenty-five, I ran off to England for a man I loved more than New York City, for Neil.
Back then I was a middling-successful English Teacher, just out of grad school. I was unsure of almost everything, except one: I adored him. I adored Neil. Back then he wore star wars t-shirts. He was pale and thin. He laughed at his own jokes. He was fond of science fiction and gave me books, he was fond of rock music and burned me CDs, fond of current events, science, and electronics. Most importantly, he was fond of me.
My house was always full of noise and chaos. I am the youngest of 5 kids. When I tell you I'm the youngest of 5 kids, that's not really enough information. My brothers and my sister were so loud, so bright, so persuasive, so expressive, that I would constantly be in their shadow. What made it worse was that I was 10 years younger. I couldn't ride a bike, write my name, or walk to Scarsdale Village by myself. I wasn't allowed to help my dad cook dinner, or use a swiss army knife, or do ANYTHING that my older brothers and sister did. And when I finally was old enough to ride a bike, my siblings had moved on to riding in cars, going to parties and applying to colleges. From an early age I had to create my own fun. Create my own world. Create my own universe.
When the noise and momentum of my family got to be too much, I would escape to my bedroom, my world. I would spend hours in my world, letting my pet snake Tina crawl through my glasses. She'd grab a hold of my glassess and go on adventures with me. Books were my escape: A Wrinkle in Time, Superfudge, A Bridge to Terabithia, The Horse and His Boy. She spent hours with me reading.
I loved my snake. Tina was a dazzling and distinguished Red-Ringtailed Boa Constrictor. That's right. My mom bought me a snake that would eventually outgrow me. After 3 years, she was too big to keep in the house. Her enormous cage eventually became her prison. We had to give her to a zoo on Long Island. As I took Tina out of her cage to say goodbye, she instinctually tried to wind her way through my glasses like she did when she was a baby. She managed to wind through once, but she was so heavy that the glasses fell off my face and broke in her constrictor grasp. My snake outgrew me. Just like everyone else in my house. All I was left with was a pair of broken plastic frames and an empty tank.