When I was six, I wanted to be an astronaut. I also had passing notions of being a priest, until our parish priest informed me women couldn't do that. He told me I could be a nun. I told him that was stupid because nuns didn't get to do anything fun.
When I was 16, I wanted to be an astronaut and a biologist, maybe cure diabetes from space or something--I hadn't thought it through. But I had excuses upon excuses not to follow through--bad knees, bad eyes, women couldn't be pilots.
When I was 26, I'd changed my major five times, long ago abandoning stars and cells for ink. In that preceding decade, I'd had my moments, sliding down the halls of a convent in my stocking feet at midnight. They didn't encourage me to stick around. I made other plans. Coming out of a failed marriage and burning out in the classroom, I took a job writing for money. Women could do that.
When I was 36, I was still in the same career, moving up and settling in, almost happy with my work but never fulfilled, never feeling like I was saving the world. I'd had my moments, danced with politics (on live TV--my mother has the tape). After that birthday, I made my way back toward family, always wondering what I wanted to do next.
When I was 46, I'd found my calling, quit my job, and was waiting for a school to let me learn about cells and organs, people and drugs, insurance and regulations. The first year I applied to PA school, I was a little surprised to hear nothing. The second year, I started to steel myself for rejection and wondered if that dream was just another passing notion. It was a bigger shock when a school invited me to learn with them.
You know what would be cool? To be an astronaut PA at 56.