I used to think if I wished for something hard enough it would come true. I remember as a little girl pulling the covers over my head in my pitch black bedroom and making wishes…
Please let mommy stop drinking. Please let my step father get a job. Please let my lost cat come home. Please let me have one great love. Please let me be normal.
I would feel the electricity from the blanket on my hair and think something magical happened. As I got older I wished during class while the teacher spoke about history and math, science and literature. I learned nothing… expect that I needed to wish harder because none of my wishes were coming true.
When I was in high school I would take the car in the middle of the night and drive from our house on Beverly Glen all along Sunset Boulevard until I hit the beach and wish.
Same wishes. Still nothing.
By the time I went to college the step father was long gone and so still was the cat (and many more cats and dogs too). I continued wishing for mom to stop drinking, for that one great love and, of course, to be normal. I made my wishes as I walked the streets of New York, rode the subways, sat in pubs, kicked snow in Washington Square Park.
Somewhere between marriage, giving birth, divorce and my own sobriety my wishes turned to prayers and my prayers were for things much bigger than me. For my child, for the world, for strangers who were suffering, for being of service, for touching people with my writing, for doing my part while I’m here. For, well, you.
I suppose that’s what wishes are. Prayers. And you don’t have to be religious or in a church or a temple to make them. My bed as a child was my church. My car ride on Sunset was my temple. The streets of New York were my mosques.
My mother stopped drinking three years ago and my one great love arrived twelve years ago when I gave birth to a girl with the biggest, bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.
And being normal? So overrated.
Wishes. Prayers. Answered in their own time, in their own form. In images far greater than I could have ever imagined.
My daughter learned about making wishes from the time she could blow out her first birthday candle. From the moment she dropped her first penny in a fountain. She closes her eyes, she takes her time, she holds her hands to her chin, tightly interlocking her fingers…
Wishes. Prayers. I wonder what she’s thinking. I wonder how and when and in what form they will arrive. I wonder if I can help.
I have the day to myself. No plans. Nowhere I have to be. Nothing I have to do. I think I’ll go to church. If you want to meet me I’ll be the one driving along Sunset down to the beach.
Wish often. Wish where you are. Wish well.
(this column was originally posted December 2013)