When Mark asked me to move in with him, I packed a bag and we skipped off into a spectacular sunset. Just kidding. We packed up my entire life, hired movers to load the largest U-Haul available, and hit the road eastbound during traffic hour. The sun was setting behind us and the rest of our lives lay before us. Trite, but true. I was excited, smitten, anxious, and hopeful.
Naturally, I’d over packed. Refusing to part with necessities – things like my pink spaghetti strainer, taco griddle, Z Gallerie sofa, dining set, and numerous other things that Mark had duplicates of – we were hauling things across country that we’d never even use. They would sit in boxes and under sheets in an overpriced storage unit in the city. But having before hit a dead end on shacked up road, I worried about donating this stuff. I really couldn’t stomach the idea of having to, once again, buy dishes, televisions, and bath towels should Mark or I declare the same sentiment published in the Terre Haute in 1851, “Go West, young (wo)man, go west.” I’m fully aware of how faithless this sounds. I suppose, in a way, my home goods were my security blanket.
Since shacking up, Mark and I have lived in one condo and three houses in four different cities. In other words, we’re professional packers and expert movers. Thanks for always confirming my address, dear friends. But more importantly, with each move, Mark and I felt increasingly confident that we’ll go many places together, but I won’t ever go back to Arizona alone. While I didn’t fully feel like a Florida girl, I was unequivocally Mark’s girl. Yet, I continued to haul my security blanket from place-to-place.
That all changed with two pink lines.
Being pregnant with my first child has changed my life. I’m sure all moms say this. It’s metamorphic to say the very least. For me, it instantly rooted me to Florida, to my stepchildren, and more so to my husband than I thought possible. I no longer felt like an outsider. Three positive pregnancy tests and boom, I became a bonafide member of this family, and a Sunshine State local. What’s more, I felt foolish for dragging my security blanket around all these years.
Unpacking was liberating, and a little embarrassing. Did I really keep spices? Toothpicks? Oh, hello pizza cutter. Lucky timing because we had recently thrown ours out by mistake. Again. And by we, I mean Mark. He has a habit of leaving them in the pizza box, but I don’t hustle him too hard because I’m grateful he takes out the trash. Marriage goals achieved. I very proudly created a Goodwill box and with each donated item, felt glad to be seriously hooking someone up. I imagined some 20-something-year-old girl happily loading her cart with my martini shaker, champagne flutes, frying pans, icecream scooper, and that pink strainer.
Shedding my security blanket brought me peace and satisfaction. Imagine me, triumphantly clapping my hands together as if wiping away a hard day’s work. However, all my generous donating also brought me to the determination that there are some things I’ll always keep. Some material things are memories worth holding on to. Yes, I hoard sentimental items. Shamelessly. If I can hold an item in my hand and it brings me back to a smile or a story that defines me, it stays.
Before leaving Phoenix over four years ago, we stopped by my mom’s house for a hug and a few essentials she no longer wished to store, but I would never dream of parting with: my Barbie house and limo, photo albums from cheer, slumber parties, and dances, schoolwork and textbooks, trophies, ribbons, sashes, and prom dresses. While my stepdaughters confiscated all my Barbie stuff the moment we became roomies, everything else was and will continue to be safely stored. Except for this gem; this one was too good to keep all to myself.
Autobiography of Jamie Lee Murdick
Written in Mrs. Dobt’s fourth grade class
Quail Run Elementary, Phoenix, Arizona
Grade earned = A+
My name is Jamie Murdick. I was born on Friday at 3:33 pm. The date was September 28th, 1984. I weighed 5 lbs. 8 oz. When I was born I had air bubbles around my heart and lungs. The doctors were afraid that if one of them popped it would put a hole in my heart or lungs. They put me on oxygen and air-vacked me to a hospital that cared for sick newborn babies. My parents were worried sick! They came to visit me every day, and stayed the whole time. Three days later the bubbles dissolved and my parents were able to take me home. I was very lucky!
I weighed 22 lbs., because I was so tall. My family and I moved from Phoenix, Arizona to Littleton, Colorado. Six months later we moved to Tucson, Arizona.
My family and I moved to Cave Creek, Arizona. We lived with my grandparents who had a three-story house and a nice pool. Over Christmas break my family and I drove to Michigan to see my dad’s parents.
My parents bought a house in Phoenix, Arizona. I invited Cortney Schwartz to my birthday party. Cortney and I are really good friends, so are our moms.
My dad got a job in Palm Springs, California. My mom and I did not go with him, but we visited every other week. We would sometimes go to Disneyland and Sea World. We had fun!
My family and I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. My dad got a job to build a golf course there. We went to the Excalibur Hotel and Casino and I won a sword! My friend’s brother stepped in an ant pile. I felt sorry for him.
My family and I moved to Newport Beach, California. I went to kindergarten there. My dad was there building a golf course on the beach. It was a great year!
We moved back to Phoenix and I entered the first grade at Quail Run Elementary School. My teacher was really nice, but my P.E teacher was the greatest! Her name was Miss Stone. Then she got married and her new name changed to Mrs. Dobt. My little brother was born!
The summer before I entered second grade I flew back to Michigan to see my Grandma and Grandpa. I had a great time visiting everyone there. My second grade teacher was Mrs. Larson.
Third grade was easy. My teacher was Mrs. McCutchan. She was very nice.
In fourth grade my teacher was Mrs. Dobt, and she was really cool! She let us listen to music while we worked. Math got a little bit harder, but I managed to get good grades. Some of my favorite friends were in my class. Amber Fulbright, Tesa Fisher, and Cortney Schwartz just to name a few.
My mom and I started doing some really heavy duty cleaning on the house. My dad worked on the front and back yards. Once again we were on the move. It will be my little brother A.J.’s first time.
We ended up moving to Hawaii. We bought a house right on the beach. My dad got a job there, and he was making big bucks every week. For my sixth grade teacher, I had Mr. Robinson He was really mean! I always liked watching T.V. on the huge screen T.V., and playing basketball in an airconditioned room. You wouldn’t believe how big my house was!
My mom signed me up for drama classes. I really enjoyed them. I missed my friends more and more, but I made many new ones.
When I was in the eighth grade I worked at the beach after school. I wasn’t a lifeguard, but I worked in the lifeguard office. My mom got a job working with dolphins. She loved it!
In the summer I flew back to Phoenix to visit all my friends. I was so happy to see them! I spent most of my time with relatives. I told all my friends I would see them soon. I flew back to Hawaii and started high school.
On my sixteenth birthday I got a forest green convertible Porsche, with a black top. The car had a phone with two different lines. I loved it! It was really cool!
In the eleventh grade I made cheer. Prom was coming and I didn’t have a date yet. There was nothing to worry about, because it was only Tuesday and Prom was on Saturday night. That Tuesday I was asked out by Steven Seford. I said yes! He was the most popular guy in the 11thgrade. Prom was great! A couple of weeks later his true personality came out, what a loser. I guess that the most popular guys aren’t always the best.
Yes, I finally made it to being a senior! I was still a cheerleader, and have been in drama classes since I was 13. The only sad thing is I don’t have a boyfriend. My last prom in high school is coming up, and I have to get a date. A guy named Johnathan Lesha asked me to go out. I said yes gladly. We had a great time at the prom. Johnathan was so sweet!
I decided that I wanted to go to Paris, France for college. I took French so I could communicate with others there. That summer, Cortney and Tesa flew to Paris to see me. Amber couldn’t come, but she promised she would next summer.
My second year of college was a blast! Over Christmas break I traveled all around Europe. I brought back many souvenirs and antiques.
In my third year in college I was rehearsing for a play when a woman named Louise Flesher asked me if I was ever interested in doing some professional acting or modeling. I told her that I’ve wanted to be a famous actress since I was a little girl. She handed me a card with her phone number on it and told me to call her soon.
It was the year I was to graduate from college. I couldn’t wait to start acting professionally, so I called Louise Flesher. She was so happy to hear from me. Before I knew it I was in a commercial, a T.V. show, and I was going to star in my first movie. Later that year I graduated with a major in Performing Arts, and a minor in Education.
I married a wonderful Frenchman who was an international lawyer. Later that year we had a baby boy named Ryan. We all moved to the United States and bought a house in Beverly Hills, California and another in New York City.
It was the year 2008 and flying cars were invented. The best movie of the year was called “Deep Trouble.” I starred in the film as a mermaid. It was one creepy movie nobody ever forgot about.
I switched to the William Moris Talent Agency. Our second child was born. A beautiful baby girl named Mara.
We spent four months in our house in New York so I could star on Broadway in the musical “Freedom.” I was the leading lady. I had to sing a lot, but I had no problem with it.
My third child was born. Her name was Miranda. By this time, Ryan was 4 and Mara was 2-years-old.
My husband, my children, and I all took a cruise ship to Hawaii to see my parents. The kids loved the beach and playing with the dolphins. We all had a blast! We stayed for four months, then we set sail for Hollywood.
I starred in the movie of a lifetime called “Friends.” It was about two women who were completely different, but somehow they become the best of friends forever. Siskel and Ebert gave it 4 thumbs up.
As I sit at a table with many people surrounding me, a man on a microphone speaks. He says, “the Academy Award for the year 2014 goes to the best actress of all time for her performance in the movie “Friends,” her name is JAMIE MURDICK!” I cried my way up onto the stage to collect my Oscar. I thanked everyone in every way who got me here today!
Well, the good news is that, in reality, life went on beyond 30. Is Mrs. Dobt partially to blame for my complex with turning 30? Written when I was 10, two thirds of this is total fantasy. But I’m not sure which is funnier. The real life details I chose to feature: city-hopping, ant piles, and smartly sucking up to my teacher? Or that I thought we’d move to Hawaii, cars would fly, and I’d have the ability to sing well enough that it earned me income?
Thankfully, my real life outshines the fantasy above. In reality, I’m not famous and I’m not that rich, but I am well traveled, educated, and happy. I married an All-American man of Belgian ancestry whom knows basic French – so my crystal ball wasn’t that cloudy after all. My Belgian great grandmother would be pleased. Plus, he takes me on much more posh vacays than cruises. In a way, I do have three kids. I get to enjoy and nurture my stepchildren, yet I didn’t have to dedicate my twenties to them. Talk about a win-win. Kid me was in fast forward; she wanted to do life too quickly. In real life, I deliberately waited until my thirties to marry and procreate. In my late teens, I somehow knew that taking the long route around the game board of life was what was best. Along the way, I’ve graduated college with an Emmy; chosen careers with unique small businesses that eventually and fatefully led me to Mark; ran in the rain down the streets of London; kissed under the Eiffel Tower; partied until noon in Vegas; met a U.S. President; taken koala selfies in Sydney, and witnessed the sunrising over The Bush while on safari. I’ve taken the time to enjoy my life. And much to my relief – from the pink spaghetti strainer to the two pink lines on my first pregnancy test – it’s more fulfilling and amusing than I predicted it to be.
And so today, on my 34thbirthday, I’ll channel inventive 10-year-old me and gander a guess at what this year will bring:
I’ve officially joined the mom club! Of all the (fashionable) hats I’ve worn, this one is my fave. My son, Bradley Phoenix, is healthy and makes us so happy. He likes to squeeze my fingers tightly and, thankfully, is a really good sleeper. He’s already quite the jet-setter. He doesn’t make a big fuss on planes and doesn’t mind all the selfies when sightseeing. Business is booming! I’m really proud of my husband, Mark. He’s working so hard and closing lots of deals. The kids all have straight A’s, and Tyler got his first girlfriend! But the best news of all: we’re expecting another baby! Baby Coppens Arriving December 2019!
What’s the saying? “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars?” Might as well go for it. Who knows, maybe my reality will, once again, be better than fantasy. Time will tell.