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Article

The Right/Wrong Stuff

Beth Broderick

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Every morning rain or shine, usually around 8:00, but earlier in the scorching Texas summer, we walk. We walk and walk and walk. My dog Roxy by my side, I am out in it, watching as the world around me stretches and yawns and begins to sing. It is a ritual that has served me for a decade….. gentling me into the day. The distances I travel have grown longer and more varied with the passing years. A new route, a friend’s favorite park, a trip around the famously crowded Lady Bird Lake. I am there. At sixty-two I know that this luxury of time and ambulation will someday no longer be afforded me. So I walk.

There are so many barriers between us and the world now. We zip through it wrapped in steel, or fly above it oblivious to the bark of a dog or the lilting song of a Carolina wren. We have done so much paving and building and growing that it is easy to get caught up in the rush to get there. Wherever there is.

I struggle with ambition. I have always had a big life, full of filming and friends and causes and dinners and travel and--shamefully for too many years-- shopping. Striving to look great, be great, do great things. I had big homes and huge closets and there was lots and lots of doing being done and wants being wanted and stuff. Lots of stuff.

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It was a lot of work. My nail polish had to match my outfit, which even applied even to bathing suits at a pool party. My roots had to be dyed every ten days, my clothing tailored to a tee. I had a ridiculously large wardrobe, and back then one never repeated an outfit so there was an ongoing need for more. My homes were lived in, but also “designed”; one even profiled in a design book (confession, I am still kind of proud of that). What I am not proud of is that once a home was finished I would grow restless and move on. This usually meant jettisoning most of my furniture in pursuit of a new esthetic. A sofa from the cottage style home was not presentable when I moved on to Deco. It was all given to friends or donated (so not wasted), but also not properly used by me.

This was not cheap. This meant working hard, taking job after job to pay for the lifestyle I thought I wanted. Thought I should want.

Listening to “Running on Empty” a classic Jackson Browne song recently, a line I have heard countless times really rang a bell for me: “Caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender”. Well damn.

Now I want to spend time with the folks I love and walk. I want to walk.

As a side note: I have lost or forgotten my keys a gajillion times, leaving my dog and I stranded on the front porch after an outing, Roxy with her head down giving me the side eye. A few of my neighbors have a key now, so there is usually someone home to rescue me from my addle-mindedness. It takes a village…..

There are still dinners, but they are smaller, the emphasis on intimacy. My life now has a serious lack of “wow” factor and I am good with that. I am still working in film and television, but I am more selective now. The work has to work for me. On a recent visit to LA, my sister saw me changing shoes and noted the holes in my socks. “Sis you need to buy some new socks!” I still haven’t. My underwear is faded, the elastic gone limp. I cannot be killed to care. I rarely shop anymore. I am determined to shed all of the stuff. To tread a bit more lightly on this earth that I cherish. Just need some decent tennis shoes (yes they are outfitted with orthotics, if yours aren’t they should be) and a good hat.

And love. Always love.

On we go …

Benjamin Hotel
Benjamin Hotel

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth Broderick

Beth Broderick is an actress, writer, and humanitarian.

She has enjoyed a successful career spanning film, television, and theatre. She is also the founder of MOMENTUM, one of the country's first organization to support individuals with AIDS.

Beth currently divides her time between Los Angeles, CA and Austin, TX.