I don’t know a single creative person whose path has been anything but curvy. Mine is no different.
Christine Kalafus was born in Derby, Connecticut. Initially, she lived with her parents and younger sister in nearby Beacon Falls and then Seymour. When she was thirteen, the family relocated to northern Virginia. The reasons for moving south were complicated, but it included the belief that a pasture below the Mason-Dixon Line was greener.
All Christine wanted to do was be a ballerina/model/back up singer in a rock band. In other words: a butterfly. Instead, after school and weekends were often spent babysitting her sister, mowing the lawn, cleaning bathrooms, and popping lasagna in the oven while her father drove a tractor trailer full of wheelchairs across the country and her mother sold make up for Mary Kay.
Upon a six year inspection, the pasture was decidedly not green.
Immediately after returning to Connecticut, Christine met her future husband Greg at the University of New Haven. She was volunteering in the school newspaper office, up to her neck in proof-reading, when he walked in wearing a dress. She was smitten and told him they were getting married.
To afford college, Christine held terrible clothing store jobs. Reading an advertisement for a full-time position at a frantic insurance office catering to drivers with DWIs, she snapped it up. She did not realize that she was simultaneously pledging membership into a sorority of Italian-American matrons who ran the place. Sinking into their supportive bosom, Christine became an insurance agent, graduated college with a major in interior design and a minor in English literature, got married, had a baby, and bought a house. She forgot about being a butterfly. She got damn cozy in her cocoon.
Ten non-metamorphizing years went by. Christine comforted herself with memories of ballet class, by vogueing in her mirror, and by belting out Nirvana songs in her minivan.
Then, one day, the owner of the insurance agency, a failed professional baseball player alcoholic womanizer, accused Christine of stealing thousands of dollars in cash. By this point, she was the customer service manager. When the money was found on the desk of a new employee with a criminal record and no apology from the boss was forthcoming, Christine was done. Sadly, insurance was not done with her. A rival agency snapped her up.
Then, all hell broke loose.
Hell looked like this: a husband confesses an affair to his wife. The wife gets pregnant. While pregnant, the wife develops an aggressive cancer. The single baby decides to become twins. The natural spring their house is built on top of explodes. Through crying, chemo, and colic, the basement floods.
Again and again and again. And again.
Surviving hell can make a person do some crazy sh*t when they resurface. For Christine, viewing the scorched hull of her life seemed like the perfect time to add her insurance license to the bonfire and become a sewing apprentice. She also began writing. A lot. She hid it in a drawer.
Two house moves, a flourishing sewing business, a rebuilt marriage and bureau full of secretive writing later, Christine was deep inside the home of Edith Wharton, standing at the base of a ladder, when she had an epiphany. Right there, in the boudoir of the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in literature, steaming draperies she’d painstakingly handmade, Christine decided: no more caterpillar. It was time to be a butterfly.
Christine went to graduate school. She earned an MFA in creative non-fiction. She wrote a memoir. She wrote essays. She wrote poems. Some of these have been published, which means she is intimately familiar with rejection.