About Choosing Figs

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.


Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
About Choosing Figs - Val Bromann

My name is Val. Often Valerie. Sometimes Valry or Valley or Valium or Valkyrie.

I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. There were so many different directions I could choose, but I couldn’t decide which I wanted more. I discovered a great love for travel and wanted to see the world. But I also was a homebody who dreamed of exposed brick walls and hardwood floors, who scoured online catalogs trying to pick out the best teal-blue mid-century-modern sofa.

I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the fluffy white kitten.

Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing.

When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” I no longer wanted to be the person constantly making lists and thinking, “I want to do that someday.” I just wanted to do it. So, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Berlin, and for the next three years traveled around Europe, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America.

Now I’m back in Chicago, working in digital marketing, decorating an apartment in too much teal, cuddling my cats, and taking advantage of all my city has to offer.

I still want everything. Right now. I want to simultaneously be backpacking through South America, taking a safari in Africa, learning to flamenco in Spain, and renovating a condo in Portland. I want to be a writer, a photographer, and a web developer. I want to get married. I want all the cats.

But I have to step back and remind myself that I can have it all. Just not all at once. And not all right now. There will be a time for me to have all the figs I desire, as long as I keep choosing.

You can have it all. Just not all at once. And not all right now. Choosing Figs.


Some other things you should probably know about me:

  • I’m a Capriquarius: I was born on the last day of Capricorn, but my birth was induced so I should have been born under Aquarius. I blame my stars not aligning on most of my problems.
  • My hair is naturally blonde. When I was younger it was nearly platinum. Now it is dull and mousy. But I like it. I’ve dyed it red, black, brunette, maroon, purple, green, and orange before. Lately it’s been pink.
  • I got my first tattoo when I was 20: simple fairy wings on my upper back. It was kind of illegal because you had to be 21, at the time, in Illinois to get one. So I lied and no one checked for ID. People still ask me if I’m going to get it filled in. I’m not. I got my second tattoo when I was 31: a Superman insignia on my wrist, for my dad. Which is kind of ironic, I guess, because I don’t think he liked me having a tattoo. I also have a couple of birds and a fig tattoo (obviously). I’m planning about 1,000 more, which, at this rate, I won’t get until I’m 50.
  • I got my nose pierced just before I turned 21. I don’t think I’m too old for it yet. I will never forget the look on my dad’s face when he saw it the next day. See above.
  • The New Kids on the Block Reunion Tour was one of the highlights of my life.
  • My first love was Joey MacIntyre. See above. My second was Zack Morris. Not Mark Paul Gosselar, mind you. Zack Morris. (And I once ate at The Max. Be jealous.)
  • I love road trips and especially love visiting roadside attractions. Give me the world’s largest anything over normal sized things any day. …
  • On July 4, 2014 I competed in the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest at Coney Island. I came in last place.
  • I grew up watching horror films. I think I turned out alright despite that. My favorites fall into the “so bad it’s good” category, although many of my friends would debate the “good”. Some of my favorites include: Two Thousand Maniacs! (really, anything by Herschell Gordon Lewis), De Lift, Sleepaway Camp, Friday the 13th (the whole series, I’d marry Jason if there wasn’t the threat that he’d kill me…), and Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
  • I’ve traveled to 36 countries and 26 states.
  • I didn’t get a passport until I was 25.
  • I obsess over teal furniture.
  • My favorite animal is the jackalope.
  • I have two cats, Rooney and Ford. They were foster fails.
  • Milkshakes are awesome.
  • So is hot chocolate.
  • I like the color pink. A lot.