I flew to New York with my sister two weeks ago for an uber-fast trip. We were there for a mere 24 hours, but it got me to thinking…
When I was growing up, I imagined living in New York when I became an adult. I think it may have started after I read “Are You There God…” by Judy Blume (the Lincoln Center sounded like a place I might like to see). This notion was further perpetuated by lots of television reinforcement (thank you Rhoda). I also felt that it would suit my lifestyle as a writer. I would have a loft in SoHo (wherever SoHo was), and I would meander the city streets stopping for leisurely breaks at coffee shops (where I would engage in intellectually stimulating chatter with my writer friends) and ruminate about my upcoming projects on the benches in Central Park. It would be a lonely existence, but this would only add to my mystery and fuel my creativity. Weekends would be spent taking in New York culture, and my nights would be spent working til the wee hours of the morning sipping coffee and basking in the knowledge that my extreme fatigue would also add to my “tortured writer” syndrome. I would answer to no one (but my publisher) and John Mayer would call me when he was “in town” so that we could meet for drinks.
Cut to present time in New Brunswick, and I am wife, mother, registered nurse and occasional blogger. Was it the trip to the guidance counsellor in grade twelve that threw me off course? “University is the only way to go Ms. McEvoy…no money can be made in writing. You can’t even get a job at McDonald’s with an Arts degree”. Or was it something less obvious? Some minute decision that, in the grand scheme of things, propelled me down a different path? When I think about some of the decisions I have made, often I can see how it altered my landscape. The sometimes, I believe that it is actually a series of random decisions that form the road we’re travelling on. This is in no way a reflection of an unhappiness with the way things are, rather more of an insight into how I got to be here.
For instance, sometimes I will catch myself in a situation and think “how did this happen? How did I get to be a mother?” Of course, I know the nitty gritty details of how that came to be, at times “mother” is so misaligned with how I feel in my head. This phenomenon will also occur during random adult acts…paying bills, driving down my street towards my home, going to work. The soundtrack in my head plays “when did I get a mortgage, do I really know enough to be standing her caring for this ill person, am I responsible enough to own a home and since when did somebody put me in charge or raising three children?” Although all of the various decision-making it took for those aspects of my life to come to fruition has played out externally, internally I catch myself momentarily lining up from time to time with WHO I really am and how funny it is that the outside circumstances don’t always match the inside dialogue. This is especially true during parent teacher meetings…it seems impossible to me that I really am supposed to be there. The truth hits home when I realize my butt is too big for the tiny chairs.
So when I spent the day in New York, I could see myself in the woman drinking coffee at the airport working on her laptop. I could see myself sitting in the audience listening to Fran Lebowitz talk about her life. I could see myself enjoying wine on the sidewalk patio of a bar at 11pm. I could feel that this is where I could have been had I chosen different things along my journey. I was everywhere.
It is so interesting to look around and really notice how things came to be how they are. Whether you can remember a split second decision that lead you to meeting an old friend you had not seen in years. Or maybe a series of calculated decisions that shaped the situation you find yourself in now. We all have secret compartments inside of us that house once imagined journeys that we might take someday…it is comfortable to visit them once in awhile and marvel at how our life today is nothing more than a structure comprised of a lifetime of choices. How powerful is that!