Where am I Going? (And Will There Be Chocolate When I Get There?)   Leave a comment

We’re all pilgrims on the same road, but some pilgrims have better road maps. – Nelson DeMille

If you know me at all, you will know that while I am a voracious reader – I tend to have anywhere from three to five books going at a time, which doesn’t include the several audio books I shuffle between – there are two things I cannot read to save my life – bus schedules and road maps. (I also can’t cut things in straight lines, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Bus schedules confound me because my eyes can’t seem to track the information from one end of the line to the other end without heading off on some strange tangent. Which, now that I think of it, probably has quite a bit to do with my inability to cut straight lines. Even when the line is marked. Hmm… I’ll need to pursue this line of thought further. Just not now.

Maps are a whole different type of difficult for me. Which is weird as I have an excellent sense of direction. But even when someone hands me a map that is pointing in the right orientation (get it?), I still manage to get off track somewhere along the line. (I’m pretty sure I have mentioned at least once in this blog how much I love my GPS. Because I love my GPS. With very few exceptions, she has gotten me where I needed to be when I needed to be there. Which, overall, has been lovely.)

The one kind of map I never used to have problems with was the road map of my life that lived in my head. Sure, there were details that I hadn’t gotten quite right and things that changed from how I imagined them as events occurred, but the overall course went pretty much the way I thought it would.

Right up until it didn’t.

When my marriage first ended, I didn’t need a map that showed the future. I needed a day-planner. Or a minute-planner. Something that told me what to do when I got out of bed each morning that started with ‘Move covers and slide legs off of mattress’ and continued through the day with helpful hints like ‘Put one foot in front of the other. Repeat. This is called walking.’

Eventually things got better, and the instructional narrative subsided, which made the inside of my head both much quieter and a nicer place to visit. But my internal map remained blank, intentionally so. I planned things in a general way – what to eat each week because without a weekly menu we just don’t eat (which brings vehement objections from the teenager), where the boy and I would go on vacation, seasonal house repairs – but nothing big, nothing that pertained to the big, scary future I could no longer imagine for myself.

For a long time, I told myself this was good, that I needed to live in the moment, be more spontaneous (or, in my case, be spontaneous. Spoiler: Not so much.), and experience life as it happened. But after a while, it started to feel aimless.

I’m one of those people who has always had plans, even if they are on a slow simmer on a way back burner. I even have back-up plans to the plans. And – most of the time – a back-up plan to the back-up plan. Because that’s how I’m made.

Not having plans made me feel like I was drifting, rudderless, disconnected.

Then something changed.

The guy I have been seeing asked me to go away with him for a weekend. When he asked where I wanted to go – the ocean or the mountains – I told him to surprise me.

What I didn’t tell him was that for years when my ex would ask what I wanted for birthdays or Hanukkah, I would explain I didn’t really need more stuff, and what I really wanted was for him to plan a weekend away for us. Just the two of us.  Alone. A weekend where I didn’t need to choose a destination, pick a hotel, or negotiate child care with friends or family.

It happened once.

Generally when we traveled, I did the majority of the planning. The few family vacations we took to Acadia National Park we stayed at cottages I found. When we went away for our infrequent weekends over the course of the twenty-plus years we were married, I chose the location and found someone to take care of the boy (once he was a factor). The driving trip to Wisconsin to visit a friend – where we had a really hard time finding a hotel to stay in on the way home as we hadn’t booked one in advance – was done together, and my ex tended to take on the trips around his marathons as they mattered more to him than to me.  (I was there for moral support and child care.)

The weekend he planned for us was lovely. The location was wonderful.  He chose the ocean, and we walked on the beach in the surprisingly warm-for-February weather. The room was fabulous with a gas fireplace for both warmth and ambiance, and the Jacuzzi tub was relaxing. The hotel had a pool, and we swam both after dinner the evening we got there and again in the morning before we checked out. We meandered through New Hampshire and Vermont and stopped for an easy hike on the way home. We talked about places we want to go someday, some of them together.

And on the way home something clicked in my head. It was like a switch going off. Or, rather on, and suddenly I can see a spark of a future again. It’s small and hazy, but it’s there, and I kind of like it.

Wow.

So, I guess I’ll start looking at this map and seeing where it takes me. Hopefully somewhere with chocolate along the way.  If not, I’ll make sure to bring enough to share.

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Posted March 2, 2017 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

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