Monday, November 2, 2009

An Imperfect Island

One of the most difficult things about my new commitment to writing and my promise to myself to at least try to do the thing that I've always said I've wanted to do, is that I feel like a real slow poke in the game of life.  This December I'll turn the whopping (and, frankly, ugly-sounding) age of 27.  It depresses me greatly that to this point I've still yet to have a true career or an income that's not hourly-based.  If you had asked me at 17 where I thought I'd be in ten years, I probably would not have said, "Nowhere."

Additionally, cute husband is also in a transitioning/no non-hourly-based income stage of life.  Though he spent three years after college working as a newspaper reporter, he's now back in school and we're smack dab in the middle of the three-year commitment to law school and all its grueling days and late nights and an overriding fear, considering the bad economy, that the great job he left the working world to find, won't actually be there when he gets out.  Add to that that we've moved to a part of the country (the South!) that neither of us is very familiar with and that neither of us ever would have imagined living in.  In so many ways we feel like we're on our own little island, away from the family and friends that we care about most in the world, trying to plod our way to our dreams.

But when I got to thinking about it I realized that marriage is, by definition, moving to your own little two-person island, no matter if your home happens to be centrally located in the middle of all of your loved ones or in a far corner of Siberia.  At the end of the day you are still just coming home to one person and only the two of you know the truth of what's real between you.  The relationship is the center of your reality--the thing that everything else flows through.

And the more I thought about it I realized that this little island we feel like we're on right now is just one island in a sea of islands that make up a life.  That life is elementally a series of stages that we go through--times when we aren't getting what we want, times when we're muddling through, times defined by little things: the burrito place down the street that my husband and I go to each Monday evening so we can spin the wheel and maybe win a free burrito because it cheers us up a little and gives us a little time, if only 30 minutes or so, to complain, whine, maybe celebrate, attempt to make each other laugh, at which we sometimes succeed, sometimes fail, and then we walk home hand-in-hand.  And something tells me that no matter where we are ten years from now, we'll still talk about Monday night burritos, and all we'll remember is how much fun it was, and probably how young we were, and how all of the things we were unsure about actually turned out okay in one way or another.

And I'm reminded of another island of my life.  When I was five my family and I made a move from one state to another and due to many different circumstances we hadn't had the time to buy a house in the state we were moving to.  So for about a month we had to live in a Residence Inn hotel.  Add to this it was late summer and there was a horrible drought, and my mom was eight-months pregnant with my brother, and add to that my mom's uncle--someone we all really loved--was dying of lung cancer, leaving my dad as the only person who could care for him at and between chemo sessions.  And so we lived in the crappy little motel and by day I wandered over to the crappy little motel pool and cooled off while the man who cleaned the pool each afternoon learned my name and entertained me with stories I didn't understand.  And back inside the hotel room, which my mom kept at around 50 degrees, I wrapped myself in sweatshirts and she and I watched the old Monkees TV show and giggled our brains out.

In the midst of what was probably one of the lowest points for my parents, when nothing was going right, and at any moment things could go terribly wrong, this is what I remember--that cool pool in the deep and abiding midwestern heat and giggling all afternoon at the Monkees.  Maybe it's just because I was so young and therefore oblivious, but I can hear myself saying those two words about myself as I am now, another twenty or so years down the road. 

And so I realized that though we are not in the perfect place we've imagined for ourselves, there is something worthwhile in the muddling through.  There is no such thing as being nowhere when you are trying to get somewhere.  And though right now this island feels big and wide and we can't even see the water anymore, somewhere off in the distance our boat's still tethered to shore and soon we'll walk our way back to it and ride away thinking fondly of our time here.

So I'll keep writing my way towards my 27th birthday.  And if anyone asks, I'm 23.

1 comment:

  1. You have a wonderful way of putting life in perspective. You are a gifted writer for sure!


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