Today was a rainy day, the kind that makes me thankful to have a job that I can do from the comfort of home, where I can be cozy, listen to the thunderstorms and watch the rain fall, enjoy a cup of tea, etc. (The downside, of course, is a kitchen full of snacks and the siren song of HGTV.) Inspired by this type of weather, I was in a pensive mood. I was mainly thinking of is how different my life was just one year ago.
Last May, I was wrapping up my courses for the semester and counting down the final days, hours and minutes until my year-long sabbatical would begin. I was coming up on my fifth year of marriage (to someone I’d been with for nearly eleven years), living in a house with our dog. I had hand-crafted a planner with elaborate timelines for the multiple research projects I’d planned to complete; I was determined to finally put into practice a daily writing habit and become an article-writing machine. I thought I’d spend the year living in my home city, riding my bright orange bike to and from campus. It seemed like my life was set and secure.
Yet here I am, one year later, living a totally different reality. Last June, I worked up the courage to initiate a divorce, something I’d been considering for more than two years but had been scared to do. Seeking a true fresh start, I moved cross-country to a city where I’d always been curious to live, even though I didn’t know anyone there. I found a great apartment for me and my little dog–the very first place I’d rented on my own (for I’d always lived with family, a roommate or my former husband). I joined meetups and encountered all kinds of interesting people (among whom was a hippie who proudly told me that he once stole a nut from a squirrel). One night I took a chance and went to a random party, where I met the amazing man I’m dating now. And I’ve only completed one of the five projects I’d so carefully planned out before.
My previous life wasn’t a bad one, by any stretch of the imagination. But it certainly wasn’t all that it could be. While recently rereading Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel Oryx and Crake, I came across a passage that I’d highlighted. Here Atwood is describing the protagonist, Jimmy:
So this was the rest of his life. It felt like a party to which he’d been invited, but at an address he couldn’t actually locate. Someone must be having fun at it, this life of his; only, right at the moment, it wasn’t him.*
I don’t remember highlighting these words. But there they were. Reading them and realizing that they had resonated with me came as a total shock: “Oh my god. That is how I used to feel about my life.” Who was that sad, disconnected person? How did she get into such a rut? And why in the world was she allowing herself to feel that way?
I am thankful that I don’t recognize that person anymore. I’ve been through some dramatic changes and my life felt like the most stereotypical telenovela at times…but I am happy. What a difference a year–and yes, sometimes even just a day–makes.
* Note: I hate not citing my sources correctly, but I have this novel on my 2nd generation Kindle, which doesn’t have page numbers. Instead, all I can tell you is that the quote occurs at 67%/locations 3218-24.