Thursday, March 2, 2017


I woke disoriented today. From a dream like a horror movie, in a bed not my own. In the dream people around me were being inhabited by ghosts. Some of them carried on as normal, slightly dazed, quiescent. Others turned malicious. I was sorting through a ring bind folder where all the pages were out of order. I was sorting them back into their place, looking for what did not belong; clues to explain why some spirits turned nasty. Some of them attacked me even as I worked to unravel the mystery. For a person who avoids that kind of entertainment, even in fiction, my dreams are often surprisingly violent.

Over breakfast with my friend of over two decades, I find myself talking about my ambivalence about the ever present question of children, the ever more ethereal idea of finding a life partner. She shares for the nth time how she thought we would have the opposite lives: I'd be married with kids, while she never expected to "settle down". I tell both of us that I'm too late to take that turn, that I've been alone too long, that I couldn't cope with it anyway.  The logic is sound enough, but it's tinged with a faint disappointment, a sensation that sits uncomfortably in my gut. Decisions that cut off possible futures have always been difficult for me to make wholeheartedly.

         - the condition of having lost one's sense of direction

Visiting this place usually gives me a sense of groundedness that is less present at home. Slotting myself into the dailiness of life with 2 children; the loving chaos early in the morning; thinking about what to cook for dinner as breakfast is finishing; the school run; the tantrums paired with moments of tenderness. I usually leave with a hollow longing in the pit of my belly; a quiet sense of loss not only at leaving behind 3 people I love: also for the path my life didn't take.

There's a lot of love threaded into this life. Although I don't doubt there is as much in my own, I question whether it is made of the same substance. And nothing here has really changed - it's me that feels more lost this time.

Later, I'm sitting in a bowling alley flanked by a boy's carefully-handmade birthday cake and a pair of arcade games blaring dramatic music, gunshots, grunts, and the name of the game repeated in a deep, masculine voice. A man in a pale blue shirt with sunglasses wedged up on his head walks in. He catches my eye as I'm rearranging my legs and knee-length skirt and smiles at me widely.

I'm reminded instantly of my first lover. He's married now, with a chubby baby and life running predictably along the tracks of the 5-year plan he spoke of when I met him. We wouldn't have fit together, I am sure of it. Yet there it is again, a passing twist in the belly, the drifting question. What would my life be now if I'd chosen different doors? If I'd wanted that other life more?

I know that to a large extent I have the power to choose the kind of existence I want. If I don't want to live in the city any more, I can leave. I can change careers (I've made that transition in the last year without any kind of masterplan). I can choose my friends, how I prefer to relate to people. So much control, and yet none at all. In some moments I feel like a tumbleweed. In others, a chess player orchestrating an entire game.

Today I'm more tumbleweed than mistress of anything, peering at the landscape around me. Although I can see back to where I've come from, I'm not sure if I'm just blowing away from my past choices or moving towards something else.

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