06 June 2005

The Days Are Flying By...

"...Isn't it mysterious how so many wonderful things in life come to us seemingly without our planning? We start traveling down one street, and we find ourselves interested in something we never expected on a side street; and as we explore it, the side street becomes the main road for us."

"...Who we are in the present includes who we were in the past." ~ Fred Rogers

"L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." ~ From "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wow, THREE QUOTES! I'm feeling very sentimental. I sometimes foolishly swear that I am not at all sentimental, but the friends who know me best, the ones who see past my silly pronouncement and who have peeked beneath the surface, know that I am more given to sentimentality than I might be comfortable "owning". Most of the time they allow me to pretend the facade and for that I am grateful.

It's always struck me that there's something vulnerable in being sentimental about things. I guess, in my strange perspective, that to admit such a thing is to lay open one's heart and, for me at least, that has felt like risky business. I think going through my divorce back in 1997 had a great deal to do with that. Maybe I was sentimental before I was divorced. I know for sure that I was the poster girl for naivete!

In a weird kind of way, given that it has been EIGHT YEARS since the official dissolution of my first, and only, marriage, I tend to divide my life into "pre-" and "post-" divorce periods of time, but the truth is that I can't really remember what it was like being married; Let me rephrase that - I can't remember what it's like to be in a happy, functioning marriage. I don't honestly feel like I've ever truly been married, not in the positive, rich sense of the word and that's not to say that my almost 17 years of wedded...well, of being married, was a negative or horrible experience. Good things happened during the period between November 26, 1980 and October 25, 1997. Two wonderful things to come from that relationship go by the name of Katie and Justin. I can't imagine not having had that experience and I wouldn't trade being their Mom for all the tea in China, even though now and again they love to test my resolve and limits! I'm told that's their job and if it is, they're impressively successful.

I don't remember so much about "pre-" divorce, other than the fact that we moved a lot and that was fun because it was always great living and exploring different parts of the US, always making new friends and keeping up with the old ones. We traveled quite a bit. The kids grew up and my ex-husband and I grew apart. Things just didn't end well, which probably explains the divorce part.

I proceeded to spend the next 7 years making up for all of the dating I never really did before I was married at the much too tender age of 20, and I have always talked a lot of hoping to find the right person to finally feel safe enough to feel married to, but I never honestly got close. I didn't avoid getting engaged though. In fact, I seemed to do that very well. It was the following through part that I had trouble with. It is pure Providence that I never followed through.

The past 18 months of my life have been an amazing period filled with pain, acceptance, growth, excitement, fear, apprehension, warmth, more acceptance (Page 417 - BB 4th Edition), peace, laughter and, as it turns out, unbelievable surprises. Each one of those experiences have been necessary components to bring me to this place I find myself today. At the time I was feeling my way through some of those difficult twists, turns and hurdles, I couldn't imagine how anything good might be on the other side. It can never be overstated that pain is a marvelous motivator. It definitely catches our attention like nothing else. That's a good thing, but that's the last thing you want to hear when you're right in the middle of it, gritting your teeth and ready to scream.

There have been moments when things felt pretty hopeless, fearing that I would be relegated to living the rest of my life hidden under some suffocating cloak of stoicism. I never wanted to be stoic. I think I'd rather be miserable than stoic. Stoic kind of hints that, while things probably won't get any worse, it doesn't appear as if they will get any better. When you're only 43, that could mean you have quite a bit of time remaining to live in some kind of self-imposed torpor.

Fred Rogers was so on target in that first quote. The side street, after a lot of fun exploration, became the main road. I couldn't have planned that if I tried. It kind of reminds me of Paris. I always thought the real charm of that incredible city was the small, narrow streets, much more so than the Champes-Ellyses. The treasures in life really do hide in the most unexpected places.

Susie Parker
Wilmington, NC