I don’t think anyone deliberately builds a life until they’re forced to end the way they’ve been living for years. Like after a divorce.
Think about it. When you were a teenager, gunning toward college, career, and relationships, did you really plan it out? Maybe you had an eye toward your profession, graduate school, a city you wanted to move to. Fine. But really, who other than right-wing Orthodox Jews sits down and maps out all the details of their future life so they can find the right partner at 19 and move forward in checking the goals off their list?
I didn’t. For years, all I wanted was to fall in love. I did well enough in school, so I went to the University of Michigan, which I chose because I wanted a college where I could theoretically meet a new person every day and still not know everyone.
I chose my profession – journalism – by default. No interest in law (though my father thought my natural argumentative capabilities perfectly positioned me for it), no stomach for medicine, on the fence about business. I loved to tell stories. I loved to talk to people. I wrote for the Michigan Daily.
But it was my desire for deep relationships that sidelined everything else. Looking back, I wish I had been more concerned with myself and my personal goals and exploration than finding true love.
Because I didn’t find it and then I didn’t land a hot New York Times reporter position or become an overseas correspondent in Hong Kong or take the financial world by storm writing for the Wall Street Journal.
There’s no sense lamenting the past, though. I’m sitting in a pretty good place now. I have three brilliant and sweet children, a nice house with kind neighbors, and a new business that keeps me busy and offers work I love to do.
I eliminated my biggest source of personal stress. That takes strength. And now, I sit beside the open window, the cool morning air on my bare arms and Justin Nozuka’s invigorating voice on my iTunes.
Constructing a life. Where to start? Except I’ve already started, I am in the middle of it, in fact.
It’s like a driving course with tires to maneuver around. I can get an MBA but I won’t be moving to Boston to attend Harvard. Can’t uproot the kids. I can travel – when they are off with their dad or with them in tow.
And what of love? A recently divorced friend says all she needs in the wake of her tumultuous marriage ending is sex and companionship. She’s with a man whose kids she hates.
I don’t know about love. I’m a little burned, to be honest. Every day I hear of another person cheating, another bad relationship, another facade crumbling like dust in the night.
If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that relationships don’t provide anything if you’re not already solid and happy. And if you are, what role do they play?
I’m still looking for the answer to that one.