The Road Taken: The Married Widow

Some people can’t stand being alone. It makes them feel lonely. It makes them want to climb the walls, as if they are unable to do anything, without someone to do it with them. I am not like that. Early on, growing up in a household with seven others, I learned to be on my own. Don’t ask me how, don’t ask me why, but that’s the way it was. Alone, often with nothing more than the thoughts in my head, to keep me going.

There would be no Rhett Butler to ask me to dance.

Living with G was no different.  He was in school, day and night, and while I worked during the day, I had the nights and weekends to myself.  Whatever I wanted to do, I  pretty much could. Which is why I took a creative writing course that ended up leading me to Rick.

And now it was time to move on. I was used to that. The moving on thing. It’s what life is all about, after all. A series of beginnings and endings. Sometimes good, sometimes a relief, and sometimes, plain gut-wrenching. But there you have it and so it goes. And, being used to it,  I was good at closing one door and opening another. Not for a moment, did I wonder what would I do with myself next. I wasn’t about feeling sorry for myself or walking around all misty eyed, claiming, woe is me.  Any regrets, I burrowed so deep inside, they dissipated, like the faint scent of morning after a rainfall.

If you had met me at that moment, you would never have known that the most amazing man, one I had fallen so hard for, had just walked out of my life. As gingerly as he entered. A regular Gene Kelly, who danced his way into my life and left me with nothing but bittersweet dust on my fingertips, from having touched his hands so many times. One moment I was under his spell, and the next, I blinked, and watched him turn into a fleck of matter on the horizon. Never to re-emerge. Just another exit in a series of endings, leaving me with no exit strategies of my own, but the knowledge that I had to move on and I had to keep this little, bad boy—this small part of my life—a captive of my desperado heart.  And I would do so, stoically, stiff upper chin and all that, so that no one would know what had transpired.

Ordinarily, I am bad at keeping secrets. I am too forthcoming for my own good. But this one I held on to tightly, until it became a distant memory, removed from my being. I pushed it so far back into the crevasses of my mind, it was as if it had happened to someone else, not me. As if I had never wrapped my fingers around Rick’s, nor never pressed my lips against his neck. As if we had never laid upon the grass by the fountain, willing ourselves to fly away and feel the universe brush past our outstretched arms.

I didn’t even tell my good friend, Pam, who I had met at work. Though, I did hint at it once. I mentioned it in passing, almost as an afterthought. really. I had so wanted to tell her, and confide everything. Mostly, I wanted to say his name aloud again, as if by doing so, it could bring him back, and make what we had, real once more. But the need to conceal it was far stronger and gripped me like a vice.

Yet, somehow, I think, Pam knew. She suspected, and may have detected a nuance, something different about me during those weeks when he was in my life.  Perhaps, a distracted, faraway look. The way she sized me up–a glance and raised eyebrow—told me she was aware that something had happened. But the details were lost on her and being the friend she was, she didn’t press. No questions, no admonitions.  A mutual understanding that, whatever it was, could not be shared.

So, moving ahead, I accepted my plight. I was married, yet I felt as though I was a widow. A graduate school widow. I was like Scarlett O’Hara, when she herself becomes a widow. Scarlett wants to dance, as the unmarried girls do, but she’s reminded that she must remember her place. Just like I had to remember mine. Of course, she had Rhett Butler, who found a way to get her onto the dance floor. There would be no Rhett’s–or Rick’s–in my life, anymore.

But there was nothing to stop me from spending time with Pam, who had recently moved into the condo next door. Which is why, the first step to moving on involved climbing into the passenger seat of Pam’s two-seater. Her little red sports convertible. In a flash, we took off, and headed south. Destination:  Anywhere but here.

Missed a chapter? Read past installments, by visiting the page, The Road Taken.

Empty Nest, Indeed

Sarah, during freshman orientation. Clearly, she had no qualms about leaving me behind, in my empty nest.

It’s time to partition off my life again now that my daughter, Sarah, has returned to school. She’s a sophomore now and you’d think, having survived my oldest child’s departure as well as Sarah’s freshman year, that this would be old hat. But Sarah was home all summer, giving me a taste of life pre-empty nest and spoiling me rotten by wanting to spend time with me—the little fiend! Sigh.  And now she’s gone, and all I can say is,

Vaya con Dios!

Turns out, I’m pretty good at partitioning off my life. Sarah’s gone? Well, I’ll just close my Sarah box and put it on a shelf until she returns for winter break. Now that I’ve tucked away her box, the Work box just got a little bigger. Oh, and now there’s more room for my Blog box too!  Josh coming down this weekend to see a San Diego Charger‘s game with me?  Better dust off his box and get it ready.

By keeping myself organized in this way, I can focus on the here and now.  Kind of like when Scarlett O’Hara didn’t want to bother thinking about what wasn’t right in front of her and said, “Fiddle-dee-dee! I’ll just think about it tomorrow at Tara.”  Trust me, by concentrating on what is in front of me, and not pining for what is beyond my control (Sarah off at school and not here), I can find fulfillment in the present and in what I’m doing now.  Empty nest, indeed!

9-6-09 Empty Nest

Empty Nest, indeed. (Photo taken by roswellsgirl via Flickr.)

Of course, I first started to brace myself for the empty nest syndrome when my first child, Josh was a mere six months old.  He had awoken in the middle of the night, crying to be fed. While I rocked him back to sleep, this sweet bundle of a boy, it suddenly hit me:  My son would be wanting to move out soon.

Oh, sure 18 years seemed like a long time away, but not to me. That was his “sell by” date. Do you have any idea how fast 18 years can go?  Have you heard the expression, “time flies” or “gone with the wind?”  How about “gone in a flash” or “later, gator?” (That last one has nothing to do with the speed of time, but a friend of mine says it a lot so I thought I’d throw it in.)

So basically, the only reason Josh woke up that night—and every other night until he was three—was because he wanted nourishment so he could grow into a healthy and strong young man and be fully prepared to leave me. His big goodbye.  His swan song.  Adios, amigo, it’s been swell!  Later, gator! And sure enough, like clockwork, 18 years came and went and all I have now are the memories of my little boy. Empty nest, indeed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Thankfully, I have my partitioned boxes. A box for Josh, and one for Sarah. Another for friends, for work, for my dog, and for my extracurricular activities. There’s even a box for shopping. These are the boxes I’m using now. They are the sum parts of my life and I switch them out, depending on the moment.  For these boxes keep me sane and keep me motivated. Most of all, they keep me happy.