Waiting for the other figs to drop

July 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Posted in Random | Leave a comment

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.

From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple pig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children…..and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America….and beyond these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar

No, no, I’m not about to stick my head in the oven, and I don’t think that one has to choose between having a family and travel, or anything of the sort. But right now I do feel a bit like Sylvia, sitting in that fig tree, with dozens of choices hanging above just waiting to be picked. Only I can’t seem to decide, and I worry that as I sit paralyzed by indecision, my choices slowly disappear.

My life has never taken the linear route. In grade school I was on a path: I was getting a scholarship to a good high school and I was an exceptional equestrian. I was going to go to a great college, preferably one with an equestrian program, and eventually compete professionally. Instead, in 10th grade I started skipping school and fighting with my mom (who then sold my horse) and came dangerously close to failing a few classes. I went to a mediocre college in mid-Michigan, partying way through to graduate with an also mediocre GPA. But still I was convinced that after school, I would move to New York City and get a glamorous job in Public Relations. Instead, I moved to downtown Detroit and got a low-level job planning conferences for accountants. But that wasn’t all bad. I met Dan, and we all know how that worked out.

Still, I wanted something else, so we moved to Seattle. It was a great two years during which we figured out how to be adults, and we got engaged. But we wanted something else, so we moved to Chicago, where I went from being an event planner to a full-time travel writer. After four years here, I still love this city, but…..you guessed it, I’m ready for something else.

I want to live a hundred lives. I still want to live in New York, at least for a few years. I want to be an expat and still have dreams of spending a year or two in Prague. I want to call Buenos Aires home. I want to live on a farm and run a small agritourismo. I want to live on a vineyard and drink Pinot Noir every day. I want to live on the beach and go to bed every night to the low “whoosh” of the waves, and I want to live in a highrise and hear the chaos of the city two dozens stories beneath my feet. I want a house in Grosse Pointe, where I can walk to the hunt club for my riding lessons, and I want a loft in Detroit where I can stumble home from a dive bar in the eerie quiet.

And now that I am freelancing, it would be easier than ever for us to pick up and move anywhere we want. Instead of worrying about finding two jobs in a difficult market, we only have to worry about one. We can move anywhere Dan can find a job. We can stay here, we can move back to Detroit, we can move to New York, or San Francisco or Portland, and we can even move abroad, where Dan could teach English.

And the choices begin to overwhelm me, so right now, we’re staying put. Our lease is up at the end of August. We haven’t even begun to look for new apartments. We have however, been looking for jobs for Dan. Here in Chicago, in Detroit, in New York, in Portland, in San Fransisco, in DC, and in a dozen other places. If the right one comes along, we’ll consider it a sign – a perfect, juicy fig falling directly into our hands. So we sit, waiting for the fruit to fall, hoping it happens while the figs are still ripe, and before the cold December slowly turns them to a dead, dull, rotted brown.

Photo by ~Prescott


Through the eyes of a child

April 9, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Posted in Random | Leave a comment

Shortly after my sister got married, she moved to Florida with her husband, who was from Michigan but had family down south. A few years later, my mom and her husband migrated to the sunshine state as well. Never one for stifling humidity, possible death by gator, and the crippling insecurity brought on by being surrounded by surgically-enhanced trophy wives, I opted not to join them. Instead, I go see them once a year or so.

Every time I go to visit, I worry that my 6-year old niece, Stella, won’t remember me. I worry that I’ll have to try to win her affection all over again or impress her with how awesomely fun I am (which is not very much; children normally freak me out a little). But somehow, no matter how long it’s been since she last saw me, she still seems to adore me. I am constantly confused, amazed, and delighted at this discovery.

While I’m still on the fence about whether or not I want kids (with one leg creeping over to the “no” side), I love being with Stella. I love watching the sense of wonder and discovery that a child seems to posses. And it doesn’t hurt that she also thinks I’m particularly awesome. If you ever need a self-esteem boost, just borrow an adoring niece for the day.

The last time I visited, Stella was in the living room watching tv with her father when a Victoria’s Secret commercial came on. A tall, thin, leggy model with long dark hair strutted on the screen. “Look,” Stella yelled, “it’s Aunt Katie!” I heard her father laugh in response. “Wow, Stella,” he said, “that’s really nice.”

Okay, so maybe the kid’s a bit delusional. Perhaps it’s time for the parents to take her to get her eyes checked. But I can’t help but wonder if maybe we’d all be a little better off if we saw things the way Stella does. If everyone was the best version of themselves. If everything was new and shiny and exciting and dramatic. Of course, during that same visit, Stella sliced her foot on a wicker basket, and as a few tiny drops up blood welled up and ran over her toes, she wailed “I don’t want to dieeeee!” so maybe there’s also something to be said for the wisdom that comes with age.

Reason #1285 why I love my husband

October 21, 2009 at 2:35 am | Posted in Life, Random | Leave a comment

A) I hate when people say “bless you” when I sneeze. Because then I have to say “thanks”. But why should I say thanks? They didn’t really bless me. And even if they had the power to do that, why does sneezing warrant any attention from on high (other than the fact that people used to believe your heart stopped when you sneezed)? We don’t say “bless you” when someone burps, or yawns or performs some other involuntary bodily action. Can’t we just let my forceful expulsion of germy mucus mist go without comment? Or at the very least not force the event to result in me saying “thank you”? Imagine if everytime I farted, I turned to the person next to me and said “thanks”.

When Dan and I first started dating, I told him if he was going to insist on saying “bless you” when I sneezed, I would say something equally useless when he did. After months of me saying random words and nonsense phrases after his achoos (“schandenfreud!” “glocken pepper!”), he finally just stopped acknowledging my sneezes.

B) Today Dan watched Pirates of the Caribbean while I wrote. When a character said “Huzzah!” I looked up and asked Dan why we never say huzzah. Our marriage needs more “huzzah” I said.

C) Hours later, I sneeze. Dan (from the other room): Huzzah!

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