My husband and I are supposed to leave for Mexico on Tuesday for a six-week language and cultural immersion program. An e-mail arrived yesterday, informing me I could check into our flight up to 72 hours in advance. Because of recent life-altering events, we won’t be getting on that plane. Yet, I still archived Volaris Airline’s e-mail as a small reminder of a path that could have been.
On the first day of summer, a notice arrived that our apartment lease was up for renewal in September. I set the letter aside with a mental note that we needed to renew our lease when we paid our July rent.
That evening we went to dinner and a comedy show with my parents. When we came home around 10 PM, our front door was a jar, with fragments of its white-painted wooden body sprawled on our living room floor. On impulse, my husband quickly ran inside and grabbed his pistol from the one spot in our bedroom that the burglars neglected to ransack. After confirming we were the only ones in our home, I searched inside all of the bathroom cabinets until I found our very scared cat. A few minutes later, I noticed my laptop was gone, and over time we noticed other things missing – cash in various currencies, old casino chips my uncle had given me, my husband’s second wedding ring (the first was lost while kayaking in a sudden storm in a Costa Rican bay on our 1-week wedding anniversary and he wore this “trial ring” for nearly a year before purchasing his current Celtic ring).
It’s interesting the “things” you value most in a crisis situation. For my husband, the ability to protect our household and avoid meeting his death at the hands of his own weapon. For me, a computer is replaceable, but Samson the cat is not.
Last year, when I paid off the remainder of my debt, I vowed never to acquire new debt. A freelance job that was supposed to finish this summer and pay for the remainder of our Mexico trip didn’t pan out and we learned our renters’ insurance policy wouldn’t cover our losses (long story). Since I refuse to spend money I don’t have, and since buying a new computer was essential to my work, the Mexico trip wasn’t to be.
My husband reminded me that the last time we renewed our apartment lease, as we were walking to the leasing office, we witnessed a domestic dispute in the parking lot. “Get out!” a woman screamed to her partner for the entire complex to hear. “I never want to see you again.” If we didn’t notice the symbolism of being pushed to move on at that moment, it became apparent with the break-in.
I like to believe that closed doors are an indication that one needs to continue looking for the correct path to follow. I used to be a “planner,” but thus far 2012 has turned out entirely unexpected. I didn’t get into any of the PhD programs I applied to. My freelance work has been unreliable. I’ve had far less adventures than I’d have liked to. Yet, I’ve developed passions for karate and photography – two things I’d have never thought I had a knack for. I’ve developed new friendships which I hope will be long-lasting.
One month from today, my husband and I will move into our new apartment in Oregon Wine Country. I went to graduate school in Corvallis about 10 years ago, and briefly lived in Portland before moving to South Africa. I’ve lived quite a few places in my short lifetime – Nevada, Wisconsin, Chile, Oregon, Kenya, South Africa, Switzerland – yet the Portland area is the only place I hadn’t felt ready to leave at the time of my move. It’s as if I have some unfinished business there.
Already I am starting to feel more optimistic about life again. I’m thinking of participating in a writers’ workshop this fall at Powell’s Books, of working on some essays, of further developing my photography, of exploring new places, of eating fresh local foods, of working part-time in a bakery to supplement my freelance income. A tremendous amount of happiness can come from the smell of fresh-baked bread.
If you’d have asked me what the theme of my 20s was, I’d have said, “to travel.” If you ask me what the theme of my 30s is, I will say, “to create.”
My husband believes in a certain symbolism associated with living in the desert, the fact that it is hard for anything to grow here. We are hopeful that the evergreens of Oregon will inspire us with new colors and yield new life.