Monday, May 17, 2010

insights: when the universe has bigger plans

Sometimes coincidences in life baffle me.

Last May 5 when my Dream Job was eliminated, we also lost Our Dream Home that we were buying the same day. Being from the east coast we always said we wanted to someday live in a home that looked like a small version of a cottage Jackie Kennedy might summer in, with a little pool where we would teach our children to swim and eat corn on the cob and toast marshmallows at night.

We worked hard, put our money away and saved up for The House. So when we found it, we called our realtor and said  "It's the one."  It was perfect. The front door was even the color of a pool. When we got to the house I stood in the backyard and started to cry. L. looked at me and said "DO NOT cry. They will know how much we like this house." With quivering lip I said "But we DO like this house!" The house was The One.

So we put the plans in motion, talked with our financial people and got our home ready to go on the market.  And every night after we finished working on getting our home ready to sell, we took the dog with us as we drove by our new home. We couldn't believe we had finally found our dream home where we decided we would live the rest of our lives. We felt like we had won the jackpot.

Then May 5 10 a.m. I found out my job was gone, and it barely sunk in when I thought "Oh my God, the house? What do we do about the house?" It was the hardest decision to make to not follow our dream of getting this house. Oh, to have been devil may care. What if we said "The hell with it?! We'll eat ramen noodles every night!" But we did the right thing and didn't buy the house.

The aftermath was sad. A couple times a week I drove by the house. I shopped at the local market and thought "This is where I would have shopped." I drove by the horses in the fields on the way to the house and thought "These are the horses who would get to know the sound of my car."

The grey shingled cottage is where our happy life was supposed to be.

I don't know why I drove by. It didn't help. Maybe I was hoping that one time I would drive by and think "It's not that great." That never happened though. The house became bigger and bigger in my life.

I knew it wasn't helping me, doing this drive-by of the life I was supposed to have. What was I hoping I would find? It seems to be our human nature to want what we can't have.

In college I had a friend who didn't get into Boston College. Our school was a very nice Catholic liberal arts school in the hills of New Hampshire but IT WAS NOT BC. On certain weekends she would let us know that this was a BC football game weekend and how different her life would be at BC. She could hardly enjoy her life at our school because she was so busy thinking of what her life SHOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE.

In high school I had a friend who was crazy in love with her boyfriend and they broke up, as it happens in high school. Every night she drove by his house. Every day she walked up an extra floor at school just to walk by his locker. I remember we asked her at the time "Doesn't that make you feel worse seeing him in his baby blue cords?" And she said "I just need to feel like I am breathing the same air he is."

When I was growing up, there lived a couple across the street, the Umbrianas. They had two giant grey and white biting cats and no children. What they did have in their dining room was a high chair at the table. Mrs. U. had had a miscarriage 20+ years prior and they never went on to have another child. At the time I thought it was creepy that they had a high chair for a ghost baby but I wonder now would Mrs. U look at this high chair when she was enjoying Chicken Piccata and think "This was supposed to be my life, with a baby in a high chair"?

When you stalk the life you had or the life you could have had, it makes it impossible to move on. If you absorb yourself in your past, it's impossible to move forward.  One of my girlfriends has a friend who is divorced and she still has her ex's clothes in her closet and she goes to the gym at the same time he does just to see him. It's been 3 years. She is wearing these blinders all for HIM. Yet, she can't see that there is a great guy who always gets on the treadmill next to hers in the hopes of asking her out but she is so consumed with watching her ex-husband that she isn't even aware that there is someone on the treadmill beside her.

You can't open a new door if you are busy
staring down the old door of the room you didn't want to leave


If you think that you can't let go of what you had, you have to. And you have to do it cold turkey. This is what I did. One day I decided that driving by the street I could have lived on and the Starbucks I would have stopped into left me feeling sad. This was not helping to propel me forward.

If you have a parent that has died (I'm sorry for your loss) it's time to release them, to let their things go. Your spouse left and left her stuff and isn't coming back? Hello, Goodwill. Going to a grave every day or to the site of an accident or driving by an ex's house or where you should have gone to school or gotten a job, none of that helps. It holds you back. What matters is the now. Imagine feeling your palm on the cool handle of a new door and turn. Face a new wonderful. Think about this--it HAS to be better than the purgatory you are keeping yourself in now.

As for me, it's been a few months since I drove by Where My Life Was Supposed To Be and on that last drive by I noticed they painted the front door a different color. And it was just as it should be.

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