There is a gorgeous moment , an epiphany, that Diane Lane's character has near the end of Under the Tuscan Sun that recently struck me to the core so deeply that I've been walking around in a bit of a trance thinking about it for the past few weeks.
I stumbled across a journal entry written a decade ago, talking about the things I wanted to do when I grew up, and the things I was still looking for in my life...
grown-up goals achieved by the age of 37...
- start my own business? check. at the time i had a side business as a chocolatier, truffles to be exact.
- get paid for taking pictures? check. in my seattle days i did portrait & band photography
- travel across an ocean? check. i'd been to france, jamaica, england and scotland.
- travel somewhere tropical? check. i'd been to jamaica and hawaii.
- get an awesome dog? check. my beloved rottweiler daisy was living her final years.
- buy a house? check. i bought my home in portland solo and owned it for 12 years.
- get married? check. i'd married - and divorced - a high school sweetheart.
- spend a full day at a spa? check. worth every penny!
my new goals in 2011 were as follows...
- to own my very own horse.
- to be a writer.
- to have true love.
- to live in a house by the sea.
- to have a family.
And I looked at those, and shook my head and sighed. One of the things many of us daughters of feminists realized as we get older is the idea that we can have it all doesn't necessarily mean ALL AT ONCE. Boy don't I wish someone had clarified that for me when I was younger.
“Our life comes in segments, and we have to understand that we can have it all if we’re not trying to do it all at once.” - Madeleine Albright
But with that, there is the realization that your wishes, your goals, that they might come true but look very very different than you imagined they'd be. So let's look at these goals I'd written for myself:
Own a horse. This one still eludes me, but I have five horses I see every morning out my front window, two who love to compete for the lush handfuls of grass I feed them with when I go to our mailbox next to their fence line. I've come to realize that unless I was to the point of being so wealthy I could have a built-in 'sitter' for them, right now they just don't fit in my life. Even with a barn that has 6 stalls and fenced pastures, I have to be real. As I told someone recently, we can't just go away for the weekend and leave them a bowl of food, or have them hop in the back seat and join you on a road trip. But do I get to see horses every single day I am living here? Yes. And that should give me partial credit.
To be a writer. Tragically, I didn't see at the time that I already was one. I have been blogging regularly since 2008, both personally and professionally. But in the coming years, I wrote a book for job seekers. Did I publish it? Nope. But I wrote it. Does that count? Hell yeah. Am I still writing on this and my professional blog? Yep.
To find true love. Oh abso-fucking-lutely! So ironic that I had written about this during the year I met the man who would become my husband of, as of last week, 7 years. And while I have been blessed with this partnership, I will say something else. The idea of one singular soul mate? Utter garbage. I am so tremendously grateful for the many times I fell in love, both when it was and wasn't returned in the ways I needed it. You know that Erykah Badu song Next Lifetime? I think of those times in my younger years when I met someone at the absolute wrong time in one or both of our lives, those people you had those unmistakable connections with, male or female, romantic or platonic.
To live in a house by the sea. While we chose 5.6 acres 10 minutes or so from the sea, visually it's not what was in my head, but it's definitely a beach community. What have I learned from living on the Oregon Coast? It's not as idyllic as one might imagine. Choices are limited. Minds are closed. Weather is restrictive. Food is terrible. And Tourists...they are bursting from the seams, exponentially so during the pandemic (so bad that we barely saw the ocean last summer because of the hordes from the city disregarding stay-at-home advisories...the one silent day in Cannon Beach who had closed their doors to non-locals was truly a gift). Politics? Pretty horrific, being the only area of the state to flip Republican and to regularly see "Timber Unity" stickers that are essentially thinly veiled swastikas on trucks every single day, where I won't even consider looking for new service providers because I know so many will have refused to get vaccinated. Yes, I live by the sea. But is it a place protected by everyone living out here? Hell no. Is it peaceful? As long as I don't leave the confines of our land, sure. As soon as I leave that? Pesticides. Strip malls. Styrofoam. Racism. Ageism. Sexism. Is it time? I don't know. But we have had time recently to walk the beaches with our dog, breathe it in, and see if for what it really is. It's still a home away from home. But is it forever where I'll hang my hat? Probably not, if I'm being honest. But the places that are important along the ocean, they will always be there, as they were before and as they will be after I go.
Family. I defined family as irrelevant to one's DNA many years ago. So for me, family is who you can trust, who won't lie, who are generous, who are kind. With that, family is my husband. To become a mother? Well I did, multiple times. In 2016 I was pregnant for nine weeks with Henry. In 2019, I was the first person to hold the beautiful baby boy we named Thomas Langston, to cry "it's a boy" through the glass to my husband, to watch him tear up as he held him and we watched him sleep. For two days we were his parents. And in 2020, we spent eight months trying to become parents of foster children, with one girl asking if she could call me mom and making cards for both of us telling us she loved us and snuggling with us on the sofa, learning how to make cupcakes, having informal dance parties, reading books, and laughing to myself as she came down the stairs in the morning, half asleep. We made sandcastles and I taught her how to water the garden and my husband showed her how to fly a kite. I did get to be pregnant, to welcome a baby into the world, and to have girls in the house calling me mom. And throughout this time, I had my family. And after the chapter in our lives ended, I still have a family - my husband. My beloved.
So even when these things don't turn out in the way you've prepared them to, it doesn't mean they've not occurred. The trauma is real...as is the gratitude for what I do have. The adventures that have been experienced...and the many still to come. What a life I've had in these first forty-seven years! And what a life I shall have moving forward.