In the initial whirlwind post-divorce, you're stuck dealing with all kinds of messy situations - where to live, untangling your life, splitting your phone bill, who gets the blender, etc.
Once you get past that, you kind of figure you've got it all sorted. Sure, there's the occasional bump -- "My husband? Huh? Oh, no, we're not together anymore." Or "What do you mean I can't have my official divorce certificate yet?" -- but for the most part, you want to believe you have it all sorted out.
Until, of course, you have down time (like my vacation, which started mere hours ago). And options. And romantic possibilities. Since the split, I was careful. Sure, there were boys, but they weren't going to fall in love with me. We weren't looking for futures together. While I do now wonder what would have happened with two perfectly lovely gents had our timing been better, things were pretty simple. I was able to focus on myself, be totally selfish, and live like a single gal while still having a fella to kiss at midnight on NYE.
This time last year, I was involved with a perfectly lovely man. We were, in many ways, total opposites, but had good conversations and demanded very little of each other. It was easy. And, when it ended, I was sad, sure, but it was never a matter of if it would end, but when. We're still buds, and it's all good.
This year, I want to be loved. I want a chance at a future. (This is what happens when you attend the wedding of someone you grew up with. And get lectured by a priest about how you blew one of the most important moments in your life. Sending you deep into a couple of G&Ts, some uncomfortable comments from a dude you knew in high school and a teary phone call to one of your best dudes from a legion ladies' room.)
That desire is totally terrifying. Because as much as I want those things, I also lack that optimism that squeezed me into a white dress, sent me into a tizzy over flowers -- no, I don't want gradations of cream, I want purple -- and had me believing that yes, what I was doing was for forever.
People keep telling me I was lucky I got my "starter marriage" over with young. That it leaves me with time to find that truly lasting thing. That I haven't (despite what nosy neighbours may say) blown my chance at children and happiness and white picket fences (or at least, a couple of patio stones where I can sit with a trashy magazine on a sunny Sunday afternoon.)
These days, I have options. Career. Family. Romance. It's all, pretty much, wide open. As much as I want to do the romantic, throw caution to the wind thing and let it all blow up, if it must, I can't quite find the words to say what's on my mind or how I feel.
As I contemplate moving forward - Where? How? With whom? -- I also find myself looking back. Facing my many failures, and failings. Acknowledging where I went wrong and how I could have done better. Asking whether this is really it for me. And how I'll cope if it is, and my mother's fear that I'll die alone and get eaten by cats comes true (telling her I'm not a cat person didn't help. At all.).
But, as I evaluate my relationship with every man I've liked, loved and hated (sometimes all in the same day) perhaps the most terrifying part is that I can't identify what exactly I want. I used to have a clear two-year, five-year and 10-year plan. For everything. But these days, all I can say, definitively, is that whatever it is, I'm not there yet. And I hope I figure it out, if not find it, soon.