“We owe it to ourselves to go on adventures.”
The words popped off the page of O Magazine and landed in a part of my heart that opened my mind to an idea that I had never considered.
I had just read a story written by a woman who had been raised by a single mom. She told of a childhood filled with daring mishaps and ill planned vacations– just her and her mom. She wrote about creepy hotels and food poisoning in foreign countries and how she wouldn’t have changed a thing.
And I loved it.
THAT was the kind of mom I was going to be. THAT was the kind of life I was going to make for my boys.
It was our first night living in the boarded up room over my recently opened flower shop. I was newly divorced and moving into that shop was a last ditch effort to make a go at being a business owner AND not being homeless.
Boxes were everywhere. Twenty-nine years of life piled into one room. I felt consolidated in a way you can’t feel when you have a big house with things in every room and in the garage and in the back porch.
I had before my eyes all of my earthly possessions. By my side, I had two sons quietly sleeping, and now I had just read this startling idea that made everything feel so different.
I’d been so worried about trying to keep the house. Trying to keep things normal for my boys. Trying to somehow prove that even though our whole lives had been turned upside down, things were perfectly normal.
But things weren’t normal. My husband had left the country. My kids missed him. I had thrown my time and energy into a business and was desperately trying to figure out a skill to provide for my family.
Things were anything but normal.
This woman I didn’t know had just given me permission to take the idea of normal living, place it carefully in a little box, wrap it with a bow and throw it into the nearest trash can.
We didn’t have to live a normal life. Things WERE going to be different, and our hearts WERE going to be okay. Everything was going to be okay.
I decided that very night that I wanted to live the kind of life that would allow me to one day delight in the memorable mishaps of raising kids and laugh over the many years of ill planned family vacations.
With no big house payment and all of my possessions haphazardly stacked in one dimly lit room, I felt free.
I had within reach all of the tools that I had been dealt to create this new life. I had a little retail shop. I had two boys. And I had just been given hope that even an untraditional family like mine could create a life filled with laughter, love and wild stories to tell.
That was nearly fifteen years ago. My boys are practically men now and just about to leave home. They have their own cars and jobs and dreams of an adult life.
I suppose I’m drawn to write because there’s a part of me that is sentimental and reflective about our history together. There’s a certain quietness that fills me up as I recall the past. There’s a certain stillness that makes me smile when I think about life as I thought it would be and the way it has actually turned out.
I suppose writing about it is a way to hold on to the past and work through the process of letting these two great guys move on to their new adventures of college and careers and families of their own.
I will be left here. Alone. An emptynester.
It feels like writing is a perfect way to ease myself into this next season, a season that I will need to fill with memorable mishaps and crazy ideas of my own, so I don’t find myself sneaking out to my car late one night and driving to some college town hours away to see if my boys want to come lay out on the trampoline and watch the stars with their mom OR play the ukulele for me OR teach me one more time how to watch a movie through the Wii.
I need to expand my village.
And so I am going to roll up my sleeves and go to work. I want to create a place where I can do all the things I love . . . gather people, create art and build a life that brings me joy.
I want to create a place that I look forward to checking in each day and seeing my fellow villagers all over the world getting up, working through the hard bits of life, pausing to enjoy the beauty of everyday living and inspiring me to be my best self.
I owe it to myself in this next season of life to go on adventures, to look into the eyes of people I love, to share stories and throw parties. I want to lift and to bless the lives of those I am fortunate enough to rub shoulders with along the way.
I’ll lift you and you lift me, and we’ll both ascend together.