I had one of the toughest conversations of my life last night. The man that I always thought I would end up with, after all it was said and done, told me he was going to marry another woman.
Now, I’m obviously skipping a lot of backstory here, but if you’ve been a longtime reader of this blog, you know the high points: college sweetheart, dated and connected over and over again after school. We’d tried to reconnect as friends, and last night he had to let the shoe drop. I’m going to be a father again, he told me. I have to marry her, to do the right thing.
And so, for the final time ever, I let him go last night. And as the phone disconnected, I let that teenager inside me just cry. I let my college-aged dream of somehow turning that ever-revolving door into one solid one, that one day open he would be standing there with a ring and a future, close forever. I cried for all the dreams that would never be realized, for the days and nights that I knew would never be mine, again, ever and always. And so, I let go.
An interesting thing happened when I let go: I realized that I’ve been looking at my life goals in a manner that just doesn’t suit me. I did not choose a life that has neat hospital corners, the story of my life doesn’t have an unmarred book jacket. I abandoned any chance at the normal path when I chose to sell my worldly goods in 2007 to move to New York at 36 to become a writer and editor in fashion and beauty. The year that doctors say is your last year to give birth before the obligatory “you’re too old” conversations was the year I gave birth to myself, where I moved to the city with a giant green suitcase and little idea how this was ever going to happen.
I’ve been looking at things the wrong way. The ideal get married, have kids, live in the ‘burbs, rinse, repeat lifestyle was never something I have desired for myself. Continually comparing my life to this ideal has been foolish on my part. It’s been foolish to look to the choices of others to get any idea of how my life will unfold.
I walked to the mirror last night and realized that holding onto hopes for my past and regrets for my future has been a faulty way of thinking I’ve practiced for a long time now. It means I’m constantly a remote stranger to my dreams, that as my life unfolds before me, I’m still looking back at what might have been, trying to make that happen.
When I looked at my face in the mirror last night, I saw myself clearly for the first time in a very, very long time. Goodbye to the stranger, the person who was afraid of embracing the unknown of her future. Hello, you. You look like a woman capable of embracing a very large destiny. Nice to see you finally made it to the party. Come on in. The water’s fine.
The title of this piece is an homage to the lyrics of a Supertramp song from the early 80′s, called “Goodbye Stranger.” It’s off the album Breakfast in America, and it’s one of my favorite songs of all time. The song is about a free spirit, a person who can never be tamed and they’re saying goodbye as they move on. One of my favorite lyrics from the song says:
Now some they do and some they don’t
And some you just can’t tell
And some they will and some they won’t
With some it’s just as well
And while I have no idea how that story will end for the man in question, I’ve realized that I’m ready to design my own, with both feet firmly planted in the direction of my dreams. There’s no looking back now. It won’t look anything like anyone else’s life. It won’t look ordinary…it never has, really. But it will have love and purpose and it will be free of any backward-pulling ties that bind.
Goodbye, stranger. It’s been nice. Hope you find your paradise. Mine lies before me, and I’m ready to embrace every second of it.