The games we play

We rode the train from Florence back to Venice in silence.

It seemed like a really great idea, I consoled myself.

Ian’s gaze was fixed somewhere out the window, out of our train car.

This two-week trip to Europe was our farewell to east coast living.  It had been 11 days of pure perfection.  Zurich, Rome and Venice – each place more amazing than the last.

Until we arrived in Florence.  Florence underwhelmed.  Ian (new husband-cum-tour guide) took it personally.  After a single night I sprung it on him:  let’s go back to Venice.  His panicked face betrayed his response.

“Ok, sure,” he said, not wanting to disappoint me.  His wife.

Marriage.  I thought it meant we were free – free to show our true selves, secure in the knowledge that someone chose us, someone loved us.  Our game of musical chairs was over.  He thought it meant we were bound – bound to our plans, bound to our commitments, bound to the version of ourselves that stood on that altar.  Our game of truth or dare was over.

It wasn’t Venice that made him nervous, it was my expectations.  You see, we already had a plan.  Hotel reservations, dinner recommendations, dog-eared pages of Rick Steves’ knowledge.  Why was I threatening all of it now?  His eyes searched the Italian landscape, desperately looking for clues to understand the woman-with-a-new-name sitting next to him.

The early days of our marriage became a two-player Jenga match, and as far as Ian was concerned, this suggestion to ditch Florence was consistent with my strategy.

In January: “Let’s get a puppy!”

I slid a piece out from the center. 

In February:  “You should quit your legal job and try out the business side of entertainment!”

I knocked out a bar down low in the middle.

In March:  “Let’s move from New York to Los Angeles!”

I removed a corner piece.

Now, in April:  “Let’s go back to Venice!”

Steadily I had been deconstructing the lives we built while dating, daring it to grow higher on its new and unstable foundation of untested vows.  I hoped each bold move we made together would make us stronger, but he didn’t care much for my mercurial tactics.

The train conductor announced our imminent arrival while our virtual Jenga tower wobbled from side to side.

“La prossima tappa di Venezia” he called.

It’s always the smallest move that makes the tower fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you happy now? I chided myself.

We will have to start all over again.

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Ten years can change everything

Once I had a life.

One where I had never even heard of the words Graco or Evenflo.

I felt every bit of pain to my core, every bit of bliss to my toes.  I was free.  I was irresponsible.

I was alive.

I remember nights at the age of 22 when my friends and I looked at each other and exclaimed, “it’s four in the morning!  How did that happen?!?!”

Did we go home?  Hell no.  Why go home when you can have steak and eggs?  Eating at 4am qualified as breakfast then.

We’d walk out of the IHOP as the black night yielded to the blazing sun, painting the sky pastel.

Back in these carefree times there was a boy named Jeremy.  He broke my heart.  And I let him.

I smile when I think of these days.

Now there is an ocean of life between me and that foolish girl.

There isn’t much to miss about her – she doesn’t fit me anymore.

Last night, sitting on the porch at magic hour, I watched my baby play in the garden.

 

Breathtaking babe.

 

My focus has shifted from me to family.  My deep insecurities pale in comparison to the fierce love we share.

When I am with these beings we created; when I hear them laugh, when I watch them sleep, when I sing them songs, I am released from the fear that I am not enough.

Once I had a life.  Now I have so much more.

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This post was written in response to a prompt that asked:  What music album would be used for a movie about your life?  I chose Ten by Pearl Jam.

What album would you choose?

 

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We met on identity lane

Oh, hello!  I didn’t expect to find you here.

No, no, I’m not lost.

How did I get here, you ask? 

As best as I can remember, it began on the very long road to my JD.  Then I manned the trenches at BigLaw.  I accumulated great wealth and even greater anger.

That didn’t feel right, so I back-tracked a little to the intersection of BigLaw and InHouse.

Ah, yes, this is where I wanted to go.

Before I took the off ramp, a nice lady asked me, “what will you DO with all that free time?”

Surprisingly I came across Yoga.  At first it was purely physical.  She sat obediently in her compartment and I never lost sight of the road ahead.  Until she began to overflow, off the mat, into my life.  Suddenly I was off the highway altogether, navigating the back roads of my mind with her breathy focus and direction.

I gave in and we pointed as Law disappeared in the dust our tires kicked up.  On that off-road excursion, Yoga introduced me to a wonderful woman named Carinn.  She was a writer.  Her free time was abundant.  Her passion was infectious.  Her self-doubt fleeting.

I lost track of Carinn when I met Motherhood.  I welcomed her.  She cold-cocked me.  I held on to her rollercoaster for years, moving on her track, at her speed, unable to ease my white-knuckle grip.   I knew I had to get off her ride, but I didn’t know how.  I had lost my vehicle it seemed.

Ah, look up ahead!  It’s InHouse again! 

Her offer was a sight for sore eyes.  Recession?  Who cares.  Three years out of practice?  You’ll get up to speed.  Salary?  We’ll match the level you went out — in 2008.

That kind of unconditional love is impossible to resist.

I sat down behind a familiar L-shaped desk and saw what she gave: legal pads, pens, a computer, and a land-line.  Later in the week I saw, hidden behind the stapler, that stash of building anger.

I had to find Carinn.

She was still writing (she could never stop).  She received me with no judgment, but she said I needed to make changes.

On my left, InHouse caused a ruckus; waving green bills and promising me days of solitary potty breaks and lunches I would never have to share.

On my right, Yoga, Writing and Motherhood beckoned me softly but separately.  I tried to envision braiding them together.  One piece too big, upsetting the balance of the delicate weave.  Another piece ruined by the short strand that falls out.  Undo.  Redo.  Over and over in my mind. But it never looks quite right.

I can’t make it work. 

“It’s simple,” says Carinn.

“It’s a mess,” I retort.

That’s where I met you.  And you asked me the question no one has asked.

“How do you choose?”

With your question, I am forced to face the answer.

There is no choice.

There is only Carinn.

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In my continued quest as a writer, I am linking up with Yeah Write for their Summer Writer’s Series.  Week two: authentic voice.

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Taking Flight

“I’ll go.”

I’ll leave.  It’s what I do.

I am often praised for my ability to recognize when a situation is no longer working and having the so-called strength to leave.

“Better to cut your losses,” they say.

I left a small town where many were content.

I left a fiance.

I left the first law firm that hired me.

I left the state of New York, where all my friends and family resided.

I left the law firm that took a chance on a NY lawyer and helped me study for the California Bar Exam.

I left the practice of law altogether.

Sometimes, leaving is the right thing to do.

For me, it’s just a reflex.

Only once in my life was it glaringly obvious that I shouldn’t leave.

Not that I didn’t try.  I had papers ready to be filed.  I had cried to my parents.  I had shared with my friends.  Because, too insecure to decide on my own, I always test the waters before jumping ship.  Like every other time, it appeared no one would hate me if I did it.  Except my future ex-husband I suppose.

I couldn’t leave.  Not this time.  My typical ‘fight or flight’ response was stalled.  This time I had to fight for my marriage.  This time I had to say goodbye to my flight urge.

That was five years ago.  Since then we’ve shared so much love, life, growth and acceptance.  There has been adventure and comedy; forgiveness and compromise.  We’ve shared dreams.  We’ve watched them come true.  We’ve cried when they didn’t.

Strength isn’t leaving.  Strength isn’t staying.  It’s not an action at all.

Strength is knowing.  Strength is facing yourself head on.  Strength is daring to act consciously.

“I want to stay,” I begged.

Alone, I could have flown; but together we soar.

It’s been a beautiful journey.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

In my continued quest as a writer, I am linking up with Yeah Write for their Summer Writer’s Series.  Week one: writing a clear narrative.