When you look back you can see markers on the road. Sometimes there is peeled rubber stuck to pavement, places where you suddenly stopped. There might even be tire tracks on the verges where a three point turn was executed but not followed through - because you wanted to see what was over the hill. When you get to the top, looking over more road that's similar to what you've been traveling, you finally do turn around, retracing your path, going back to that fork in the road. Then you start down a different path
Good thing I like road trips.
"How many times can you leave it all behind and start fresh?"
According to a very dear friend, "as many times as you fucking want."
Right now the trunk of my car is full of art supplies; boxes of acrylic paint have expanded and shrunk as Oklahoma fluctuated from hot to cold, a stack of x-rays I took in school and kept with the intent of turning into unsettling art slide around, and shoved in the back is a small plastic tub full of keepsake baby clothes. These clothes are extra tiny, so small you'd wonder if little humans could fit in such ridiculous pieces of cotton. They did, at one point, brand new with that smell of infant that is like nothing else.
The floorboards in the backseat are in a similar state; plastic hangers poke out randomly, a laundry basket full of clothes that started out clean but are now far from it, a box containing an unopened bottle of olive oil and red wine vinegar, and various small knick-knacks.
I have yet to completely unpack my car. Part of me is hoping I'll come out one morning and the car cleaning fairies will have visited (please tell me this is a real thing - also, I'd like to have my bumper reattached with something stronger than bungee cords). All the graham cracker crumbs will be gone from under the toddler seat and the smell of rotted fruit will be gone too because someone finally found that half eaten apple my toddler threw while I was driving. I've looked everywhere for that thing and I still can't find it.
I'm not sure why I haven't taken the final step, brought those things inside and found places for them in my new apartment. Even inside there are boxes that I have yet to unpack. The closet in the hall is full of them. I opened them, looked inside, and stuck them out of sight.
The explanation that I'm starting to lean toward is that the things in the car, in the boxes, at the bottom of my purse, are things that I don't really need anymore but that I'm afraid to let go of. I'm afraid that at some future point I'll need it. Even though I am not that person anymore, even though I will never be that person again, I hold on.
"It's no use to go back to yesterday because I was a different person then." - Lewis Carroll Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
I've been in a new apartment for several months. Long enough that I've looked at blank walls and decided they would look better with art. Long enough to feel that I've reached a point of independence. I'm starting over but it doesn't feel like starting over, it feels like picking things back up, it feels like realizing you didn't finish that book on your nightstand. I have taken out the bookmark to continue reading.
Book and road analogies, ways to say things without really saying them. Also tools to process events.
"This will be your second divorce, you have two children under two, and you're thirty-one years old. You are not doing this again."
As a collective bunch we tell each other it's never too late to turn around, that if you find yourself on the wrong road you shouldn't be ashamed to stop. Do those words only apply to someone who has made a choice at odds with society's expectations of good conduct? Shouldn't they also apply to a woman who has found the life she's in nothing like the one hoped for?
When you have two very small children and you voice the possibility of divorce something you hear again and again is what about the children? You should stay for the kids. You should think about your kids first. You need to think how they'll do without both parents in the same house. You're being selfish not considering how they'll handle the situation.
It's the mother of all guilt trips. It's a Guilt Trip with capital letters and fucking neon signs. It's the kind of Guilt Trip that wakes you up at three am just to remind you that you're a bad parent and someday soon your kids will be sitting in a therapist's office talking about the time mommy ruined the family.
The other side of that are the people who say how can you make your kids happy if you aren't happy?
Leaps of faith, half finished books, and u-turns. It's a collection of motivational uplifting memes that get shared around facebook like the world will end if you don't share one more blasted item. It's an outside voice trying to convince the inside voice that everything is going to be okay. It's the outside talking the inside off a ledge while the inside one is screaming about those things being horse shit and waving around a burning bra.
You are ridiculed and applauded, judged and found wanting, focused on to the point of indecent exposure and expected to stand up under it all without cracking. And all the while a constant litany of questions rolls through your brain like a news banner, the faces of your children looking up and seeing mom. Not a woman losing it, trying to pull it all back together and armed with the biggest fucking roll of duct tape you've ever goddamned seen, but a slightly frazzled woman trying to be more patient and more kind and more giving.
I'm not afraid.