If you were a friend of mine from high school or college, and decided to do a little friendly Facebook stalking, you wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see where I am today – happily married, and a stay at home mother to two hopelessly cute boys. The only thing mildly surprising you might find in my profile is that I moved across the country. If 21 year old me could have taken a peek, however, I think she would be both happy, and slightly surprised.
I left college the same way most of us do. Over educated, idealistic, unprepared, and broke. The night of my college graduation I lay awake in bed, terrified at what I had just done and what I was about to do. The day before I had ended a four year relationship. In an effort to ignore the dark tempest that had been brewing between us, I had decided to move across the country to join a service organization for a year, with a shaky promise that I would be back. Although I had every intention of moving home, I had no desire to keep the promise. And things were over.
Three months later, I flew across the country. I was free, finally free to be myself and pursue my dreams. I wanted to live radically, simply, to move to Haiti, to travel the world, and to remain single for a very, very long time. A few hours later, I met my husband. He introduced himself. I told him I was hungry and we could talk after I found something to eat. We married two years later. Thankfully, my plans seem to have a penchant for falling through.
We married young, but I had and still have every belief it was the right choice for us. I had no desire to put off our life together, and I likewise had no intention of settling down. We were young and in grad school, children and careers were far away on a distant horizon.
And then this time, a less welcome detour.
Two months after our wedding, I was diagnosed with an onslaught of frankly, quite embarrassing, painful conditions, including interstitial cystitis and endometriosis. The first is also known as painful bladder syndrome. Bet you weren’t expecting the word “bladder” to enter in here, were you? Neither was I. Having IC changed my life. The physical pain was, at times overwhelming, but the emotional pain was harder. The list of foods I had to avoid was three pages long, I couldn’t sit through an entire class without using the bathroom at least once, and I found it nearly impossible to talk about it with anyone. I saw dreams evaporating before my eyes. Traveling the world on an extremely restricted diet seemed impossible, even holding a job became questionable at times, and worst of all, because of the endometriosis, having kids became an uncertainty as well. It was some of the hardest times of my life, but I fell in love with my husband a thousand times more during it all.
We made the decision to start trying for children as soon as we would be out of school. And much to our surprise, I was suddenly pregnant. We moved, started new jobs, and had a beautiful boy. And much to our surprise again, we had another.
And suddenly, here I was, married, a mother, and still on the other side of the country.
It is a completely unsurprising story. No one is asking to buy the movie rights for the story of a white, college educated woman who married a white, college educated man and had babies. I’m sure none of my Facebook friends pause their scrolling at the pictures of my kids, faces covered in spaghetti sauce, and think, “I never pictured her doing that.” I am not surprised either, but the path that led me here was an unexpected one.
I am not unique. Each one of our lives are ordinarily complicated, hopelessly beautiful and majestically quotidian. Our journeys may not be the paths we have chose me but they are the ones we have taken. And they have brought us here.