If Only They Knew

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I will never be accused of behaving like the rabbit in the folktale of old. Instead slow and steady is my pace. I obsess over decisions until I finally make them. My planning to do or purchase things may take months or years. Only once in my life did I do something impulsive and that quick choice might have been a disaster, but luckily was not.

I was a month shy of twenty years old when I walked down the aisle to marry my husband. He was as wet behind the ears as I was, but at least he was a legal twenty one. We looked like children dressed in wedding clothes, but somehow I knew that in spite of the rapid nature of my decision it was the right one. I believed that if I had chosen to walk away from the relationship and think it over for a couple of years I might have ended up regretting my hesitation for the rest of my life.

I look back now and consider all of the possibilities that might have made my impulsive move a total disaster. Neither of us had any real skills or a steady job. We were launching our life together on a wing and a prayer. We found a nice little apartment with all utilities paid as part of the one hundred ten dollar a month rent and tucked away our wedding gifts in the drawers of second hand furniture. The only thing new in our tiny home was a burnt orange sofa that we purchased from FedMart with funds that we had earned from our summer jobs. Somehow we were as happy as any two people have ever been and not even aware enough notice that we were barely making it on our slender budget. 

Some evenings we ate cooked cabbage for dinner with canned pineapple for dessert. Once in awhile my mother-in-law would purchase a side of a cow and give us a few packages of meat. My mother brought us bags of vegetables and fruit. She had taught me how to make a feast out of almost nothing, so we never starved. 

Eventually we found our footing financially and expanded our family with the arrival of two little girls. My more cautionary nature took hold about that time, so it took me a long while to agree to purchase a house. Even then I was very conservative in what I was willing to spend. We ended up with a gem that was a bargain to boot. We would live in that house for over thirty years remodeling it once to expand the square footage and make it a bit more livable. During that time we had the most wonderful neighbors with whom we forged a lasting friendship. Life was as good on our street as I had imagined and hoped it would be. 

To this day I measure my decisions very carefully. I may sometimes appear to be spontaneous, but that is only because I silently stew over what to do before I finally feel that the time is right. So it was when we decided to move from the home that had seen birthdays, graduations, promotions, evenings with friends, holidays, and grieving for loved ones we had lost. It was a difficult determination, not at all like knowing that the time for getting married was exactly right. Even when we had sold the house and the movers had taken all of our things to the new home, I stood in the empty rooms sobbing and questioning why I had thought it was a good idea to leave. 

As it happened the old neighborhood eventually deteriorated. The neighbors we had grown to love moved away or died. Our new home became a happy place with as many memories as the old. We saw that the cycle of life moves forward whether we wish it to or not. We can’t stop the passage of our lives or the goodbyes to old friends. All of it is inevitable. The trick is in knowing when it is time for a change, for something new. 

I’ve learned to trust my instincts. Somehow they have always served me well, but only that one time that I got married almost without thought have I ever jumped at a change or a major purchase. I’ve learned to be patient, willing to wait for exactly the right moment to try a new job, take a trip, make an investment, get a new hairstyle.

I’ve seen that life is going to send many curve balls my way that force me to react. Emergencies arise and I do not have the luxury to hesitate. The water raining from the ceiling has to be cleaned up immediately, the dead battery has to be replaced. If I have been careful in all other things I have the wherewithal and the energy to take care of the unexpected. I save my rashness for such times. 

Nonetheless, I dream. I imagine throwing caution to the wind and moving to the mountains that I so love. I think of purchasing a plane ticket to fly to London and then crossing the Channel to France where I will begin a grand tour of Europe with no thought of how long I will be gone or how much I will spend. Instead I curb such dreams, compromising by thinking of how and when I might create a more defined plan that allows me to go to London and Paris without damaging my bank account. I find a time when I won’t have to worry about my father-in-law’s care while I am gone. When I have it all figured out I will move quickly leading some around me to wonder how I get by with being so impulsive. If only they knew the complexity of my thinking that allows me to finally make a move.


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