I am alone today.
This morning I sent Ryan out the hotel room door in his new digs to his first real-life interview for his first real-life job for a real-life career. I took his picture at the hotel room door before he left, just like I do for the kids on their first day of school.
I got all choked up and emotional, for a million different reasons including the realization that this is all finally here; that a journey which began before low-rise jeans and reality TV, will be ending with gasoline at $3.50 a gallon and O.J. Simpson facing life in prison. OK, I guess that wasn’t the best example, but you catch my drift—it’s been a long time.
In the back of my head, I can barely recall the conversation when, as a newlywed part-time sophomore in college, Ryan told me that he knew what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to quit his job, go to school full time, apply to graduate school and get a doctorate degree in Psychology.
I remember thinking that it was quite a plan, so thought-out. For a couple that tells each other everything, including the color and texture of our belly button lint, I was surprised that he had come to this conclusion somewhere in the depths of his own private soul. And then I understood why. He humbly—and there’s no other word but humbly—explained what that might mean for me.
He asked if I’d be willing to support him through this in every way, but most inconveniently, in the financial sense. I had always planned that when I had a baby, I’d quit my job and stay at home and raise our kids. I’d never, until that point, considered any other path. It took me a while to catch up to where he was, to look at this new blueprint of our lives, and to realize that it wasn’t what I’d sketched out at all.
I agreed, of course. How could I not? He’s the freaking love of my life. I had no idea what it was going to take to accomplish this, but I knew that we could do it. Probably. I mean, I figured that we had a 50/50 shot. Then I curled up in the fetal position and said goodbye to my life plan.
We jumped in almost immediately and began living out the new plan. And I made an early decision that I would never focus on the finish line; it was so far away and I suffer from chronic impatience. So, I never thought about any of this. I never began making the plan for life after school. I never imagined these days and where they would take us and how this would feel.
And today, I’m alone in a hotel room while Ryan is giving his talk and spending the entire day in interviews with a university faculty. He is shaking hands and meeting people, and I am sitting here as if in a dream. First of all, I don’t remember the last time that I spent an entire day alone. It’s…weird. It is leaving me with my uninterrupted thoughts, and I’m not used to that. I feel like I’ve come to the last page of the last chapter of a book, and when I begin fingering the page to turn it, I realize that there are a thousand more pages to come and what I thought was the end is only part-way through.
I’m going to take this rare day of all days and spend some time with these thoughts. I’m going to bask in the happy ones. I’m going to revel in the satisfied ones. I’m going to laugh at the funny ones. And I’m going to let the scary, unfamiliar ones have a few brief moments to plead their case, to reach out their hands and take mine and remind me that sometimes the unintended, unexplored paths lead to the best places of all.
And I’m also going to jump on the bed for a while, because, hey—why not?