Tuesday, January 06, 2009

One Fortune, Three Months Late

I almost didn't go running yesterday. I was at home. There was beer in the fridge. There was porn on the shelf. I start my spring classes tomorrow. There were things I wished to do, like laying on the couch and picking my toes, that did not involve a trip to the track. In fact, I decided I wasn't going running, and then I put on my pants and headed to the track anyway.

There was a small woman running ahead of me, and it turned out that she kept the perfect pace for me (let's pretend she wasn't a foot shorter and her stride wasn't half mine), so I was able to run a respectable distance behind her (and appreciate her little round ass) for most of my workout. After mile one, I thought I could make it another half mile before walking. After that, I decided that I could keep going until I hit two miles. My running partner (the stranger in front of me who probably didn't appreciate me riding her bumper) veered off the track for her cool down, and I decided just to run one more lap, which turned into another half a mile. Then I walked three laps, and proceeded to run an entire extra mile before cooling down. Three and a half miles last night, my friends. Not bad for one week of running.

As I ran, growing more confident with each step, I pondered the changes that have taken place in my life over the last six months or so. Gray and I decided to move closer to work. Then we decided to try for a family. We had a plan all worked out: how we would pay for the hospital, how we would finagle as much FMLA leave as possible so that we could stay home with our baby for nearly the first year of his life, how we would save for a house.

We had this plan, you see? How could anything go wrong when we had a plan, with plans we had planned out?

Still running, I remembered the fortune I got in a cookie a few weeks ago, which said, "Be prepared to modify your plan. It'll be good for you!" I don't take much stock in fortunes or astrological signs or spirituality or karma. I don't believe in anything, really, but coincidence and hard work. But as I reflected on the change of plans it predicted, I realized that it would have been appropriate about three months ago, just before we realized that our plans for a family weren't going to turn out the way we expected. But in the midst of that crushing grief, I undoubtedly would have been unreceptive to any message the little cookie strove to convey.

Now, though, three months later (a quarter of a year, a new calendar year, a day when I ran three and a half miles), perhaps I was ready to consider that message. Perhaps 2009 is a year for Catherine. A year in which I will be nobody's mother, nobody's keeper, nobody's caretaker. 2009 is for me to do all the things I never do for myself: get into the shape I've always wanted to be in, take classes that force me to stretch my writing abilities, focus on getting myself out of the lingering divorce-debt, stop smoking, get some dental work done that I've been putting off because of how much it costs, turn down invitations I have no interest in accepting, drink good wine even if it is a few more dollars for the bottle, stay up late on a night when early bed would be advised, sleep all day Sunday just for the hell of it, see if I can't find some volunteer work that makes me feel good about myself. Really focus on myself. Making myself happy in a way I've never really been able to do because of my responsibilities to other people.

There are children in my future, I have no doubt about that. But here I am, a twenty-five year-old divorcee, finally studying something I'm wildly passionate about, finally beginning to feel like I don't have to carry around the weight of the world on my shoulders. I've been given a chance to be selfish, and I think I might just take that chance and run with it. It'll be good for me.