I’ve spent the better part of 10 years trying to figure out what I’ve wanted to do next. Skydiving? Climbing some obscure mountain? Going into space? All things I’d considered before deciding that I’d stay home with my wee germ factories and write; two events that I’d not foreseen coming. I knew this wasn’t going to be one of those THIS IS MY DREEEAMMM kind of things for me.
Initially, I wrote because I had no one to talk to and with a husband who (then) considered a sixty hour work week to be “a slow week,” which meant I was pretty lonesome. Kids, especially challenging tots like my Alex, who demanded that I hold him every second of his first year of life, don’t exactly allow you the freedom to go out and make! new! friends! nearly the same way you can when they’re older.
When I discovered that I did, in fact, like to write more than clinical research studies, I finally felt like I’d found that missing piece; I’d discovered what comes next, which was both intensely liberating and oddly arousing. Writing, though, especially on Teh Internetz, I knew was going to be something that lacked staying power, and while I love what I do more than I love butter, I’ve known for a long time that I had to find something more; something that truly completed me (and not in the stupid fucking Jerry What’s His Name movie).
For many moons, I thought it would be a book – I had agents, a proposal, and a wealth of unpublished essays I’d easily compile into a book (and have) – until the great crash of Aught Eight happened and the publishing industry became more shaky about publishing new authors than a Chihuahua at the vet.
I’d toyed with the idea of self-publishing for upwards of five seconds before dismissing it as something I’d never be proud of. I mean, sure, I could beg my Pranksters to help me promote my book, but honestly self-promotion like that makes my vagina hurt – and not in a “climbing ropes in gym class” way. Self-publishing is a good fit for some, I know this, but not me.
So I dropped the idea of finishing the book like a hot potato and founded Band Back Together instead. That, too, I knew wasn’t a forever thing for me. Sure, the site will always be there, but I knew then that I wanted, well, more from my life.
Since I’ve moved out, I’ve been struck both by an incredible case of The Lurgy and some pretty heavy shit to go through. Having to reinvent your whole life at 32 isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, no matter how necessary it may be (and it is). As I’ve sat on the couch, watching endless episodes of shitballs television, trying to work up the motivation to do things like “pee” or “brush my teeth,” I’ve been dipping my toes into the murky depths of my mind, trying, once again, to figure out what happens next.
As someone smarter than me once said, “if you don’t like the end of this chapter, it’s not the end.”
And it’s not.
Rather than dwell on the past, thinking on all of the ways I suck at life, the decision I’d been waiting for smacked me upside the head in the middle of a Law and Order: Don’t You Dare Bitch About Your Life.
It was time to go back to school.
Whaaaaa? I can hear you all asking the computer, wondering if the meds aren’t working properly AGAIN.
Let’s step into the wayback machine, Pranksters.
Many, many years ago, I lived in this very same apartment complex with my then-boyfriend as an act of both teenage rebellion and an inability to see what came next. I’d like to paint you a rosy picture of those days, but that’s like putting lipstick on a pig. Lost doesn’t begin to describe how I felt and try as I did, I couldn’t see a way out. I was working at the time, at a diner known for making things like “Macaroni Cheeseburgers” and milkshakes, getting miserably low tips because the cooks “hadn’t done the hashbrowns right” or other such nonsense. I took less than zero pride in my job or, to be fair, my life.
My then-boyfriend once remarked snarkily – after I’d fallen the eleventy-niner time that week in the ice cream cooler at work and was making love to a heating pad – “Wow, I make just as much as you do and I get to sit at a desk all day!” He laughed, meanly, and had my back not been on fire, I’d have popped out his eyeballs with an iced tea spoon. Instead, I sighed, waiting, once again, to see what came next.
He’s what came next.
I discovered I was pregnant shortly after Christmas of 2000 at the not-so-scandalous age of twenty, moved home, and popped his enormous melon out of my poor girly bits. The path then was clear: fuck becoming a doctor and get a degree that allowed me to make more than 10 bucks an hour going through fecal samples (I was halfway toward my BS in Biology/Chemistry). I took another waitressing job, this time, one that I loved, and met Dave halfway through nursing school. We married shortly after I graduated and Ben turned four.
Okay, I said to myself, this is what comes next…
…until that old itch started back up again – I couldn’t stay at home with my kids without going insane, I loved to write, but it’s nearly impossible to make a living doing so and, quite frankly, it was time to figure out what I wanted to happen with my life now. I could sit and wallow, feeling sorry for myself, immensely sad about the way everything ended, or I could make a change and do something for me. Something that made me proud of myself. Something that would open doors where windows had been firmly bolted.
It was time to dust a dream I’d so carefully packed into a box 10 years prior and make it happen. It was up to me this time and I was going to do what I had to do to move on with my life.
It’s time to get my PhD in one of the hard sciences – micro, virology, immunology, forensics, genetics. I don’t know which one I’ll go for. Not yet. But I will.
It’s time – really time – to start over. Only this time, it’s going to be for me.
And for the first time in as long as I can remember, I can hardly wait to see what happens next.