I used to play it safe. I spent years upon years living in a city I didn’t like, working in a job I loathed, and dating men who didn’t know how to love.
Essentially, I was flatlining.
Yet I stayed there – in that city, in that job, and in that relationship – because it was comfortable; it was safe.
I’m not always as diligent in the spring cleaning department, but I do make it a point every once in a while of cleaning out my closet of stuff that have accumulated over the years. It’s always interesting what I find. I’m always reminded of different points in my life, when I was into this or that fashion. Or household trinkets of one or other design style. It speaks to who I am and where I was. It also reminds me to be grateful for all that I have because I have so much.
So it was quite a surprise when I found myself not rummaging through my vintage fashion but through the vintage stages of my life when my childhood babysitter Mary called me out of the blue to let me know that she was visiting the area. I hadn’t seen her since I was thirteen or fourteen, but little did I know that spending time with her would be equivalent to my rummaging through the hallmarks of my closet. Only instead of pulling out long-forgotten personal treasures, I was nudged into re-evaluating where I was in life and where I wanted to be.
Throughout my life it feels as though I have constantly faced an uphill battle to hold on to those that pass my way. My father up and left when I was just six years old and my ‘step’ dad barely lasted 10 years after that.
The friends that I grew up with have all left town and every girl that I have ever dated is now long gone.
I was growing by leaps and bounds. My weekends were spent in various staff development seminars or sitting at the kitchen table planning lessons. I received The Teacher of the Year award. Every year, I received glowing reviews. One year, I received a promotion. Ah, the good life.
Meanwhile, my partner CJ navigated carefully around the prickly, often frigid, and always exhausted person he did not marry. The old me had left the building, and it seemed I had taken fun with me. While we still loved each other, our relationship revolved around work and talk of work.
Who would be your perfect spouse? Your Mr. or Mrs. Right?
I bet most of us have come up with answers to these questions, whether informally in our head or on a checklist we keep at the bottom of a desk drawer.
When I was a teenager this question of ‘Who is your Mr. Right?’ was forever turned on it’s head by an older, happily married gentleman. He said words that I’ve never forgotten.
In Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, the young revolutionary Laigle abandons his legal career and declares, “I renounce the triumphs of the bar.” A few months ago, so did I. After seven years of practicing law, I resigned from my boutique firm, spurred by the usual sorts of misgivings about the white-collar world: the emotional emptiness of the work, the dubious clamour for money, and the never-ending stress.
And for what pursuit did I cast aside my stable, well-paid legal career? Being a children’s book author and illustrator.