“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King
For many of you, it’s another Wednesday. For me, it’s day six. Day six doing what I said I was going to do for the past three summers since my separation, but did not do. Day six doing what I did not do before because of fear, a guy, or good old-fashioned procrastination. Day six doing my own thing in a strange city. Day six doing it, alone.
With two teenagers and one entering his last year of elementary school this fall, I am in that parenting sweet spot. My children are old enough to be off doing their own thing (sleepaway camp for my son and teen tours for my two girls), enabling me to spend a few weeks reacquainting or, simply, acquainting myself with… me. The post-divorce me.
Though this plan was a long time in the making, I only planned it a few weeks ago. A quick email to a friend asking where I should go and how I could find accommodations suited to my needs, his short list included beautiful Savannah and a link to VRBO.
I write to you now from my rented third-floor apartment on one of historic Savannah’s most picturesque tree-lined streets, where I have been staying ever since last Friday.
Prior to my arrival, I spent three days on Fire Island with two college friends. After that, I made a quick stop home for one night to regroup and got on a plane early the next morning.
To be honest, I had no time to even think about what I was to doing. No opportunity to be afraid.
It was only when I opened the front door to this charming three-story walk up and was confronted with a narrow flight of stairs that ominously turned left at the top (to where I did not know) that I thought to myself, “What have I done?”
With all my might, I dragged my suitcase up those stairs myself, sweating by the time I reached the top. But the effort was well worth my while because, inside, I was met with the most charming setting I could possibly imagine to begin working on my first book, and continue working on me.
For two weeks, my life is simple. I have no car. I carry a bag big enough to fit only my keys, cash, credit card, and lipstick. I walk everywhere I can and take Uber when I cannot.
This is not a vacation. This is a simulation. A test.
Will I be able to live on my own? Be on my own? And find the right place where I should be living when that day finally comes?
I admit I may sound crazy. I have eight years before my youngest goes off to college, before I am officially by myself. But it is not only my children’s ages, and consequent independence, that puts me in a sweet spot. It is also my own age. At 42, I am not old, but I have acquired the wisdom of someone who is no longer young.
I know the love of my life may never find me, or I him.
Which is why I am finding my own way, my life, first.
Am I happy? That question came from a close friend from home on day four of my “experiment.” She is still waiting for my answer because, up to now, I did not have one to give.
Today, I do.
Happiness is relative. I am happy my family and I are in good health. I am happy when I go out for my morning walk, or eat a nice meal. I am happy I have the good fortune to live the life I do, despite the struggles I now face as a divorced, single parent.
Am I happy I am alone? Most definitely not. I believe I would be that much happier if I had someone with whom to share my life.
I would prefer to share my morning walk with a partner, with someone I love and who loves me. I would prefer to share a meal with someone rather than eat alone. I would prefer to take that trolley tour, ghost tour, or synagogue tour (each of which I have enjoyed here during my stay so far), or simply stroll along the Savannah River as I have done with someone who shares my common interests and my passions.
But that does not mean I cannot be happy, alone. Enjoy my life, alone. It just takes some effort, that’s all. A little courage. And, most of all, a big smile, especially when the last thing I feel like doing is smiling.
Life is for the living. And I am living mine, taking one step at a time.
What steps have you taken toward embracing your new life post-divorce?