Before I begin, may I ask? Is Robert Frost so terribly popular everywhere else as he is in New England? Gosh, I hope so. For your sakes, really.
In keeping with two themes of the week:
1) My sister informed me that a lone quote does not a blog post make. And since I always take criticisms to heart, I will include both a quote and some thoughts. For you, Erin.
2) Difference. But I'll get to that.
Mostly I do not make a habit of dwelling on what could have been. On lives unlived. Generally I accept my lot in life and continue on my merry way, making the most of the life at hand. I am not particularly well off, nor stunningly gorgeous nor talent-show talented. And for the most part, this is okay with me. I enjoy my little life's work. My husband. My tiny apartment. Even my closer-to-death-everyday car which brings me from here to there.
But every now and then, a little glimpse of that life not lived comes into view.
Last night, while perusing the usual blog scene, I came across this absolutely beautiful wedding. And I recognized the location immediately. Adrian and I had planned to get married in that very same stunning barn. My parents had put down a deposit on the barn, a caterer, a photographer. We had everything.
And then I went to Mexico and I met my husband's parents.
We had always planned to do a civil ceremony here in Chicago months before our more formal, church wedding back home in Maine. But after seeing my husband's mother, I just knew that that one wedding in Chicago would be it. Her health was giving her trouble and I just didn't know where we would be in a year and a half. It seemed incredibly irresponsible to spend thousands of dollars on a ceremony I wasn't one hundred percent certain would happen. So we cancelled it. And thankfully, out of the kindness of their hearts, the vendors refunded us the money.
So I returned from Mexico and, with just three weeks time, turned the civil ceremony into the ceremony. I found a photographer here. I bought a white dress. I made decorations. I did everything I could to create an intimate twenty-person backyard wedding.
September 4, 2010 was beautiful. The ceremony was genuine. Authentic. And best of all, I married this guy that I still really like. And I am truly happy with the decision that I made during that visit to Mexico.
But when I saw those pictures the other night? I cried. For just a moment, I thought about what could have been. If circumstances had been different. If life had been a little easier. Or at least a bit less complicated.
I thought about what could have been if I had taken the other road. If I had stayed for another year at Boston College to get my master's. If I had gone into teaching at a public school in Boston as I had always said I would do. If I had met someone there along the way and married and moved to the suburbs and started a little family.
I probably would have had that wedding. With those pink heart balloons. And the beautiful ruffly dress.
But I didn't.
Because I chose something else. I moved to Chicago to volunteer for a year instead of getting my master's. And I took the job offered to me at the end of that year and became an ESL teacher for a non-profit rather than an elementary teacher in a public school. And I got an apartment in one of the toughest areas in the city rather than moving to the suburbs. And I met my husband, my love.
And when I think of it all that way, when I remember how I got here and who I have become in the process, I let go of those what ifs. They float away like those perfect pink heart balloons. Because while I may not have my master's or a perfectly preserved ruffly dress in my closet in the suburbs, I have a job I love, a husband who adores me and a strong sense of who I am and what I am willing to fight for.
And when I lay my head down at night, I am okay with my road less traveled.
In fact, I'm thrilled.