Twenty years have passed, and in some ways I feel that I am back at square one. I have often wondered how my life would have unfolded if I had broken up with my boyfriend as I had resolved to do that sunny day in July.
I didn’t, and we were together for another ten years, complete with a marriage and two children. I knew that it was the right thing for me to end it, but I lacked the courage to do it. Was that wrong? I don’t know. But I do know that twenty years later, after two children, a successful career as a lawyer and a competitive golfer, and two failed marriages, I am starting over. I don’t feel twenty years older, so I guess I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
Whenever I hear a song from The Skydiggers’ “Restless” album (I still play it all the time), it takes me right back to that day in 1994. I can feel the wind buffeting me and blowing in my hair as I drove down the highway in the hot summer sun, convertible top down, music blasting from the speakers.
I was unhappy. I knew I was unhappy. In fact, I was angry. My boyfriend had harangued me before leaving the city, asking me why I was wasting my time taking a week off work (away from him) to play in the provincial golf tournament. “It’s not like you have any chance of winning” is what he said to me. Can you fucking believe that? I ended up finishing second, one stroke off the lead. Fucker. Even my best friend, all seventeen years of her, knew enough to say to me, “he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about. You’re AWESOME.” She’s still my best friend.
And after having two beautiful children and a handful of additional second-place finishes, I did eventually win that tournament a few years later. (And no, he didn’t apologize. He never apologized. I eventually did something about that. I left him.) I knew then that I needed to make some difficult decisions. And driving in my Jeep, in the hot July sun, to a golf tournament, I felt more like myself than I had for a long time. To use an athlete’s expression, I was in the Zone. Everything made sense: my vision was clearer, the music was inspiring, I felt like I could do anything. I knew what I wanted. I wasn’t even scared. Yet.
But I came home six days later (somewhat victorious), and I couldn’t even begin that difficult conversation. How could I tell my boyfriend of three years that I had just never felt the same since we reconciled after a six month “break”? How could I hurt someone that I cared about but wasn’t making me happy? I remember how that felt. I feel it again now, often. Inertia is so much easier than closing your eyes and jumping. We convince ourselves that there will be a better time to do it. And, I have learned, that years, even decades can pass, while one refuses to make that difficult decision. Does that make the decision any easier?
I am thinking not. Now, I have two children whom I love dearly, and whom I fear I will lose or damage irreparably if I follow my heart. I have baggage (oh god do I have baggage). I have two ex-husbands. I have left four different jobs because they were killing my soul (some faster than others).
But I also have many things I did not have in 1994. I know myself, perhaps better than I would sometimes like. I have succeeded at many things; in fact, most things I have attempted. I know now that I always take the long way around, and that’s okay. Because even burdened by inertia and fear and the illusion of fitting in, I know that I would have chosen the long way anyhow. There is usually a lot more scenery, and a little more adventure the long way around.
It’s been two long years now since the top of the world came crashing down and I’m getting back on the road now
But I’m takin’ the long way – takin’ the long way around – I’m takin’ the long way – takin’ the long way around
Well I fought with a stranger and I met myself – I opened my mouth and I heard myself – It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself – Guess I could have made it easier on myself
But I- I could never follow – No I – I could never follow
Well I never seem to do it like anybody else – Maybe someday, someday I’m gonna settle down – If you ever want to find me I can still be found – Takin the long way – Takin the long way around
Dixie Chicks – Taking The Long Way Around