The So Many Choices

summer at the lakeBeing newly single and on my own after being not single or on my own for almost 20 years has been…interesting. Many things are more settled now than they were a year or even six months ago, but I am still feeling my way through some parts of this new landscape.

The main thing I am noticing is just how many choices I have to make, all the time, each with the same underlying question: Who and how do you want to be in the world? 

I guess that question applied to me before the divorce as much as it does now. Really it pulses behind every decision that any of us make, every day.

But these days, I am more aware of it. Maybe that’s because I am the only one making decisions about my life now. Maybe it’s because there’s less about my life that feels already decided, and I have more choices to make. Maybe it’s because deciding something as weighty as the dissolution of a marriage has led me to more carefully weigh choices about everything else in my life.

Who and how do you want to be in the world?

I’m finding dating to be really challenging. Sometimes, it seems fun; I work really hard, both for my job and as a parent, and it’s nice to take a break and get out of the house from time to time, meet someone new—have a cup of coffee or some chips & queso—and hear a few snippets of someone else’s life story. I like meeting people. I like stories.

But then, there they are: The So Many Choices.

Every person I meet is a new invitation to imagine my life differently. What would my life be like if I were partnered with this person? The guy who doesn’t have a TV and who is learning how to keep bees. The guy who texted me pictures of his kids for a full week before we ever even met. The guy who was Jewish but who frowns on organized religion and so much “superstition.”

A few days ago, I removed myself from the online dating world. I was feeling pulled, stretched, divided. Maybe I’ll enter that world again someday—but not today.

The days are getting longer and warmer. There are just a little more than four more weeks of school, my 14-year old tells me. I’ve lived in my neighborhood for longer than a year now. Guess that’s why the sunlight and the heat is beginning to remind me of lazy days from last summer: afternoon naps at the rental house, fueled by the ceiling fan; reading Anne Lamott in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, hardwood floor creaking when I got up to walk around; Shabbat afternoons at the lake; and quiet, sun-drenched Sunday mornings, still and hot.

Funny—they are positive feelings, positive memories, even though I know that many things a year ago were pain-filled as I mourned the divorce and tried to get used to having the kids only half the time.

Who and how do you want to be in the world?

It has become clear that I need to buy a new lawn mower—one with more power in order to cut the weeds rather than just push them over. The front bed needs a Sunday morning’s worth of weed pulling, and soon. This summer, I look forward to sharing time with friends, and as well as a vacation with my family and the kids. I have some art projects and some Jewish study I’d like to do. I hope to meet more of my neighbors.

Today, this is the choice I make: I choose to appreciate my life as it is—the empty parts contributing to the vibrancy and the fullness of whole. It is good. It is enough.

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