When I was about 16, I read a book, Tracks, by Robyn Davidson. It's the story of her 1,700 mile solo trek from Alice Springs, Australia west to the Indian Ocean. She was the kind of woman who I wanted to be. Hers was the kind of life that I began to dream about living. She was beautiful and strong and she wore sarongs and sandals and made them look like a fashionable adventure uniform. Life happened to me and I did have adventures. I traveled and I lived in many different places, went to school, and had many wonderful times with a long list of amazing friends. I had my share of relationships and one night stands, not with the likes of Salman Rushdie, like Robyn, but with a slew of men who were mostly horrible for me. I made many, many bad choices and an equal number of good ones.
They say that the heart wants what the heart wants, and what my heart seemed to want, in addition to travel and adventure and instead of new men, was a to fall in love, marry, and start a family. So I did those things. I found a man who is kind to me no matter how difficult or unreasonable I am. We had two very beautiful, smart, amazing children. We bought a house and settled down to live in this town in the high desert of Western Colorado.
I have been living this life now for 8 years and I have been somewhat miserable for every second of that time. I didn't realize just how miserable I had been feeling until my husband asked me last night, "Wasn't there some time when you were younger when something happened and you just knew what you wanted to do with your life?" Before he had even finished that sentence, everything came rushing back to me and I realized that for all of this time I have only been allowing myself to be part of the woman who I want to be. For some reason I made up rules for myself, rules that seemed to say, "You must choose, you can't do both." These rules have made me very unhappy and they have made it difficult for me to be the wife and mother who I want to be. I realized, though, with the help of my wise husband, that I'm the one who gets to define what adventure is. This crazy life of being everything to two still very small people is amazing, tragic, exhausting, exhilarating, confusing and the most important thing that I will ever do in my whole life. So, even if I do go on to have other great adventures, adventures that don't have anything to do with being a mother or a wife, and I hope I do because it's what I truly want and what I want my children to see me doing, nothing will beat the amazing parts of this mother journey on which I am both guide and awe struck onlooker. Nothing will ever be better than how my daughter's face fits perfectly into the crook of my neck or my son tells me that he loves me more. Nothing.
And so I move forward. My life here in the high desert may not be a solo trek, but it is my own adventure and the steps of my days are worth writing about AND worth hearing about. I shall write down those rules that have made me so unhappy on a beautiful piece of paper and then tear it into a thousand pieces and allow the wind to carry them away from me. I shall enjoy each day. I shall write like there's no tomorrow. And lastly, I shall wear sandals and sarongs as often as possible, because, of course, no adventure, even the adventure of being a mother, would be complete without them.