Anyway, when getting in touch it occurred to me that I would have to somehow articulate to her the turn my life took in terms of career in the last few years. When last in touch with Susan I had just been accepted to do doctoral work in English at Boston College. My intention was to become -- a Susan: a really really competent, fascinating and engaging professor of English.
And I ended up becoming a run and triathlon coach and an endurance athlete.
Life is weird.
The abrupt turn away from academia occurred when I became pregnant with Jordan. Or I should say, it occurred when I realized what being pregnant with Jordan MEANT. It meant we needed an income. It meant I would need to prioritize looking after a little baby over my studies. Looking down at my growing belly, it began to slowly dawn that earning a doctoral degree in English didn't seem to make quite as much as sense as it had when I applied.
And that was that. My academic career came to a screeching halt in favor of changing diapers, singing Hush-a-Bye and keeping us financially afloat (Andy was already half way down Doctorate Road; no making sharp turns for him) with my sixth grade teaching. And that dream, the dream of professorial greatness, faded, faded, faded.... until it was no longer a dream at all, and I was attending all female, neighborhood book groups in place of classes on The English Novel; discussing the latest Jodi Picoult, (quite contentedly, I will add) while sipping a glass of Pinot Grigio.
Isn't it interesting how sometimes life stops you cold, and then takes you for an incredibly sharp turn, and even though you don't quite realize it at the time, your life path has been irrecoverably altered? What would have happened had I NOT accidentally gotten pregnant at that time? I would've started doctoral work at BC; of that I am certain. Would I now be in Kansas trying to make it as an English professor, struggling with the thought that I had not yet become the next Susan? Would I be totally pretentious and annoying and trying desperately to publish meaningless articles on obscure topics in never-read journals? Would we still have had three kids? Would I have ever gotten into triathlon?
I don't regret that sharp turn. I don't want to go back and earn a doctorate. And I like that the life turn gave me, inadvertently, triathlon. I became both incredibly bored and incredibly overwhelmed trying to keep up with my career as a teacher after Jordan was born, and that state of affairs just got worse and worse with every child I bore. By the time Lara came around I needed an outlet so badly that my running took off in a way it never had before. And then I began triathloning. And here I am.
So from time to time I reflect on the whole "could I have ever been anyone other than me?" question. My little brain struggles to imagine a world in which I didn't travel on this road as opposed to another. How much of this life have I designed? How little?
I wonder these things as my children rage around me, setting fire to the furniture and hiding pencils and old plastic toys into my dogs' alimentary canals. Occasionally I wake from this reverie, fend off the vague sense that some children need guidance and disciplining, and then return and think, "Wow, man. And here I am."