It all started on a typical morning in Seattle. White-skied, mossy, and diaper intensive.
(WAIT, DON'T GO!! This isn't a "woes of the young mommy" blog, I promise!)
While my eight-going-on-forty year old fixed oatmeal for himself and his sisters, I dealt with the apparent tsunami that had washed over the baby's crib (and young mommies, be warned: for the next twenty years everything that hits your nose is going to smell like a New Jersey bus station, no matter how many Salt City Cinnamon Flame Throwers you have burning all over your house) and, having momentarily diverted all power to hands-free nose-plugging efforts, I inadvertently lowered my shields and was hit right in the starboard engines with that most dangerous of all epiphanal questions-to-self:
Is this REALLY what I signed up for??
See, I was pretty sure I had it mapped out: Marry the cute guy up the street, teach high school music while the cute guy managed a business office or cooked meth or did whatever you do with an accounting degree, have a couple of kids, and live out my days in Fill-in-the-Blank, Utah.
Blinked twice, and the cute guy was a federal agent (and most decidedly not a meth-cooker), I had never taught a day of school, and we were living on the dark side of the moon, aka Seattle, Washington, November, 1990.
(Remember that winter, Seattle-ites? That was the year the I-90 bridge sank to the bottom of Lake Washington because - try to follow the complicated laws of physics here - when you drill a bunch of holes into a big ol' floaty thing without first getting all the water out of the way, and then it rains, the big water and the sky water hook up in the holes and before you know it, the floaty thing, well, isn't one any more.)
This was, conveniently, the bridge that led to our home on Mercer Island.
And I should have realized then: Life wasn't going to follow my little map, which was probably just as well, as I seemed to have a knack for finding the proverbial sinking bridge and parking my future on it. In fact, life was going to take my map, wipe its nose on it, run it through an industrial wood chipper, poo on the map-chips, stuff it into a lunch sack, set fire to it, and leave it on my porch before ringing my metaphorical doorbell and running away giggling.
Now, 18 years, two kids and two major moves later, I find myself living in the one place I vowed I would never in a hundred million years live - Las Vegas - and gloriously, miraculously, am happy and content with this strange, unexpected life which occasionally feels like a loaner until the real one - the one I planned for - is out of the shop. All that remains of that old life plan is a little piece of brown bag stuck to the bottom of my soul that, on closer inspection, has the fading smell of something past but not quite forgotten...
...moss, cinnamon candles, and a New Jersey bus station.