Meanwhile, back in London…
I started on the fortune cookies again; I couldn’t help myself. I’m a seeker; a romantic, but I also want answers packaged in neat boxes. Or tasty little envelopes, as the case may be. Like some kind of pilgrim or fool, I slouch towards the cookie jar. During the weeks I am not here, the cookies are saved for me. When I am here, we order extras.
Whoever writes the fortunes for the cookies at our preferred Chinese restaurant is some kind of vicious seer; a peculiar prophet. Everyone else winds up with perfectly normal fortunes, and mine are like something out of a strange film.
I broke open my first cookie and found:
What to make of this?
Do I have a plan? What’s my plan? Did I ever have a plan? The answer to the “did I ever?” question is…yes, I did, once upon a time. That Plan was implemented and executed through 2005. It was a plan of the ordinary sort: college, law school, law firm, marriage, etc. But as my best friend always said, I was more focused on the ends than the means.
But is there now a plan? A goal to achieve?
I sent the fortune to a friend who was also on travel; someone who was in a time-zone that would have him as awake as I was.
Do you have an ideal plan? he asked, I’m still searching for one.
Same. But whatever I come up with, I’m apparently supposed to reconsider it.
There we were, two outwardly successful people, momentarily evaluating our lives based on a message in a fortune cookie. Hmmm.
Maybe the planning question is one some people never have to answer. Maybe some make the plan I made, and they stick to it, and they live moderately happily ever after. But I was Eve with the apple — the sweetest apple I ever tasted. Is there a plan for life outside the Garden? I’m not sure.
We went back and forth for a few moments about potential schemes, until I settled on one:
So, I finally said, Stop taking advice from fortune cookies, i.e., reconsider ideal plan.
The week in London went by quickly after that — meetings, calls, lunches, working late into the night on the New York day. Then, today, it occurred to me that I had begun my blogging project seven years ago this month; sometime around Columbus Day 2004. So I went back and I checked for the exact date. What I found was this:
Sometimes I wonder…
Today we are at Andrew’s parents house, and we drove a long way to Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island. This was notable both because of the long drive, and because the last time I was there was the day before Thanksgiving last year, with Beth Ann. Today Beth ran the Chicago marathon. Today, I bought new lipstick.
I wish I had run a marathon today. I used to be ready to run a marathon, but I went and tore the cartilage in my knee. Then I tore it again, and finally, I tore my MCL and the cartilage and the scar tissue. That was a year ago, Halloween. The same weekend Beth decided to run the marathon.
I am having an angst filled day because, for the first time in my life, I don’t know what I want “next.” I always knew after high school, I’d go to college. And after college, I’d go to law school. And I thought after law school, I’d get married and become a lawyer. I’m getting married, of course, but will I really be happy as a lawyer?
What next, I wonder?
I got my engagement ring cleaned yesterday. It made me feel productive. Anyway, the diamond sparkles like crazy. And that makes me happy.
Maybe I should call my mother. At times like this she is usually chock-full of good advice and details about all the people who have it worse than me.
And there it was: me, seven years ago, on the cusp of The Plan’s inevitable end; the yawning expanse of Planlessness head of me.
I’ve married and divorced in these intervening seven years. I’ve run eight marathons — including the Chicago Marathon this past Sunday, the very race referenced in my first post. I’ve left Washington; I’ve moved to Manhattan. I’ve given up wearing the shiny diamond (I still can’t seem to part with it, though I swore I would).
So: Do you have an ideal plan?
I had only The Plan that ended; the one that I reconsidered, over and over; the usual plan. But this summer was one of coming to terms with not being cut out for that plan; of living with Oldest Child Guilt for having needs that were maybe nothing like ordinary needs, or that were acutely like ordinary needs but that I needed to have met in a way that some did not.
So I suppose the plan is not to NOT have a plan, but to again reconsider the end of the Ideal Plan, and to continue leap-frogging through these planned and unplanned standstill moments; these moments of beginning again.