Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Lucky One

I sometimes forget just how lucky I am.
This past weekend, I spent some time with The Boy, and I was reminded.
As one who has lived most of my adult life as a self-employed single mother, it has too often been all too easy to count the ways my life was lacking.
For starters, there was that whole “single” business.  Which often felt more like, “destined to die sad, horny and alone.”  Blech.  No fun.
Then there was the living situation.  My son and I lived in a series of rentals.  The place we stayed the longest - seven years - was a one-bedroom apartment.  The Boy thought it was normal for Mom to sleep in the living room.
Money?  Don’t get me started.  Paying the bills was a juggling act.  Car repairs or unexpected medical expenses were a disaster.  I hid in the bathroom and wept every time The Boy found a new interest requiring lesson fees or equipment.
Material gains I made in recent years - building my business, saving, owning a home, investing with a man I loved in a future together - were largely lost in my divorce.  The Boy is in college and those tuition bills are rolling in.  I am back to living in a rental, back to working every spare minute to make ends meet. 
Whiny and bleak with a side of poor-me, anyone?
Of course, that’s not the whole story.
Singlehood?  Sure, I’d have preferred a long-term love story, but I’ve had some really great guys in my life - so there’s that.  Even the most difficult of my relationships has helped me learn and grow.  And damn, I’ve had a whole lot of fun, too.
Those rentals?  The early ones were chosen to place us near schools where The Boy could get the best possible start in education, first at Montessori Children’s House in Providence, RI, then at Friends Academy in Dartmouth, MA.  For several years, fully half my income went to private school tuition - and it was worth every penny.
The seven years spent sleeping in the living room?  I’ll get far less pity when I tell you our small apartment was in a multimillion-dollar house on the water.  The Boy grew up able to fish for crabs from the dock in his back yard, paddle around the marshes in a kayak, make snow angels in the stillness that envelops a salt pond on a winter night.
Money?  Maybe the bills would have been easier to pay if I hadn’t been hell-bent on seeing to it that The Boy didn’t suffer for my failings.  We could have stayed home, could have socked away a little more in the rainy-day fund, but having a child felt to me like having a fresh pair of eyes with which to explore the world.  So we explored.  Hiking ruins in Mexico, skiing in northern New England, snorkeling in the Florida Keys, road trips to DC and Boston and New York.  If you want to know how to travel well on a seriously-shoestring budget, I’m your girl.
And now?  I’ve found another tiny rental with a million-dollar view. The Boy has earned scholarships that defray the tuition bills.  Business is booming.  And while, ultimately, I suppose we all die alone, sad and horny feels like less of a given these days.  
This past weekend, I drove on winding back roads with fall leaves swirling in the sunshine overhead.  The Boy and I sang along with the radio for a while, then I left him at his dormitory and continued on my own.  I felt my heart - that thing I feared mere months ago was broken beyond repair - open wide.
In that moment, I remembered:
                                  just how lucky I am.

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