If you could have the ability to see into the future, to see how things are going to turn out as the result of any given choice, would you want to? Would you want the ability to predict the future? This could be a handy skill, preventing you from taking that one route thereby avoiding that accident that resulted in your car being totaled. It could be a terrifying skill, particularly if you were unable to alter the future events by what you did in the present. I’m not sure I’d like having this ability. I think part of the growth as an individual comes from experiencing the struggle without knowing the outcomes. If we knew for sure everything would be okay or would not be, we might have a tendency to give up completely.
Three years ago, I had just moved out of the disaster of a house that I was living in. Sure, it was a great thing when I bought it and for seven years it provided my family with room and shelter. It is the only home my youngest knew, until we moved. She left her childhood home and her school in the same year. As a fifth grader, she moved into a new town, with a new school. This is always a rough transition for a kid who has difficulty making friends, but the transition was worsened by the fact that we moved from a mid-sized city, to a much smaller community where all the kids (and the parents too), had known each other probably since the parents went to school together. My daughter eventually made friends in her new community and ended up doing very well. She loved her fifth grade experience and school the following years ended up being a really positive experience, considering it was middle school. It was a difficult move for her, but it ended up being the best decision I made for her. I couldn’t have predicted that it would turn out this way, but I’m glad it did.
The move from this house was the first step in a series of decisions that started turning my life around from the struggling, overwhelmed, nearly defeated single mom with a house falling down around her to someone more in control of her life. At the time that I moved, I was living with a man who ended up being a very bad choice. After two years, he decided to get a job. That was a good thing. The thing he failed to communicate was that he’d been looking for and had found work outside the state, a good day’s drive away from where we lived. It became clear he was just using me as free room and board while he hunted for something better. When he told me what was going on, I gave him 30 minutes to pack his personal effects and get out. The locks were changed an hour later. It should have happened earlier. In fact, the entire relationship should never have happened, but when I was in that place, I was unable to see that. I was alone, with no support, and I was exhausted. It was nice to have the help around the house with the kids. The kids didn’t think so. They now refer to this person as He Who Shall Not Be Named. We’d all like to forget that period of time ever occurred. It’s a period of time in my life I deeply regret. I would have, in this one instance, appreciated the opportunity to see into the future in order to avoid these regrets. Having that individual leave my life improved my life dramatically.
About a year, after He Who Shall Not Be Named made his grand exit, I noticed this guy from high school, who worked overseas most of the year, kept messaging me on Facebook. He’d ask “What’s up?” Sometimes I responded. Sometimes I didn’t. Sometime around August 2013, we Skyped for the first time. At Thanksgiving, he mentioned he wanted to come see me at the holidays. “Yeah, right,” I thought. “How many times have I had this happen only to dissolve afterward?” I wasn’t holding my breath. He booked his flight to my little home town and we spent a week together. It was wonderful, but I thought, “We will see how this goes.” He didn’t disappear and six months later we were married. We’ve been married almost a year and a half. It is almost two years since he first booked those tickets to come see me. It’s a good marriage.
With this marriage, my life changed yet again. I had to spend the first year of our marriage finishing my job obligations, while my husband worked overseas, first in the Middle East, then in Rome, Bratislava and Lithuania. It also took us a year to figure out just exactly how and when we were going to combine our two households. In June 2015, after my job was finished, we packed up my belongings, loaded them on the largest U-Haul truck we could rent and hauled it all to Denver. Four days later, we (along with my youngest daughter) were in the air winging our way to Eastern Europe. I’ve been here almost 5 months now, except for the three weeks in August when I flew back to the states with my daughter so she could go back to school. I don’t work at a job where I get paid. I do some volunteer work at an international school here in Vilnius. I spend my days reading, writing, riding my bike when it is sunny and dry, walking when it is not. I’m working on becoming a better photographer, and am exploring the many interests that I always claimed, “kept me too busy to work.”
The last three years have been eventful, challenging, exhausting and rewarding. I could never have anticipated any of it. During the most difficult days, I knew that eventually the bad times had to turn around. I only occasionally wondered “What if they never turn around?” Looking back, every difficulty made me stronger, or wiser. Some mistakes I made repeatedly, until I learned to stop making those mistakes. Some problems just resolved themselves over time. I learned to look at the bad times with more patience and expectation rather than panic. I regret many of my choices during that time, but I don’t regret the lessons I learned from having made them. I certainly am glad, I couldn’t peer into the future and see any of it in advance. I think it would have taken the fun out of living it.