I have been waiting my whole life for my real life to begin. There is always a lingering distant opportunity of something better. Whenever I travel I see the latent possibilities of what life would be like if I only lived there. I see where I would shop, walk to yoga classes, drop off my dry cleaning and eat. I watch myself through the glass as a happy customer in the window seat enjoying a glass of Malbec with smiling friends. I am well dressed, I am thin, I am popular. I am famous. Then we go home.
It is an odd feeling that certainly doesn’t fill every waking moment but it’s out there. Since late August I have been in Collegeville Pennsylvania-twice, Seattle, Baltimore, and Tampa. Each time I return home I feel three things. The lost potential, relief at the sight of my own bed and the weight of the work that has been left undone. Doing my chores helps to ground me back into my routine. It reassures me that this is my life and it started long ago. As the days between trips add up I start to forget about any fantasy.
Two weeks ago after returning from a trip we put both the yard and house back in order. I stumbled to bed exhausted and stubbed my toe.
“I think it’s broken,” I wailed.
Rob ran downstairs and fetched a bag of ice.
“They can’t do anything for a broken toe,” he said, laying the ice pack over my blue toes and handing me two Motrin.
“Just gotta suck it up.”
After a few days of rest and ice everyone expects you to get back to business. It’s not a big enough injury to curry favor but it nags at you and impedes everyday activities that you still seem to be able to do. You hobble off to work and home again. Only now the dust collects in the corners and leaves pile up outside. You groan at the exertion it will take to simply gather up the pieces of the Sunday paper spread across the living room floor.
My stepfather called and said it best. “A broken toe is nothing more than a nuisance.”
“That’s it,” I exclaimed.
I repeated that all week long when people shook their heads in understanding as I dragged my foot along. “Just a nuisance,” I said, to let them off the hook. They are also tired of my toe.
I collapsed late Friday afternoon on a kitchen stool and stared out at the lake. The distance of the dock is foreboding and off limits. It may as well belong to someone else. I try to remain satisfied with the view but find myself daydreaming about my real life that just hasn’t started yet.