Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Decisions, decisions

I just got a whif of the scent wafting in through the crack in my window. It's a balmy 57 degrees tonight, a pleasant surprise for the last day of November. For a fraction of a second, I couldn't place the odor, and I couldn't decide if it was bad or good. It was just familiar. In the rest of that second, I realized it was smoke from my downstairs neighbor's cigarette. I hate that I've become accustomed to that smell.

After a long day, I got a nice surprise email, which resulted in a comforting phone conversation and a play date with my two favorite middle school students. In other words, I'm babysitting on Sunday.

When I was a kid, the world was my oyster. I could be a ballerina and a writer and a movie star and an architect, all of them. I could be anything, do anything, if I only put enough effort into it. It's wonderful to have these opportunities, the ability to make a choice about my future and myself.

It's not that I had high hopes or stellar expectations, but I did have expectations about what my adult life might be like: where I'd live, what my house would look like, who I'd know and love, what would be important to me. And of course, those things changed with time. I imagined living in Seattle for a few years, and London, and Boston too. It's a long life, and I had dreams to fill it up.

It used to be that decisions were choosing which was better. Recently, I'm beginning to see them as giving up something. When I chose to go to Brandeis, I gave up the imaginary WellesleyErica, PomonaErica, and HampshireErica. (There never was a BerkeleyErica, and I had already lost StanfordErica.) It's not that BrandeisErica is bad or anything, but I liked those other Ericas. I miss them.

Likewise, the way my life is panning out, I'm not confident there will be a SeattleErica or a LondonErica. BostonErica might be here to stay. I love Boston. But how would it have felt to live in Seattle?

I've never been bad at making decisions. Recently I've felt reluctant to do so, because choosing one thing means NOT choosing another. And that makes me sad.

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