Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Right Choices

Here I am living, albeit perhaps temporarily, again in Lafayette, Louisiana. The first time I arrived here was in 1996 with my husband, now my ex. After having followed him all over the country for his helicopter career, he finally got his dream job of flying for PHI. In a span of three years, we had moved from Northern California, Michigan, Ohio and then back to California when he interviewed at the Louisiana company that flies oilfield workers out to the Gulf of Mexico. He went ahead of me and lived in Lafayette and I began packing for the fourth time in three years and it was getting old. My mother had just passed away and I had just had my gallbladder out. I didn't want to go. I loved the East Bay of San Francisco and I wanted to heal and rest, and I wanted to write again. A few years before we began our treks across country I had graduated with honors from journalism school. My career was put on hold because we never stayed anyplace long enough for me to get a full time writing job.

So I had thoughts back then of staying in Northern California and of leaving him. I just wanted my own life, my career and I wanted to make my own choices. In marriage, it seems at times that one has to compromise their dreams for someone else's. And I no longer wanted to compromise. So I told him I didn't want to move anymore. He promised that this was the last move for his career and that when I got to South Louisiana we could move anywhere in the South for mine. He worked seven on and seven off, so he agreed to commute from a reasonable distance.

Well, that never happened. I had an interview in Jennings as an assistant editor of the small town newspaper. I was excited to finally get my career going again. He was not to have it. We would have had to move to Jennings and hour or so west of Lafayette. As many newspapers do, the publication required its editors and reporters to live in the town they covered. He said "I am tired of moving and I don't want to live in that small of a town."

So it wasn't long after that I chose to leave him, after 18 years of marriage. It was an amicable divorce. He didn't want it, but I just needed my freedom, freedom to choose my own life.

At that time I was working as a technical writer and not liking it much. So I ended up back in the newspaper business of all places Lafayette, after having taken a job as a reporter in New Iberia and working my way up.

Still I harbored great resentment towards him for bringing me to South Louisiana when I could be living in Northern California. But at the time we moved to Lafayette, I only had a part-time job and there's no way I could have lived on my own there.

So jumping back to 2010, I realize now I made the choice to move to Lafayette. And I realize had I not I would not have done the best writing thus far in my career. South Louisiana is rich in stories. The people here are so unique. The Cajun's love food, family and know how to party. And yes, they still speak French here. And I learned how to cook a pretty mean chicken and sausage gumbo.

My last day at "The Daily Advertiser" with the associate editor in 2002

Being back here has helped me work out the anger I still harbored towards my ex. I was still angry at having to move to Lafayette and for the sacrificing of my career for those years. But it wasn't his fault. I made those choices. I decided to stay and if not for him, I wouldn't have gotten to experience South Louisiana and all it's glory.

I wish I would have realized that back then. I wouldn't have tried for six long years to get out of here. Amazing what unforgiveness makes you do. I realize now I should have lived in the now. I should have drank in every moment. But I kept thinking that there was somewhere I else I should be, somewhere else I could be happier. I know now that happiness only happens in the now. It doesn't happen when things are perfect....when you have the perfect job, the perfect mate, the perfect home, the perfect body and are living in the perfect place.

I also realize how much my ex helped me not to choose for those many years we were married. I didn't have to worry about money. He had been a wonderful provider. No, we never had loads of money, but we always had food on the table, a car to drive and a roof over our heads. I just think I had more of passion for life then he ever did, but he was a nuts and bolts kinda guy. I was up in the clouds dreaming of the next best thing and he was the myth buster that pulled me down to the ground and said this is what's real.

But all this time I had regretted marrying him at all. I would often think of what my life would have been like had I not married him. We never had kids, so I wondered if I would have met someone more compatible, more like-minded. But that line of thought only keeps you in unreality of going over things that can never be. We must live in the now. We must honor the choices we made. And now I am here, 30 years after I married this man, divorced him and now he is helping me.

We have remained friends and talked over the years. I realize now what a wonderful person he truly is. And after having dated over that last 12 years, I can appreciate how very few good men there are out there.

Sometimes, we do make the right choices. We just don't know it when we make them. And this time I am going to enjoy the now.

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