There are days when a certain quality of the light takes me right back to the village and childhood. I can’t figure out why today is one of those days,w hen you consider it’s snowing and it rarely snows in the place I grew up in.
However, it is often overcast, sharing that with the British isles. It’s rarely overcast in Colorado (out of the year we only get something like 20 days without sun, which, yes, is likely to happen only when you have out of state visitors.)
And today there’s that feeling of sunlight filtered through grey that takes me right back to the village in November, with water forming a film of ice on ponds or on your bedside water glass, and a hint of wood smoke in the air, from people firing up their wood stoves.
On days like this it seems to me I’m divided, living two lives at once. Somewhere, on the other leg of the pants of time, there’s a me that never left Portugal and who grew older in the village, not even noticing how different it is now, because she saw it change gradually.
Of course, beyond that it’s hard to figure it out. Is she a teacher or a translator? could be either, depending on whether she let herself take the easy path or the hard. Did she ever marry? Does she have kids?
I don’t know. I know I took the really hard path, or as we call it the path of high improbability, because for those who know me, and who know how much I despise uncertainty and a state of flux, the idea that one day I just said “yes” to the crazy American on the phone asking me to marry him is almost laughable. The idea I left behind my credentials, my extended family and all my friends to plunge into the unknown and forge a new life in an imperfectly understood land, in a language not my own, is frankly nothing short of ludicrous.
And yet I did it. I jumped, because I knew in my heart it was the right thing, and that I couldn’t do anything else.
And it was, you know, I don’t regret that other life that never happened. I don’t regret a career that was mine for the taking, or whoever I might have married, or whatever kids I might have had.
I love my husband very much, and I love the kids we had together, and though my career makes me tear my hair out, it is what I was born to do, possibly including this blog.
It is only on certain days like this, when the light is just right, that I feel like I could reach over and touch that other life and savor the few things I do regret: the continued embrace of my extended family; seeing my kids grow up around my dad; the parties and celebrations I missed through the years; and visiting my grandmother’s grave and leaving flowers.
I wouldn’t trade my life for that of hypothetical me. But I’m aware she’s the likely one and I’m the improbable one.
And for a moment, on these foggy mornings I salute her across the mist and the cold and say “go in peace. I kept the better part. In that crucial moment, I acted unlike myself and jumped without looking. And I reaped an amazing reward.”