Let Me Explain: Rainy Days and Thursdays

Sometimes I’d like to live an L.L. Bean life. Let me explain.

I hate rainy days. I think this stems from the fact that, in the south, a rainy day = steam bath = baaad hair day. Because of this, rainy days make it almost impossible to will yourself out of bed and make the long trek across campus.

On a rainy day I’d enjoy nothing more than raiding an L.L. Bean catalogue, ordering everything ever made by Pottery Barn, eating a meal of starchy comfort foods, waving the kids off to the carpool and settling into my floral easy-chair with a classic novel. (Let’s make it Wuthering Heights, for consistency’s sake).

And yet, this is my biggest nightmare.

I’m terrified that I’ll fall into the reliable rut of staying in my hometown, getting married young, morphing into a soccer mom donning Bermuda shorts, honking my mini-van’s horn at other sleep-deprived soccer moms and regretting the fact that I missed Wednesday’s sale on frozen veggies at the grocery store.

Let me assure you that I have no problem with individuals who have chosen this life. If my mom hadn’t stayed at home to teach us how to paint, drive us to the YMCA and punish us for kicking holes in the recliner, my brother would be in juvie for arson and I’d be a regular in the red-light district.

I’ve avoided selling my modest goods thus far, and I think that falling back on the life I’ve outlined above is selling myself short. I don’t want to resent my phantom children and future husband for holding me back from my long-intended goal of living abroad for a few years.

A whirlwind two-week European vacation several years ago added fuel to my desire to travel. Studying abroad hasn’t worked out for me in my college career, and I’ve been told that it is unfortunately too late to do so now. The only option is to swim across the pond for a brief visit following graduation, yet a sneaking suspicion tells me that this won’t be enough. I’ll want more.

In the 21 years I’ve known her, my globe-trotting aunt has traveled to Madagascar, Australia, England, Zimbabwe, Tonga, Fiji and other exotic locales doing field research with the non-profit organization EarthWatch. Although she is a graphic designer, this adventure-seeking lady has been three feet from a surfacing whale in the middle of the ocean. The closest I’ve been to a whale was while standing behind a large, flatulent gentleman in a Shoney’s buffet line.

Even though my aunt, who we’ll call Sue (because this is her name), has participated in life-changing voyages, it remains that her life lacks a family. She isn’t married and she doesn’t have kids. Sue is perfectly content with this fact, but I know that if I got wrapped up in traveling, I’d completely unravel when returning to an empty house.

How do you balance the desire for exploration with the inherent need for loving security, especially when your yearning for genuine Earl Grey is at the detriment to those who love you here in the States? Mom needs a daughter to talk to, and The Boy deserves someone who can fully commit, not to mention that Brother needs a positive influence around.

At what point do you refuse to compromise and go with your gut? And when should you put yourself aside to be there for others? A brave person embarks on life’s journey without family and lovers, but maybe the braver person must sacrifice a little piece of herself.

I have no idea what I’m doing tomorrow. I might make “A Broad’s Abroad Savings” jar, or I may decide to be a ballerina instead. Hell, I could even scrap the whole thing and pre-order tapered khakis from L.L. Bean. Yet, the odds are good that I’ll still be sitting here in this floral easy-chair, weighing my options and taming my hair.