Good title. Good question. I ran off the road last week. I knew exactly where I was going right up until the week of July 10, 2006. And then, I was lost because two things happened.
First, I graduated. Two years ago with a terminally ill husband and a two year baby to contend with I decided the best thing for all three of us was for me to get my masters. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and during the first course I took the instructor had us draft a vision of our futures. A five year plan if you will. Mine was only two. Which I thought was good because at the time I thought planning as far out as two days was a severe testing of my imagination, faith and will. It took me as far as last week when I arrived in La Crosse, Wisconsin to finish up what I had so foolishly, or amazingly depending on your point of view, started.
The second thing was a Technical Education teacher from a school district near my own. My husband has been dead for six months now. I knew when I began my plan that he wouldn’t be around to see me finish it which is a big part of why I did it. He was in hospice for three months before he died and in a nursing home for over a year prior to that, and it felt like widowhood to me long before he took his last breath because he had dementia and then he was unable to talk or respond in any way. I never knew if he even understood me when I talked with him or if he knew it was me when I held his hand or stroked his beard.
But, even though I was desperately, insanely lonely and yes, I’ll admit it – sexually frustrated – I never felt anything for anyone but him. Couldn’t even claim to be even a little attracted to anyone, who was real. That changed last week too. This guy wasn’t the type to draw second looks necessarily. There were more single men at the graduate seminar than I had seen in one place since I was an undergrad a zillion years ago and there were plenty of those types. He just had a smile that you could tell he meant it and eyes that matched. Have you ever seen someone smile with just their eyes? It’s art. It’s framable. It catches you and holds you and makes you wish you could get so lost in the moment that you might never find your way back. I haven’t felt a man’s arms around me in over two years, but I would have hacked both mine off with a plastic spork to have felt his.
And so here I am. Off road and in serious need of a new plan because, and maybe this is not as sudden as it is feeling, I am not overly impressed with where my life is or even where it appears to have been heading all along. Though I owe this partly to myself and my dogged pursuit of that masters, whose usefulness will likely be short lived. I owe it as well to a very sweet shop teacher who fixes up tractors to show at county fairs.