“life is long” . . .
“Life is long”. . . a woman speaker told us at one of the Wednesday morning assemblies when I was a scholarship student at Smith College in the ’60′s. She talked about how important this idea was because as women, we might have to put the care of others ahead of ourselves. And that there might still be a chance to do something or be something that was really important to us. Later on.
It was a turbulent time. Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and others sang to protest the Vietnam War. Women’s Lib was at its peak, American astronauts walked on the moon, and the Beatles rocked everyone, singing “I Want to Hold Your H-A-N-D…” Being somewhat shy, I was too naïve to know what I really wanted out of life, never mind whether life was short, or whether it was long.
My first marriage lasted for over a quarter of a century and the best thing that came out of it was our children. The one thing we did well together was raising them to be independent, to be curious and to give them experiences and tools to find their way in life.
Preferences in the way he and I wanted to live were in stark contrast to each other: he wanted to travel the world and live in exotic cultures–the Wanderer. All I wanted to do was to be at home. In my own home in comfort of my own making: to read, play the piano, knit, cook meals, listen to music. We couldn’t have been farther apart in terms of what we each wanted to do at the middle-aged period in our lives.
The divorce was lengthy and painful, lots of to- and fro-ing. Worries about finances. I moved three times in two years, including cleaning out the Victorian house that our children grew up in for twenty-two years, virtually by myself. The first week in my new apartment, the family dog slipped out from the back yard, even though the iron gates looked secure. When I searched but could not find her, I found solace in the I-Ching reading which said, “peace.” I figured that either I should chill out because she would turn up, or that she was already at peace. The next morning, the phone rang and a dog Samaritan said she found Bridget on the causeway in the next town. Two degrees of separation, the Vet’s number on Bridget’s rabies tag and my new phone number left with the Vet during the move coincided to reunite us once again. I didn’t have a job at the time, although by then, I had worked for seven years in a biotech start-up and had a track record for making decent money. Three months later, I got a call that led me to a new biotech start-up company sixty miles away.
The movers, in their haste, forgot to tighten the lyre on my Steinway grand piano. I looked in the phone book for someone specializing in Steinways to come and take care of it. That person turned out to be my future husband. We were friends for four years when we decided to marry. This year, we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary and have been together now for almost twenty years. I never thought this might happen during the turbulent unsettled time in my life.
We are both pianists, grateful that we are together to share our lives. Whenever I say that I should have left my first marriage earlier given all the trials and tribulations, my husband quickly disagrees. He feels that had even one thing been different in our pasts, we might not have met each other at all. Timing is everything, it seems, even if it takes awhile.
As a postscript, my ex-husband married within a year of our divorce being finalized. He and his wife travel and live all over the world. All’s well that ends well, it seems.
That’s how I came to understand what I heard when life was still innocent and full of promise, “Life is long.”