Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Plan B

Do you remember your dream?

You know, the one you had where you went down the aisle, stepped out into the sunshine and began the book of your life?

If that book had a name, what would it be?

When posed that question by a friend yesterday, I barely hesitated. Twenty years ago, I would have named mine "Living the Dream".

  If I were to name my book now, twenty years later, I would call it:        "Living Plan B". 

Plan A was The Dream.  Living the Dream.  The house, some kids, the part-time-just-a-couple-days-a-week job that would keep me on my toes, get me out of the house and keep me in the work force just enough.  The learning to cook and meals on the table when he came home at night to a spotless house, a cocktail and sparkling conversation.  It was all I knew, passed down from generations and watched on TV as my little kid brain was forming big adult plans. June Cleaver, Alice Kramden and Nana; my role models for wifedom.  I could do this, I thought.  I can do anything.  Life is beautiful.

Enter Plan B.

Plan B is where the hours in a day fly by like an F-14 while I scramble to clean up, struggle to maintain a budget, work like a dog just to keep the "starter home" we still occupy two decades later, cook when I feel guilty, and make a valiant attempt at being a decent wife to the man I stepped out into the sunshine with.  The two kids, while desperately wanted and fiercely loved, added lines to my face and pounds to my ass that never appeared in the 1991 version of The Dream.  Also found on the cutting room floor were the parts where I pick a thankless, mentally exhausting career, the economy tanks, I care for a 95 year old with dementia and I spend my days off spinning my wheels in a haze of coffee and sleep deprivation.   Plan B is where I wonder, sometimes hourly, when the hell we are ever going to catch up, let alone get ahead.

Damn you, Plan B.

The honest, kick you in the balls side of me says:  Yep, Princess, not how you planned it, is it?    

Can't handle the curve?  Can't suck it up?  Boo hoo for you. You made your bed, now take a nap in it.   

The Princess side of me doesn't often rear it's whiny little entitled head. But today as the rain falls and I read about people who walked away from their homes getting $3000 checks to "help them start over" I get really, really pissed.   I flame about busting my ass to pay the mortgage, juggling bills like a circus freak to get out of debt, going to work each night to care for the "disabled" 30 year old opening a purse I could never afford to hand me their 'caid card, demanding I get them a prescription for motrin because "it's only a dollar on my insurance."  I field five or ten phone calls a day from Nana, who has spiraled downhill and is now like having a stubborn toddler to care for.  I remind myself that I still have fifty pounds to lose and I should be taking better care of myself.  I tell myself that I can't afford a stroke.  I consider medical marijuana.  I consider non-medical marijuana.  I hug my dog.  I cry a little.

 Then I start writing the Sequel to Plan B, because Whiny Princess is not my idea of a good Leading Lady.

I ponder the people who live on the street, in cars, and under the freeway overpasses. I remember the friends I had that never got the chance to have a Plan B.  I think about single moms who work three jobs and spend every minute fearing that someone is going to hurt their children while they're out trying desperately to support them.  I think of the friends I have who battle with angry children and have gotten crushed by spouses that left them alone and broken.  I feel embarrassed that I even consider that I might have a rough life.

I refill my empathy tank by playing loud music, dancing in my kitchen, and pouring a glass of whatever moves us to share with the man that is also starring in Plan B.  I celebrate years of happy memories.  I look at the things in my home that I worked hard for, things that make me happy.  I sneak to the door and listen through it while my daughter has her vocal lesson, thanking God I can afford her the opportunity to let her beautiful, perfect voice grow and shine.   I hug my dog.  I cry a little.  I look at the one wedding picture I liked in it's frame on the table, and I step out into the sunshine.

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