Friday, October 07, 2011

Best Laid Plans

A few years ago I was going through a rough time. And I don't mean I was wearing all black and writing bad poetry in the back of a notebook (though I have done that too). I had a string of truly unfortunate events happen. I had a fibroid tumor that made my body go haywire for about eighteen months. I had a brief failed marriage that kicked up quite the small town scandal. And naturally I was sad, so I packed on twenty pounds.

I landed in a small apartment in Hope Valley, RI. This wasn't my first stop. No, my first stop was to move back home with Mom for four months. That was humbling but necessary. No one comforts quite like our Moms. My Mom is a no nonsense tough cookie, but every night she poked her head into my childhood bedroom to ask her 25 year old soon to be divorcee if she'd like popcorn. Or maybe apple slices. She welcomed me back and I put two suitcases on my bureau and settled into my twin bed, still surrounded by left at home stuffed animals. Shy button eyes and floppy heads tilted to one side as if to ask, "What's wrong?"

For four months I hid out in my childhood bedroom. Instead of stitching the giant Scarlet Letter "D" the town would have had me wear into my clothes, I spent most of my time reading. The first day I was alone in the house I had crept into a storage room Mom doesn't like me going into and pulled out all of the great classics nine year old Georgia would have recommended to you. Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, Superfudge (and Fudge-a-mania), The Indian and the Cupboard, The 100th Thing About Caroline, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Letters from Phillipia, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and Bunnicula to name a few.

"Bunnicula, you just get me."

When I did emerge it was into the company of my sister and the pals I grew up with, Amy and Preston mostly. Tim was living in Germany at the time, but kept in touch with concerned emails. Before long I shook up my childhood bedroom cocoon, and moved into Band House for another four month stint of licking my wounds. I landed in my small apartment in Hope Valley just in time to go to court to finalize my divorce.

If I hadn't been down before, that knocked me all the way. I have nothing bad to say about my ex-husband, he is a kind man and remains a good friend. One both sides the split was devastating, we just did not work out. People judged it harshly, but no one understood what we went through trying to make it better before we decided to part.

There was no light at the end of the tunnel, but something in me just kept feeling my way along the walls. I don't know what it was. It wasn't direction. I didn't know where I wanted to be. I didn't know what my next step was, or what I wanted out of life beyond drawing. I didn't want to be with anyone ever again, and yet every guy I'd known since high school came flooding down the tunnel after me. Close friends understood how irritated I was with the steady gentleman invites to coffee or dinner, the ims just to talk, the 'thinking of you' emails. Ryan 3000 miles away in Seattle read an essay I posted on all my blogs entitled, "To Every Guy Out There Who Is Thinking of Asking Me Out: DON'T". (He decided to give me another couple of years).

I worked at a bank in those days, and it gave me an auto pilot to click on and off. I'd wake up, get dressed, and go to work. I grew very close to the girls in the office during my sickness and the divorce. The days ticked off. I would make my little meals, eat them by myself and go to bed. I'd go to work, wait on customers, and make jokes for my teller and banker friends. When I'm down I'm more of a clown than usual, humor is my coping tool. Preston got me a part time job making posters for a local theater and I threw myself into that every evening.

Sometimes terrible things happen to us. I had my future all laid out and a tumor and a divorce set the blueprints on fire. I was shaking the magic 8 ball over and over only to have "Better not tell you now" roll to the surface every time. In a lot of ways it was like free falling and reaching in every direction for something to catch me.

I loved myself. Terrible things had happened, but I loved myself, and at some point I scooped myself up and carried me out of the fire. I started attending the plays for the posters I was making. I stopped coming home to an empty apartment--I got a cat. And he was awesome. I accepted invitations, I made potluck dishes. I started dating, I stopped dating, I dreaded dating, then I'd try it again. I shared the first date disaster stories with friends. I screened movies at my apartment for friends, I threw holiday parties, I put up my own Christmas tree, I fixed my own broken drawers. I programmed the DVD player. I lost twenty pounds.

Many starlit nights, as I dragged my trash out into the dumpster my landlord had seen fit to hide in the woods, I would wonder what life had waiting for me down the road. I would hurl the trash high into the clanging metal bin and run lest there be any racoons ready to spring out. And as I walked back, boots crunching in the New England frost, I would look at my little apartment all light up on the second floor and at some point began to feel contentment. I reached a point when I just had to let go of mourning my ruined plans.

Now three years later I live on the opposite coast, I'm married to a wonderful guy, and pursuing my dream of illustrating full time. Remember that when your plans don't pan out, when you're at your lowest low. When you're hiding out in your childhood room with your feet propped up on a suitcase and your head resting on a giant stuffed bengal tiger named Mr. Huffington, reading 
The Celery Stalks at Midnight and all seems lost. Maybe your plans didn't work out because something better is planned, something you could never predict.

Incidentally, this burst of gratitude hit me this afternoon when I heard a snippet of a song on the radio that gave me a lot of comfort during that time. It was a guilty pleasure back then, as I thought the lyrics were a little corny. Now they seem dead on.




  1. an amazing story, Georgia! Thanks for sharing your journey! Even through the "down" times, your strength shines (reading childhood stories, for one--awesome!).

    Maybe things don't work out because something better is planned--the perfect perspective. The struggle can make one stronger and more grateful.

  2. Beautiful story of hope. I still have my boxes of books from my elementary years. No one can tell me that the stories from our youth do not have that magic balm. And it does not matter in the least that I am in my 30s!

  3. Thanks for that run-down on your life to date. Hope it's been really cathartic to let us know what's happened to you, so we can all wish you what you now wish yourself in the future!

    Just to let you know, I've blogged about you in the last post at - just as I said I would. Hope it gets you lots more followers and orders too!


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