You think about when you were five. You recall thinking you were going to get married at 22, have your first baby at 24. You were going to have four. That sounded about right to you. But then again, so did catching fairies in empty pickle jars on the back porch. And back then, you were going to be a doctor, a veterinarian, and a lawyer all in this same life. Because you didn’t think you should have to choose.
Then you got to be 22. And you didn’t think about marriage or babies at all. And you weren’t any of those things you imagined being. Instead, you thought about moving west. Because you had never been there. You apply for a newspaper job in the Bay Area. You get it. And then move 3,000 miles to someplace that might as well be the moon. You have no family there. No friends. Just a paycheck every two weeks and your name in print above stories you never thought you’d write.
When you are 26 you live with a man who wants to get married and have babies and live in a single family home in the suburbs of San Francisco. You think this sounds nice. For someone else. So you move out. And you move north. To a city where you have your own room again. Your best friend five blocks away. And you some space to breathe. You fall asleep listening to the sounds of cable cars rattling along Powell Street. You have a long commute. And a job that pays you well enough.
When you are 29 you move to Utah. For a boy you met when you were 28. You decide to leave California because you are getting by but not getting anywhere. You don’t dream about hunting fairies. You don’t play flashlight tag with friends. You don’t really play at all anymore. You realize you aren’t happy enough. And you aren’t really sure how much it will take to get you there. So you move 900 miles to figure it out.
When you are turning 30 you have a new job that requires more than just showing up. You live with a man who walks with you to work every day and kisses you when you part. You learn to make your own pasta. And meatballs. You buy your first pair of cross-country skis and learn how to fight against cancer. You don’t have marriage or kids. Just a feeling that you are a little closer to figuring out what you want to be when you grow up.