In The Expats by Chris Pavone, when Kate Moore’s husband proposes a move to Luxembourg, (yep, you read that right, Luxembourg!) she sees it as an opportunity to reinvent herself. Kate comes to the realization that “she hadn’t made her life happen; it had happened to her.” I thought, ‘Wow, that sounds familiar.’
Like Kate, I now live near the city I moved to for college and never left (ironically, same city as Kate, Washington, D.C.). I never imagined I’d be living the life I have now – it certainly was not part of my “master plan” to be a stay-at-home mom with four sons living in the ‘burbs.
As an ambitious, and admittedly naive, eighteen year old, I arrived in Washington with the intent to lead a life of travel and excitement. I was going to conquer the diplomatic world, reunite a divided Germany and become the first female Secretary of State. Well, Ronald Reagan and Madeline Albright beat me to some of those goals. One thing lead to another, and here I sit. And you know what? That’s not so bad.
It’s tempting to watch shows like “Sex in the City” and be envious of the lifestyles of Carrie and her friends: disposable income, beautiful clothes, Jimmy Choo shoes, cosmopolitans on a Tuesday. Then I realize, those women are all searching for something I already have. No, it’s not the stretch marks and piles of laundry; it’s the love of a good man, who, after over twenty years, still tells me I’m beautiful – and means it.
Even so, sometimes I can’t help but play the “what if” game. What if I hadn’t fallen so hard for that boy my sophomore year at college? What if I’d chosen a different law school or written that novel I dreamed of writing? What if I had entered the Foreign Service, as planned? What if I’d actually joined that gym and lost the weight that’s always plagued me? What if I had not decided to stay home with the kids?
My life would be different, but I know for certain it would not be better. How can I be so sure? Because, even though this isn’t the life I had planned, it is the life I have and it’s one filled with love. Changing any one element of my past would mean a drastic change to my present. I wouldn’t have this home with my loving husband. I wouldn’t have my sons. I cannot imagine a life where these five men were not present; I wouldn’t want that life.
Please don’t mistake me, I do have some regrets. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t. I should have joined that gym. I should have found a more rewarding career fit. I should have written that novel (which I still might do!). I should have made these things happen. However, I will never regret love or motherhood or the chance to have a more active role in my children’s lives.
As for the diplomatic life of travel and excitement I’d dreamed of, I have to say I’ve done pretty darn well. I’ve been able to visit many wonderful places in this world, including England, France, Spain, Germany … and even Luxembourg. And excitement? My boys provide more than enough of that! In fact, a little less excitement would be a welcome thing. I am definitely practicing diplomacy every day – negotiating X-Box time between two squabbling boys takes a great deal of tact and finesse (and no small amount of creativity).
I could have altered the course of my life and not let things snowball to where they are. I could have ended up a lonely woman, searching for love and commitment while serving at the American Embassy in Uzbekistan. No offense to the people of the city of Tashkent, but I think I prefer the ‘burbs of D.C.
Sometimes life just happens; when it does, hold on and enjoy the ride. As they say, everything happens for a reason. From where I’m sitting, I see some pretty great reasons for the life I’ve been dealt.
This post was inspired by the mystery thriller novel The Expats by Chris Pavone. Kate Moore happily sheds her old life to become a stay at home mom when her husband takes a job in Europe. As she attempts to reinvent herself, she ends up chasing her evasive husband’s secrets. Join From Left to Write on January 22 as we discuss The Expats. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.