Thursday, August 20, 2009


During my teens and for a few years after I passed the point of no more childhood (it was long ago) I was troubled by uncertainty.

As a high schooler in Poland, it bothered me that I could not imagine a professional future that I liked (this had much to do with the fact that I entered the university too early – without a clue as to what I wanted to do afterward).

And it bothered me then that the boy I liked and deemed worthy of husband material really didn’t like me nearly enough. And, though you’ve heard me say now that my occasional traveling companion and I have little in common, I think it has become clear that at some level, Ed and I share some vision of what a day ought to look like, where as my teen love and I, at a fundamental level, did not.

Moreover, I hopped about, with nerve racking frequency between Poland and the States, uncertain as to which should be my home for keeps.

And so I was at an impasse. With lots of question marks about what came next.

My own indecisiveness drove me nuts. And even as I (eventually) made life-altering decisions that narrowed things down a bit, there was still so much that I could not control! I was deeply troubled by the uncertainty of where my then husband and I would settle down. All my Polish friends knew that they would wind up exactly where they began – in Warsaw. Here I was now, considering such off the wall (off my wall at least) places as L.A. and Wisconsin to call home. I knew no one in either place. At least Wisconsin had birch trees and farms. I could relate to that.

Eventually, kids were born and my work life stabilized and the fear of uncertainty morphed into the fear that too much certainty had now entered my days. It was a certainty of what would not be: I knew I would never have a summer home in France where my kids could learn to be fluent in French. I knew that the climb toward professional success would be neither fast nor lofty.

I knew, too, that the minute I finished weeding one end of the too-large-for-one-person-to-be-doing-all-the-weeding yard in our suburban home, I would need to start again and that, at the rate that I was weeding, I would lose the weeding war before the age of social security eligibility.

Much can be said about the years where uncertainty turned into certainty and even more could be said about the years where certainty was destroyed and I entered into a new period of uncertainty (let’s put that last jump in a time frame: say about four years ago). But in this post, I’m not interested in transitions. I’m interested in the juxtaposition of certainty and uncertainty and in declaring myself to be, as of this summer, once again, quite close to a certainty that has some peculiarly pleasing elements:

First of all, I am certain that where I am in life now, is where I am likely to be 'til I have my conversation with the governmental death squad (just kidding!). [This assumes no cataclysmic events of course; cataclysms cannot be brought into this conversation because by definition, they cannot be predicted.]

And, the essentials have been taken care of: I know the family I had is the only family I will ever have and the job I have is (again, barring cataclysm) the only one I will ever have, and I know who the important players have been in my life and though I expect to add a few more, they will be mine by attachment – procured perhaps by daughters (their partners, children, etc.). And I know I will never live in L.A. (thank God).

What uncertainties remain are of the joyful kind. They are potential door openers: I may still finish my book. And even write another. Maybe from the writer’s shed. Which may, someday, get finished. Or, I may spend an entire summer on a houseboat. Or not.

I write this toward the end of a year riddled with open ended questions about who will live where and for how long and doing what and with whom. But I realize that these are not my questions. I have run through my big ones. And I’m fine with that.

younger daughter's next to last night home