Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Counting Planes

After spending weeks touring South Africa; from cities to safaris, long drives, cage-shark diving, nearly killing myself driving in a small village, avoiding rumored gunshots, running to hostels, watching baby leopards play in the sun, powerful elephants on a hunt for water, and just about every other magical life-empowering experience...I headed back to Chicago.

From the moment I walked in the door, it was obvious that the marriage was over. And when he threatened to move back to New York, and received my response, "I think that is for the best," he suddenly wasn't so confident or cocky. But within days, we had written down everything we owned and divided our belongings. I hired a lawyer and filed for divorce days before Christmas. Going home for the holidays wasn't easy, nor was the looks from my family with the constant comments "We're praying for you." I was half expecting the Pope to show up and shower me with holy water to rid me of my sin! Everything felt out of proportion, and under a microscope.

I somehow thought the divorce would be smooth, but I was so very wrong. Anger does things to people. And in the case of my husband, his anger resulted in him depleting our bank accounts of all funds and running off to Central America with a gay man. Now, I say gay man, not because it matters, but what did were the rumors of why he chose to travel with a gay mate, and all of my money...

I had no money, no way to pay our mortgage, car, and house bills. I couldn't reach him, and felt sick to my stomach with anger, disappointment and the fact that I was scared. Scared of what he would do next, and how I would recover from the financial blow. I borrowed the money for my mortgage from my mother. With $25 to spare, I began to start my life over.

Some say, when you divorce someone, you really begin to find out who they are. One terrible thing after another unfolded. I began to realize that I wasn't sure if I knew my husband, what he was capable of, the lies he told, the rumors that swirled, the money he had been stealing from me for a year...it became so enormous that my world was suddenly more of a movie script than the life I thought I had.

Any money I earned went to bills, and I lived in a constant state of fear. Fear of losing all I had worked so hard for. I was at the bottom, the end of a rapidly fraying rope. My days were spent at work, my nights were spent drinking a bottle of wine while laying on the floor, looking up through my skylight and counting the planes that passed by.

Wasn't it just months ago that I was gallivanting around New York? Chirping that I loved my life and all the amazing things I had done?

I had to wonder if all those good things finally caught up with me, and it was time for a very rough patch of life.

But, for now, all I could do was count the 15th plane that flew over in two hours...

Friday, February 29, 2008

Just Like The Shaman Said

Things suddenly became complicated. The pace of NYC had surpassed my marriage. Trips without each other, nights when he didn't come home, I became enamored with a beautiful stranger. Everything was off.

Now, there was actually a lot that went into this, and it's not the time or place to talk about the extremely private details of my marriage, but we decided to leave New York. Head back to the Midwest, closer to families and try to "really act married." That's when I should've known. Key word, "act."

I secured a wonderful job, but my husband didn't seem as enthusiastic about the pending move, despite the fact that he pushed for it first.

The result= I moved a mere six days before my sixth anniversary in New York, without my husband.

As I left my beloved city behind, streaming New York, New York through my iPod, I was completely aware that I had just left days before the Shaman's warning.

Arriving in Chicago, I was lonely, bored, and desperately missing all things New York. Curiously, not my husband. He was "trying" to get a job, but wouldn't move here until he had one. I bounced around in housing, making plans for his big move. Hoping, really tricking myself into believing, he would come, and we would build a wonderful life.

I bought a house for us (some people have babies to fix things, others buy homes. Neither is a good idea!).

He arrived. But after only 5 days, I received this text message: "At airport. Can't handle. Heading to Ireland for a week."

When he did return, we never really connected again. He didn't show up for our move in day, and I never felt so disappointed in my life.

After a couple of months at weak attempts to make things work, it just came down to the fact that he wanted to be back in New York, and my energy for our relationship was gone.

On a planned trip to South Africa with my best friend, I told her that I was leaving my husband. I spent the rest of my time in Africa enjoying the moment, knowing (actually, I had no idea what I was about to go through) that soon enough, an end to our relationship was happening. I was going to be a divorcee before 30.

Just like the Shaman said.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Consciously Controlling My Subconscious?

I had been back in New York City for weeks, but the Shaman's words followed me. When I couldn't shake that mountain top, I visited a crystal therapy gypsy. I wanted to know if she saw the same future for me as the shaman. I'm not sure if it's there any longer, but it was tiny shop on Clinton in the L.E.S. I found it interesting that a person, who it seemed to me had the same profession of predicting futures as my shaman, had such an objective opinion on the situation. The gypsy felt shamans were dangerous, and believing their readings ultimately was as self-fulfilling prophecy. She handed me a book on controlling my subconscious thinking, to rid me of the shaman's words, and sent me on my way.

Now, I'm not sure this worked. I read the book. I consciously thought about not subconsciously thinking about the shaman, but somehow, I only thought about it more.

I had lived in New York for over five years now, and was daftly aware that my sixth year was fast approaching. As I planned my path forward with my husband, friends, New York life, things were changing all around me; I was about to become Girl ReRouted.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Shaman's Last Words

What exactly did the Shaman say to me on that mountain top? He apologized again and again, but said that "I would leave the city I love before my sixth year. I would get divorced, and things would be bad. But, I would find the love of my life."

Now, I'm not sure if you believe in this type of prophecy, and I can't say that I did either. I left that village shortly after and headed toward Calcutta.

Once I was finished with business in India, I decided to head off to Thailand. My best friend met me in Bangkok and we traveled to Phuket, Phi Phi and Koh Samui. On our last night, we met two younger Australians who had just left home to travel the world for a year. They were both filled with wonder and nerves that we couldn't help but be taken by their carpe diem lifestyle. After an exchange of emails, and traveler's promises of "let's stay in touch. Visit us when you make it to the States," we headed back to New York City.

The trip did change me forever, and all the wonders of it are for another story. As I sat in the VIP lounge of Pink Elephant, bottles of vodka swirling before me and all my friends...it all caught up to me. Why was this New York existence making me happy? Was I happy? My mind drifted to the people of the villages in Nepal and India. The smiling faces of the children and elders. They had nothing, yet if I'm honest...they really had everything. As I spent $1,000 on a bar tab in a single night, I reminded myself that it would take care of 10 families for a year in Nepal. It was a passing thought. How could it not be? For those of us who have "everything," thinking about others who don't is only during the occasional money donation as a tax incentive. We don't sit back in our chic New York apartments thinking about the dirt floor we slept on only days ago. Life moves on, and we go with it.

It would be a year before those Shaman's words would catch up with me...

Monday, February 18, 2008

On Top Of The World...Literally

I was 26 years old, and on top of the world. Literally. I was in the Himalayas staying with a local family who own the first-ever biodynamic tea garden in India.

Let me back up. I remember the day that I decided my life would be different. A teacher asked a roomful of aspiring dance students "what we wanted to be someday." After listening to all the girls chime their responses, I decided that while I may not know what I want to be, I definitely knew who I didn't want to be. I was bound and determined not to live in a suburb, as a housewife, with predictably two children. Not that there is anything wrong with that noble existence. It just wasn't going to be my existence...

I got the travel bug early, and found myself in Europe at 20. Three days after graduating from college, I packed up a UHaul and headed to Manhattan. It was the tail end of the "go go 90"s" and the city was simply fabulous. And, I was in love. With a city. With a job. And with a boy. Life was fast. Unpredictable. Full of velvet ropes, weekend shopping trips...in London, weekend trips to Puerto Rico...for a tan, beach houses, brunches, 9/11, shoes, sex, shoes, and more passport stamps. Life couldn't get any better. I actually remember thinking "My life is so good, and can't possibly be any better." A sparkling ring, a night at the Waldorf, a traditionally chic black and white wedding. A huge promotion at the tender age of
26. My head was spinning...life was that amazing.

It's easy to believe life is amazing when you have so many distractions telling you "you're on top." And so I believed it. Despite the pang of realizing something was a little off...something was "elsewhere."

And that is when I found myself standing on top of a Himalayan mountain with a shaman, who brought my world crashing down...