Sunday, May 24, 2009

What If?

I wandered around Balboa Island today. I walked past the house I once lived in and peered in through the front window and found it unchanged from 20 years ago. I wondered what my life would have been like had I stayed in southern California. I worked for Kaiser Permanente in Santa Ana as an outpatient psychiatrist. I lived in a cottage on a wonderful street called Heliotrope in Corona del Mar, a few steps from the beach. Tara had a nanny from England named Mia. I had traveled to Montreal for a meeting; I remember missing the shuttle that I had ordered to come to my house and take me to LAX, so I threw my bags in the car with Tara and raced to the airport through the traffic in record time, left the car at the airport and made it onto the plane hot and sweaty. I had a wonderful time in Montreal and met a psychiatrist and his wife from Salt Lake City. Through this contact I received an offer I could not refuse and decided to leave my corner of paradise to start a new life. I don't remember having any regrets for years and years, always returning to visit my friends and always appreciating the beauty and allure of Newport Beach, but also understanding that I could not afford the lifestyle that beckoned. Salt Lake was a sensible choice, and I loved living there. I skied 30 to 40 days a year, I loved southern Utah and I learned to kayak and mountain climb. I camped and hiked and took advantage of everything that Salt Lake had to offer. I enjoyed the mountains as much as I had enjoyed the beach in California. Ultimately I met my husband and had a second child and when Eric was offered a job at Johns Hopkins, we moved to Baltimore.

I have no idea what would have happened in my life if I had made different choices. Would I still live in southern California? Had a second child? Married again? I imagine I would not be moving to Ecuador.

I have expressed much anxiety and hesitation with regard to our move to Ecuador while friends and family have all been enthusiastic and excited. My friend Susan has been most helpful; she has suggested that instead of perceiving this as a move, that I look forward to an extended vacation. I love travel and look forward to vacations; I will be returning to my life after a year , (do I want to return to my life?) and this year offers me an opportunity to take another direction while away or when I come back. Perhaps such an approach will make it easier to manage the next several weeks until we actually get on a plane and land in Quito.

Maybe I can go home now.

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