When I was a child, you’d never find me holed up with a Nancy Drew book. During the long, hot summer months, while my older sister poured over The Clue in the Diary and The Quest of the Missing Map, I eagerly made my way through the Little House series and all of the Betsy Books…twice. Sure, I read Harriet the Spy, but that’s only because she was one tough cookie with a secret notebook and a penchant for writing. Back then I had no interest whatsoever in the mysteries of life, the unsolved, the uncertain and unsettled. Even as a kid, I clung to the idea that knowing an outcome ahead of time would save me a lot of heartache. Over the years, that naivete revealed I can never really predict what will happen next.
It took decades before I read a mystery novel, the quintessentially popular DaVinci Code, not something by Mary Higgins Clark or Scott Turrow. Still, I love films with a “whodunnit” premise and have thoroughly enjoyed some episodes of the new Sherlock Holmes series on PBS, so perhaps I’ll visit the library and look up Arthur Conan Doyle. Then again, maybe I won’t, for living with the ambiguity of this past year has been enough of a real-life mystery for me.
How could I have known last summer that a part-time job which was supposed to be a doorway into managing a training school would be kaput in less than sixteen months? Or that I’d be dipping my toes into the realm of becoming a professional editor? Or that I’d fall in love with a man who has become my best friend? Even now, the endless, meandering roads through all of these realities aren’t marked with goalposts, nor is an endgame in sight.
But that’s all part of the plan I suppose…and more will always be revealed.
You think I’d be used to mysteries by now. After all, I’ve made enough leaps of faith to give a bullfrog a jump for his money. Not once or twice, but three times I’ve left a job without the safety net of another one waiting in the wings. I’ve made choices based on intuition instead of expectation and had to wait quite a while before being met with a tangible outcome. Even so, when I find myself unsure of the future, my knee jerk reaction is usually to panic.
Last month, the hours at my part-time job were cut in half, and two weeks ago, one of my cats accidentally snapped off a claw and needed an emergency run to the vet. This coincided with having my air conditioner serviced for the summer only to have it clang and run hard a week later when our first heat wave blew into town. When the technician arrived, he told me that since the unit is twenty-one years old, I’d be better off replacing it than trying to patch it together.
“It’ll run you about $3,500.00 to $4,000.00,” he said. “But we have a three-year payment plan.”
I don’t plan on being here three years, I thought.
Luckily, it’s been running just fine, and since I don’t like AC anyway, I’m giving it a rest for now. In the meantime, I figured out my finances and will be just fine…like I always have been in the past. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a rough night, tossing and turning trying to get a grip on unexpected expenses that have been racking up this season.
“It’s just life,” I told Steve the next day. “Everyone goes through this…it’s just my turn right now.”
“I was going to tell you that last night when you were upset,” he smiled. “But I had faith you’d figure it out.”
“Yeah, ‘cause you know stuff, right?”
Steve laughed, as that’s his go-to line whenever I ask him a science/math/ecology question and he always has an educated answer…just like Dr. Watson.
In the Sherlock Holmes books, Dr. Watson is described as being strongly built with a thick neck and a small moustache. For those of you who know my Steve, that’s him all over (except he has a manly moustache)…plus, like he says, he knows all kinds of stuff. While I may be oddly eccentric, exceptionally introverted, and sometimes uber-anxious, Steve is matter-of-fact, charmingly gregarious, and oftentimes easygoing. Together we’re a good balance of intuition and objectivity, courage and caution, organization and spontaneity. And the good news is that we enhance all of these congruent qualities in each other.
Since I flew away from my parents’ nest, I've built a mystery of an uncommon life, one that had no roadmap or fixed destination…at least not one I had hoped for. With every risky decision, I stood alone to meet the consequences head-on. Some were incredibly painful, but most have been extraordinary. Over time, I learned to accept the unknown, to lean into that which cannot yet be seen, to trust that choices based on faith will yield an abundant harvest, which I then embraced all by myself.
But no longer.
Just last week I sent Steve a meme that reads: Walk with me…we’ll figure out where we’re going later. There are still a lot of unknowns in both of our lives. Some stuff we have control over, but a lot of it we don’t because it involves other people and time-frames that aren’t dictated by our terms. I’m working toward jump-starting a new career while Steve is closing the circle in part of his past. I’m taking care of business while he’s taking care of other people. I’m dotting i’s and crossing t’s while he’s looking at the bigger picture.
“It doesn’t really matter what’s around the corner,” I recently told him. “Because I know that, no matter what, you’ll be there with me…and I’ll be there with you.”
“That’s the deal,” he nodded. “You’re my constant.”
“And you’re mine,” I smiled.
Steve and I are walking together toward an unknown future, but one that we know will be a peaceful, happy one. After all, we’re intentionally creating a peaceful, happy relationship right now, one that will mature as time moves us forward. It’s been quite a journey so far, and even though not all of it has been easy, it’s been more than worth the wait.
Sure, I’m still building a mystery. But this time around, I have a partner who’s quirky and kind, intelligent and interesting…and the most incredible Dr. Watson I know.