All I know is where I am at now. I know where my resume has gaping holes. I know how my interview skills have gotten a little rusty around the edges. I know my short-comings in my current full-time job as a parent and as an aspiring author.
And because I know those things, I know that I am not perfect. I am not a perfect mother. I am not a perfect writer. I am not a perfect wife. I am not a perfect daughter. I am not a perfect friend. I am not a perfect neighbor. Acknowledging my imperfections has got me wondering about the life I didn't choose. About the writing career I didn't pursue after I had a baby.
I'm sure I would still be imperfect in many ways, but I wonder about the parts of me that didn't get nurtured based on the choices I've made. At this point in my career, I would have had 12 solid years of writing and reporting experience. Sure, I'm still writing, but it has been many years since I did it full time. Since I did it without interruption. Since I did it without breaks. Since I did it without constant deadlines or editors barking at me over my shoulder.
I don't know where that other life would have led me, but I wonder about it. I wonder about it with nostalgia. I wonder about it as if it was the glamorous life I left behind. As if it was the gratifying work it never was. As if it was the serious boyfriend I never got married to. Or the city I didn't move to after my college graduation. Or the kids I didn't have those times I thought I was pregnant.
With all that wondering and romanticizing, I think about it as if it is something I've been missing out on, like that advanced degree I really want to hang on the wall behind the monitor. But I know it's not. I felt proud of myself when I decided to leave it. It was like deciding not to read the rest of novel I wasn't enjoying just because I started it.
I dreamt about this life. I dreamt about being a mom. I dreamt about getting to choose my destination each day with my kids at my feet.
I suppose that is the funny thing about choices. You never really know what you gave up. In some ways, I'm a better writer because I'm writing what I want to write about every day. But I don't have an editor. I don't have deadlines. I don't have someone pushing me to do better. At this point, I only have me. And some days--like when a rejection letter shows up in the mail--it's easier to dream about what I gave up. On those days it is just easier than pushing forward.