I woke up in my old house on the hill the other day. It was familiar like the shape of my toes and also confusing, like trying to identify the vegetarian options on a menu etched in foreign words in an especially carnivorous country.
I haven’t lived in that house in seven years.
For a split second, an entire world existed. I was married to my high school sweetheart. I typed in a red-walled office. I had two babies. With my eyes yet to open in the morning glow, I could see the way the light sliced through the vertical blinds and landed on the dresser. I could anticipate the sponginess of the carpeting if I’d pushed myself towards the bathroom. I could hear static from the baby monitor.
There was heaviness with each inhale. There was the ache of a strained marriage. There was the uncertainty of hospitals that cinched my world for four-and-a-half years. It was so real and yet, it felt wrong.
That’s because it wasn't real.
And as quickly as it sprung up, that world vanished. Once I opened my eyes, I was in my current house, married to a different man. My world that includes four kids and two chickens and a rescue dog appeared and relaxed me.
I teeter between these worlds consciously and regularly as I polish my manuscript.
During the day as I write, I live in that house on the hill with the trumpet flowers that line the fence. I am married to the man I made babies with. We trek to the hospital and doctor appointments and blood tests. Our relationship slowly disintegrates as each of us learns to accept our son’s medical diagnosis and physical limitations.
And when I stop typing and editing and shaping that story for the day, I am married to a different man. We help our kids with homework, drive them to swimming lessons, and read Lemony Snicket before bed. And our marriage is new, strong, and brimming with communication, intimacy, and love. We proactively see a family therapist to keep it that way.
I haven't decided if this teetering is healthy or unhealthy, good or bad. But it’s real. And some days, like the other day, it’s very confusing. Straddling these two worlds isn’t forever, but some days I wish the past was just the past.