Saying Goodbye To That Other Life



There is a card on my refrigerator, given to me by a dear friend right after my breakup, that says, “Hang in there. It is astonishing how short a time it can take for very wonderful things to happen.” The past month has been a testament to how true this is.

A month ago I was despairing. I was more than three years into a job that usually held new attorneys for a year or two and had well surpassed burnout status. I was living in the same apartment that my boyfriend (basically fiance) of three years had moved out of two months before. A mausoleum, despite all my efforts at making it my own.

And so small was our city that every time I left my house, I was nearly guaranteed to either run into my ex or someone affiliated with him. Then. Then, I received an email from a friend and colleague of mine who I had told about the breakup and that I was thinking about moving back to the Bay. She had received a job notification from a friend for a great public interest organization and urged me to apply. I did. I had an interview a week later and two days later was offered the job. Then the house hunt. In one month I managed to acquire a job doing the impact litigation I have been yearning for and an absolutely awesome apartment in what has become a very desirable part of the Bay Area. The sweet amazing universe. I am simply saturated with gratitude. I am also certain that this experience, of things falling into place exactly as they should, is not unique to me.

I have started a new chapter of my life. I am thrilled and excited and certain about this. But of course, there are parts of that last section that have stuck with me. When I was conducting the walk-through of my apartment before leaving Sacramento, my landlord offered me time to just walk-around. “Say goodbye” she said. I took her up on her offer. And as I paced the empty rooms, I had the most profound sense that I was walking head-on into my future and away from the life I had envisioned. It was a sliding doors moment.

I am still amazed at how real that other life feels. How real that other Deborah feels. How I can almost imagine driving back to Sacramento and having it there, like I never left. My ex gardening in the back, our apartment full of projects and stacks of things we had never found a home for.

Cheryl Strayed captures this feeling so beautifully. She said, “I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

So I salute it. From Oakland. I honor its existence in some other realm and turn back to the life I’m leading now. This new chapter. In its beautiful infancy.

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