The past few months I’ve been reading the kids Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. We just began book five, The Austere Academy. The kids are obsessed with it, and Geoff and I like it a lot, too. It’s dark and funny, with lots of big words. In other words, it’s awesome.
The stories are about three orphans, siblings whose parents died in a fire, who go on to have adventure after adventure. In each book the kids narrowly avoid a different disaster, and they regularly find themselves in situations that they never would have if their parents had survived.
When I was a kid I used to wish that my mom would die just so that I could have the kind of adventures that the Baudelaire orphans do. No, I didn’t actually want my mom to be dead, I just wanted my life to be more fun. If she died, I thought that I could go and live with my godmother, who seemed infinitely more interesting than my mom. I also wanted to live in an RV and travel around the country, something that was out of the question for my mom. Needless to say, my mom lived into my adulthood and I was at least seventeen before I ever had a real adventure.
My mom nearly gave me up for adoption – did I ever mention that? It’s a long story of its own, but when it came down to it, she changed her mind. She was single, poor, divorced, and unwed. She had little going for her in general, so when she found herself pregnant with me at 38, she first thought that adoption would be the best option. Then I was born two months early and my mom nearly died from complications. When things settled down, she decided that the universe had a message for her. She decided to take another stab at motherhood.
I’m glad that my mom did not give me up for adoption. I mean, I hope that goes without saying. I’m lucky in so many ways to have been raised by my mom. She gave me all that she had to give, and now I often wonder how she did it. Yet looking back, my life feels like a series of narrowly missed adventures. My childhood was safe and quiet, I went to college just 20 minutes from home, I got married at 23.
I’ve never been thrown to the wolves. I’ve never risked it all on my own in the world. I’ve never entrusted myself to the universe just for fun. Damn it, I want to.