The other morning I was slowly working my way through my Morning Routine and had just reached the point where I’m sitting in my underwear watching The Daily Show and drinking a cup of coffee, when the Hobbit woke herself up by vomiting on her bed. She stumbled into the bathroom and was sick once or twice more (for good measure, I assume) and then staggered into the living room to tell me that she had thrown up.
As Mrs. RW had long ago announced that these kinds of messes are my responsibility, I set about gathering up and washing sheets and whatnot. (I can’t really say what I gathered up, as turning on the lights in the Hobbit’s room is terrifying.) As I was doing this, it occurred to me that some of this was not in my original plan. (Incidentally, the Hobbit is fine. She wasn’t feverish and felt perfectly normal immediately. How freaking weird is that kid?!)
My original plan was to work as a naturalist; running educational programs, working in a woodland setting, and wearing some version of the color green every day. I had vague notions about possibly meeting someone, but women have always been intimidated by my amazing good looks and gregarious nature, so I considered this a remote possibility.
Every step I’ve taken between the formulation of the plan and today has seemed perfectly reasonable, but when you are washing a double handful of someone else’s soiled sheets at 5:30 am and take a step back to look at the whole picture, you can’t help but wonder where you veered off track.
Personally, I blame Penn State. Those people gave me a mountain of school debt that apparently has to be paid at some point. I was perfectly happy working as a naturalist until I started getting rather nasty letters from the student loan people and decided that I had to get a real job to start paying my bills. You know, when working in a public school is the highest paying gig for an educator in town, things have gotten pretty desperate.
So today I’m not the cool almost-hippie naturalist talking about the finer points of local bird migrations. Today I’m The Man who’s making students do things they hate (they hate it because it’s school… the subject is immaterial) and who will no doubt be told later this evening that I’m a good Dad because I have a fat belly (apparently this makes me more hug-able).
I’m sure that my story isn’t unique or especially interesting, but sometimes when I’m chasing the dog around the neighborhood in slacks and a tie because someone let him out and I’m screaming at my children to get back in the house, it’s perhaps unavoidable to wonder what life would have been like if you had stuck to the plan.