“I have become a world traveler and discovered that it doesn’t matter where you land. What’s more important is what you make of your journey and how you see and enjoy the very special, the very lovely, things that Holland, or any land, has to offer.” Welcome to Holland, Pt. 2, Emily Pearl Kingsley
You’ve all read or heard of the first “Welcome to Holland” short essay? I wrote about it way back at the beginning. I wrote about how it just wasn’t me. And it still isn’t. I never felt like Down syndrome took me to Holland. After Mia was born, I still felt like I was on my way to the vicinity of Italy. I mean, maybe I was landing in Greece or something. Greece is pretty nice. Still in the Mediterranean at least, am I right? There’s Athens. Beaches. The Parthenon? I mean, it may not be everyone’s first choice for a vacation in Europe, but it’s definitely in the top five.
And then I got divorced, and my plane ended up in Kazakhstan. I don’t know anything about Kazakhstan. Feel free to Google. I couldn’t point to it on a map. Lost.
I dated my ex-husband throughout college and got married the summer after he graduated (I graduated the year before). It was supposed to happen. We were in love. Looking back, it was silly. We were babies. What did we know about anything? But we did what we were supposed to do. Got jobs, both went to graduate school, had a baby.
But then Mia was born and it was like someone had dismantled our future. Two “normal” kids. Two “normal” childhoods. They’d graduate from high school and then college, then empty-nesting, and then retirement. Like a map. Then it felt like someone took a big Sharpie to our map and just wrote, “No.”
And then I sort of started a new one. Over time, I felt like I was navigating the world pretty well. Navigating this new map, this new “normal.” Then someone took a big Sharpie to my new map and wrote, “No.”
Those four words pretty much sum up my last, nearly, two years. So for two years, I’ve been trying to figure out the “Now what?” part. Because that map is long gone, people.
And I’ll be honest with you, I have absolutely no idea. I have no idea what’s next. For those of you who know me, I’m a planner by nature. I love planning. And boy did I have a plan. I mean, two years ago, I could have told you the plan for the next 20 years of my life. And now, nothing.
It took a long time to let go of that other life. I still don’t think I’ve completely let it go. I think it will always haunt me a little, just like the little girl who Mia “was supposed to be” will haunt me.
It sounds a little reckless to say this, but I think I’ve decided to stop drawing maps. My long-term planning is on hold. At least for now.
For now, I’ll plan on fireworks. Parades. Blue moon ice cream. Toddler giggles. Baseball gloves. Whether I’m in Holland, Italy, Greece or Kazakhstan.