The Closeted Map

In 2011, when I got the job offer that would change my life, the one thing I knew for sure was that I wouldn’t squander the opportunity. That’s what I thought then, anyway. I moved to Brooklyn and got my one bedroom apartment in a then-borderline neighborhood, where I would live gloriously and terrifyingly alone for the first time in my life. At 41 years old.

The apartment had one long wall of mirrors in the living room, which reminded me of something out of a porno or a cheesy romantic hotel in the Poconos. I’d recently been reminded of the ‘change your mind, change your life’ Oprah manifesto and started a massive vision board. Even though I think vision boarding is for people with too much time on their hands and not enough guts to just go and do. So, I ended up with a 10 foot wide wall of maps and modern houses and sexy, handsome men and ocean vistas. (A month after I moved, I got a Facebook message from someone I’d met more than 10 years earlier. She wanted to set me up on a blind date with her brother. Last month I married him. But that’s a story for another day.)

The thing I liked most about my stupid vision board was that I had many different maps. A World map, a U.S. map, a map of the West Indies, a map of the Middle East. I wanted, and want, to go everywhere. For everywhere that I’d already been, I put a purple dot and for everywhere I wanted to go, I put a red dot. I loved wondering which dot I would turn from red to purple. When I moved to NJ, into our new home, a sweet condo that accommodated our mixed family, I realized that my man’s sense of style was very different than mine. I’m not a messy person, at all, but he’s anal. He’s sloppy sometimes but he’s compulsive about clutter. Now that I’ve pointed it out, he’s more relaxed and can let things lie but when it came to decorating our home, there would be no paper maps on our bedroom walls. So, I put them in our closet. They are piled on top of each other, with the World map facing my clothes and laundry. In order to find room for my jewelry, I thought I would put tacks on the wall and hang my necklaces there. Space saver! I decided to put tacks in all of the red and purple dots, and now my jewelry hangs from Paris and Harare and Tokyo and Bali.

But today, when I went to put a necklace away, I noticed that there was no dot or tack on Israel, which is where we’re taking our honeymoon over Christmas. I remember occasionally thinking about going there, the way I thought about seeing the ballet in St. Petersburg. Not high on the list, and apparently, not on the list at all.

I wonder lately about that vision board. In the last four years, I found my man, we traveled to many beautiful beaches and cities, and we have decorated our home in a lovely modern style that we both like. But lately, I’ve felt stuck. Probably because I was laid off a year ago and I’m in a ‘what-am-I-doing-with-my-life’ crisis, and my son is off to college in a year, and I live with two girls who don’t particularly like me on any given day, one of whom has serious mental health issues, etc. I’m feeling like I need to take the map out, as well as any other dreams that I have tucked away. Its difficult to stay focused on my goals when I have to go into a closet to find them.