by Amanda Jaffe
Writers' Block: A contribution from our AWA Writers' Group members
Things I May Have Over-Thought
What color to paint the exterior of our house in New Jersey every time we had to paint it.
Whether to jump off the three-meter diving board when I was 10 or climb back down the ladder. I list this here only because I jumped when I probably should have climbed back down. And because it took me thirty minutes to decide what to do.
Whether “now” — “now” being shorthand for any number of life stages, jobs, and other miscellaneous entanglements — was the right time to have children.
Whether I was qualified enough to apply for all those jobs I decided I wasn’t qualified enough to apply to.
When and how to leave every job I wanted to leave.
The conversations with my kids that I was afraid would be hard.
Things I Probably Should Have Thought Through a Bit More
How to respond when, in my senior year of college, my mother said, “Graduate school sounds nice, but what happens if you like it and decide not to go to law school?” In hindsight, “You’re right. What was I thinking?” may not have been the best answer.
Going to law school straight out of college.
That snap decision I made one Saturday morning when I pulled into the driveway, saw the painters applying taupe paint to the exterior of our house, and insisted that they had to drop everything and go with the blue instead. The only time that house looked good in blue was on snowy days. Sitting on the hill amid a shimmering blanket of fresh-fallen snow, that blue house was drop-dead gorgeous. It doesn’t snow in New Jersey nearly as often as you might expect.
The wisdom of wading into a mountain stream in Nepal with my boyfriend to wash my hair for the first time in a week.
Pretty much every ride I’ve ever taken on the back of an animal. Well, most of them. Definitely the one where the other horses were named Buttercup, Rainbow, and Sunshine, and it turned out my horse’s name was Diablo.
The conversations with my kids that I thought would be easy. “How was your day?” could yield a one-word answer (“fine”). It also could be a surprisingly treacherous minefield. The fun lay in never knowing which it would be.
Things I Didn’t Give a Second Thought and Never Regretted*
Declining to bungee jump every time I’ve had the opportunity. (See Number 2, above, under "Things I May Have Over-Thought.") I'd like to think this suggests that I've grown to accept my limitations; or, better, that I've grown comfortable with the contours of my dislikes.
Moving away from Florida (twice).
Putting taupe siding on our house in New Jersey the last time it needed repainting.
Agreeing with my boyfriend when he suggested that, if we could survive wading into a mountain stream in Nepal that turned out to be infested with leeches and still be on speaking terms, there was a good chance we were highly compatible. We’ve enjoyed a long, happy, blissfully leech-free marriage.
Acting, finally, when I felt the sharp pinprick of awareness that told me it was time for my body to walk away from a job my heart and mind had left a long time before.
Conceding the point when my husband took my hand and said, “You know there’s never going to be a ‘right’ time to have children, right?”
*Most of the time.
Amanda Jaffe is a writer and former attorney currently working as a nonprofit consultant. Her writing has appeared in The American Interest, PASSAGE Magazine, and the Finder, among other publications.