Choices


We are faced with millions of decisions in a lifetime. Some of the decisions are easy to make, like brushing your teeth or wearing a seatbelt. They are automatic and routine with the risks of doing or not doing clear and clean cut. For me, the thought of a toothless mouth or flying through a windshield takes away the hesitancy and second-guessing associated with decisions with risks and outcomes that are less known.

By nature, I am a cautious person. I over-think every decision and when I finally do make a choice, then I ruminate on if it was the right one. It’s a very tough way to live, being scared of the future and questioning the past. What about the present?

Sometimes I question myself, police interrogation style, demanding answers. There is no good cop/bad cop scenario in my head, only bad cop who is unreasonably upset with my ability to make a snap judgment.

This decision making problem is something that I have accepted as a sort-of handicap, like a lazy eye or an inwardly turned foot. I know how to work with it, but it can be overly taxing for my husband, especially when in situations where there are many choices to make, like grocery shopping. How can a person possibly just pick a can of soup or a head of lettuce without considering all options? There is the price and quality of a product, likelihood of use, and then trying to remember any bad experiences with this or that product in the past to take into account before anything goes into the cart. Whereas, when he goes by himself, he is back within an hour with several meals options that are ready to go. It’s just another one of his gifts.

In my present life, I am in the middle of a transition from a decision that I labored for several weeks before committing to it. I am looking back at what I’m leaving and forward into a sea of uncertainty. As the time to start the next phase in my life approaches, the waves are rising and getting choppier. They are breaking hard onto the shore of my sense of stability. Yet, I’m still making all the preparations to load up into my little boat and set out for the unknown, decision making impairment, be damned.

If my boat sinks, I’ve got a life jacket and I’ll shoot off flares for help. Hopefully, I’ll run ashore of unchartered lands that are rich with resources. Just in case anyone is wondering, I fully plan to claim these lands for my own and declare it all, Puneybonia. In either case, I’m making a choice and standing behind it for better or worse.

She found one.

The day started with a light drizzle of rain and progressed into a full-on deluge by the time I arrived at my first appointment of the day.  A streak of yellow lightening split the sky in front of me as I popped my umbrella into shape.  Fortunately, when it rains like the world is coming to a certain end, the punks of the street take cover.  Plus, it was too early in the day for most of them to be up.

So I sloshed happily down the cracked sidewalk into the front yard of my client’s ramshackle house, unmolested by the usual people of the street.

My client sat at the table picking at a microwaveable meal of gelatinous meat with a side of green mush that was representative of vegetables.

We went through the usual list of questions and finished pretty quickly.  As I stashed the paperwork into my bag, I asked, “Anything else going on?”

She slyly looked at me and confirmed that my pen and paperwork were safely tucked away.

“Don’t write this down, but the prostitutes have taken over this block.”

I egged her on, “Oh yeah?”

Nodding with a grim expression, she said, “I don’t even go out to my back porch anymore.  I’m afraid of what I’ll see now that it’s covered with condoms.”

She was stone-cold serious while I tried to figure out if this was a dementia thing or a little joke to get a reaction from me.

Not waiting for my comment, she continued, “In fact, my granddaughter took the trash out there last week and found one.”

I asked, “A condom?”

Disgusted that I wasn’t following the story, she shook her head, “No, a prostitute.”

“My granddaughter screamed at her because she’s got a real nasty attitude, she always has. I heard her in here and thought something happened.  She came back in here and told me, the prostitutes thought this was an empty house.”

“But your lights are always on and the grass is mowed and your front door is open and…” I tried to make sense of how the prostitutes could have made this mistake.

“Don’t worry.  My granddaughter set them straight, but I’m still not going out there.”

She shrugged her shoulders and returned to her meal, now cold, and started picking at it again.

“That’s just how it is,” she said, as though to comfort me.

I left certain that it might be that way today, but it doesn’t have to be that way tomorrow.   Yet, I was uncertain as to what should change: the neighborhood, her living situation, or my attitude towards the whole thing.