Particularly over the last year and half, a specific friend of mine and I have joked that I must have some level of psychic ability, even if it exists at the lowest level. Most of the time I'm joking; there are the rare occasions when I'm not.
I am an optimistic pessimist. As far back as I can remember, I have prepared for the worst so that I could handle the worst in the best possible way, or be incredibly grateful when the worst did not come to pass. Example in point: as a young child, my parents would leave my sister and I with my grandparents every year on their anniversary trip to McDonalds. I was always so afraid, even as a little kid, that they would be in a car accident on the way back. I spent the couple of hours they were gone considering how I would need to handle the situation should they die, be crippled, or awaken from a coma with no memory of their children like in a soap opera, all while my grandma dealt the next hand of Gin Rummy. Dark for a 7 year old... I know. Of course, my parents returned safely each year, and my mental over-preparedness for the worst allowed me to be overjoyed when the worst was not.
Years ago, I was recently out of college, working hard, living alone in a small apartment plenty big for just me, miles away from my version of "civilization", feeling very isolated in this world and life in general. I felt very out of place with the rest of the people in my community. Dating any of them was out of the question. Had I wrongly assumed I'd have the white bread, all-American husband and family? And so my optimistic pessimism kicked in. By the age of 23, I had literally begun playing out in my head the future in which I was 40-something spinster (old maid), spending my money selfishly on just myself (since I wasn't married), with two beautiful dogs (mini-schnauzers in that imagination that were replacing the children I didn't have), a shabby chic house (I was so young...) and a career like Betty Pierce. I figured if I told myself this reality long enough, when it came to pass I'd be okay with it, and if it didn't, well, awesome! All kidding aside, I imagined this future for myself a lot. I'd even say it loud to friends or family. I'd talk to my mom about her future grand-dogs, laugh, and then seriously look through those little shops and trades day shows in Fredericksburg for kitschy ways to decorate the house I'd be sharing with those two dog children.
About a week ago it occurred to me that I'm not far off.
Granted, I haven't won Honor Band (yet), and I don't have croquet mallets holding up curtains (like I once thought would be cool), but here I am... Sharing my house with two dogs, thankfully dachshunds. Telling them they are going to see Grandma. Taking vacations to Hawaii because I can afford to lavish myself with travel.
Last year at this time I had my hand in a box of ashes. I was certain that was the worst.
A year later, I wouldn't call this the worst, but I certainly don't feel prepared.