Happiness is circumstantial. Joy is a decision.

Fast forward to French class our senior year. Our French teacher arranged a field trip to New Orleans and he was the tour guide since he was from there. The boys stayed at his parents’ house and the girls stayed at a hotel in the French Quarter. His parents hosted the class for dinner that Friday night. And then I figured out that he wasn’t dumb. After dinner while everyone was playing pool and chilling out, he sat at his parents’ kitchen table and studied. That was the sexiest damn thing to me. I love a smart man!

The next day he and the boys met us at the hotel in the French Quarter. And there he was standing in the sunlight in his white t-shirt and jeans. It was like the sun lit all around him. I may have even heard angels. I saw him in the sunlight and knew he was going to be my husband. I called my mom when I got home and told her so. Our French teacher knew it too. We rode back to the campus with her and held hands in the back seat. When I got out to head to my dorm, she told him to catch up with me so he could “finish courting.” He walked me to my dorm room and kissed me in front of the orange door leading to House 3. And the rest is history.

Or at least it was. We married after our first year of law school and medical school. When we started dating, I had already applied to law school. He had already been accepted to Brown University Medical School. I had applied to Georgetown, NYU, Emory, Duke, Yale and Harvard. I really wanted to go to Georgetown or NYU—both really far from Providence, RI. I didn’t think I’d get into Yale or Harvard so I was wasn’t’ really calculating that distance. I didn’t get into Yale. I got into Harvard! 45 minutes away from Providence! It was written in the stars. I was sure we were meant to be.

Well, it was and it wasn’t. My ex-husband wanted me to be the traditional wife—modeled after his mother. I remember reading a letter that we exchanged the summer before our marriage where we had laid out the agreement for how our marriage would work. I would handle everything inside the house and he would handle everything else–just like his parents. Given that I had grown up in a divorced household and an otherwise dysfunctional one between the relationship of my stepfather and my mother, I truly yearned to have a functional loving relationship. I admired my in-laws for their loving relationship and how they got along so well.  I agreed even though this was not what I wanted and not truly who I was. I am more than my domestic skills. The thing I did not take into account and build into this agreement was that I was different than his mother—in attitudes, values, and interests. Not to mention, she was a schoolteacher and I was an attorney. Our schedules weren’t even the same.

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