The kids’ school shut down. So much for Plan A.
When I was in sixth grade, I had a crush on a boy named… well, I probably shouldn’t use his real name. So, let’s call him Vlad. Vlad the Chevy Impala. Anyway, Matt — I mean Vlad — had these beautiful brown eyes and two dimples right where they should be (on his cheeks) as if they’d been there for years. And he had these long eyelashes.
One day I remember him looking at me as if he’d never seen me (which he probably thought he hadn’t). He leaned over, staring at me with those inquisitive baby browns. He said, in the most romantic voice my sixth grade soul had ever heard, “Your ears are so small.”
My heart swelled. I was like, I have small ears. I HAVE SMALL EARS. This is obviously what boys want, and I’ve got it!
I prepared myself, and my ears, for the love of a lifetime. I wore my hair up. I put on tiny dangly earrings.
But then there was this incident during a game of kissing-tag when I realized that not only did Vlad not like me, he didn’t even notice me. I stood there like an island in a stream, a rock parting a river of boys who easily dodged any of my wiles.
“But I have small ears,” I whispered to myself as I kicked the asphalt. (I was a pre-teen. I was dramatic).
I went home that day and my mom read my face. She put her arm around me and shoved a hot cocoa into my fist. “So, Plan A didn’t work out. But sometime, you’ll realize the value of Plan B.”
The next day at school, another boy sat in front of me and nonchalantly reached behind his head and put something on my desk. It was an eraser, in the shape of a heart, in its own heart-shaped container. The boy’s name was Glosh. (Apparently I’m really bad with fake names.) And we became friends. And I slowly got over my broken crush.
And the friendship that ensued with Glosh was worth so much more than my yearning for Vlad, although it took a while for the message to reach my heart.
When I got married (the first time) (stop judging), I was young and I thought, this is what I’ve always wanted. It’s what everyone expects. And after 16 years of a very wonderful marriage that didn’t quite work in the end, I was in despair. This was supposed to be my fairytale ending.
But it wasn’t. Plan A was once again just out of reach. So I went on to Plan B. And then Plan C. And then Plan D, and… stop counting!
I never expected to be a twice divorced mother of two at my age. Or to get a graduate degree in an obscure field that would one day lead me to writing full time. Or to figure out how to raise two souls who constantly press my boundaries. And to try to do it during a pandemic… It’s a struggle.
My grandma always said, if you can’t succeed at marriage, succeed at divorce. I think I’ll apply this to all the parts of my life in the pandemic.
Oh, the beauty of Plan B. The thing you never knew you wanted. The thing you never knew you needed. Plan Bs come at the time you least expect them, and sometimes we are left on the floor, scratching our heads and wondering how we got here. A pandemic with no end in sight. A presidential election that seems like the monkeys are running the circus.
And then I have this kid whose school recently shut down. Sure, he doesn’t know social cues as well as we do, but he can name the dates of every person’s gravestone surrounding his aunt Emily’s grave.
And I have another kid who has given me gray hairs, but who offers to make me breakfast every morning. And then he sleeps in.
I don’t know how we all got here or how long this is going to last, but I will remember what my mom said.
There is beauty in Plan B. Revel in it.
Brodi Ashton is a New York Times best-selling author who lives in the Salt Lake City area. She’s also an occasional columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune.