We've all been there, at the teetering precipice between one option and another, when the "right" choice is muddied and indecision takes hold. When what you want butts up hard against reason, practicality, and convenience.
Some folks are natural decision-makers. I'd pay good money for their secret, because like my inability to tell east from west and north from south, I also struggle mightily with making choices. Even simple ones, like what to serve guests for dinner, whether to wear my hair up or down, or how much cash to tuck in my pocket.
And when it comes to big decisions, ones that matter, the proportions magnify, and the feeling that I might make the wrong choice freezes me in place.
This is where my husband, or in his absence, my friends, take the reins.
I spent last week in Denver, at a culinary conference you'll be hearing more about. I was booked on a flight home one day early, on Saturday, because a very important boy to whom I'd given birth would be turning eight, and I wouldn't dare miss his special day.
On Friday, though, news of an impending blizzard sent me into a tailspin. If the storm hit Saturday as predicted, with 12 to 18 inches, my flight would be canceled, and I'd miss Alex's birthday. If it didn't, but I left early anyway, I'd needlessly miss a night out with colleagues and friends that I'd been looking forward to for months.
What to do, what to do, what to do, what to do. What to do???????????
I hemmed, hawed, and hemmed again, until finally Denise said what I needed to hear: Just go home. You won't have fun if you stay because you'll be so worried about tomorrow.
And she was right.
So I re-booked the flight for 9:15pm that night, bowing out of dinner and heading straight to the airport. Upon arrival, the florescent blue departure screen mocked me: my flight was delayed until 12:35am.
I could have made the dinner after all.
I looked at my wilted fast food salad in disgust, and did my best to act cheerful when my colleagues called from Rioja, tipsy and well fed. "Wish you were here!" they shouted, passing the phone around.
The wind howled outside. The hours ticked by. By midnight, the terminal was deserted.
It was 1:30am before we finally took off...
When I landed in San Jose at 3:30 a.m. and saw my husband and pajama-clad kids pull up in the car -- in the middle of the black, still, California night -- I knew I had made the right choice.
We all woke up a few hours later, and it was Alex's birthday. There were cream-filled devil's food cakes, with sprinkles, chocolate, and candles. And a mom who, for once, made the best choice imaginable.