Will the Real Karolyn Please Stand Up

People who are absolutely sure of themselves blow me away. Are there really such people, or have they just learned to fake it better than I can? Is anyone completely confident that everything they do, everything they say is exactly right? I couldn’t for a moment imagine being in politics. How can anyone be held accountable for something they said eighteen years ago? I mean, even if they meant it at the time, people change, the world changes. Ok, so Christine O’Donnell, that was a little weird, but still…

I like to drink beer from a bottle and eat pizza with my hands, the way my late friend Rob Borsellino taught me. I am a blue-jeans kind of girl, every single day I like to wear blue jeans, or black jeans or grey jeans. However, I love it when we’re invited to black-tie events. I wear makeup everyday (yes, even a touch here in Costa Rica). I drool over Christian Louboutin shoes and Prada purses. (Those didn’t come with me to CR though. That would be silly.)

I’ve been an interior designer, an art dealer, and now a writer. I’ve been married, divorced, single, remarried. (We’ve already talked about how many times I’ve changed my last name; no need to go into that again.) I am a daughter and a sister. I am a mom; that alone will never change.

“An unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates said that nearly 2500 years ago. He also said, “The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” I think I could party with Socrates.

You might have guessed by now that I have just finished reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. It’s the sad, sad account of the twelve months following the sudden death of her husband John Gregory Dunne. At the same time, their only child was in and out of several hospitals for multiple reasons, most significantly a massive hematoma six months after John died. Didion is a brilliant and insightful author, and she raised some deep questions for me.

While no one goes through life untouched by sadness and tragedy, some people seem to live charmed lives. Wayne and I, for instance, live a seemingly charmed life because we live each day to its fullest (and Wayne was a hard-working business man and a good saver). But we both got here the hard way. My husband has serious health issues that are part of our everyday life. He never says, “One day I’d like to… ” If he wants to do something, go someplace, learn something, he does it NOW. I’m lucky enough to get to tag along. And, we never would have found each other if we both hadn’t gone through painful divorces.

What I think about often is who will I be, where will I be, in ten years? Or twenty? Or thirty? Wayne would insist that I live each day as it comes, hoping for the best but saving (money and memories) for the worst. If we each get our share of tragedy, will I be strong enough to survive when my bad days come? Joan Didion’s only child died during her book tour that chronicled her struggle to get over her husband’s death. Could I survive that? I’m not trying to tempt fate by calling my life charmed, I’m acknowledging the good days. As Arthur Ashe, the great tennis player who died of AIDS in 1993 said, “If I were to say, ‘God, why me?’ about the bad things, then I should have said, ‘God, why me?’ about the good things that happened in my life.”

I’m afraid to ask, Why me? Why am I so lucky? because it frightens me to think of how my luck might balance out in the future. What will my obit say? Scary stuff, huh? And that is why we live each day to the fullest. That is why I tell my family how much I love them every day.

Ol’ Soc, I think, would tell me, “Examine your life, one day at a time, for tomorrow you will know more.”

Peace out, friends.

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