Today I want to talk about freedom. You thought we were talking about childnessness? Well, we are. Hang in there.
I never envisioned myself becoming a childless widow. I don't know how I wound up being 60 years old and having a dog as my partner in life, but on a day like today, I don't mind.
I have a blog called Unleashed in Oregon, where I talk about my adventures as a California transplant to the Beaver state. In order to write about adventures, I need to have some. That means getting out of the office once in a while.
A tsunami evacuation trail has been created here in Newport, Oregon along Yaquina Bay from the Hatfield Marine Science Center to what is being called Safe Haven Hill. In the event of a tsunami, the hundreds of people working and having fun along the bay will be directed to take that trail to higher ground. I decided to try it before my monthly chiropractor appointment.
I parked at the marina and started walking. It's a gorgeous day today, sunny, with blue sky, blue ocean, everything ready to burst into bloom. It's Oregon Coast warm, in the 50s. I enjoyed the feeling of freedom, being able to walk anywhere I wanted. I walked past the marina, the RV park, and the Rogue brewery where they're setting up the tents for this weekend's seafood and wine festival. I walked past the guys cleaning fish and walked under the 75-year-old Yaquina Bridge.
Wherever I felt like it, I stopped and took a picture. I have always wanted to climb up the stairs to the bridge to see what that's like, so I did. Up and down, taking more pictures. I didn't make it to the top of the hill. Too much to see on the way, but that's okay because I was free to do whatever I wanted.
If I had had anybody else to worry about, we would have had to schedule a time and plan lunch afterward. We would have had to walk all the way to the top of the hill, come hell or tsunami.
I felt young and free, unfettered, with nobody else's needs to worry about, nobody to report to or explain why I wanted to do this. That's one of the benefits of being on your own without dependents. I have always done this thing where I jump in the car and run away. When my stepson lived with us, I still escaped, but I was always looking at my watch, wanting to be back at the house when he got home from school.
When I lived near San Francisco, I would drive to the zoo and visit the nearby Cliff House and Sutro Baths. If you go to the zoo with children, it's going to be all about them, pointing out things of interest to them, dealing with their needs for food, drink and potty stops, leaving when they get bored or cranky. It's pretty much the same with a man. But alone, I can commune with the polar bears all day if I want to.
In San Jose, when I wasn't working a 9 to 5 job, I would go hike in the foothills, sit on a rock and write, go to the beach, or travel back in time at the San Juan Bautista mission where some of my ancestors were married.
You can't do that if you have other people depending on you.
Do I wish I had a husband and children? Yes. I miss Fred every day, and I do miss children and grandchildren I might have had. Yesterday when I was walking the dog, the school bus dropped off some kids and this adorable little girl went running toward her mother, hollering "Mommy!" like she was so glad to see her. It killed me.
Without children, you can enjoy the freedom of going for a walk, climbing a mountain, kayaking down a river, whatever you like to do without having to worry about anybody else. It hurts not to have children when you wanted them. It does. It's my biggest regret in life. And you do feel different from everybody else when the world seems to circle around their children. You'll never convince me you're not missing something. But you do have freedom. Don't ignore it. Enjoy it.
This post originally appeared on Childless By Marriage.