Category Archives: Traveler’s Tales

life, the universe, and everything

Being the geek that I am, I’ve been anticipating tomorrow for quite some time.  It’s not only Towel Day, but it’s my Towel Day–I’ll be turning 42, which means that it is destined to be the perfect birthday.

Except, of course, it is not.  I’m not wandering in Italy this year, I’m not hosting an inspiring fundraiser, and I’m not throwing a party for friends.  In fact, I haven’t been feeling well at all lately due to this.


At the same time, I’ve never felt more at peace with my life than I do now.  I’m not railing against a rigid religion, or feeling friction from a failing relationship, or worrying about what lies ahead.


My days are filled with many pleasures: a satisfying job, many books to read, much time on the ocean, a happy home-life, and friends who like to talk long into the summer evenings.  If I could sum things up in just a few words, it would be that I am satisfied.  Satisfied with who I am and all that’s happening in my life.  In fact, that’s the primary reason I haven’t been blogging much anymore–I don’t have angst and worries and unfinished business.  I’m recording many of my simple pleasures on instagram, but find little in my everyday life that warrants blog discussion.

I have enough.  I am enough…

I suspect that, for me, that’s why 42 is The Answer to “life, the universe, and everything.”  So many things just aren’t necessary on our travels when we know where our towel is.  The rest just seems to work out one way or another.  Or, perhaps we learn that whatever does happen is answer enough.

Traveler’s Tales: “Divorced with two children”

Another post in the series of Traveler’s Tales

A Guest Post by Jeanne

When my sons were small, I used to tell people I was divorced with two children. Full stop. End of story.

Of course, people who knew us wondered how I got one Asian child and one pale-skinned red head with only one husband. When I mentioned that Older Son was adopted, that usually satisfied their curiosity.

But then if I happened to mention my years in Japan, and the fact that my ex-husband was Japanese, the cat was usually well out of the bag, and many people would ask me directly at this point … and I didn’t blame them.

Our family story is complicated, but perhaps not much more than most: I married a Japanese man when I was studying in Hawaii (an M.A. in Japanese language from the U of Hawaii). After a few years in Berkeley to get a second master’s in journalism, my husband and I went to Japan, where we adopted the boy I call Older Son. He is now 26 and well on his way to success in all aspects of his life. (Note my maternal pride.)

Fast forward five years, to a divorce (my idea) and my return to the states with Older Son in tow. We settled in Chico, CA, for a year, where I taught journalism and public speaking and Older Son attended a daycare where–for most of his time there–he was the only child who wasn’t white. There were scarcely any kids who weren’t BLOND. I knew this wasn’t going to work for us long-term.

During this time, I met the tall, blond research scientist who was to become the father of Younger Son. This pregnancy was an accident, but I call it a “happy accident”–I had never been pregnant before and I welcomed the pregnancy and sailed through it happily despite my situation as a (by then) unemployed single mother living on my savings from the Tokyo years.

We returned to Seattle, close to my birthplace of Tacoma and the town where I grew up, Hoquiam, WA. And I raised my sons alone. No, it wasn’t easy. But I was an older mother (30 when I adopted Older Son, 35 when I gave birth to Younger Son), and I would do it again.

Next time I’ll elaborate on my life as a single working mother, especially after my diagnosis with breast cancer when my sons were 13 and 8.

In the meantime, here’s my blog:

Support, stories, and a new blog feature

Within moments of John telling me that he was leaving our marriage, I texted a friend:

John is leaving me.  In despair.  Can I come over?

I remember almost nothing of that night except that I had a shoulder to cry on and a friend who listened and offered every imaginable support, while serving me cup after cup of hot herbal tea.  In the days that followed, as I explained my situation to other close friends, a tight net of support emerged around me.  The support often came from tangential relationships, such as the woman who came over to explain California divorce to me.  She’d never been to my home and we’d only met once before–but she was freshly divorced herself and knew she had information that I would need.  She stayed for hours and listened as much as she shared.

Then there was the group of friends who live far away, who daily sent me snail-mail letters and care packages.  These sweet notes arrived both in Pasadena and Irvine–they covered all the bases because they knew I was flitting between two homes during the month of December.  They were envelopes filed with color and poetry and care.  Reminders that I was loved and important and strong.  My Exponent sisters sent the softest-ever blanket with a giraffe-fabric pattern–as a reminder that giraffes are matriarchal creatures and they take care of their own.  That blanket went back-and-forth with me wherever I slept during December and is still folded into a rectangle at the foot of my bed.

Now, as I find myself trying to forge a path forward with this new life of mine, I continue to be influenced by the stories of friends who have followed similar trajectories.  Using the imagery of my blogtitle, I consider myself a fellow pilgrim with these women.  Some of them have traveled on ahead of me and can offer a map of where they’ve been.  Others are traveling alongside me, or are journeying on a similar, but separate, route.

Recently I wrote to several of these women and asked them to share their wisdom on my blog.  Because I feel as though we can all benefit from hearing their stories.  We have so much to learn from each other and we have so much support to offer those who are in the midst of their own difficult paths.  Thus, I’ll be posting the writings of many of these women as Guest Posts on Pilgrimsteps over the next few weeks, under the title of “Traveler’s Tales.” If you have a story or some thoughts that you would like to share for this feature, please send them to janaremyATgmail.