Plan B has no plan. Just move. Jump tracks now and figure it out later.
When I was a kid listening to my first Barbara Streisand album, there was a song I listened to over and over. To the backing of an urgent drum beat, Barbara declared “Gotta move/ gotta get out/ gotta leave this place/ gotta find some place/ Some new town with new places, new lights, and most of all, some new faces…”
Life is like that sometimes. You look around and you know whatever it was you had in a particular place is gone, never to return. You’ve gotta move. It’s either that or die. Sure, you might die slowly, or fast, depending, but you’ll have made the decision to give up. Moving is a decision to start over.
I realize starting over is not always a good idea. Sometimes it’s damned irresponsible, but sometimes it is the only lifeline you’ve got. In that case, if you’ve got the guts, you grab it.
I’ve met several American women who grabbed that lifeline and landed in Budapest—or Prague, or Singapore—someplace, anyhow, that seemed exotic and out of the way to the folks back home. These are gutsy broads. For one reason or another they chose to move out of the life that was choking them.
One woman came because she was rotting in her mid-level management, dead-end job with the hour commute. Now she is a professor with a rich professional life and network of friends. One took a second chance on love with a Hungarian, after losing her beloved husband to an aneurism. The marriage didn’t last, but she did—last seen having a rollicking good time with a British painter.
Another was the wife of an international executive, with nannies and chauffeurs, the whole international wife-style. In search of strength and experience, armed with hopes of becoming financially self-sufficient, she left the kids with the nannies and the chauffeurs, the hubby with the Russian girlfriend, and struck out on her own, helping people relocate in Eastern Europe. She’s gained confidence and skills while having a ball!
One of my new buddies is the mother of six, a petite blonde, who looks young enough to have a herd of twenty-something guys chasing her. What fascinates me about her story is that she had never even been here when she arrived with two suitcases and no plan. She hadn’t been much of anywhere really, except for vacations, since her junior year in Provence. She was a socialite, leading a pretty sheltered life, with glamorous fundraising events, tennis, and a husband who kept her pregnant. He did not want to hear about any of her strange, anti-fascist ideas, which he did not share. Stuff happened, and she bailed on the marriage she’d hated since before her first child was born. It took her awhile to figure out that the new boyfriend was a coward, and that she had left her cushy prison for a phantom. But this woman had a pioneer spirit. And she was desperate. She knew if she stayed where she was she would die.
Someone—I don’t know, perhaps her hairdresser, told her she’d like Budapest. She put everything in storage and bought a one-way ticket. She arrived a week after I did, last November, and lasted through the winter with her mother’s fur coat. What does that take? Most people would rather die. That kind of thing is just too much trouble.
One day recently I sat with her on the plaza outside the big law school. It was one of those days where the air is so crisp and clean it nearly crackles. The sky was brilliant blue and every statue seems to come to life. Parents played with their kids and people were almost smiling. “On days like this,” she said, “I want to pinch myself. I can hardly believe I’m here.” I smiled knowingly and we toasted.
“To jumping tracks,” I said thinking of the women we are now, so far from where we ever expected to be, and enjoying it so much. She nodded.
Some people manage to live out their whole lives on Plan A. There may be detours and variations, but it more or less works out. For others of us, though, Plan A blows up. Then you choose Plan B. Or you die.
Plan B has no plan. Just move. Jump tracks now, and figure it out later. “To Plan B,” she said.
Geographical solutions have gone out of favor. It’s true that you can’t escape from yourself. “Wherever you go, there you are,” as they say. If you’ve brought your bad attitude with you, it’s going to infect your life no matter where you go.
But if you’re ready to break free of the person you pretended to be, or even the one you knew yourself to be, in the past, and a life that has become deadening, moving can be a powerful tool. In a foreign city there is nothing to mirror back who you were back when. There is only who you are now. It beats the hell out of the alternative.
This town is full of people like that, and I say more power to ‘em and to Plan B, the plan with no plan. I’ve had my share of plans. Plan A took me some interesting places. In Plan B, life unfolds and moves like the Danube. Boats and people float along, some with projects, some with pleasure. I ride along with it. Lots to do, and lots more to choose from. Plan B is full of surprises.
trans-arts.com, art: MidnightNeedles