1) Choose a cabin near the lake, deep in a canyon where the sun sets early, the creek floods, and your new husband promises to build you a pottery shed.
2) Marvel at the depth of the snow covering the first floor windows. In June kneel before your brief kitchen garden, its meager shoots poking through the dirt at last.
3) Meet the neighbors: those who never vacation here, the one who doesn’t answer your knock on his door, the chain-smoking cocaine gal across the way.
4) Find a job (good luck!) as the seasons change: secretary, yoga teacher, translator. Make do. (The pottery shed never happens.)
5) Make a baby. The biological clock is ticking swiftly toward its terminus. Rush the vial of sperm to the lab, keeping it warm under your down jacket. Take fertility drugs. Weep when your period comes.
6) Substitute baby with puppy. Notice the tension mount as puppy gnaws on all surfaces and bonds with her mistress, not her master.
7) Stew in a slow boil for seven years. Experience loneliness, your mother’s death, exquisite violence of Mother Nature (avalanche!).
8) Drive down the mountain, upon completed marination, and discover daffodils in bloom. Move there. (Puppy and husband optional.)
9) Gather the remnants; examine them for scars. Embrace all of the above. Baste occasionally in tears. Note the bitter tang of regrets, the simple sweetness of survival.
10) Repeat this process, introducing variations on the theme. Add a dose of humor to enhance the flavor. The brew may clarify if steeped in patience.
Mary Street lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California with her husband. She holds a BA in French and a BFA in printmaking, but writing a memoir has now become her main focus. Excerpts have been published in Jonah Magazine, Insight Magazine, Toasted Cheese, The Furious Gazelle and Memoir Magazine.