Sometimes the process bests the result.
I enjoy window shopping online. I like looking at pretty stuff, but I’ve very hesitant about pulling out the plastic to buy. Yes, I’m on a budget and no, I don’t really “need” anything right now. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying Anthropologie, and Gilt, and Zappos, and even Zillow. I like window surfing for houses in cities where I will never live (again) and for shoes that cost $12,000 and for a pretty dress in size 4. The process is fun. The result is pretty much non-existent—(unless you count that I am a very good, conscientious consumer but knowing the prices of things, online, and on sale from a variety of retailers—I know how much value is in a nice house and how much to pay per square foot.)
As long as you don’t get lost in the daydream, there is no harm done. I don’t lust and wish and dream about those shoes. I’m happy in mine and better yet, somehow, for seeing those shoes from all angles, in all colors, on a model’s foot. And in that “do no harm” mentality, it’s true of relationships as well. I did check out of my marriage for a time. Checked out and surfed other possible versions of my life. The process of checking out and looking outside was (a little) dangerous and scary but ultimately soothed my desire for another life. I didn’t buy the alternate life, I just wanted for a moment, to mentally try it on—to slip my foot into my alternate’s (someone else’s?) shoe. [I’m sure now, that I’ve been watching too much Fringe.]
The result was that I came back to my life, this very life that I have, with my husband, and child, and apartment, and I embraced it. Even better than just embracing my life was knowing that I looked hard at and tested my options, my alternates, my sliding doors, and came back willingly, happily to my life. I was unharmed. I am better for the dalliance. My relationships are healthy (certainly healthier for it) and I know, without doubt, that this is the life that I choose and that I chose, again.
The process—at least mentally—allowed the room to think through all possibilities of my life at this age, space, and time—in order to come back to the apartment that is not a house in a city I will never live (again), back to my shoes that cost $35, and my pretty dress (not size 4). After shopping my potential selves, I chose this one again.