Kyran Pittman met her second husband online while still married to her first, and she ended up moving to Little Rock, Arkansas for him and raising three sons behind a white picket fence — a long way away from where she began. Here, the author of Planting Dandelions, explains how she ended up there, and why it makes her happy.
Q: Your story challenges the idea that a relationship born of infidelity can lead to happily ever after. How did that happen?
A: I’m still trying to figure that out. But happily ever after is a one-day-at-a-time proposition. And I think we sabotage long-term relationships when we bring these fairy-tale expectations into them. I certainly bought into them the first time around when I was a young bride of 23. I got caught up in all of the exterior trappings of marriage and didn’t have any awareness of what it took to maintain a commitment over time and through all of the things that life will throw at a couple. Having come through that experience, I went into my present marriage with a lot more awareness of what can happen. I had my eyes open.
Q: The stories in your book are described as “what comes after happily ever after.” What did come after for you?
A: I always thought that when and if I sat down to write a book, it would be principally about this epic courtship with my second husband, which was very dramatic and involved a lot of crying in airports. But when I sat down to write our story, what I found was that the most rich, adventurous things that happened actually happened after all of that: having three kids, trying to keep a roof over our heads, trying to stay married, and just life.
Q: How is your life different from the one you expected to live?
A: I grew up in a very unconventional, bohemian family in a very small, conventional town on the east coast of Canada. I was on the outside of the white picket fence as a child and was very much enthralled by what was inside. That was what betrayed me into my first marriage; I thought that if I went through the ritual, if I had all of the trimmings and trappings, then I could buy my way into the pretty picture. It didn’t happen. But then after abandoning conventions and pursuing an affair with my now husband, I found myself very much inside the white picket fence, raising a family. But it comes from a different place. It’s not about appearances or projecting a certain lifestyle. It’s a life I love, but I continue to do it awkwardly.
Q: Are there things about your life now that you’re surprised make you happy?
A: Definitely. First, it’s not all I’ve ever known so I know there are other choices and lives that can be lived; it’s the path I’ve chosen. There’s a mindfulness to it, and I’ve become a passionate observer of the everyday. I joke that I’m just like Jane Goodall living among the chimpanzees. The everyday domestic is so amazing to me, and it’s a real gift when you can be fascinated by what’s in front of you.
Q: Are there things that you feel are supposed to make you happy about that life but that you still struggle with?
A: For sure. I’m literally a mess when it comes to housekeeping. I would like for things to be orderly all of the time, but not enough to give up other things. We’re also fairly laid back when it comes to activities that centre around the children; we seem to do a lot less chauffeuring around of our kids. I want an identity and purpose for myself. I won’t give up my creative and physical energy to keep up with the Joneses.
Q: Do you have any advice for any other women who are about to step out of character?
A: You should drop everything and run toward your true self. Being authentic and being who you are is an emergency.