I was sitting in a cafe today with a friend as we excitedly went over details of her upcoming wedding. Ok, maybe I wasn't exactly "excited," but I was mustering up enough froth to throw her off my scent. It's not that I am not happy for her. I truly am. She is, quite literally, the sweetest woman I have ever met and her fiancee is a dreamboat and so, so good to her. They are going to be fantastically happy. I know it. I see it every time I look into her face. But since I am a selfish and childish bitch I don't want anyone to be happy...ever. In fact, every one's husbands should just move across the country. Girls on one side, boys on the other. Then we could all be in the same boat! Fairs fair.
Somehow, kids came up, (naturally,) and she asked me if I was planning on being a stay-at-home Mom. I sat there blinking at her for a few moments, feeling oddly like I was hovering outside of my non-impregnated body. I shrugged gently, just to give my limbs something to do and so she wouldn't think I had fallen asleep on her with my eyes wide open or anything.
I ended up telling her that I had been in school so long that I would really like to have a career at some point. "I'm 28." I said. "I've been in school for 5,678 years. I'd really like to earn a paycheck. Like, a lot of paychecks."
The only thing that bothered me about this conversation was the fact that it felt like it was too early to be happening. But it wasn't! This friend is THE SAME AGE as me, has been to grad school, has a career, owns property.
I own a killer David Sedaris collection and have a teddy bear and a plastic vampire doll shoved into my sweater closet.
Practically the same thing.
It reminded me of the day before when I was opening up a gym membership because I'm tired of calling my weekly wine-bottle-walk exercise. The (very fat, seriously? At a gym?) guy taking my information started creepily hitting on me:
Guy: "So, is there a Mr. Cottle?"
Me: "Well. Yes. You see that there is because I wrote down his information. But, he won't be on this account. Because, like you can see in front of you, he lives in Pittsburgh?"
Guy: "Why would your husband leave someone like you?"
(at this point I had to look down at myself to see what exactly this guy was seeing. Work-out clothes, messy hair, and definitely a distinct dribble of coffee down the white of my front. And a smear of toothpaste on my cheek. So, I totally got why he was into it.)
Me: (always, always trying to make a joke.) "Well, ask my therapist. HA! Just kidding. Um. Don't I get a card, or something?"
Sliding my card across the table he ruined everything about out our glorious moment with this:
Guy: "So, you're 28. Finishing up a Ph.d at Berkeley, then? That is so cool."
Me: "Oh. Well, yes, that is super cool. But no. Nope, I'm just finishing my undergrad. But...Go Bears!" (awkward fist pump.)
Guy: "You're 28 and just finishing your undergrad?"
WELL, HEY ASSHOLE. YOU'RE ABOUT 900 POUNDS, HITTING ON A MARRIED WOMAN, AND YOU WORK AT THE YMCA!
Ok. That was mean.
To be fair, he was very nice, waived my entrance fee, and creepily called me on the phone number I left IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, so I shouldn't be so harsh. However, he struck a nerve. A nerve that only I cared about, sure- but a nerve all the same.
I thought about this as I walked home from the cafe, weaving in and out of a endless plethora of happy couples holding hands. (Seriously? Hold hands at home, not in the middle of the fucking sidewalk.) I knew I was being unnecessarily mad. I knew I was a little bit off my rocker. Only when I reached the comfortable and dark confines of my dorm-like home did I sit down and work through my thoughts like a big girl.
A few days before Brett had chuckled into the phone with me about how scary it was to think about us buying a house in Boston. We could potentially be relocating there, and as we started to talk mortgages, careers, possible kids, we both ran out of breath from panic and he said: "Hey. Doesn't this sometimes feel like a ride going too fast? Like, get me the fuck off and stop this thing?"
Now, Brett would never say "fuck," so I embellished that a bit, but I was filled with a sweeping sensation of gratitude when Brett was so...honest. No, he doesn't mean "get off the ride" in a suicidal/homicidal/divorce-icidal way. He just meant that sometimes life trips along so fast that we can only see the muted colors of it as it whizzes by the outer realms of our vision.
While it's dizzying and fun, sometimes it is nauseating. Sometimes you feel like you need to stop for a bit. Sometimes you just want to get the fuck off and...breathe.
This world is designed for us to keep on marching forward. Technology is constantly evolving, cars are getting to the point where they can probably drive YOU and make your coffee on the way. 28 is now an age where you should be well on your way to a doctorate, have a house in the suburbs and 2.5 children. While I want most of these things, (definitely the car that makes me coffee,) I'm also content staying right where I am.
I'm content with watching a zombie movie on a school night. I'm content with knowing that I have a teddy bear on cuddle stand-by if I ever need to pull him out of the sweater closet. I'm content with life being a little slow, a lot of colorful, and perfectly imperfect.
My sweet friend in the cafe wasn't the one to make me feel like I needed to be anywhere at this age. I'm the only one comparing myself to everyone around me, but I am done with that for now.
Because, frankly, I feel bad for the 28 years olds out there that don't have a plastic vampire doll in their sweater closet and a 2$ bottle of wine in their fridge. This life I have is pretty fucking fantastic. And magical.