I had a delightful afternoon catching up with a friend from college. I hardly ever see her anymore, not just because we live almost two hours away from each other (which, let’s be honest, really isn’t that far at all considering my house is 30-45 minutes from all things anyway…and my husband commutes over an hour each way), but because our lives and schedules are so vastly different right now it's astounding.
I felt like the ultimate schlub the moment she walked in the door. The. Ultimate. I had even gone so far as to put on makeup and a bra and pants that had a button—instead of sweats, of course—which, as many stay-at-home-moms will validate, is pretty much the equivalent of getting ready for prom. Anyway, I felt perfectly adequate until she strolled in with her adorable stylish put-together-ness, making me painfully aware of the unflattering sloppiness of my old red pullover hoody and Ugg slippers.
Then came the catching up. My exciting update lasted about 10 seconds and mostly involved news from other peoples’ lives, although I’m sure I also discussed poo. She noted, with genuine enthusiasm, that we must be doing well because we had brand name Honeymaid Angry Birds graham cracker cookies. Woot woot!
THEN she described the wonders of being in law school (top 10%!) and spending all her free time lobbying at the capital and managing some big press campaign and being all over the news and going to lunch with members of Congress and being an expert witness in trial and getting job offers from judges and CEOs and law firms and being in a photo shoot for a magazine cover and being asked to be on MTV's "True Life" (declined?!) and having people offer to fund her campaign to run for State Representative. Say WHAT? Even recounting things now makes my dumbfounded political ignorance agonizingly palpable.
Then she told me how she just started dating a guy she met at the capital. Cuz, yeah, we all meet people at the capital. Not online or at the bar or even in church. “The capital,” she said nonchalantly. He’s tall and attractive and respectful and kind and hyper intelligent; he has residency in like eight countries and is a health nut and a political activist. Probably speaks eight languages too. And does homemade caramel. Oh, and he’s a marine and an engineer. Naturally. For a moment she brought it down to my level when she said he was a ceramist. I thought, “Cool! He makes clay pots! I can relate to that!” But no. A ceramic engineer turned aeronautical engineer who also patented some stuff for fracking…until he wanted to pursue more environmentally friendly activities, of course.
Writing this now I fear that I sound resentful and envious. I want to be clear that that is not the case. I am totally, genuinely, proud and thrilled for her. It does, however, paint a vivid picture about how very very very very far our two paths—which sorta kinna started in a similar place—have diverged. At one point she was saying how she deliberated over adopting a shelter cat, but was uncomfortable with the long-term commitment of pet ownership. Marveling at my ability to readily embrace major commitment, she listed, one by one by one, all of the commitments I’ve made: one husband, two dogs, one cat, two kids, one house…all the wonderful things…that feel like wonderful shackles being clapped on one by one by one as she said them. Like a low, heavy roof slowly squishing me. It’s weird, because the very things that can make me feel oppressed and trapped are the things I love tremendously, the things I love beyond words and really wouldn’t trade for anything. Nonetheless, when contrasted against a life of freedom and purpose and achievement, it can make ya feel sorta kinna enslaved and held back and squished down. BUT…never mind with the what-ifs. It is what it is. And it is wonderful.
My super successful crazy busy illustrious pal can appreciate my opposite life though, and I appreciate that about her. She is sincerely happy to see, hug, and play with my little uncivilized monsters. She told me my messy house looked great. She told me my unkempt hair looked hip. She seemed authentically interested in the mundane details of my life. I know, I know…she’s a lawyer to-be and a budding politician—quite the flatterer—but whatEVs. I’ll take it. She’s still my sweet and honest and supportive friend, even if she is freakishly driven and talks way too much.
So after she ate all my bagel thins and drank all my coffee, she was like, “Well, I’d better get going. I need to go for a swim and then write a very important document for Judge Bigwig before my teleconference with the President.” Then I was like, “Well, I’m going to feed the kids leftover pancakes and string cheese while we watch Sleeping Beauty. Later, I’m going to enjoy American Idol on DVR while Facebooking.”