I hate group work so much UGH I know it can be difficult to do stuff on your own but at least there’s not another version of you editing an outdated document after you’ve added a bunch of stuff, at least another version of you doesn’t show up late or hasn’t read the required stuff and still insists that she understands what it’s about.
#this is what tumblr is for, right?
Oh wow there are planners and diaries on Etsy too?! I was going to pass on buying one but some are just so gorgeous.. I’ll probably end up getting one anyway.
This has happened more often: I put on (usually) Regina Spektor. I put her on the large speakers and turn them up so that it’s almost too loud. She’s my favourite singer ever but that’s not the only reason. It’s because of the neighbors’ shouting. At their kid. It tires me and I can’t stand it. The way they ‘justify’ it is their kid is difficult. He’s hyper, stuff like that. I think it’s probably just a normal kid. Who is often shouted at. And cries. So that’s why you sometimes hear Regina singing they made a statue of us really loudly from this living room. To shut the world off. To comfort me, and maybe them too. I always hope they’re quiet by the time the song has finished. They weren’t this time.
Trips home to visit family are always intensely bittersweet. It goes without saying that I love our collective family desperately and miss them every day. But inevitably at some point or another I end up crying in the bathroom suffering from a severe crisis in confidence
Or rather, one of seven bathrooms.
But I’ll come back to that.
Even as I didn’t plan or work towards a future when I was young, I still found myself with a certain set of expectations regarding how I saw my life proceeding. They weren’t expectations born from hopes or dreams or fantasies, merely things that I saw represented in everyone in the small town I spent my life in.
So there’s dissonance (Which is what this blog should REALLY be called: “Adventures In Dissonance”) when I compare the life I have now with the life I expected to be leading at this point in my life.
The people I graduated high school with are all married (or remarried.) They own homes. They have careers. They have multiple children. Most have multiple school-age children. And I… well, I’m married! Yay? Growing up in South Dakota, surrounded by people who just all naturally had these things, regardless of economic standing, it was the life that I assumed I would be living by now. And I’m just not.
None of this is so clearly spelled out for me as when we visit Todd’s younger sister. She and her husband are quite successful. They both have great careers in a moderately sized town, in a relatively inexpensive Midwestern state. They recently had their first child. And they own a spectacularly beautiful home. That home has seven bathrooms.
As you might imagine, I have to be careful how loud I weep in the bathroom(s) lest the sound be transmitted throughout the cavernous house through the elaborate duct system. I kid. Mostly. But there’s something about being in that spectacular house and seeing the life they’ve worked hard to build, along largely conventional Midwestern lines, that just makes me ache. It feels almost like a shadow life, a life that I could have led if I’d made a few different decisions, put my foot down in instances where instead I acquiesced.
But that’s not even the heart of it. Not really. I feel like when we go home to visit our families that they look at their own lives that they’ve built, which all look quite similar, and then they look at my life, our life, and they think it doesn’t measure up.
And it breaks my heart. It does. Because as much as I vent on Twitter and struggle with my depression and get frustrated when things don’t work out the way I hoped, I love my life. I love the life that I’ve built with my husband. I love our messy, rent-controlled apartment with the bathroom sink that will never drain quite right. I love how it’s a block and a half from the Pacific Ocean and when the wind blows just right, the whole place smells like California. And if it blows just right from the other direction, the whole place smells like waffles. I love our motley crew of asshole cats. I love the fact that we don’t have a child yet. As often as I get anxious to start our family, I wouldn’t trade these years we’ve had to enjoy and explore and just be. I’m so profoundly grateful to have had the time to meticulously pore over who it is that I am and more importantly, who I want to be. Because in the end, I know it will make me a better mother. I’m grateful that I don’t have a mortgage to hold me in any one place. I love our life. I love my life. And I don’t want anyone looking at it and finding it lacking.
This, of course, is ridiculous. Every one of us knows that no one else has time enough in their life to look down on the choices of other people. If only because they’re so busy feeling inferior to someone else. This point was crystallized for me when, and this is the weirdest catalyst for someone to reach out ever, after I posted a ridiculously gratuitous selfie, someone sent me a Facebook message saying that how she admired the life that I was living. That California must be so exciting and that she thought it was really neat that I was out doing something different. And I realize that as I’m busy looking at people and wondering if I’d be happier in their sweet little homes, tucked in a small town in the Midwest, they’re looking at me wondering if they’d have been happier forgoing true adulthood for a few years and figuring out what they really wanted from their lives, even if they came to realize that what they really wanted was a sweet little home, tucked in the Midwest.
So this Christmas, I will endeavor to do better. To not let my insecurities ruin my all too infrequent time spent with my loved ones. To hold fast to the knowledge that I love my perfectly imperfect life and all of the challenges it presents. To remember that no matter how unsure I may feel, that I am a person of worth who is on the path to finding exactly what it is she’s meant to contribute to the world at large.
And more than anything, I’ll try to remember that time changes all of us. It shepherds our hopes and our dreams and it alters our disappointments. Instead of wanting to own a home, you think about how you’d just like to find a place you could happily raise a child. Instead of wanting to be rich, you hope you have enough to be comfortable. Instead of feeling guilt for moving away from home, you take heart in the fact that this is the independent person you were raised to be.
There is no right or wrong way to live a life. The only way you really lose is to get so caught up in the choices of others that you forget to make your own.
Also, don’t murder people. That’s probably the wrong way to live a life, too.