An old friend from high school came into the bar the other night. I haven’t seen for her nine years (“Nine years! NINE YEARS, ERIN!” she said) but we’ve recently made Facebook friends. We’d both heard bits and pieces about one anothers’ lives since then, but hanging out gave us the opportunity to clear things up.*
In the past nine years, I suppose I’ve done some stuff. I moved around, traveled some, worked a lot. Nothing too spectacular, but I wasn’t one of those people who just sat around St. Louis because they were too afraid to go anywhere else. (Or because getting married and procreating was their top priority, and no, just so we’re clear, living at Mizzou for four years does not mean you got away.)
Although I’m comfortable with what I’ve done and have never been particularly ambitious to do stuff that impresses other people, a lot of the stuff my friend has done?
Like I said, I’m not particularly ambitious. Call it lazy if you want, I just don’t see the point of striving for middle management. I don’t need to make a ton of money, I don’t need to drive a new car, and not even my mom knows my bank account balance. Like, I would rather have the bathroom on the left than the bathroom on the right. The one on the left has to be cleaned less often.
Accomplishments are subjective things. I know and am comfortable with this. But my friend has done some shit. She went to school for what I wanted to study. She got a masters in something I’d never really heard of. She spoke on the floor of the U.N. Kofi Annan looked at her.
I mean, jesus. I don’t want to be a diplomat, so I’m not jealous of the accomplishment, but it’s all so cool. If anything, I’m jealous of cool.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty damn cool. No, really. I am. I wouldn’t say it if no one had ever said it to me, or even if only one or two people had said it me. I’m not the coolest person ever, in fact, I’m rarely the coolest person in the room (except when I’m at work, but only when Kat’s not in the same meeting as me). But it’s a fact. I am cool. I don’t try to be cool like a hipster, and I don’t destruct to be cool like a hooligan. I’m just my own kind of cool.
But I will never be as cool as the floor of the U.N.
I can like good music, donate to good causes, eat good food, and know good information, but the floor of the U.N. is a cool I know that I will never accomplish. Not one part of my life is in any way geared towards this destination. Not one effort I have ever made will someday skip itself inside of a wormhole and find itself there. And I have to be satisfied with this. As my friend said, there is nothing wrong with how I live. I know there’s not; I like the way I live. It’s not terribly glamorous and sometimes it smells like a litter box, but still. It’s mine. It’s cool. Just not as cool as the U.N.
* I’ve been back in St. Louis for five years. When I first moved back, everyone I ran into:
a) Didn’t recognize me
b) Denied that I was who I said I was, ie my good Christian name
c) Insisted that I was married, had several kids, and lived on a farm somewhere
Some of the details from c varied, but not by much and there was almost always a farm involved. I couldn’t argue about the getting married part (I’d done that), but it was kind of insulting to hear that I’d had several kids (did you not know me at all in high school?) and that I was supposed to live on a farm (I’ve never even been to a farm, let alone lived on one).
According to my friend last night, I also got married and moved to Seattle. This is vastly preferable to having kids and being a farmer, but still untrue.