Tonight I find myself in a pensive mood. I’m sitting on my bed, in my pajamas, wearing my new hoodie (with the hood on) and a million thoughts racing around in my head. I’ll do my best to compile them into something coherent.
Last week I ran into a friend and her husband and baby at the grocery store. A get together was long overdue so we made plans to get together tonight. In fact, it was so long overdue that the last time I had texted her before today was to congratulate her on her pregnancy. Her baby is now 2 months old.
We met working at our student job up at college and became good friends. We now live about 7 minutes away from each other and even though we don’t see each other as often as our proximity would allow, it’s always easy to be around her and to talk to her. She’s one of those friends you can just pick up where you left off and keep going as if time had stood still.
Even though I’m two years her senior, when we met we were in similar places in life. Our paths quickly started to go separate ways as she started dating the boy she would marry a few months later and I kept living my life as I did. She was not my first, nor my last, friend to start chasing a different life than I had. That had started within the first year after high school. We had all been on the same level, experiencing roughly the same things, when suddenly everyone was going off in every which way and there were no longer any rules. We could do anything. It was weird to have the rules change all of a sudden. But that was nearly 8 years ago.
My point is, I’m used to having friends in different stages of life than I am currently in. I have friends going to graduate school, friends who are married, friends who are married AND have children, and friends who are traveling all over the world. I also have a lot of friends who are in my current boat with me: a working full-time, single adult, doing pretty much whatever I want. So as I sat across from her at dinner hearing about her baby’s sleeping schedule, her husband’s job, her adjustment to motherhood I genuinely tried to relate. I’ve heard these things from so many friends, as well as studied a lot as far as physiology goes, that I actually have quite the knowledge bank of babies and children. Not to say I know everything (I certainly don’t. I even learned new things tonight!) but I know more than the average Joe, I think. I was able to hold a conversation where I was genuinely interested and participating in the subject matter.
But it wasn’t until I had dropped her off at home and then returned to my house to start my laundry at 9:30 pm that I realized how far removed I am from her life. Our boats are so far away from each other. I am in charge of only myself. I do only my own laundry, I feed and clothe only myself, I keep my own schedule and I do what I feel like doing. I travel because I can and I don’t have to check with anyone first or worry about how I’m going to keep anyone else alive. She has a child – another human life!- that is her’s and her husband’s responsibility. She spends her days with a little baby, changing diapers and feeding her when she needs feeding. Both great lives. Both have value and importance. They are different and yet we experience so many of the same things.
- My father passed away when I was 9. Her father passed away just a few shorts weeks ago.
- I sometimes get lonely as a single person. She gets lonely being with an infant all day.
- We are both challenged by our tasks and learn new things every day.
- We are both exactly where we need to be in our lives right now.
- We both need a break sometimes. Hers is coming to dinner with me. Mine is escaping to Florida next month.
I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this, except to say that though there are things I would change in my life in a heartbeat, though I get frustrated and hurt and dream of living some of the lives of my friends, I like my life. I am so happy with it. I recognize all stages of life have pros and cons – they are all wonderful and miserable in their own right. And I am very happy to be where I am right now, even with the hard times.
I leave you with the words of Kathleen Kelly that keep running through my head:
Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.
Good night, dear void.