This weekend I hosted a friend from high school as she was interviewing for residency at Duke to become a head and neck surgeon. We met up with another girl from high school, who works as a death penalty lawyer, for drinks and dinner.
Lawyer educates us on the racism in the court system, the flaws that seem so evident but without many obvious solutions, and the incredible moment that is witnessing a client realize that they are indeed guilty, that they must assume responsibility, and spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Doctor-to-be speaks of the power to change a person’s life via life-saving surgery, or fixing a facial deformity. She tells of the two Master’s degrees she accrued while living in Boston, the med school she completes in Los Angeles, the competition of her field (only 265 spots available nationwide for a pool of over 500 applicants), the impending “Match Day” that will decide her fate.
And waitress…waitress feels like the comedic sidekick. The punchline who thinks that perhaps eating her weight in tortilla chips and literally spooning salsa directly into her mouth will somehow solve the problem.
She wonders if it is a good or a bad thing that both high school friends laugh as they tell me that I am exactly as they remember me from a decade ago.
Really. Within five minutes of grabbing her from the airport, I hear her say “Oh my GOD, Rachel…” as she laughs in the front seat of my car. “You haven’t changed at all.”
I’m definitely at the point in this journey (quitting teaching job, cross-country move, unemployment, depression, break-up) where I can look at it all and laugh, and make others laugh about it as well. But there’s still a lot of doubt, like when you see everyone with their kickass lives on Facebook. There are some nights where I’m like “if I see ONE MORE PERSON get engaged/get a promotion/get married/have an adorable baby I swear I will buy a couple of cats and cardigans and just start the downhill slide.”
Like…have I peaked?! Did I peak? Am I now just slowly dying?
I look back and wonder if that was it…if I missed my life’s call.
Maybe the job wasn’t that bad after all. Maybe the boy wasn’t that bad. Maybe I had been expecting too much from life.
There are some days that the only action I take is to wait until my roommate has left the house on his run before I pee quickly, grab coffee, and then hop back into bed to date tumblr for the next six hours before I go to work at four. There are nights I come home and, no matter how much time I spend in the shower, I can still smell the barbecue sauce, can still hear expo yelling “food runner!” can still see men calling me over to their table just to look at my chest and pretend to talk about beer.
There are some days at work when I wait on a table with a really cute child (like the super cute couple with their baby’s afro in a mohawk…he played hide and seek with me over the booth, shrieking with laughter, and I let him shoot spiderman hands at me…when they got up to leave, he ran into my arms and cried when his mom took him away to leave and all I wanted to do was put him in my pocket for forever) that I can literally feel my ovaries twisting with the biological need to make a little human to dress up and teach bad habits.
However, the other night I fell asleep on the couch, in my grandma nightgown, sitting up, while eating ice cream. So I might not really be ready to take care of a tiny person, if I can fall asleep while doing something I am normally really dedicated to. I mean, it was cookie dough ice cream, for crying out loud. cookie dough ice cream.
I feel the getting older. It’s not as easy to get into shape. It’s harder to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. I kind of want to date just to know that I’ve still got it, but it just sounds like a lot of work to get out of yoga pants. Even making new friends sounds like work, when I’m pretty darn happy to hang out with Netflix all night.
I don’t think I ever thought I might turn 30 one day. Or if I did, it would only be after marrying the man of my dreams (Han Solo), having cute kids, publishing a novel, and the rest of my life would have a direction. The path would be made known to me.
I’m reminded of a friend who said she didn’t “want to work too hard…I want to work medium hard, make just enough money, and have a glorious life.”
Maybe that’s all I want, too. I’ve never wanted to work hard, per se. I just want to do what I do well. Maybe I don’t need to save lives, or be famous (although that makes a waste of all the childhood diaries I filled up with fake interview answers and acceptance speeches), or have enough money to do all the nice things I want to do for other people.
Tonight, I’m happy enough to eat pretzel M&Ms, drink cheap wine (yeah, my new year’s resolutions tend to dissolve overnight), light every thing I can find on fire, laugh with a friend I haven’t seen or spoken to in thirteen years and never thought to see again, and think that if she finds me unchanged from when she knew me at 15 years old, at least I’m doing a few things right.
Like holding onto “hella.” And being overly dramatic about everything, but hopefully in a good way. And hugging too much, and making a big deal about saying goodbye. And eating cheese zombies, making up songs, staying up too late, caring too much but not worrying too much about anything at all. Because that’s what I remember most about me from high school.
Anyway. Life. What a thing, isn’t it? A glorious, glorious thing.