I Want It All … Without Trying
In a perfect world, I would wake up at 35 or 37 years old and have it all, so to speak. The modestly sized, yet architecturally intelligent house in the hills, the handsome, sensitive, husband with an impressive job, matching salary and real way with kids, the high powered, yet creatively fulfilling career, maybe a kid or two? Oh hell, why not throw in a fucking perfectly behaved rescue dog. I want to flibbertygibbet around for a few more years and just somehow…have everything still work out completely on my terms — AKA be an early 00′s indie Catherine Keener protagonist who wears a lot of oversized crisp, white button down tops.
I don’t want to climb ladders. I don’t want to lean in. I don’t want to compromise. I don’t want to save. I don’t want to be fiscally conservative, forward thinking, strategic, or terribly thoughtful. I WANT TO BE SELFISH AND INDULGENT.
I want to tune out. Buy dumb shit. Go cool places. Coast into middle age on a surfboard of rad experiences hanging ten with one hand while flipping off the haters with the other.
Because even just thinking about planning and making big long term decisions is enough to make doing your taxes look and feel as good as freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. It’s awful, just the worst — at least for me anyway.
There’s always been a part of me that envies “future people.” You know, the people who are always looking ten steps ahead. The people with the five year plan. The people who used to fantasize as kids about what their lives would be like as adults.
I’ve never been like that, at all. I live in the present and, more often than not (unfortunately), the past (hence the blog name). As a kid, I always thought of adulthood as this nebulous cloud of STUFF I wanted for myself: the house, marriage, kids, job…just stuff. I didn’t have anything particular in mind and, even though there’s some preferred order, I’m generally cool with letting my life run its course. I’ve just never seen a crystal clear picture of what my life could and should look like at any point. I just get general *vibes.*
One night recently, my boyfriend and I were playing video games on the couch eating take-out in our low rent, highly styled apartment and I thought, this is perfect. Did we really want kids? Did we really want the responsibilities of a house? Why fix what ain’t broke?
Whereas some people take comfort in planning for what will be, it stresses me the hell out.
In my twenties, it was fine to be stressed out, scared, and generally avoidant of such long-term thinking, saving, and for real serious planning. You could get away with forgoing a savings account for spring break in Palm Springs. No one batted an eye, and you could sleep easy in your one bedroom apartment that real decisions could be saved for another day, month, or really a few years. The furthest you had to plan was whether you were going with mimosas or bloodies at Sunday brunch.
But, I’m going to be 31 in less than two months so…I can’t really get away with it anymore. Maybe it’s all the Coachella photos of me with my bra hanging out that keep popping up in my Facebook memories, or maybe it’s because I just signed up for a 401k. Probably though, it’s because I know how old I am, the realities that come with that (declining fertility, et al) and because I’m terrified of what will happen if I don’t start thinking about the planning or the decisions. Waking up and being too late feels worse than being too early, right?
For all my freaking, I don’t actually need to make or execute on any big plans just yet. In fact, I actually can’t because I have a partner, which means, ultra self-sufficient me can’t just do it all on my own (to my own chagrin and challenge to patience and impulsiveness). I mean, I technically CAN, but it’s probably much less rude to involve the person with whom I’m wanting to spend forever.
And hey, forever is a long time, which means it takes some thought and planning. “I can’t even fathom it,” my boyfriend said, as we sat through the last five minutes of The Notebook because it was on TV, the cable I have yet to cancel. “We’ve been together for over four years and that feels like a long time. How many years is the longest you’ve gone loving something?”
“I don’t know. I can’t think of anything I’ve loved close to forever.”
“For me I think it’s pizza and chocolate, so that’s maybe like like twenty-seven years. Can you imagine 60??” He asked.
No, I can’t. It’s just too much. But, when you put it into perspective, thinking about the next five years doesn’t seem so scary or awful compared to sixty. It almost feels…tangible, like maybe I could wake up and have it all in five to seven years — I just might need to put SOME thought into it, make some compromises, and probably save more money.
But, that’s all five to seven years away. Plans and general change happen slowly underneath our busy Instagram feeds until you wake up a million miles from where you started. So, I guess I’ll just let the waves take me there while keeping one hand on the wheel to make sure I end up somewhere in the vicinity of my optimal Catherine Keener life. There’s plenty of time for more video games and takeout.