As the best of Saturdays begin, I woke up today slightly still buzzed and glad to find everything I took out made its way home. After a much-needed shower and a cheeseburger with my friend, M, we headed downtown to Chelsea to spend the day walking and chatting, enjoying a break from the torrential rain New York has given us the last week. We giggled about the Aussies who tried to charm us with their accents and poor choice in beer, about the fact we rushed to buy little black dresses and carried our old outfit in tow all night, and about getting lost, yet again, in the city that never lets us sleep. Most of the time, sleep is last on our priority lists, anyway, so we don’t blame New York too much.
Heading toward the New York City Pet Show, where M picked up goodies for her hyperactive (yet adorable) kitty, and I managed to sneak in a few treats for Mr. Possibility’s mutts, M said something that caught me off guard. M is in the process of a looking for a job, having taken a leap of faith just a few weeks ago, hoping she’d land with her two feet and sanity in tact. I remember job searching all too well and the knot that builds not only in your stomach but your wallet too, reminding you with each swipe and each drink that you are, in fact, unemployed. Have no fear for M though – she’s gotta under control. She applies by day, works as a hostess by night, and she maintains a sunny optimism that I’m sure will help her find the position that’s perfect for her. Attempting to give my two cents and words of wisdom, though I’m still not exactly sure how I managed to capture the title I did when I took the same chance she did, I asked her what her dream job would look like.
She paused, looked at me, looked away, and then said a brief description before we casually moved onto the next subject matter. A train ride, a cupcake, and a building that looked like Connect Four later, she stopped in the middle of the street and said: “You know, maybe that’s my problem. I don’t see anything long term. I can’t see a long-term boyfriend. I don’t know what my ideal job is. I can’t see myself married. I don’t know where I want to be in ten years. I don’t know what I want my life like long-term.”
My quick response was: “Well, that’s okay. We’re young, we don’t really need to know what we want. It all work its way out on its own.” But as I thought about my reply, riding the LIRR to meet Mr. Possibility, I realized that actually, I feel the same way.
For the first time, I’ve allowed myself to be open to oblivion. That word may usually hold a negative connotation, but for me, it means to just be unaware and unprepared by choice. By being oblivious that I will age, that I will take different steps in my career, that I will probably love a handful of other men before I get married, that I will actually be a mother one day, I allow myself to not worry so much about the things that will happen, without me knowing. Now, of course, I’ll be present at my wedding day and while giving birth, but I can’t plan those things. I can’t snap my fingers and have the life I want come to fruition. If I could, I’d be living downtown in a two-bedroom, one-bath brownstone with a closet full of Loubies and a space fit for the pages of Elle Decor. I also wouldn’t be on the typical writer’s non-existent salary, but that’s another rant for another day.
Long-term planning has its benefits – otherwise insurance brokers wouldn’t make far more than they deserve. Preparing for things that we think will happen or for those things we don’t think will happen but do, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It gives us more comfort and security to have an idea of what we want, a sure-fire way to get from point-A to point-B, and the freedom to relax if we know everything will be just fine.
But the thing is – though I’m not exactly where I had imagined I would be, I am just fine. In fact, I’m happy not having the things I thought I needed to reach happiness. The crystal ball I’ve often tried to channel might have predicted me reaching this place of content, but I really don’t think so.
Not being able to see a long-term boyfriend makes meeting a guy you can actually tolerate for longer than a few days, that much more special. Not knowing what the dream job looks like and then stumbling across a passion you didn’t know you had, makes you that much more hungry for success and enrichment. Not knowing where you’ll be in ten years makes the next decade full of adventure and trails, experiences, and growth you can’t imagine.
And being oblivious that tomorrow will come without permission or blueprints, makes living in today, the last day of the world or not, that much more enjoyable.