So while we were off busy paying bills and doing other gross, responsible adult stuff (cough, sitting on the beach, cough, driving through wine country), we got to thinking. Specifically, about where we thought we’d be ten years ago today. And how different those thoughts are from reality.
Ten years ago today, Miriam was sure she’d marry her high school boyfriend. So sure that I told myself even though the world said I was sixteen and couldn’t possibly know, I insisted the world was wrong. Thank god the world was right. Not that my high school boyfriend wasn’t a sweetheart, because he was, he just wasn’t my sweetheart.
And while I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, I knew it would have to be something good for people, and that I would be in charge. In this so far I have failed. I burned through one career so fast I was actually in charge of something and then quit all before the ripe age of twenty-five. Now I’m trying to be a writer, whatever that means, so basically I’m just in quarter-life career crisis. Who knew there were so many things to feel crappy about before your forties?
Then again, I had no idea I would have such a great relationship with my father and stepmother. Also, while I didn’t quite know what I believed in yet, I did think I would marry a Jew, mainly because that would be easier.
Which brings me to my point — yes, I know, so far, this blog sounds craptacularly depressing. But it’s not. Because here is what I’ve learned in the last ten years: life is hard. Drumroll! You can’t possibly know what to expect. And most of the time nothing feels safe. It’s downright scary. But taking risks, facing the craptacularly depressing stuff head on? That’s what ultimately makes life so good.
So here’s another way to look at where I thought I’d be and where I am now: I’m with the love of my life. Plus, we share the same values and generally have a blast. I’m starting to figure out my voice as a writer, and aggressively pursue that. I live 3,000 miles away from where I grew up. (And yes that’s also a lame metaphor.) I love my parents and I’m building a family of my own. (That would be Bryan and my friends, not babies.) I don’t bother thinking about where I’ll be in ten years, because you know what? I kind of love the element of surprise.
Ellyn‘s life goals have changed basically every year of her life. For a while it was princess, including getting married in the clouds. I remember telling that to my mom while she was hanging laundry on the clothesline one day, and she told me I could maybe get married in an airplane. So I decided to be a stewardess, I mean, flight attendant as they are called these days. Then it was doctor, but turns out I’m squeamish. From there it was archaeologist, which makes as much sense as doctor since I also hate getting dirty. I knew I probably wouldn’t marry Prince William, so the next best thing to princess in my book was actress but who needs another girl next door blonde, so I decided on film director in Toronto. I don’t know why Toronto, but I wrote a whole paper about it in high school.
I went to college for film with a focus on screenwriting, until I changed my major to advertising. I seriously blame Kelly Clarkson and her song “Breakaway,” which came out when I was in college. It mentioned revolving doors and buidings with a hundred floors and growing up in a small town and flying away, which I clearly identified with. I set my sights on becoming an ad executive Mad Men style.
My dream came true, crap.
So now I guess I need a new one? I always say my ultimate dream job would be travel writer. But if you ask where I see myself in ten years it’s not actually sipping cappuccino in Roma or smoking one of those skinny cigarettes in Paris. I picture myself with kids (yipes), married, with a house, probably in suburban Philly, and yelling at Shaun to put his dishes in the dishwasher. Hopefully by then I’ll get a book published, teach a class, and become a zen yogi master. But I’m not even going to make that a goal, because I agree with Miriam. I like the element of surprise.
You can plan all you want, but you just never know what’s coming. Even though our jobs or situations or locations may change, we’ll still be ourselves, so whatever we end up doing is the path we somehow managed to choose. Which is scary, but also comforting.