November 04, 2003

parking lot musings

I had an epiphany today in the parking lot of an upscale grocery store. Itís not that unique of a thought, but itís important to me nevertheless.

It started with a face. Someone I knew in college. Not well, just to say hello to. He always carried a kind of quiet confidence with him wherever he went, abetted by the Hollywood version of a blueblood background. He came from money, in other words. Money and worldly success. Youíve heard of his uncle, probably his father too. But for all that, he always seemed unassuming to me, just a normal guy. He was involved with someone else I knew, a woman with a brash confidence. She was in a rock band and she acted, too. Talented.

They got married after college. Thatís all I really know. We donít run in the same social circles. I saw her at the tenth reunion (now ten years ago!) and again a few months ago. She never made it as an actor. So what? I donít have a whole lot to brag about myself.

Today I said to my college classmate, ďI know you. Youíre married to MÖĒ His mouth turned wry. ďNot anymore.Ē And he held his sonís hand as they walked across the parking lot to a red Toyota pickup truck. A single dad. Life not so perfect.

Oh.

Money doesnít buy happiness. The people you put up on a pedestal as having a charmed life, better than yours, forever out of reach? Their lives are just as fucked up as your own, albeit in different ways because there are as many paths to sorrow as there are people in the world.

But if thereís no out-of-reach purity of life in the rich enclaves, that means thereís also no reason to yearn for that which we donít have, something I've wasted a lot of time doing in the past.

Fact is, my life is pretty good. Perfect? Hell no. But nobodyís is. I might as well be happy anyway. I have a good marriage, an adorable child, a novel Iím half in love with, a house we own (no mean feat in this city's insane real estate market), other people I love. I have it pretty good. I have some things my classmate doesnít. And he has some I donít. It all comes out in the wash.

Posted by Tamar at November 4, 2003 09:00 PM
Comments

Wow.

I had a similar experience a few weeks back. A friend was visiting from out of town, someone I don't see very often, and he was staying at my place. He's job hunting, trying to move from a job he despises in a part of the country he doesn't like back to DC. The job hunt has been pretty rocky.

We were sitting in the living room, talking about what the next few weeks looked like. I'd told him that K and I are doing Nanowrimo, the novel writing project, during November; that I had basically cleared my calendar for it. There was this long pause, and he looked at me and said, "You do realize, I hope, what an enviable life you have? A job where at least one person values your skills and talents, a house that allows you to live surrounded by books, the ability to indulge yourself by taking an entire month to do nothing but write, a kid to do it with you?" and all I could do was sit there and gape at him. Because yes, I can see that it's an enviable life; but often all I see when I look at it is the flaws. It was pretty jarring to have it laid right out like that.

Posted by: Cait at November 5, 2003 04:21 PM