“We were going to move to Michigan and grow medicinal marijuana … Wait, I didn’t tell you that?”
“Oh, yeah, it was kind of like our last chance to be cool before we accepted that we’re just, you know, parents.”
One of my dearest friends (who shall remain nameless) has always ranked fairly high with me for her boisterous laugh and Devil-may-care disposition. This is a girl who bought a $500 pair of Louis Vuitton sunglasses on a mild buzz in Hawaii, only to break them rolling down a sand dune in Indiana. She barrels through life with the dance moves of Elaine Benes and the humor of Chevy Chase. And while I’ve never known her to be neither apologetic nor mundane, she’s incredibly endearing, with a backstory that will break your heart and a loyalty that can’t be deterred by distance.
When my friend got married and then, a few years later, had a little nugget, it meant a change to her usual shenanigans. It’s all fun and games when you get to be the crazy aunt, and blow into town with hot pink-colored bubbles and 10 pounds of chocolate then go home when their diarrhea sets in, but when the scoots are on your hands, it’s a messy adjustment. And while, like all new mothers, my sweet friend was relishing her new role, she had also undergone a mini identity crisis. I was seeing her on the other side of that crisis, fresh off accepting a new 8-to-5 position with a bank chain.
“You know how in your 20s you waste all of this time just assuming something cool will pan out?” she said. “Like some brilliant, badass job will just fall in your lap and you’ll live this amazing life. Well then I think you spend your 30s just slowly accepting that none of that shit is actually going to happen, and that a boring desk job isn’t just ‘to hold you over’ and you’re a mom now and, not that that isn’t wonderful, but you know … It’s just so … not what I thought. So, we thought we might start a pot farm in Michigan. But we aren’t now. So … I guess this is it!”
I sat there feeling so oddly connected to what she was saying. The conversation got me thinking about all of the Michigan pot farms in my past. Naturally, as a writer, I was going to move to New York City a la Carrie Bradshaw and write a tantalizing weekly opinion column. Then I was going to write a side-splitting non-fiction book that put me on the Oprah circuit to stardom. I was going to run off and hike for a few months straight. I was going to write a screenplay. I was going to be that woman who runs (in a sports bra and shorts only) behind my jogging stroller. I was going to start a creative firm with 2 of my best girlfriends. I was going to freelance in the mornings and explore in the afternoons. I was going to give a mother truckin’ TED talk. I’m not the best mathematician, but I can estimate with a great deal of accuracy that I did 0% of those things.
And it all left me wondering when in the hell we all just gave up on being cool?
I mean, I dabble in cool things, sure. I partake in the occasional adventurous hour or two, but on the whole, all of those big assumptions of fame and splendid accomplishment from my 20s just fizzled out. I don’t know where they went, exactly, but I’m guessing it was off to some other 20-somethings ego. I started to envy the fact that my free-spirited friend actually went so far as to explore her medicinal marijuana operation. She at least entertained the notion that cool had not evaporated entirely in the presence of her smart wardrobe and comfortable working woman flats. I can’t remember the last time I considered such a move without including the words “401k” or “accrued time off” or “career path”. Blech! Who am I? What is this pure vanilla caked all over me?
Every night when I finally power down and roll to my side, I try to touch base with God. I thank him for my family, for my home and for my health. I ask Him to place His hands on the ones who are hurting or suffering or sad. And last night, I asked Him to make me a vehicle for something meaningful. To type it, it seems a bit self-important. Like I think I’m destined for greatness or something, but that’s not the intent. What I mean is I don’t want to waste my days or my words. I don’t want to wake up in my next decade of life feeling like I conceded all of the best things I have to offer in exchange for stability or savings that sit in a bank. I want to be open and gutsy and do something bold for the betterment of someone. I want to be cool for the greater good, gosh dang it!