I was talking to this woman respect, and – well, I’ll admit it! I actually admire her and I think she might be my role model! This is big for me, because for the most part I’ve been blundering through life doing whatever the fuck I want without any sense of direction or purpose. So meeting a woman who is really not much older than me but whom I respect and who has her shit together – well, this is big for me.
Anyway. We were talking one day, and we were sharing stories about our experiences with unemployment. She told me that when she was 22, she was unemployed and living with her boyfriend. She’d wake up every day, make breakfast for him, pack him a lunch, clean the house, and then cook dinner for him when he came home.
My jaw dropped. This was not…what I wanted to hear. Not because I don’t respect it – sure, when I was 22, there was no way in hell I would have cooked and cleaned for some guy – but because, well, that is quite far off from my life experience.
I didn’t know how to follow that one up. I can’t remember the last time I cooked for a guy. Wait – have I ever cooked for a guy? I’ve worked in restaurants for too long to ever justify cooking. As she told her story, I thought, ‘Oh, fuck, what was I doing when I was 22?’ I didn’t want to tell her: fucking a lot of people and being drunk like almost every day. So instead, I smiled and tried to fake my way through it.
I’m a bit of a narcissist, so I never really find myself in these kinds of situations. You know, the ones where I want someone to like me or I’m trying to impress someone. I could tell that she wouldn’t have appreciated my scum fuckery stories of hooking up with random guys in bathrooms at bars, so I glossed over that and told some other bland, benign story about myself that hopefully wasn’t too incriminating.
Then it flashed in front of me: we would not have been sitting at the same table, drinking micheladas and eating chips and guacamole when either of us were 22. Oh, fuck no. I was a wild animal back then, and she has clearly had her shit together for possibly the entirety of her life.
Fuck! How am I supposed to aspire to that! I’m a little late to the game here. Like, thirty years late to the game. She’s been on top of her shit and treating people like humans. She has all these things I want: professional respect, a thriving career, a husband and a kid, a nice car, a nice home. I almost feel like a fool. How am I supposed to want those things and have a realistic plan for attaining them when she’s been working towards them for twenty years and it just occurred to me six months ago that I should want these things?
I try not feel slighted by my own lack of ambition in the face of her success. I’m trying to figure out how I can attain these things knowing full well that at 22 I was fully content with meandering my way into alcohol addiction and other common place forms of American destitution. I have a lot of catching up to do! Should I be, like, cooking food for someone? Or some shit? God, that is just not in my skill set. Should I be trapping a man or something? Is that the key to all of this? I ain’t no Dick Chasey, I’m just a paper chaser. Goddammit.
I am out of my league, I think. I listen to more of her stories. I realize that there must be a way that our divergent pasts can come together in a successful future. Right? I can do this. I got this. I can fit in. I can make this work. I can be successful, even though, fuck no, I have not been planning this out for years and years. But that’s okay. It’s hustle time.