The Making of Milestones
I cried in the backseat of an Uber the other night.
Somehow our conversation steered into the dangerously-open territory of life stories, wherein our driver shared with us that her husband of 21 years had just left her.
"Your 40s are the roughest," she explained.
"Our 20s don't seem much better," I responded. "What about your 30s?"
"You'll spend most of it sacrificing everything for your kids and husband who will later get bored of you and leave. It'll be somewhat happy."
So this is life, then?
Somewhat happy. Only somewhat.
And so I cried, naturally.
Because for a moment, I believed her. Because that's what a combination of sadness and a cocktail does - it makes you believe bleak half-truths from your Uber driver.
I have a full-time job now. One with health benefits and paid holidays and a 401(k).
In fact it's a job that I really wanted with a company that I already felt at home in. I am happy with my job and happy with my decision to accept it and stay in Nashville.
But I struggle with a sense of what now?!
The job search is over. A new apartment lease has been signed. A routine has formed: Up at 6 am. Take my Poodle outside. Cook eggs for breakfast and mourn over the fact I can't eat Poptarts anymore. Put the coffee on. Get ready. Read and write with coffee - and lots of creamer - in hand. Go to work. Come home. Eat dinner. Attempt to maintain a social life for a couple hours. Do it all over again the next day.
Is this all there is to life?
Endless days of the same?
The same. The same. The same.
It's this sameness that scares me the most: the low-hanging threat that my days could blend together into one puddle of indistinguishable same.
When growing up, the start of each school year and each break marked a time of clear change, of fresh beginning and of seemingly-abundant possibility (or at least that's what we told ourselves).
Year after year, the milestones came.
Where are the milestones now?
I presented this question to my mom one evening as we drifted slowly on a swing, wine in hand and the green Tennessee hills set before us.
"You get married. You have kids."
But... But... But... That's it? And what if those things never even happen?
I'm trying not to feel suffocated by this comfortable, routine life I've recently settle into. Thing is, I long for comfort, for stability... but the moment I receive it, I feel trapped.
Is this how I'm always going to feel? Always wishing to steal away to some form of new adventure the second something becomes routine?
In the Mumford and Sons song "Wilder Mind" (bless you if you aren't a HATER and actually appreciate the new album like I do), Marcus sings, "I had been blessed with a wilder mind."
I love that line. The simplicity of it. How in eight basic words it describes that restlessness within me.
But I've begun to wonder: is it truly a blessing? This wild, wandering mind that can never be still? Always chasing that elusive something that expresses itself as an inexplicable "I don't know"?
I was discussing this with a friend the other night—a friend who very often spills nuggets of wisdom without even realizing it.
"You have to make your own milestones," she told me matter-of-factly.
I think she's onto something.
Those milestones worthy of a notch on your life's timeline will come. Until then, we must celebrate—revel in—the little milestones:
Sipping a warm mocha at my favorite coffee shop while discussing books with a friend.
Completing a piece of writing that even I can't help but beam a bit over.
Laughing way too hard with friends over the creation of absolutely absurd Snapchat stories.
An evening spent re-reading (and re-weeping) through The Great Gatsby with lit candles and a glass of wine.
Savoring a first-listen to an album I've been anticipating for months.
Reading a line in a book for the first time that embodies so much "yes!" that it begs to be highlighted and copied down onto a notecard.
Spontaneously buying a ticket to see One Direction in Boston because why not?!
Crying in an Uber (...yes, even that).
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]