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Posts Tagged ‘life’

I stared at myself in the Macy’s dressing room mirror. Crisp black sheath dress. Sharp black suit jacket. Professional. Grownup. Just a jaunty neck scarf shy of stewardess.

I’m sorry. Flight attendant.

Oh, honey, my reflection said. You’re not fooling anyone. You’re just a kid in a suit.

But I’m not.

At 31, I’m inching past the age of young professional toward…what…professional? I’ve reached the point of no return—I’m in deep, this thing called adulthood.

But it doesn’t seem that way. Not really. It’s more like I got in the car and drove for hours, days, weeks, and now I’m standing at a gas station on the corner of the Past and the Future and wondering, how did I get here?

I have a full time job with a nice title and a computer with two monitors where I write Important Things for Important People. It’s not just a job. It’s a career. And even though some days I’m not sure I know what I’m doing, I’m pretty sure I’m good at what I do. So I’m told.

The other day I got excited about the arrival of my new vacuum.

I have a husband. We bought a house. We’re decorating a guest room—like a real guest room with art on the walls that didn’t come from Ikea. We talk about things like chimney repairs and floor tiles.

We rescued a dog. An entire being that we are responsible for naming, feeding, walking, trips to the vet.

I worked hard to get here, and I am so lucky.

And yet, it feels like only yesterday I was a lowly copywriter, asking my 30-something colleague when it was that he finally felt like a grownup.

“Still waiting,” he replied.

I am the same age now that he was then. An adult, but still waiting to feel like a grownup.

Even though I’m pretty sure I am one—I just don’t know it yet.

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Scott and I have been homeowners for more than a month now and have actually lived in our house for 3 weeks. We are very much a work in progress–as I understand from the many, many shelter blogs that I have followed since before we decided to buy a home, we will be in this ‘work in progress’ stage until we slap a “for sale” sign in the yard (hah! never!) and move on to our next project. We are pouring our blood, sweat, tears, and a good percentage of our bank account into this structure we call home–and it’s worth every band-aid, laundry load of sticky t-shirts, tissue, and dime.

First things first, floors. Our previous owner had a dog, and an apparent aversion to housework. Finishing the floors had an amazing effect not only on appearance, but, frankly, on the house’s unpleasant aroma. We were referred to an excellent and insanely affordable flooring company that took our floors from gross and grimy:

….to clean and shiny.

It was a transformation that took the house from “oh my gosh, I can’t sleep here, and what is that smell?” to “Feels like this could be home.”

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Someday, Scott and I will tell our children about the journey we took when we bought our first home. Knowing Scott, who loves a good reminiscence, we will tell them this story over and over again. We weren’t sure what to expect on that fateful October day when we started our search.

This was how I felt when I got to the car:

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There is a man standing behind me. And I’m pretty sure he wants me to die.

“You can either jump, or I can push you,” he says. His head is round and hairless, connected to his shoulders by a thick slab of a nearly nonexistent neck. He looks not unlike the bulldog tattooed on his bicep. Swirling script beneath the image weaves a single word: Spike. I don’t know if it’s my tormentor’s name or if it honors a beloved pet. Judging by this man’s studded collar and sleeveless T-shirt, I’m pretty he’s self-representing on this particular piece of body art.

It figures that I would ushered through the doors of death at the hands of a man named Spike.

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The box was long and flat, but not terribly large or intimidating

And for an Ikea product, there weren’t many bits or bobs.

I had all the screws. I counted the twisty thingies and the whosie-whatsies. All were present and accounted for. I had the provided Allen wrench.

You know how when you try a new recipe, most cookbooks list the prep time, active time, cooking time, and total time you will spend on the dish so you can decide whether or not the effort of making stuffed French toast is worth the result? (Hint: it is.) They should include estimated assembly time on Ikea boxes too. And maybe one of those pain scales like you see at the hospital.

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There is a point where we must let go. We must say goodbye. We must accept loss.

We must understand that duct taping shoes is not a suitable alternative to replacing them completely. And the odor isn’t fantastic either. About six months into our relationship, I finally convinced Scott that it was time to bid adieu to his tried and true sneakers (which he claimed to have owned for several years more than is culturally acceptable). They weren’t duct-tape ready yet, but they were close.

And so it came to be that, on a cold January’s eve, we found ourselves shoe shopping at Nordstrom Rack.

And it was good. And I knew it would be good for a little while.

Until it wasn’t.

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“My only goal today is to see a bear,” I joked with Scott as we drove the Skyline Drive over Memorial Day weekend. “That will make me the happiest person in the world.” We weren’t hiking, just taking the scenic route through Virginia, sneaking a peek at a part of America we hadn’t seen before. The odds were slim that we’d actually come across a bear. Deer, yes. Bear, notsomuch.

That’s probably why my hands were shaking with excitement so much when I spotted a tiny bear cub climbing up a hill 15 minutes later, and I couldn’t snap a decent picture.

I shrieked.

The car’s brakes shrieked.

The bear cub disappeared into the woods.

Then Scott reminded me that where there is a baby bear, a mamma bear isn’t far behind. Sans decent photo, we moved on. No evidence, just the experience. Satisfied, I sat back in my seat and just enjoyed the rest of the scenery, chatting with my husband about any old thing, happy to have met my goal of seeing a bear in the wild, happy to just be in that place, in that moment, with the sun breaking through the clouds.

This week, I came across this quote in The Atlantic:

“Happiness as a byproduct of living your life is a great thing, but happiness as a goal is a recipe for disaster.”

I’ve been rolling this idea around in my brain ever since, bouncing it from side to side, analyzing its meaning, thinking about living life intentionally rather than passively, and finding happiness in unexpected ways.

How many times have you thought: I will be happier if….

How many times has that thought gotten in the way of your happiness?

This past weekend, we took the drive to the mountains. No goals, no agenda. Just chatter and jokes and pointing out the hawks and butterflies. And eating homemade blueberry ice cream. And as we rode through the hills, we saw a fully grown bear run across the road and disappear into the brush.

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