A million, billion light years ago, two college seniors sat chatting in a diner in the middle of the night.
They imagined their lives when they would be 36. An age that sounded so old and foreign to them that it might as well be something that happens on another planet.
Thirty-six. The magical age when they’d have their 15 year term student loans paid off(ha, yeah, right, ladies).
Running on little sleep and way too much coffee, they wondered just how different their lives would be by the time they were 36 and could slide that last(again, I’m dying from thinking it would be the last) student loan payment in the mail.
One of them had a set plan for how she wanted her life to look waaaay down the road at 36. And thanks to facebook, we can see that she pretty much stuck to that plan with very few detours(our other gal at the table is having a hard time not spitefully spitting out “how boring” because it’s not really boring… but since she was judged wildly by the one who never deviated from the plan for all the times she had to forge her own path, she still wants to say “how boring.”).
The other didn’t really have a set plan.
Surely by then, she’d no longer feel like a child.
Even though those around her, the other seniors at her school, were insisting they were adults, she still felt very much like a child.
But by 36, she wouldn’t feel like that any more and no one could possibly treat her as such. That was about all she knew.
She couldn’t even imagine what life would be like then.
As the two drank more coffee and ate stale cookies in the middle of the night in a corner booth, she had brief flashes of what life might be like.
Maybe she’d be living alone in a small coastal town, teaching during the day and spending as much time reading on a quiet beach during the off hours as she could. That seemed like the right image.
Or maybe she’d get married and have a pack of kids. She smiled and hoped that would be true. She did want to get married and have kids, but it was so far from where her current life was going, so far from where her friend’s life was going, that she had a hard time believing that image, so she waved it away.
Thinking that she had no idea what her life would be like when she was 36, but surely it would be different from what she knew in that moment.
Well, I turn 36 this week(Thursday, in fact. Please send wine or yoga pants).
And it definitely feels like a lifetime ago from when I sat imagining this age back when I was a clueless college senior.
Though I guess I was right about something: I don’t feel like a child any more.
But I also don’t feel OLD. Thirty-six is NOT old. It’s oldER than that child I was. But it’s not OLD.
I might not have quite as much of my life still head of me as way back when I was sitting with a friend eating stale cookies(with age comes the wisdom that you can GET FRESH COOKIES), but I still have plenty ahead of me.
Since I really didn’t know where my life was going, I can’t say that my life is or isn’t what I imagined.
But it’s a very full life.
A happy life. Well, more often than not, it’s happy.
That’s all I can ask for.
I think the girl I was in that diner all those years ago would be happy to see how things turned out for her. She knew life wouldn’t be perfect, but she hoped for happiness. And she got it. With many more years to go.
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