June 6, 2011 by Leah
I had brunch with a couple of friends this weekend (well, one I’d never met before, but it didn’t seem like a first meeting at all). It was awesome and exciting for a quasi-hermit like me to drive to the snazzy shopping area of Santa Monica in order to meet up with girlfriends and eat some organic eggs. As the mutual friend was shepherding the other two of us through the “getting to know you” phase of the conversation, though, it became a little apparent that I’ve become, in some ways, that person I used to love to hate.
The first inkling was when I was talking about my job search, and mentioned how lucky I was that my fruitless job search hadn’t been totally devastating thanks to the fact that my husband is employed. I quickly qualified that by saying that, in fact, no one had offered me any jobs since I moved here, so it wasn’t like I was turning down opportunities based on perceived minor imperfections, but both my companions were looking at me kind of wistfully. One is employed but would like to find something different, and one recently returned to grad school, and both have to support themselves, and in the manner to which we’ve all become accustomed as we all start hitting 30.
There comes a point, professionally, where suddenly you’re making a decent salary and you don’t have to log on to see the balance in your checking account every day and you can take a deep breath, no longer hindered by immediate financial constraints. The other thing that happens at that point is that you become stuck in your job, or the same type of job that brought you that financial freedom, and often that type of job isn’t meaningful and isn’t what you want to be doing for the rest of your life and you start to panic because now you’re hemmed in in another way.
As readers of this blog know, I dealt with plenty of feelings during my year-long job search, but none of them were urgent “I must have income so we can have food and shelter” sorts of feelings. (For the record, if I hadn’t gotten married, I wouldn’t have moved to a completely new place with no job lined up, but I did, and here we are.) Nor were they “I’m doing finance director work with a crappy job title, am I really going to be able to make a lateral move?” sorts of feelings. I’ve applied for so many different jobs in so many different industries that I actually feel pretty hopeful about maybe doing something a little different during the next phase of my career.
Anyway, after I’d attempted to recover from being the annoying “smug married,” we were talking about cars. Friend 1 is thinking she might want a new car soon, but she inherited a luxury car which has turned her into a car snob. I interjected, “you know, last time I took my dog to the dermatologist, I noticed at least one if not two car dealerships that have closed in the past six months – I bet you could get a good deal right now.” They, of course, paid no mind to my point and were both like, “Wait, what? Back up. You took your dog where?” (It’s this kind of thoughtless talk that got me labeled “Hippo Girl” at horse camp when I was 13. 13-year-old girls are not, apparently, interested in rates of death or injury due to animal attack in the Nile.) And so I had to explain the whole sorry story of Duke and his allergies. After which I had to explain why I was picking up chickens in Santa Monica. To a vegan.
I’d ordered my (biodynamically-raised in a pasture-based environment) dead chickens to be delivered to a farmers’ market in Santa Monica this weekend, which I mentioned in my email inquiring about brunch availability. Friend 1 waited until she saw me in person to ask. I kind of botched the job, but explained that the only chickens in the entire area that I feel okay about buying are raised by this one farm and delivered only to farmers’ markets in the northern part of L.A. County and that it’s taken me a year to come to this conclusion. They thought this made a certain amount of sense, but I’m pretty sure they also found it hilarious. We were all at Columbia at the same time, and while there are certainly farmers’ markets and raw milk cooperatives and Whole Foods stores in New York, there is also an overarching sense of practicality among people who have lived there. I felt a little silly explaining what my life had been like over the past year to these savvy, employed women.
They teased me, lovingly, about how I’m really going to miss Southern California once I move to “where are you going again?” I was like, “oh, I don’t know about that.” This was while they were walking me to my car. Friend 2 saw the car. “Oh. Of course you have a Prius. I think you’re a lot more SoCal than you know.”
I thought about it a sec. I spend a thoroughly ridiculous amount of time researching and procuring biodynamically-raised chickens. I take my dog to the dermatologist. I’m a housewife with no kids.
“You know, I probably will be a little shocked once we move,” I said. “I’ll be like, ‘where are all the amenities?!'”
We all laughed and parted ways.
Who have I become?