I was thinking about you the other night. I was thinking about how, five or six years ago, when we were first becoming friends, our lives were remarkably alike. We were of a similar age (late-twenties), of a similar background (parents still married; liberal arts degrees, no student loans), of a similar aesthetic. We shopped at the same places and wore the same size clothing. We were not really pretty exactly, but had interesting enough faces to sometimes pass as pretty. We played in local bands; and for a while you played in my band, and, for a night, I played in yours. (Sorry about that, by the way. I turned out to not be a very talented musician.) We both had dry senses of humor, more guy friends than girl friends, and a fondness for dresses with boots.
It made sense that we would be friends.
Now, five or six years later, our lives look very different. You still play music and have gigs often. My band broke up a couple of years ago. You still go out all the time. I’m in in bed by nine every night. You still date, meet new people. I’m married and have a baby on the way. You still drink fancy gin drinks and show up places in new vintage dresses. I haven’t had a drink in six months, and I’m in pajamas as soon as I get home from work.
Last night, I surrounded myself with pillows and continued to work my way through “Friday Night Lights” on Netflix. The baby was doing a lot of wiggling. I paused it in the middle of an episode and watched my stomach bounce. It’s a crazy sensation. Feeling it from the inside is one thing, but watching it from the outside is another. Jason was at work. It was girls’ night at our house. I turned on The Blow’s “Paper Television” and impressed my cabbage-sized, inside-baby daughter with some of my moves. They were part kung fu, part disco, and part yoga. After a few songs, we both felt pretty tired. I read a book (out loud, as I’ve read that you should do that, although I don’t know that Howard’s End is age appropriate for a fetus) for about five minutes and fell asleep by ten.
Maybe we should start a blog.
I have always thought you were very pretty. You are tall and have lovely thick reddish hair, and really interestingly colored eyes, and a great butt that looks awesome in jeans. It is a surprise to me to now discover that you do not think that I am “really pretty EXACTLY”. But, you know what, that’s FINE. IT’S FINE, AMY. I guess SOMEONE has to be the pretty one, and I guess that doesn’t get to be me. I mean, it’s cool, I guess it isn’t enough that you have an awesome super-hipstery job, a husband who dotes on you, a huge, loving family who lives nearby and a baby on the way who will no doubt be the funniest and most literate child in the history of children, OH NO, you just HAAAAAAAVE to be the pretty one, too. That’s okay, I’ll just head on home to my tiny apartment and sit alone in front of my cable-less television and drink an entire bottle of eight dollar white wine while watching back-to-back versions of Pride and Prejudice and CRYING because I’ll never be winsome enough to charm a man into marrying me AGAINST THE WISHES OF HIS FAMILY even if I were as skinny as Kiera Knightly, which I am not and will never be, because GENETICS and also I’m probably going to get even fatter, develop type 2 diabetes and die alone, slowly eaten by the squirrels who live in my ceiling. But that’s okay, Amy. As long as you’re happy.
Sorry about my last letter. I just started this new birth control and I think it might be making me a little irrational. It’s that one where they give you a shot in your butt every three months. Initially I begged my doctor for an IUD because you made yours sound so awesome and I never really want to have babies because I kind of hate babies (I mean not YOUR baby (yet)) but my doctor said I shouldn’t do something so drastic because I might change my mind later and anyway my uterus probably wasn’t big enough and I was like “LISTEN LADY, YOU DON’T TELL ME ABOUT MY UTERUS I WOULD STERILIZE MYSELF IF I COULD” and then she was like “Remember that I hate you and never listen to anything you say?” and I was like “Oh, right.”.
I should really look around for a new doctor.
Anyway, I dig the idea of us starting a blog. We are so alike. We both love to write, we both love shoes and animals and dancing and music and books and drinking large amounts of alcohol. But you’re right, our lives have diverged from one another. I’m still flitting from job to job, trying on and discarding relationships, still figuring out what I want to do and be, and you seem pretty well settled on your path. I think sometimes how nice that must feel, to know your future.
Okay, so let’s do this thing.
No worries. I vaguely remember what it is like to be on birth control that messes with you. Not to brag, but MY doctor let me have an IUD. Actually, “my doctor” was Planned Parenthood, where they are more than willing to give any mammal an IUD, I am willing to bet. They love their IUDs there. Something for you to keep in mind.
Let’s clear up two things: I am NOT the pretty one. Thanks for thinking that I am, though. Have you ever seen my trick where I put on lipstick, and instantly look like a man in drag? You probably haven’t, because I don’t have much desire to look like a man in drag all that often. I have a large, square, mannish face, and while I appreciate that you like how my butt looks in jeans, I also have a large, square butt. You have a delicate, girlish face, and delicate features. Sometimes you look like you might be part Asian. You have big boobs. I actually find you very pretty, just not in a generic way. Maybe that’s a better way to put it?
Furthermore, I do not know my future. I know that I have a baby on the way and I live in a cozy one-bedroom apartment with my husband who has a teaching degree but cannot find a job, so he has cobbled “a job” together out of substitute teaching, low-paying retail, and a part-time IT job at UM. I know that next month we have to start paying back his student loans, which is an incredible monthly sum that we’ll be paying for the next ten years or so. Being “settled on a path,” I think, might just mean that you want different things that you can’t have. I want a house and a 401K and good insurance for my family. I want to be putting money away for retirement. I want to take vacations. I want a new car. I want a lot of other banal, generic things. (And right now, I want to eat sushi and lunchmeat and unpasteurized cheeses and drink two bottles of wine without a glass.)
I might be “settled on a path,” but I’m doing a pretty sucky job at that path for someone who’s 35.
That’s putting it too harshly, but you know what I mean. I love my work, but I miss having a new job every year, and things being fresh and new all the time. Every time I see you, you are wearing a pretty dress and looking effortless. I think maybe I used to head out for the night looking effortless. I miss that. But I like to think that you are living my old life for me, Sliding Doors style (you probably even get to be the Gwyneth with sassy hair), and so some of the fun you’re having is fun I’m having too. (And, of course, I am having some fun over here for you as well.)