I've spent the last couple of weeks with my friends Mike and Merle in a town north of San Diego. I meant to stay for a few days and then move on to the San Diego beaches, but their cute babies changed my mind. Normally when I see Mike and Merle, it's for a weekend and there's stress to get caught up on our lives as quickly as possible and cram in as much as we can. The best part about this road trip is having the time to spend doing the smaller things, like taking trips to the grocery store or trying Merle's favorite spin class.
The last time I saw them, we were at our friends' wedding, and Merle and I got on the topic of our own perceptions of how our lives would look and how we'd both gotten what we wanted but still felt like something was missing. In her case, she'd thought that she wanted to stay at home with her kids to homeschool them like her mom did with her and her four siblings. I think that's something that's really common with our generation -- having an idea of how life will look, getting it, and then reassessing what it is we truly want. It wasn't that way with our parents' generation, who worked the same job through retirement and valued security over experiences. Maybe we're just reacting to what we saw our parents do and realizing that it's better to have a scattered resume of experiences you've collected than it is to say you stuck with what you knew and never found the time to try that one thing you always said you would.
After the wedding, Merle went back to school to be an EMT. She's always been process-driven, something I can remember from when we swam together in college, and she's most successful and happiest in roles that use that part of her brain. She's also the cutest mom to her 2 and 3 year olds, Bo and Tryg, and naturally creative, managing her Etsy business on the side [find it here if you like]. I happened to be in town on the day of her interview with the San Marcos Fire Department chief, so I got to watch her drop her oldest off at preschool, come home to quickly change into a suit, then come right back to say she got the job and would be starting next month. Everyone knows that 'having it all' isn't a real thing, but she comes pretty close and I'm proud to have her as a best friend.
I always tell Mike that he owes me for a lifetime of happiness, since I introduced him to Merle back in college. It's pretty fun when your friend marries your friend, and it gets even better when they start making little humans of their own. Mike and Merle fall into the 'not what I thought parenting would look like' bucket, since I used to assume it meant mom jeans and PTA meetings. When I texted Mike to say I was heading towards their house from LA, he said to keep him posted because they were taking the kids to get sushi and go hot tubbing. Seriously, and I'm not complaining, Mom, but we ate chicken nuggets and watched cartoons on Wednesday nights when I was a kid.
I flew home to Oregon last night for Christmas and I'll pick up my road trip again after the holiday. It really hasn't felt like Christmas with all the sunshine so I'm really excited this year to bundle up and sip hot drinks with family and friends, knowing that I can go back to warm weather in a week.