Saturday night, we hosted a dinner here: two friends from high school, and appropriate significant other. I hadn’t seen the woman (which, so weird to think of her as anything other than 15 years old) since I was pregnant with Emily, and even then it was during the Halloween madness in Salem – not exactly a quiet time to sit down and chat. And the man, I hadn’t seen since high school… 15 years ago, give or take. Several lifetimes, as far as my circumstances and mindset are concerned.
Before the day, I carried around a low-grade intimidation about it. Not unbearable or even uncomfortable, just an awareness. The man is a former law professor, now enrolled in a higher-level legal doctorate program at Harvard. The woman just defended her dissertation, thereby completing a Ph.D. in Computer Science. I graduated next in line behind her, and yet here I am, a stay-home mommy with a handful of unused degrees and a school lunch menu on the fridge. If we’re measuring success in a traditional, worldly sort of way, I’m not even in the running anymore.
But then, within a fairly short time after their arrival, that intimidation faded. Because I’m not out there furthering my career or accumulating academic honors, but I have a nice home with handmade curtains and a full, from-scratch meal on the table. I have well-behaved, engaging children and an intelligent, interesting husband – to whom I’ve been married long enough to feel settled and comfortable, far past the newlywed settling-in process. I have hobbies I enjoy, and have long-term plans to look forward to.
It wasn’t that they were bowing down in awe of my fantastical life; I never sensed anything but respect and interest from them, yet I also detected no envy for what I have. It was that my own mindset rotated a bit, just enough to relax and enjoy myself and remember to measure my life by my own yardstick.