Chillin' Out Maxin' Relaxin' All Cool: There once was a middle class, suburban, capitalist romance…
Do you ever get trapped under the weight of all the things you don't know? It's amazing how much nothing can weigh when there's so much of it. It's like feathers: one weighs almost nothing, but a ton of them leaves you choking for air under dirty bird fluff.
(You know that's the best sentence you have ever read. Admit it.)
When I was a kid, I didn't know anything, not really, but that didn't intimidate me most of the time. All the new things I learned every day were pretty cool and made more things look more possible. Somehow, around the age of 15, I came to the realization that I knew a lot more than most people, and the world became eye-rollingly impossible to deal with. I knew what was up, and most of the world was blind. Thankfully, my ego slowly sorted itself out over the next 25 years until I arrived at 40.
At 40, it suddenly occurred to me that I likely knew very little to nothing at all, and I've spent the last year-and-a-half waffling between panicking about how much I don't know and feeling relieved of the weight of having to know everything.
Did you know that I had never set foot inside a Costco until Sunday? As a married, adult city-dweller, this felt like a failure of urban living, so when Sabrina asked if I would like to go with her, I really had no choice.
Back in my 20s, I found a dropped Costco card on the floor at work. The name on it was homophonally Hash Cranky, and the woman's photo on it was just gritty enough that I could have passed for her with liberal use of a curling iron. I carried Hash Cranky's card with me for years after she didn't come back to the store to claim it, holding onto a small short story in my head of myself as Hash Cranky buying bulk goods at Costco. It was a middle class, suburban, capitalist romance. In my mind, Hash Cranky was single but well-enough-to-do, a social hermit with 25 years of toilet paper stored in her basement.
I still don't know what was so alluring about Hash Cranky, but she spent ten years in my wallet while I never once went inside a Costco.
It's okay to wander far afield and not always make the most sense. Sometimes you find things you weren't looking for, which is important, because the things you're looking for are often too narrowly focused to be of any fulfilling good.
I don't know what I have gained from Hash Cranky aside from the 20 frozen chicken thighs in my freezer and a new set of fitted sheets that smell like mothballs, but who knows where she will take me. We're not done yet.
I was made to feel like this type of mental wandering was a silly impediment when I was a child and younger adult. I was warned that all of life wasn't play and interesting pastimes. "That's a nice hobby," I was told, "but what are you going to do with your life? How are you going to make money?" I was only ten when I was first asked that. I didn't know.
For a long time, I was a hopeless dreamer, a dreamer who felt hopeless. I dreamed and dreamed, all the while believing I had no future. It was a terrible weight on my heart for 30 years.
I am done with all of that now, though.
I wander, and I don't know my future, and I have food and a home and love. I dream, and I have seen Costco, and I know almost nothing. It's a good life, even when it is sometimes hard, against all past admonitions.