Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hello Jealousy

Once in awhile I will be walking down the sidewalk, and a group of college girls will pass me.  I work on a college campus, so this happens often enough.  Their herd usually swallows me up and spits me out as they pass. I walk at a much slower pace than they do.  Mostly because I have been wearing heels all day, and I'm carrying a load of baggage.  Most of it mental.

Sometimes I get so lost in thought that I actually stop walking.  As a writer, these things happen.  I start writing in my head.  Then I think of the perfect song to go along with my thoughts, and I search through my playlist because I have to listen to that song at that exact moment.  As the girls passed, I found Natalie Merchant's album Tiger Lily and hit Jealousy.

It bothers me that these girls probably don't even know who Natalie is, but the sound of her voice can take me back to that very moment, when I was their age.  A college girl in Tucson Arizona, wearing a little sundress and laying out on the U of A quad scribbling in one of my many notebooks filled with all my writings.  That particular summer I was dealing with some jealousy issues.

A boyfriend had cheated on me when he was in Spain for an exchange program.  He had told me about it, and surprisingly I had forgiven him.  Although I would have told you we were serious, I knew he wasn't the man I was going to marry, so it didn't bother me as much as it should have.  What bothered me the most, was the thought that he chose someone over me.  What did she have that I didn't? Was she prettier? Sexier? Skinnier? She was probably smarter. I was convinced that was it. But I became consumed with the idea of a girl that I had never met and never would meet.  Never stopping to consider that he was a 20-year-old guy, alone for the summer.

The amount of time I wasted thinking about this girl is time I can't get back.  She was one of many to light my jealousy flame.  For a green monster I hate so much, I certainly spend a lot of  time feeding it. I have an entire playlist on my phone dedicated to the emotion. With songs like Mr. Brightside from the Killers to Alanis Morriset, (of course). But I'm married, with kids and a house and a job, I shouldn't feel this anymore right?

Wrong. So wrong.

I must feel comfortable in jealousy. It is such a familiar and ugly place that I find myself there often.  As I age, however, the things I find myself jealous of are getting more complicated.  Back then,  when I was jealous of another girl's body I would hit the gym harder. But I find myself getting jealous of things now, that I can't control. For example, I'm jealous of people who are super motivated.  I'm jealous of the amount of money that all the young couples have on House Hunters to buy their first house. I mean, whose range is $800,000 - $1,500,000 to buy a first home?? I'm living in my first home and I have to share my "master" bathroom with a 5-year-old brushing his teeth every morning.

I'm jealous of women who have followed their heart no matter what, and not their brain.  Women who have had the courage to follow their passion where ever that leads.  Do I know any of those women? No. But social media is full of them drinking coffee in a small coffee shop they own in Nantucket while their yellow lab named Hudson, sits in the background.

Maybe I'm even a little jealous of the woman I was going to be and turned out to be something completely different.  I get swallowed in these thoughts as I stare at my computer from my office where I drink Maxwell House and the only dog in the background is in the form of a photograph. But also in that photograph loving the dog are my four boys.

I know how lucky I am, but luck isn't always enough to calm the jealousy.

My second son hates running, in fact, he hates most physical activity.  So this summer, we took a daily walk.  It was going to be a daily run, but we both decided that walking was more fun.  I was preparing him for the Fall, where I planned on signing him up for cross country.  He reluctantly agreed to participate in his school's cross country team.  And by reluctantly, I mean he didn't really agree, he was told he was going.

After the first practice, he came home and said that he was the worst runner there and that he couldn't even finish.  He said he wished he was like every other kid, who could run and not feel like they were going to puke.  He said he was jealous of the kids who were good at sports and he wished he was like them.
I couldn't believe he wished to be anyone other than who he is.  I mean, to me he is perfect, and I told him that.

At his first meet, he came in last.  I mean dead last.  But he crossed the finish line. I wasn't there to see it. I was working, but when we got a chance to talk he was beaming with pride.  He said he started in the front, but during the race little girls passed him, kids with injuries, a kid with one shoe, every single kid in the race, including his brothers, left him in the dust.  He also said he got hungry during the race and picked an apple off a tree.  (The race was on a farm if you were wondering).   He said instead of feeling pain, apparently in all forms, hunger, running cramps, emotional,  he decided to make the most of it, so he did.

The difference between us is that when somebody told him he was perfect just the way he was,  he believed it.  He didn't waste much time being jealous of others.   A lesson that I hope sticks with him.

I have always loved Oscar Wilde, so much so that I named a child after him, yet my favorite quote of his just registered.

Kids just get it.  It just takes some of us longer to figure out.

1 comment:

  1. I, too, live for the soundtrack. Now the Gin Blossoms are stuck in my head.