Tonight I am going to hang out with one of my favorite people in the world! This semi-Canadian was one of my best friends in Portland. We lived two blocks away from one another in SE Portland for years.
We haven’t seen one another in a looooong time, because he moved to Canada a few years ago. And then he moved back to Portland just as I left.
Sometimes it takes the appearance of an old friend to make one realize how much one’s life has changed.
For example, we were on the phone last night figuring out how we were going to meet up (even though he has been here for several days, a glitch in my email meant that I didn’t find out until yesterday. Sad!):
Me: So what time are you thinking you are going to the show? (At this point, we are planning on meeting at Silk City for a hip hop show).
Him: I don’t know…maybe around 11:30?
Me: Uh….well…(thinking that I have to get up for work at 7:30 and if I don’t leave the house to go out until almost midnight, I’m going to end up staying out all night.)
Him: Oh, right…you have a bedtime now, I guess. That is so weird.
Me: Well, kinda…I mean, I have to get up at 7:30
Him: Whoa! So weird!
and then later…
Him: So do you work in an office or something?
Me: Yeah…well, I have a desk.
And so on…multiple times I realized how different everything in my life is right now. It’s not just geography.
I was worried that having a child would totally be the end of me. Like, suddenly I would start wearing only sweatpants and I would never listen to a new record again. I would forget about sarcasm and humor. I would let my roots grow out (I sometimes worry about a grim post-apocalyptic future wherein hair dye is no longer available…and then I shudder). My life would be filled with Barney and playgroups. I would probably never have a date again…ever!
Fortunately, nothing that bad happened. Sure, I couldn’t go out very often, but I was sort of over that already. And yes, I was a little bit poorer, but it’s not like I was wealthy pre-Dylan. Furthermore, I swear I started dressing better after becoming someone’s mother. I didn’t have money to blow at Urban Outfitters (or wherever), so I started wearing a lot more vintage clothing. And I learned how to sew so I could make my own stuff/maintain my current clothes. Last (but definitely not least) I certainly had no trouble meeting boys. Dylan was a good pre-screening device. “Oh, you don’t like kids…well, I guess you are probably a fuckface.” And that was it. In fact, I find myself instantly enraged when someone suggests that I must have trouble meeting boys who want to date me because I have a kid. Oh, please. I like the bookish, sensitive types…and they tend to like kids (unless they are a fuckface…as mentioned before).
So I survived having a kid. But you know what has changed me? Having a 9 to 5 job. I am no stranger to hard work. When I was working as a UO manager in Portland, I worked at least 50 hours each week…sometimes extending well past 60. And my job was far more stressful, tiring, and physically demanding. But I only had to wake up early once or twice a week. Most days I strolled into work at 2. Sure, I had to wake up with Dylan in the morning, but she slept until 9 or 10. So, I could still have a social life. Sometimes I would splurge for a babysitter. Other times my friends hung out at my house and some even offered to babysit. My mom also took Dylan for extended periods of time, during which I never had to go home.
But now…waking up at 7:30 (and sometimes earlier) every morning is tough. I still haven’t gotten used to it. My job requires a lot of concentration/clear-thinking/brilliant strategy, so I have to be on my toes. I can’t do that on 5 hours of sleep. Every once in a while, I will stay out almost all night, but I have to go straight to bed after work the next day. This sort of limits my social life on weekdays. On the other hand, this forces me to focus on creative endeavors, which is probably better for my mental/financial health.
And my job has changed me in other ways, too. I have more money. I have met more “professional” types. I get expensive hair cuts (but only every six months, I swear) and I own a car (but it’s an old station wagon from the last millennium). Of course, I’m still the resident hippie at my office, with my non-designer clothes and daily breakfast of muesli. But something intangible about me has changed…and it makes me nervous when I hang out with my Portland friends…those who knew me long before I had a desk and an assistant. I’m worried that they will pick up on this un-named change. Silly, I know. I’m still compassionate and concerned. I pick up litter and I don’t eat animal products. I keep my thermostat set at 65 all winter long in the name of conservation.
I guess I’m just suffering from some sort of yuppie guilt.