Tag Archives: love

Life List #48

If you check out my life list, you’ll see it’s a work (life) in-progress. #48, Take my sister to London, was my dream, but, as I soon learned, not anywhere near my sister’s dream.

It was the eighth day in a row of biblical rain when I called my sister, Alexandra, on a Sunday night in March to complain how tired I was of being in the dark, cold, wet, NYC weather. She felt the same way. We were both feeling spontaneous (which is rare for her) and itching to get away. My original Life List plan was to take my sister to London, a city I’ve always wanted to visit, but it became clear she really didn’t have a desire to go anywhere that wasn’t tropical. Additionally, we both have busy schedules and between that and her grad school schedule/impending wedding, it was becoming nearly impossible to find a date for us to go away together. Midway through our weather conversation, she said, “You know, I have spring break next week and I’m not doing anything.” I scanned my iCal and confirmed if I worked like an animal this week, I could do some light, poolside work the following week.  I was in.

I told my sister she could pick anywhere she wanted. She chose Harbour Island, but, due to spring break week and lack of accommodations on the tiny island, we ended up settling for her second choice, Miami.  I booked tickets at 2:00am and a week later, we we went from 34 degrees and rainy to 82 degrees and sunny. Five days of heaven.

I learned my sister and I are great travel partners. We only argued about the temperature of the room (she likes freezing cold, I hate being cold). We both liked to split beach time and pool time. We both got burned (BADLY).

Alex did my hair, I found our restaurants. We agreed there needed to be a repeat visit to the J.Crew on Lincoln Road, where we bought straw hats and ogled the decor. We both love to walk  for miles (and walk quickly), so we walked nearly everywhere.

She put up with my quest to find the Kelly Wearstler-designed hotels in Miami (The Tides and The Viceroy), and I didn’t complain when we walked our sunburnt selves around in the heat till we found this nail salon/Havaianas store she wanted to go to (My sister’s right. they are the best flip flop ever). She only rolled her eyes a few times while I stopped to snap photos every five feet.

We stayed at a hotel far from the spring break/St. Patrick’s Day action. It was tranquil and spa-like and right on the beach. Perfect for two low-key sisters who like it to be quiet enough  to hear the waves during the day, and have fluffy beds to curl up in at night.

We were both very happy. So happy, in fact, there was some jumping for joy.

For all of our differences, we work well together. We can weather storms, think things through rationally, are each other’s sounding boards, personal Googles, and shared histories. We both agreed this vacation was one of the best things we’d ever done with each other and plan on continuing the tradition once a year. It was something that probably wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t put it on the life list. I’m so glad I did.

In the pic at left, we are also two hot messes of frizzy hair and red lobster-like complexions (there’s our DNA in action!)

P.S. She would kill me if she knew I posted this pic, so let’s just keep it (and the one of her jumping for joy) between us. 

20-Nothings

According to the recent article in the NY Time (What Is It About 20-Somethings?), which will appear in the print edition of the Sunday Magazine, I’m an “Emerging Adult.” This piece seems to define an actual adult as someone who is able to support themselves financially, lives with their spouse and has children. Assets which, the author claims, many 20-somethings today have yet to acquire. That might be true, but I also know several 30, 40, and even 50-somethings who don’t hit all of those definitions of adulthood — either by choice, a side effect of the recession, or because the government won’t recognize their spouse, legally.

In a recession, everyone is in a state of flux, but it’s recognized as a case of arrested development in 20-somethings because we have the least to lose and won’t be able to gain much until the recession is over. When you’re close to the bottom rung to begin with, your only choice is most people’s last resort … moving back in with your parents or receiving some financial assistance from them. I do agree with the author’s findings when it comes to life partners and having kids, people are waiting longer. Half of all 20-somethings come from single parent or second marriage homes, thus, waiting a little longer to be certain you’ve right partner is worth it. Having kids later also allows both relationship and career to have a solid foundation.

The issue I took with the article was the word, “emerging.” Anyone who can vote, is old enough to buy a weapon, operate a car, pay taxes or serve in the military is an adult. We’re contributing to society, to the government, to the protection of this country and now we’re being belittled with this new adjective.

To add further insult, many of the over 600 comments on the piece say it’s the fault of our parents and their “helicopter” parenting — over-parenting their off-spring. Some of the comments also mentioned the state of the economy, but there’s another factor no one’s really commenting on, it’s the state of the salary and job positions of 20-somethings. Even before the economy took a downturn, I didn’t know too many 20-somethings who were paid a salary commensurate with their experience. Similarly, I didn’t know that many people who had receive a promotion in their position, despite having worked at it for at least 2-4 years. Some of them even spent a year or two after college working for free, as interns.

I ran some numbers of my own and discovered the following, which I posted in the comments of the NY Times article:

My mother made $55,000 (plus a good health insurance policy) in 1981, when she was 28 years old. This was after graduating from a 2-year Associate’s degree program at an upstate New York community college. She also paid around $500/month for her apartment in the Bronx.

In 2009, At age 28, I was making $2k less than her 1981 salary, plus I had to pay for my own health insurance policy, as my job didn’t have any sort of coverage or group plan. I graduated with a B.S. degree from a 4-year, private liberal arts college in upstate New York. I pay over 2k for my apartment in Manhattan.

What’s wrong with this picture (besides my being crazy for paying that rent)? The only thing that inflated in 28 years was the housing cost, not the salary. Why is that? Are 20-somethings not considered good workers? Are we not taken seriously in the workplace? Is it because we’re seen as emerging? I think the answer to all of these questions is, YES. Because our parents (and grandparents) are still running the companies and corporations we’re employed by; because people are living longer and not retiring; because they need the money, too. Perhaps we all want too much in/out of our lives.

The questions and example laid out above are what we really should be talkingabout in this country. Forget about CT scans of the 20-year-old brain. I know what makes us tick: money, passion, love, and the ability to provide for ourselves. What we’re really lacking is the opportunity to go from a so-called state of emerging to full-out adults. For the government to allow us to marry whomever we love, for us to pursue our passions, to not jump into relationships too quickly, to not be badgered for choosing not to have children right away, especially if we can’t afford it; and to be taken seriously. Our idea of work is different from the traditional jobs our parents are used to because of the economy and emerging technologies. These innovations and set backs have forces us to make a career out of anything and everything we can — it’s just a matter of choosing what works best for the individual. The other factor we have to keep in mind is, work and life are one and the same in today’s world, so we have to love what we do because we’re always doing it.

What is it about 20-somethings? A lot, really. The world is changing and our lives are unfolding in a different order, perhaps a little slower than our predecessors, but we are no less important and no less adult because of it.

Things That Make Me Think Twice

I was shopping for a baby gift for a friend who recently found out she’s having a girl. She’s over the moon about her pregnancy, and, her excitement being as infectious as it is, lead me into a cute baby boutique a few blocks from my apartment to browse and perhaps buy a gift for said unborn child. But, quite unexpectedly, I found it. The dress that I had get for the friend’s baby. The dress that I had to get for every girl baby in the world. The dress I had to get for my baby. Wait. What? The baby I don’t have and, until that moment, wasn’t sure if I would ever want to have. But life is funny. My future flashed before me bathed in a pale pink cotton/silk blend with a round neck, tank sleeves, and a bell shape. I suddenly wanted a child more than anything else in the world. Someone who may or may not share my DNA, but a little person with thoughts, opinions and feelings that have a voice all their own, but sprinkled with my influence.

A male friend of mine recently told me his feelings on becoming a dad for the second time:  ”I never thought I would be the parenting type, but for some reason, it really suits me. I like the idea of being able to control some small piece of the world, but do it from an egoless and selfless place. That’s nice.” In that moment, standing there holding a tiny dress meant for a six month old girl, I got what he was saying.

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I bought the dress and took it home to wrap, but couldn’t bring myself to fold it up and put it in a box. I laid it out on my white chair, stretching the limits of the skirt to its fullest potential. I imagined a child wearing that dress. Not my friend’s baby per se, but a baby. Maybe even my baby. I wondered how long I would sit there with her on my lap inhaling her sweet baby smell as she fell asleep in my arms. How painful it would be if she woke up screaming in the night when cutting her first teeth. What her first word might be; her first sentence. And, as she grew older, the perfume she might wear, the books she would read and if she would be anything like me or anyone in my family. Would I see my sister in her, my mother, my father or grandfather? Would hazel eyes gaze back at me in rebellion or the blue or brown pools of my father’s/sister’s/mother’s eyes flash before me? Will she succeed in doing the things I did not?

But, then I thought of the world. Of things like cell phones and Facebook, text messaging and ‘tweens in skimpy bikinis. Of growing up too fast and not playing with dolls long enough or spending hours reading a book under a crab apple tree. And, even if a childhood lasts a little longer and is a little more innocent than my mind thinks, it still goes by in the blink of an eye.

I kept the dress out on the chair for a few days. I got used to it being there, of walking by it every time I entered the living room. But then, I realized, it’s not mine. It’s a gift that will leave my hands and travel across the country to live a life and be worn, with love. I folded the dress carefully, wrapped it in tissue paper and placed it in a box. I wrapped the box in bright pink and white floral paper, tying it with a pale blue bow. I wrote out the card to my friend, telling her: “your greatest story is about to be written.” Her story is coming soon. Mine is still being outlined.