My friend Parker and I are the same age. We graduated the same year from high school. And college. We are both UCLA J.D.s, Class of 2012.
Sometimes when I hang out with him I feel like I’m 8 years old. Like my mom is paying him 15 dollars an hour to make sure I don’t electrocute myself in the microwave before she gets home from work.
Parker owns property and a BMW. One of his favorite pastimes is “watching his net-worth increase” on mint.com.
My net worth is the sum total of my measly student checking account and the retail value of the 2012 Ford Focus my dad bought me.
Today, reclined on wicker chaise lounges on the rooftop patio of my apartment building, Parker taught me about Corporations.
There’s that feeling again, “I wonder what time my mom gets home?”
Cresting towards thirty, with a professional degree, I’m having my first encounter with the basic, grown-up fundamentals of how the world works. “Man. My twenties have sure been a waste of an upper-middle class upbringing and an elite college education.”
Later, slightly sun-burnt and significantly dejected, I sank into the worn-out corner of my big, red couch. I mentally added the Ikea list price to my personal net-worth and settled in for an indulgent session of self-shaming and personal regret.
In periods of peak self-doubt and anxiety about the future, I cringe at the thought of how I spent my twenties.
Where I come from, people graduate college and immediately pursue the most lucrative career they can think of. The smartest and most distinguished become doctors. The best looking women and former fraternity presidents go into finance. Everyone else spends a year or so bewildered by the work force, panics, and starts studying for the LSAT.
After college, I ran a summer camp with my best friend.
For five years.
In the midst of several public education jobs and learning to be a yoga teacher, I applied to law school.
I spent three years dreaming about how to run a summer camp with my best friend.
And a J.D.
I didn’t care to learn about shareholding or preferred stock.
Today felt like I was paying the emotional… and financial… price.
I got out my computer to write about my should-haves and wish-I’ds. I had just snuggled back into the pity spot when the phone rang.
It was my best friend.
“Maybe she’s calling with an update on that summer camp I’ve been dreaming about.”
In 20 minutes, 5 years of memories washed over me.
My 120 pound body squished in the center of a teary-eyed group hug.
Weeping over a note from a teenager telling me I’d “changed their life.”
Laughing so hard, for so long, I worried I might die because I couldn’t catch my breath.
Beaming with the joy and pride of an eager parent at countless high school graduations.
Watching gawky middle-schoolers become confident college kids, and later, my intimate adult friends.
Sharing in personal growth, moments of greatness and experiencing the rare sensation when everyone, and every thing, around me is shining.
Being Immersed in energy and intimacy of a group of people, the uniqueness of which, makes it indescribable.
Feeling the fullest, most unconditional, most powerful expressions of love.
A year from now, I’ll likely be unemployed. I’ll be a year closer to retirement but not a dollar closer to my first, real purchase of stock. Property and BMWs will be things “I’m saving for my forties.”
Maybe I’ll be having my third mid-life crisis. Maybe I’ll be sitting on my couch wondering, what might have been.
Maybe I’ll sit in gratitude for the unforgettable moments that have shaped my twenties.
Gratitude for each and every member of my summer camp family. The unforgettable, loves of my life. Each of whom taught me how important it is to: be myself, love myself and keep growing.
Shareholder or not.