Today at the dentist, post-cleaning and clutching my new, green toothbrush, I found myself in the midst of a conversation about how “lucky” some people are.
I was paying, and the hygienist told the receptionist I needed a copy of my X-rays because I was going to have dental work done in Peru. Before this conversation, I had felt I was pretty lucky to be getting a mid-afternoon break.
Plus, there was that new toothbrush.
Ah, the world was a rosy place until the receptionist told me about a woman she knows named Tara who travels the world buying yoga pants.
“She just stayed in Peru for three months,” she said, getting out her phone. “Every post looks like this.”
She showed me her friend doing an advanced-looking yoga pose at Machu Picchu. The receptionist’s face looked upset. I was the link to this upset-ness because the hygienist had told her I was going to Peru. Yet she seemed to have forgotten that as she went on to tell me that her brother or cousin—some male—studied in the U.S. Virgin Islands and then became an underwater wedding photography team with his wife. A photo his wife took now stretches itself across hot bods as it’s print-screened on a high-fashion bikini line in Australia.
“God, must be nice,” she said, showing me their Facebook profile. “They’re just so lucky.”
I sensed the receptionist believed I was on the same team as she was—the Losers—and honestly, I began to feel I was. The world felt small. All the world’s awesome stuff—cooler toothbrushes!—seemed just an arm’s length away. It wasn’t celebrities getting these things. It was people we knew we realized. Stupid people on Facebook! Our friends! Our gd bffs from third grade! Ugh!
I find myself in this type of conversation a lot lately. Standing at the Westside playground in Gainesville, mind fractioned, making sure my six-minute-mile three year old doesn’t run for the spinning thing infants are being thrown clear of every few minutes or my one and a half year old doesn’t waddle into the intersection on his own personal quest for the trash truck, I turn to another mom and say something like:
“How did I become a 1950s housewife? Seriously! I’m smart, or at least smart enough. I choose the National Geographic over the People magazine at the dentist’s. I have a Master’s Degree. I’ve taught writing and literature at the university level. I’ve done cool stuff. Seriously? How did I become another brain-fried mom?”
Expectations, that’s how. Expectations forged from measuring ourselves against others and against insane cultural expectations that we internalize as a personal To-Do list. It can’t be all Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s fault, but just in case, I told her if she couldn’t handle seeing all these “lucky”-looking people, she should delete her account.
And, as I would, I told her she should steal a bunch of the free toothbrushes! And floss and toothpaste. She’d be one of those “lucky” people who have real white teeth. But she should not hand the toothbrushes out at Halloween instead of candy. No. That’s not cool. Then you deserve bad luck.