I shared a meal with two dear friends from college this past Sunday. It was the perfect suburban getaway for gals living and working in the Big Apple. We gathered wood from my parents' backyard so we would be able to build a fire later that day. Next stop was Fairway Market for ingredients: a big baguette, three types of cheese (New Zealand Cheddar, Pepper Jack, and Fresh Mozzarella), fresh basil, some cream, chicken, and vegetables for a tossed salad. It took us realistically three to five minutes just to navigate the big basins that comprise the olive section. Angela picked sun dried tomatoes, I grabbed an olive medley, and Mary tracked down half sour pickles to accompany the bread and cheese. Groceries- check. We snuck in some munchkins and coffees for the ever so brief drive home. I am of the belief that there is always time for a Dunkin run.
After settling in at home, we chopped and chatted. Munched on bread, olive oil, and too much cheese, if there can ever be too much cheese. Next came the main course, creamy pesto over fettuccine with chicken. We never really made a dent in the salad which is to be expected when there is bread and cheese to be had. Olives count as vegetable intake though, right? All the while, we had refreshing conversation. Scratch that. Let's call it what it was - a frantic vent session. It was also refreshing though, long overdue, and entirely necessary.
It had been quite a while since we were all together in one place, probably since graduating actually. Granted texting and email allow for people to stay quite connected these days, but still pale in comparison to interaction face-to-face. Actually hearing what it's like to LOL together. We covered a wide variety of topics. Put girls in a room together and this is bound to happen. Guys, parents, jobs, friends, body image, weddings, dreams, fears; you name it and we probably discussed it. The pressure we either self impose or feel from others to succeed, to have everything all at once. Our desperate attempts to prioritize goals all the while trying to remain grounded and calm. How we fall short of the staying calm part. Thus is early adulthood.
It is characteristic of our generation to expect a lot, and quickly. I think Charles wrote "Great Expectations" about us. Sounds about right. By 24, we feel like we should have it all mapped out. The next decade if not more carefully delineated in a step by step list. Who we'll marry and where we will be professionally and geographically. There are external factors at play, too. Mothers with baby fever asking about grandchildren or at the very least checking in on the latest adventures in finding a mate. Friends walking down the aisle and siblings enrolling in grad school.
While all of our concerns vary slightly, there is a common need for reassurance. A quote or a consoling gesture is often enough to quell anxiety. I discovered I am not the only one who Googles "inspiring quotes" when I feel disconcerted or lost. The right quote can typically calm my nerves for like an hour, or at least distract me enough that I forget what provoked anxiety in the first place. Needless to say I am quite frequently in search of the perfect words of reassurance. Some daily bread for my soul. I have no problem finding and eating actual bread, obviously.
Robert Louis Stevenson was on to something here:
"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life."
The girls and I discussed lighter topics once we got through the rough stuff. Football, country music, and the anatomy of the perfect S'more. We grabbed skewers, jumbo marshmallows, Reese's cups as well as Hershey bars, and roasted them as the sun went down. For a moment, we huddled around the fire, forgot about expectations and indulged in the here and now, the path of just right before us.