How can we predict the future when there is so much luck that determines the outcome of our lives?
When I reflect on the six months of my life that have unfolded since I walked across the stage at graduation, I can’t help but invoke luck. The story goes like this:
On a midnight whim I applied for an NYU Summer Publishing Program, when I was unexpectedly accepted, I moved to New York. A move that completely disrupted my previous plan to move back to Portland, Oregon and pick up where I left off the Summer before. When the program finished, it was settled: I would apply endlessly until I was working in the magazine industry- an industry that more or less demands that I stay in New York City. Had I not applied for the summer program during one lonely midnight, less than twenty-four hours before the application was due, I might not be here. I might not have known the pleasures of the industry that has given me the opportunity to work my first out of college job, a job that involves the two things I love so deeply: creative communication and health and wellness. So many pieces and factors, both in and out of my control, had to come together just so for me to be where I am today. I could not have predicted where I am, or the people that would be brought into my life, hopefully to stay.
How can I make sense of my life, without thinking about how unpredictable it has all been? How can I describe the level of serendipity without thinking of luck? I was supposed to be working as the assistant manager of a sports and fitness clothing store for women in Portland, OR. Instead, I am renting a room in a Williamsburg apartment, taking the subway, and sitting in a cubicle, creating endlessly with a team of inspiring women. What has this taught me? Predicting the future is impossible at worst, frivolous at best.
Yet, when I go in for job interviews, the question “where do you see yourself in five years” or “where do you want to be in ten years”, inevitably closes out the conversation. My answers about who I want to become, where I want to be, the kind of role I want to work towards in a company or brand, are my lasting impression.
At twenty-two I am certain of the impossibility of predicting the future. But I dream.
I dream in materialistic longings, in emotional milestones, in rings on fingers, and interior decorations. I dream of article writing in coffee shops, the warmth of another body in my bed, the immortality of the ones I love, and athletic feats. I dream about ten years from now in language of desire, I dream about ten years from now in hopeful hyperbole. I dream just like this:
Ten years from now it’s perpetually autumn, the leaves are always an orange fading to yellow and consistently falling, the sky always partially cloudy and the air always measuring in at that sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit. I wake in a room straight out of a pottery barn catalog: modern with farmhouse flare. The leather headboard, ceilings beams, a comforter made of organic cotton and sixteen throws, all soft. Bon Iver still streams from my phone to alert me that it’s morning, and I wake with the same beauty in my bed each day.
The kitchen is the sexiest room in the apartment with its maple cabinets and stone back tiling, but the library is still my favorite with its real fireplace, harry potter ladders and walls lined with books alphabetized and separated by category: the queer texts in one section, memoirs in another, self help books stored on the top shelf, and men’s fashion magazines in neat bins next to the couches. The lighting is always just right, the bulbs never burn out, and my lover lets me write notes in every margin.
Ten years from now I have sushi every Saturday and white wine on Wednesdays, and I always remember to pay the bills on time and take care of the taxes and most days I make the bed and the puppies don’t shed and the sink never breaks. My hair never clogs the drain and I never worry about money or have morning breath and hangnails and, ingrown pubes are a thing of last decade. My impulse haircut finally grew out, my love and I still have spontaneous sex and our own subscription of the New York Times and we can never fight without making the other laugh. We still make time to lay around, talk a little, and love like we invented it.
Since graduating, I’ve run a marathon each June, overcome my fear of road biking and have competed in three sprint tri’s. I’ve recently submitted my audition for American Ninja Warrior, and my rugby team has made it to nationals; I’m the starting fullback. Ten years from now and I’ve figured out how to train indefinitely for all the things I love all at once and use Tough Mudder’s as an excuse to travel to all fifty states. At thirty-two I am as unstoppable as I feel; this is not narcissism, just a quiet, hopeful madness.
Dad hasn’t had a stroke in fifteen years, he feels proud of the parts of himself he see’s in me, and our relationship is better than it’s been since I’ve been three; we share popsicles again and take short walks on the beach and I finally learned how to say “I love you” to the people I love.
Mom’s kitchen design business is doing great, is engaged to be married. She’s happy, having the adventure of her life, and still makes time to see me every other month. Our cat, Jojo is still alive and is now featured in the world record book for being the oldest cat still alive at age 23 and Mom loves me so unconditional that she plans to live forever. She once told me a secret: I will love still you when all my hair greys and falls out and then I’ll start all over.
These are the things I know to be true about the future: the best memories are Portland summers, rugby strikers, Christmas with my Mom in North Carolina, west coast hikes, and experiences I can’t even image.
Ten years from now, my style hasn’t changed much: I still look best in mid-calf socks, soccer shorts, and tanks, but I’m slowly learning the undeniable power of throwing on a tailored blazer, and I’m beginning to understand, maybe, for the first time how my body fills out the space between fabric.
I still have a slight swagger and a well-muscled body, but my eyebrows finally grew out. I still sleep with my baby blanket, call Mom every night before bed, check and recheck the locked door five times, take Dramamine on airplanes, sleep with the windows closed and the bathroom light on and forget to flush the toilet in the middle of the night. I still wear my lucky underwear, from second grade, the first day of every month, and my sneaker addiction has only slightly subsided. Ten years from now I’m still obsessed with celebrity memoirs and prefer to spend Friday nights quiet and candle-lit. I still take my coffee with soy-milk, hiccup after every granny smith apple, and take comfort in farmers markets.
Ten years from now I still have this high-pitched voice and childish giggle, my laugh still contagious and my smile brighter than anything my hands can hold, my hands are still thick-veined and calloused with learning.
Ten years from now and I’m still me, and it’s the only thing I can predict. I’ve seen the future and what strikes me is all the kindness.