Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Everything's Bigger Sexier Cheaper In Ohio

It's true. The following exchange occurred at the bar on Saturday when it was my turn to buy the pitcher of beer:

Me: (holding out $20)
Bartender: That'll be six (mumble mumble)...(takes bill and walks away)
Friend from Boston: Wait, did she just say six dollars?
Me: Nooo....she must have said sixteen, right?
Friend: Yeah...right?
Bartender: (handing over cash and giant pitcher of beer) Fourteen dollars.
Me and Friend: (mouths agape) Why did we leave Ohio again?

Anyway, the upside was that I spent nary a dime in the Buckeye State, which was a little refreshing after spending waaay too much money the last couple of weekends when friends have visited me here. I even added up the cost of the rental car + gas, which came out to $180 - a lot less than the $250+ I would have spent on a plane ticket with crappy arrival/departure times.

Okay, that wasn't the only upside. I met up with one of my best friends from college, Kristy, and stayed at my other friend Meg's house, who I lived with the year after I graduated. These are both friends who I consider very close, but don't actually speak to that often. When we get together it feels like we were never apart, but get the pleasure of catching up on sometimes year-long stories. That's how Friday night was spent, grilling in Meg's backyard and spinning yarns.

So then the shady part: the bar on Saturday night. We drove up to Delaware to the one bar where everyone of drinking age spent their weekends (and...maybe most of the week as well). After driving up the main thoroughfare through the near-abandoned town, we sidled our car up to a space next to campus and walked the short distance to the 'Stretch. Funnily, the bar that opened during the last two weeks of our senior year was almost totally empty, but when we got up to the 'Stretch, it was packed to the gills. Clearly this was reminiscing-time.

After the scores were tallied, I found that our large group of girlfriends (from my class and many from the class above mine) fall sharply into two camps: 1) Get Married And Have Babies As Soon As You Possibly Can, and 2) What's the big rush? And it's not just a personal camp. We've really split the group up - Singles keep in contact with the singles and vice versa. Kristy and Meg even have long-term boyfriends, but we (I should say, it's not just the three of us...but we are few) all feel the same - we wanted to live our own lives first. We all did some combination of the following after college: traveled/lived abroad, moved across the country, attained graduate degrees, dated someone for years before breaking it off because it just wasn't the right match, and began careers that didn't involve teaching elementary school.

Here's the kicker: It's not like marriage and the things on that list are mutually exclusive...except that they must be, because none of our married friends did any of them. They dated the first ugly midwestern boy who made them marginally happy, waited patiently for the diamond ring, then talked profusely about their wedding plans to anyone who would listen. As soon as the vows were taken, they moved to the suburbs (I mean, further out into the 'burbs), flushed their birth control pills down the toilet and waited patiently for the little blue plus sign.

My camp and I discussed this thoroughly, in case you hadn't noticed. We're certainly not against marriage - in fact, it looks like Kristy will likely be engaged within the next year. But she waited for someone to come along that shared her view on life, dated him for well over three years, and has talked extensively with him about her career and what it will mean to their relationship (she just got her masters in International Health and took a job that requires quite a bit of international travel). And he's wonderful! That's the important part, I think. A lot of these girls seem to marry...this guy they're dating. Why? (Why!) Sure, it's not impossible to find some great man when you're twenty years old, but...What is the freaking rush? Is it really a status thing? To be able to flash around the ring? Is your biological clock really, really ticking?

Oh, I don't know. Maybe it's just that married/engaged people annoy me. Like Meg put it, "I don't want to see my friends only at Sunday brunch and talk about potty training and getting the floors redone for the rest of my existence." Which is exactly what they do. In fact, Kristy said what I think is one of the most flattering things anyone's said to me in awhile - that she loved how I had so many interests and could talk about anything from politics and law to gardening and photography. (This is, unfortunately, exactly why I can't get a job, cause I have cursory knowledge of a thousand different subjects, but none of them in depth. So, blessing/curse, I guess?) It's the one-track, settle-down, my-bubble-has-shrank-to-the-size-of-my-split-level-condo mindset that freaks the rest us out about the married folk. It doesn't have to be that way, and I don't think that any of us in Camp B will have marriages like that... maybe, you know, because we waited.

For your amusement, there was this one girl (who, admittedly, we all hate anyway for the plain reason that she's a heinous bitch and always will be) who just got engaged (to The. Ugliest. Man. In. America.) and gave us the following quotes, unsolicited:

"Oh my god! There are SO. MANY. people coming to my wedding! I just don't know how we're going to fit them all in!" (Note: No one she was talking to was invited.)

"Yeah, his family owns a boat, so, you know, we'll probably spend all summer at Put-In-Bay. Of course (laughs) all his friends own bigger boats, so, you know..."

So tiresome. Between that and sitting on the porch on Meg's "urban" duplex in Columbus and noticing that every single person who walked by had a tiny dog, a stroller, and was white and blonde, I kind of wanted to run from Ohio like a pack of rabid animals were on my tail.

Good times.


At 1:53 AM, May 25, 2006, Blogger Roonie said...

Heather, you are so good at summing up the Midwestern experience, I'd have mistaken you for a Midwesterner-with-ambition-surrounded-by-people-without-it in a heartbeat. I could seriously go on and on for hours over all of the people who settled, but you said things so elegantly here:

t's not like marriage and the things on that list are mutually exclusive...except that they must be, because none of our married friends did any of them. They dated the first ugly midwestern boy who made them marginally happy, waited patiently for the diamond ring, then talked profusely about their wedding plans to anyone who would listen. As soon as the vows were taken, they moved to the suburbs (I mean, further out into the 'burbs), flushed their birth control pills down the toilet and waited patiently for the little blue plus sign.

That is pure poetry. And the story of every friend I ever had who happened to have any goals whatsoever. Once the ring went on, all bets were off.

Oh, and uh, help me, this statement is soooooo dead on:

and began careers that didn't involve teaching elementary school.

Did you know if everyone who graduated from an Education program in Ohio in 2001 moved to California, they could've ALL been employed? Ridiculous.

I was thinking about getting a Master's in International Health and going to the Peace Corps in the same breath (you can do that). Would you mind forwarding your friend my e-mail address (or vice versa)? I would love to hear about her experiences.

At 4:49 PM, May 26, 2006, Anonymous disappointeddcistformerreader said...

a bit judgmental on the midwesterners, don't you think? what difference does it make what makes them happy or what goals they have. does that really merit denigrating the value or accomplishment of their lives? is it their fault the level of ethnic diversity in their community? it's a bit untoward to elevate your place in the world merely by attacking the viewpoints and status of others. you are successful because of what you do (or don't do), not because of another's failures. show a little respect.

At 5:21 PM, May 26, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

I'm a little surprised it took so long for someone who clearly did not understand the point of my post to attack me, so thanks for jumping in.

Like I said in the post - I'm neither against marriage nor having children. Did you read that part? It just seems to me that people 1) rush into it for no real reason other than they think they're supposed to, and 2) throw away the other things they planned to do in order to stay home and raise babies, because they think they're supposed to.

See the difference? A friend (and midwesterner) who IM'd me later to tell me how spot on this post was, and who has done the waiting thing herself, got her degree and has a pretty high-powered job, was telling me how she would probably end up staying home with her children when she has them. And of course, that's great! If you choose to do that, I think it's a wonderful choice. She went out and experienced life, and figured out what she wanted to do.

But when you're married and have two kids by the time you're 24, I don't think I have to tell you that most of that shit ends in divorce. Even at 27, I'm already seeing my married peers thinking, "is this it?" They hadn't fully grown into the person they wanted to become, settled down too early, and now think it's too late to go back to school, or can't travel/get divoced because of their children, whatever.

Sure some of these folks are completely happy. More power to them. Ten years down the road, we'll see if that's still the case.

At 5:21 PM, May 26, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

And Roonie - thanks for your comments. I wasn't sure anyone would get the elementary school teacher reference, but I see you know exactly what I mean.

At 5:24 PM, May 26, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

Oh, and - a little ridiculous to keep commenting on my own post, but - I just wanted to add to the second poster:

Seriously? Do you mean to say you're going to stop reading dcist because of this post? Doesn't that seem a bit, I don't know, hysterical?

At 4:18 PM, May 28, 2006, Anonymous ellen said...

Girls, we all need to stick together and support each others best friend got married young and now the kids are grown and she's gone back to school ...and still married happily to a great guy...she has no regrets...

At 9:00 PM, May 28, 2006, Blogger Roonie said...

It's not about "respect," Disappointed. The concern was about Midwesterners not having their eyes open about what's around them. I should know, I am one - born and bred, and, upon leaving the Midwest, I found out what I was missing.

At 9:18 PM, May 28, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

Oh Ellen. Supporting women while they kill their hopes and dreams to live the nuclear lifestyle because they've never been told (or discovered on their own) they can do anything else is not my style of feminism. If your friend chose that life with her eyes wide open, and she's happy, fantastic. Those aren't the people I'm talking about here.

At 10:05 PM, June 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rabid animals typically cannot breath or swalllow, making it difficult for them to make chase out of an entire state, especially Ohio. It is one of our larger states you know. Lots of people live here, and I can proudly say that we have not had a pack of rabid animals for forty years. Do not use inaccurate zoological disease references in your poor attempts at humor.


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