Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cologne, Confessions and Opportunity Cost

I know it’s a bit retro, in a 1980s mullet kind of way, but I have to admit that I still think cologne is kind of sexy. I don’t mean Axe body spray, and I don’t mean Old Spice (even though the commercials make me chuckle). I mean good, old-fashioned cologne, the kind we used to buy our boyfriends for Christmas in college, back in the long ago day. I even miss wearing a little Estée Lauder myself. My husband bought me an Egyptian musk a while back, and he tells me it smells wonderful, but apparently it fits my biology perfectly, because once it hits my skin, I smell nothing. That’s how it should be, of course, and I even hesitate to wear the musk very often, so as to avoid offending the olfactory sensitivities of my allergic friends. Still, I miss the lovely dose of nostalgia that comes with an unexpected scent on the air. Sigh. I miss peanuts on airplanes, too. I’m such a cretin.

Since I started along this confession path, I may as well get it all out there.

I miss swearing with abandon. Yes, I still swear, but I do apply a filter much more frequently than I used to. They say that profanity is a sign of a small vocabulary. That may be, but you would be amazed at how creative a literate person can wax with a few well-chosen four-letter words. Did you know, for instance, that many expletives can morph into almost any part of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb…)? I can thank my college education for that little gem of knowledge.

I miss wasting time on a regular basis. I freely admit that I still manage to lose a few hours to blogs and Facebook on occasion, but I feel guilty about it every time. I remember spending whole days wandering Cache Valley in search of, well, nothing really. And I remember watching late night TV or talking until dawn. These days, I sneak in a nap or a chapter of a book and then kick myself for the items I could have checked off my “to do” list instead. Blast that stupid list!

I miss partying. Oh, don’t have a conniption. I never drank, never felt the need to drink. But I do miss being able to let go, to dance without worrying about how silly I look. I miss late night philosophical discussions, half in Spanish and half in English, on the front stoop under the stars, with music drifting through the screen door behind me. I hardly admit to knowing any Spanish these days, afraid someone will expect me to speak, and I will make a fool of myself.

I recognize, with some heaviness, the opportunity cost of decisions I made long ago with much deliberation. I chose adventure over home, and now I begin to realize how little I know my extended family and how amazing these people are who share my heritage. In another sense, I chose home over career, and even after more than a decade away from the office, I struggle to find my sense of self without the projects and accolades. In either case, I would make the same decision all over again, but I sense the cost of those decisions more than I once did.

I find I do not mind the sense of loss too much. As long as I avoid getting stuck in the memory, a little backward glance now and again reminds me just how rich and full my life has been over the years and hints at the possibilities ahead. I don't imagine the coming years will find me hitchhiking in Yellowstone again, but the memory of my Yellowstone summer prods me to stick my metaphorical thumb out and see what surprises life has to offer down an unknown path or two.

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