We visited friends on Long Island this past Memorial Day Weekend. It’s become a tradition. Five families with a total of 13 kids. It’s a bit of (actually, total) mayhem, but always a blast. And for me, this year in particular it was also desperately needed – I needed to be surrounded by old friends.
My final day at OppenheimerFunds was on Thursday. Peter took the day off from work on Friday and on that gloriously sunny day, we rode bikes from Park Slope down picturesque (not) Fifth Avenue into Bay Ridge and then to Coney Island for a beer on the boardwalk at Ruby’s and continued into Sheepshead Bay to eat crabs at Clemente’s Maryland Crabhouse (where as an added bonus there was a Delorean parked in the lot!) and then home just in time to scoop Mags from school. That kept my mind off of unemployment for the day, and then the long weekend distracted me from reality for another three days, spent with old friends, each of whom has challenges of their own.
Everyone does, of course, but only really good friends admit it.
The kids always lament leaving this weekend. Part of it is about saying goodbye to friends they only see a few times a year, but perhaps a bigger part is leaving a big house, a huge lawn perfect for a inter-family baseball game, and a chill beach club with delicious treats, kayaks, paddleboards, pick-up pickle ball games, tennis courts, crab hunting, etc. We have all of these things in bits and pieces in Brooklyn and the Catskills, but not concentrated into one lovely package. I don’t blame the kids for feeling this way; I feel similarly. But then I get back home and I can appreciate that which suburbia can’t offer – all that comes with a big city. The diversity – of people, of activity, of points of view, the energy of public spaces, the ability to wander and always find something new, the convenience of the commute. I think they appreciate all of this too, though they can’t articulate it.
Sitting at the beach club on Sunday, a big jovial mid-forties man introduced as Giddeon walked up to our crew and started chatting it up with us. Anne and Matt (our hosts) clearly knew him well, and yet I’d never seen this guy before. He was there for probably 10 or 15 minutes and we mainly talked about the chickens he’s raising; it was a very entertaining conversation. When he left, they told us he is their minister. ?! Ministers, in my mind, are old, grey and serious. Yes, egregious stereotype. This guy was young, smiley and totally engaging. I asked about his sermons, and they described them as completely consistent with what I’d imagined. And so, yesterday, I listened to one.
Sprinkled throughout his talk about the world making us feel as though we never have enough, and that we are never enough, was the expected “God loves you just as you are” line. If you couldn’t detect the sarcasm in that previous sentence, this kind of stuff isn’t my bag. BUT! I didn’t roll my eyes when he said it, as I have in the past. Why? Because everything else he said made so much sense to me, and so I was that much less cynical.
This 10-minute sermon completely normalized how my kids were feeling about their lack of suburban jewels, how I am feeling about my current unemployed state, and most likely how every single person in that congregation feels about something, probably about a lot of things. The reality is, to varying degrees every single one of us is envious of that which we don’t have, frustrated about that which we can’t do, insecure about that which we haven’t become. It’s human nature. So… misery loves company? A little bit maybe. But Giddeon’s perspective on this is a wee bit more motivating:
“There is no such thing as not enough, there is only more than we can ask or imagine.”
Despite all of this forcing me to add yet something else to my already-long “envy” list (I’m now envious of Anne and Matt for getting Giddeon every Sunday), I feel a little more at peace with where I am right now. So enough with LinkedIn! I’m going to go hit some golf balls.