Monday, July 26, 2010

The Art of Timing

The other day, for what might have been the first time in my life, I ran out of shampoo and conditioner at the exact same time. After I used the last of my shampoo, I grabbed the bottle of conditioner, expecting that, like usual, I would still have at least a fourth of the bottle left.

I held out my hand and squeezed the bottle. As the dollop of conditioner shot onto my palm, it made the kind of squirting noise that only happens when you’re squeezing something that’s almost empty—you know, that squirt! that tends to make people uncomfortable for some reason when you’re out to eat and the ketchup bottle does it. (I mean, is it really necessary to always make fart jokes when this happens? It makes me feel like I’m permanently in a high school cafeteria.)

I couldn’t believe it. I had used the last of my shampoo and conditioner at the exact same time. Do other people run out of these things at the same time, I wonder? Am I some kind of freak that this is an event? For me, it’s even more unlikely than it was to find a parking spot directly in front of my old apartment building in Chicago. Think about it: does anyone actually use the same amount of shampoo and conditioner each shower? I, for one, don’t keep measuring spoons in my shower. Because that would be weird.

Plus, sometimes maybe I don’t feel like conditioning. Or shampooing. Or maybe I want to use my deep conditioner that day. I don’t know. It just never happens. I stood in my shower and felt like something monumental had just occurred in my life.

After my shower, as I threw my empty Pantene bottles in the recycling bin, I felt so damn pleased with myself I wanted to celebrate. I had accomplished something. For once, I wouldn’t end up with two half-empty bottles of the same conditioner in my shower! When I normally run out of only shampoo, I still buy a bottle of shampoo and conditioner. I can’t stand to buy only the shampoo. They are a pair. A couple. Shampoo plus conditioner. You can’t just buy shampoo! It would be wrong. Who does that?

It’s amazing how rare it is to time anything perfectly in life. Even when it’s something ridiculous, like using the last of your shampoo and conditioner at the same time. I tend to find that my timing in life never makes any sense. Like right now, for example. I’m 26, and I recently moved back in with my dad. Most of my friends from college moved back in with their parents right after graduation. Now, they’re out on their own, making money and being grownups. I, on the other hand, landed a job right after college and didn’t have to do that. My timing was great right then, I had thought. I remember thinking how lucky I was that I didn’t have to move back home. I never imagined that only two years after landing the job I had agonized over for months, I would quit, move to Chicago and, slowly but surely, run completely out of money as I waited tables, interned, and hoped and waited for the full-time job that never came.

The timing of my move to Chicago was ridiculous. It was July 2008, and there really weren’t any jobs to be had. So why, why, would any reasonable adult in her right mind quit a good job with fantastic benefits? WHY? Why not at least wait until she found a job in said city before quitting the good job?

I have no idea, other than I simply had to do it. I’ve kicked myself over and over in my head, thinking again and again about how it could all be different. Maybe right now I could still be in Chicago, making decent money and living the dream life I was supposed to have, instead of sitting on the back porch of my childhood home in Knightstown, Indiana.

Maybe. Or maybe, I would never have worked up the guts to move to Chicago in the first place. The timing was never going to be perfect. I could find excuse after excuse not to quit my job in Bloomington, Indiana. I’d still be working the same job, complacent, but not quite satisfied with my life.

Today I was watching an episode of “Sex and the City” where Carrie runs into her ex (Mr. Big, duh) on a boat. She’s dating the perfect guy (Aidan, duh) and Big is married. And then, of course, Big leaves a message on her machine telling her he can’t stop thinking about her. “There it was,” Carrie muses. “Exactly what I needed to hear, a year too late. I should have been happy, but I wasn’t. It was the absolute worst timing of all.”

So then I’m sitting in the living room thinking, what funny timing! Here I am, consumed with thoughts about my bad timing in life and my randomly perfect timing with my shampoo and conditioner, and I just happened to start watching an episode of “Sex and the City” that’s all about...timing.

There really aren’t brilliant conclusions to make out of all of this. It’s a crapshoot, really. Like Carrie said, “Suddenly my life was all about timing. All the right things, said at all the wrong times. My past coming back way too fast. And my future taking way too long to come home.”

I wasn’t prepared to move back home in April. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I had just realized I had to do it. Then, at what seemed like warp speed, my beloved, too expensive apartment in Chicago was empty, and I was driving with the Chicago skyline in my rearview mirror.

Maybe I moved to Chicago at a terrible time, or maybe it was the perfect time. Maybe my timing is off with certain events to make for the perfect timing with others. But I’ll probably always wait to get in the shower ten minutes later than I should. I’ll probably always hit snooze on my alarm instead of hopping right out of bed.

But sometimes, if only rarely, I’ll run out of shampoo and conditioner at the exact same time.


  1. I love this post. It's completely accurate for me as well. I move into Brandon's mother's house, hating life, pissed because I've been out of work for months, and hating the town I've just moved to. And then what happens?? I get the job at Borders that I've wanted the very first day I set foot in Bloomington!! And I get it in a town I hate!! Living in a house I can't really stand!! What in the hell?! I mean, sure, I'm ecstatic that I now have an awesome job, but now that I've gotten a dream job, I can't go to NY for my grandmother's surprise 70th birthday party. (Ok, so I probably wasn't going to go anyways because I'm so poor, but I was still hoping for a miracle.) Life literally only makes sense to me in the fact that it doesn't make any sense at all!!! AT ALL!!! I don't get it, Al...I'm so confused!!! (However, tomorrow is my first day at Borders and I'll be happy...for now. Lol.)

  2. Abbs, I'm so happy you got that job! I know exactly what you mean. Try not to spend all your paycheck on books! Cause that's what I would do. :)

    p.s. come visit me! cheaper than going to NY...

  3. So sad you had to leave Chicago. I moved here in 1988, right after Christmas; single, with four kids age 9-16! Crazy is as crazy does. Like you, it didn't make all that much sense, but I had to do it. I moved from a town of 3,000 to a school for the kids with that many people.

    I hope you get back here. It's a wonderful city. On the other hand, happiness is everywhere.

  4. You'll settle in somewhere, and you'll never say things like "I wish I had more adventure when I was younger". :)

    Are you still on the job hunt?

  5. good point, Kyle. :)

    (and YES, still on the job hunt!)