My first mistake, as always, was opening it.
"It" is the college alumni magazine that comes to my house every month for free. It's almost like they know the only thing I do with it is look at the obituaries to find out who died, because at least then I won at life.
Then I read further, find out that whoever it was "leaves behind 3 children" and that they cured a major illness while chairing a department at Harvard Medical School two years before their death.
Then I hate myself even more.
This month's issue did not disappoint. I was just congratulating myself for donning real pants at 3:30 p.m. on the darkest day of the year, when I read that one of my classmates is literally going to Mars. I remembered this woman, whose name is Jessica, correctly recalling that she'd grown up in a small town in Northern Maine and was roommates with someone I knew.
I skimmed the rest of the article, which detailed past covers of this magazine in which Jessica had been featured (this wasn't her first, of course), and then all of the other things she did like play flute in a symphony, survive in the woods alone for a week before joining NASA, get a PhD in microbiology, and part the Red Sea or something. And to add salt to the wounds, none of her pics were even clearly selfies!
"But you have two beautiful chiiiiiiiiildren," I heard the World at Large reassure me in a distinctly saccharine, feminine voice designed to keep me from realizing my full potential as a rocket scientist and woodwind virtuoso.
"Oh, you mean the two beautiful children who just spoke to me in a 'fresh' tone of voice while cleaning and forced me to scream, 'I'M THE PARENT DO NOT SPEAK TO ME IN A FRESH TONE OF VOICE! AND STOP BEING MEAN TO ME! OR NO iPAD FOR A WEEK!," as I clomped up the stairs. Those two beautiful children?," I retorted smugly to the world.
The world, incidentally, that a woman my exact same age and who had been afforded the same educational opportunities was about to see from FUCKING OUTER SPACE!!!!
Because she was good at math, worked hard, abstained from drugs and alcohol (I'm just guessing on that one), followed the dreams she had been incubating since age 5 (per the article), and had refused to mindlessly allow her entire life's course to be dictated by her ovaries or a registry at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Nope. Jessica wasn't going to peruse the ramekin selection at Sur le Table. Jessica was going to Mars.
Jessica is the picture I'm going to show to Paige when I'm tempted to tell her that life is a series of diminishing dreams that peak in fourth grade. Just because the closest I've come to Mars is mixing a Codeine with half a
bottle box of wine while reading Elon Musk's Wikipedia page doesn't mean that the same fate will befall my daughter.
It's not too late for Paige, but it is for me. One of my college classmates is literally going to Mars, and I officially give up.