Today, I am sipping frothy four-dollar cappuccinos inside classy cafes where jazz music rumbles through ceilinged speakers and pretentiously hip baristas rattle on and on together about obscure bands, favorite tattoo parlors and recently found vintage cowboy boots. Over bar tops and through glass cases of chocolate chip vegan muffins, I observe these self-involved folk who fearlessly stitch unique personas onto their overpriced tee-shirt sleeves for all to see. They never fail to put themselves first. I do. I tend to misplace my existence like a set of car keys or pair of sunglasses, drifting lackadaisically in and out of obscurity while I quietly question my worth. But I don't want to be a young woman who shies from mirrors and manicures and all things pretty and selfish. For these pitiful tendencies will inevitably turn me into a plain, fat forty-something mother who wears stained sweatpants, wolf-patterned sweaters, thirteen-year-old maternity dresses and worn leather pocketbooks stuffed with regret.
May I have a small ego, a blueberry scone and a medium Me Time.
Here or to go.
I say, slapping my internal snooze button on the counter top.
I need to make a sturdier impression of myself on myself before I try raising another self.
I say, confidently.
The girl behind the counter stares back at me before wiping her long dark bangs from her eyes and saying,
That'll be $Invaluable.
I will, one day, pack lunch boxes with milk money, green apples and peanut butter/banana sandwiches wrapped inside LOVE YOU napkin notes. I will share Sesame Street jokes with teddy bears and velveteen rabbits over delicate cups of imaginary tea and rubber crumpets. I will tightly tuck bed covers; read bedtime stories and sing improvised lullabies. I will dab spit-up, catchup, poop, tears and muddied fingerprints from my new blue cardigan.
I will never wear wolf-patterned sweaters.