my definition of life is far different from yours

by Jade P., 17

“If you asked me twelve years ago what my definition to the meaning of life was, I couldn’t tell
you,” said Jen.

“Now why is that?” I said.

Jen gave me no response. I felt the atmosphere in the car become tense. I didn’t know a simple response back would cause her to become so uncomfortable. Perhaps no one ever asked her why she had no meaning to life twelve years ago.

“Why twelve years ago? What’s so significant about twelve? Jen?” I croaked. The tone in my voice was stern. She took her eyes off the road and looked at me. Her face had no emotion; she just looked plain.

“Should we stop for milkshakes?” she asked.

I looked at her funny. Did she really ignore my question?

“What do you mean you didn’t know what the meaning of life was twelve years ago? Didn’t you start a family twelve years ago? Where is this coming from?” I didn’t mean to become so personal, but I knew Jen; something was bugging her.

She turned into Freddy’s and pulled into a space, turned the car off and got out. I opened the car door and stopped because she was leaning on the back of the car.

She was silent, then she spoke, “Twelve years ago I was thirty-six. I did everything right. Get married in your late-twenties early thirties, have a kid by your mid-thirties, live in a house with two and a half bathrooms, get a dog. For goodness sake, I even drive a 2019 Chevrolet Suburban. I have done absolutely—”

“Everything, right?” I cut her off.

“Exactly!” she said “I despise it. I played the cards safe, a little too safe. I’m creepin’ up on fifty and my mid-life crisis is starting two years before. I did nothing I promised myself at age twenty-one. In fact, I did a complete three-sixty. Never left the country, never took risks, never partied irresponsibly, I never even married the man I always wanted.”

Her face was full of tears. She looked at me, deep into my eyes. “My meaning of life was always different from the norm. Will I ever leave the life I’m in and chase after it? Most likely not. Therefore, the meaning of life is nothing. And twelve years ago, I was searching for nothing.”

Downingtown, Pennsylvania