When I was a kid, I wanted so badly to belong to the popular set. I wanted more than anything else to be “normal”. Conformity was my goal. I didn’t want to be unique. I wanted to blend in.
As a teenager I rejected all of that (or thought I did; in retrospect I was just conforming with a different crowd). I shaved my head, let a guy I was dating pierce my bellybutton with a needle, listened to angry music and read angry books.
I still didn’t really feel like I knew where I fit.
Yesterday, it became obvious where I belong. I spent the morning busily ticking the boxes on “suburban middle-class mom” and my inner 15-year-old wanted to punch me.
We woke up bright and early to take the children apple-picking. Apple-picking! We’ve been doing it for years, but recently it has become one of the standard events you see on social media. Think the visit to mall Santa. As soon as the back-to-school pictures are over, for a few weeks it’s nothing but kids in orchards and artful shots of perfect apples still on the tree.
We piled into our minivan and headed out, with a detour at McDonald’s for coffee. I ordered a pumpkin spice latte because goddamn it, I like pumpkin spice lattes, I don’t care if that makes me so basic I could cry. I just want to be able to drink my pumpkin pie for the entire month of October, OK?
Michael handed me my latte and I sniffed it. There was no smell except coffee. I tasted it. There was no deliciously-sweet flood of nutmeg & cinnamon & far too much sugar. They had given me a plain latte by mistake.
After some back & forth (Michael: Just go in and explain the mistake! Me: No, I’ll just drink this gross thing because I don’t want to make a fuss) I took my latte back in. I learned an important lesson very quickly.
It is impossible to say the sentence “excuse me, I ordered a pumpkin spice latte and this is a regular latte” without sounding like an utter wanker.
Now, they very quickly handed me the correct drink, and no one seemed overly bothered, but as I walked back to my car (only not wearing yoga pants because they were in the laundry, can you even?) it occurred to me that I had found my tribe.