Greener Grass

I was jealous of a woman that I passed at the grocery store last week. It was around noon and I clearly remember thinking that she was probably on her lunch break by the way she breezed by at an alarmingly high rate of speed. She was tall, thin and attractive… but surprisingly her beauty was not the object of my scorn.

No, I was envious of her because it was obvious that she had a job. A real, professional job. One with paid vacation, full medical (probably dental too) and a 401k. She was very well-dressed in a crisp, white blouse tucked into a smart pencil skirt paired up with some killer heels. And she walked with purpose — a woman on a mission.

Once upon a time, I knew that mission well. The object is to get through traffic to the store, gather everything on your list as well as something halfway decent to eat, get back through traffic and slide into your parking spot in 60 minutes or less. After all, the day is now half over and there are STILL calls to be returned, emails to respond to and deadlines to meet.

Yes, cruising by her in my khaki shorts, flip-flops and loose-fitting summer top I had plenty of time to take in the scene. I had no where specific to be. I got up at ten, fed the cat, watched Hoda and Kathy Lee conduct a few “ambush makeovers” on the plaza during the Today Show, showered and threw on something I found laying at the bottom of my closet. I had no list. My mission was simple: To procure some bagels and OJ.

But I found it to be quite a curious thing—my jealousy of this woman—because whenever was working, I envied all those women dressed in khakis, flip-flops and summer tops. They always shopped at a leisurely pace, flip-flopping their way around the store… taking time to sniff and squeeze the produce and casually wait for the sorts of food that needed to be sliced, trimmed, weighed and wrapped.

I often fumed at the notion that these privileged women obviously enjoyed the luxury of having no schedule and certainly nothing that even remotely resembled a deadline as I would tensely zip straight to the freezer section, filling my cart with armloads of Lean Cuisine and frozen (not fresh) veggies. After all, my “smart pencil skirt” was riding up, my “killer heels” were giving me blisters and as for my “crisp, white blouse” — there was a strange, unidentifiable smugde on the collar.

I have lived on BOTH sides of this fence and every time—no matter which side I seem to be standing on—I ask myself why it is that the grass really DOES appear to be greener on the other side. Why is it that I am never fully content with my own yard?

While watching a Sunday morning news program one day I heard a scientific explanation of why grass literally does appear to be greener on the OTHER side of the fence. When looking over the fence at your neighbor’s grass, you see only the sides of the blades of grass which look like a sea of green. However, while looking straight down at the grass beneath YOUR feet, you see the grass… but you ALSO see the patches of dirt in between. You’re acutely aware of all the natural flaws and imperfections.

Apparently, vantage point makes ALL the difference. Where we are standing at any given time has a direct effect on how we see the world around us. Literally and figuratively. Perhaps I’ll try to remember that the next time I go to the store and see that working gal. Perhaps I’ll look close enough to notice her frazzled, white-knuckle grip on the cart handle as she heads for frozen foods. And perhaps I’ll pick up an orange or an avocado, give it a squeeze and then casually flip-flop my way over to the deli counter.

Through Green Eyes

I’ll never forget the day one of my closest, sweetest friends lost it. It was during college and she had been going through a particularly rough break up.

It was evening and I was sitting next to Marcy on a couch in the lounge area of our dorm listening as she talked about her deep heartbreak at the ending of this valued relationship.

All of the sudden Tina, a mutual friend of ours from down the hall, burst through the double doors shrieking with excitement. Her boyfriend had just popped the question.

Normally, this sort of thing is of course… in Girl World… kind of a BIG deal. Something to be excited about and to join your newly-engaged friend by jumping up and down along side of her. Except that this time I was literally stuck in the middle. Happy for Tina’s wonderful news but sad for Marcy’s personal devastation.

I remember standing silently between them awkwardly looking from one to the other back and forth, back and forth like it was all happening in slow motion. Seriously. Could the timing of this thing have been ANY worse?

What happened next is burned in my brain. The memory of it is as fresh as though it had happened yesterday. Calm, cool-headed, mellow Marcy sprang from the couch and screamed with rage at the top of her voice. She had been holding a glass of water in her hand, and she threw it as hard as she could, smashing it on the opposite wall. I can still see the bits of shattered glass and water running slowly down the wall with startling clarity.

Tina, oblivious and shocked at what had just transpired, looked to me, her mouth gaping open… searching for an answer. When Marcy stormed off, I quickly told Tina what had happened while swiftly and half-heartedly congratulating her… then went running after the friend I felt needed me most.

More years than I care to acknowledge have since passed and Marcy and Tina are both happily married with beautiful families. But as I said before, the image of that night has stuck with me. You see, that was my first real confrontation with what some people like to call the “Green-Eyed Monster” of jealousy. A creature so vile, it can turn even the Meekest Marcy into a screaming, crying, glass-throwing banshee.

I’m ashamed to admit this but even though it was my first encounter, it most certainly hasn’t been my last. I have looked in the mirror many times only to find those same, wild, searing green eyes peering back at me. And I am not proud. Times when I should have been celebrating with my friends at their good fortune have been marred by my inability to see through that emerald shield.

What an ugly person I am when these eyes turn green. Two nights ago it happened when I learned that one of my dearest friends was expecting her second child. I thought I was over all of that childish jealousy crap, but apparently not. Obviously the green-eyed monster still has the ability to grab ahold of me and not let go until I’m sufficiently miserable.

Jealousy is an extremely dangerous emotion. Perhaps the most destructive of all. If we’re not careful how we handle it, all that will be left of us and our relationships will be bits of shattered lives… and tears silently running down the hallways of our hearts.

Jealousy… is a mental cancer. ~ B.C. Forbes