I don’t know the exact date when it started, but at some point in my life I started to lose my grip on what was once considered cool.
I’m guessing I left it in the last decade, but I could be wrong.
I still have a vision of that girl — an old, imprinted picture of myself at 22. Young style, cute car, a full social life, stocked CD collection (prior to Spotify, mind you) and a thumb on the beat of what my peers were doing. I knew movies, music, what band was going to be in town, who was having an after-hours party and where the best late-night food was to be found.
Today that girl, though still a lot of fun, is tired, older and a lot less cool.
» Cars. When I was 22, I had an adorable sporty silver Jetta. Now my trusted steed is a giant, billion-passenger Dodge Caravan. Yes, my upgrade from sporty is now the standard breeder mode of transportation — a minivan. But here’s the deal with minivans. At first the idea of having one is mocked in your brain. “Me? No, I’m not a minivan person. Oh my gosh — never.” Then the idea keeps creeping back up. “I have three kids, two dogs, I grocery shop and — DOES THAT HAVE STOW AND GO?!” Today, I rock my minivan. I named her Dotty. She would like it if I changed her oil on time, filled the tank before it’s on empty and hit the car wash instead of waiting for rain. She’s been good to me, and she’s so very uncool.
» Clothes. If it’s not at Target, it’s not in my closet. Period. I just now stopped wearing maternity pants — nine months postpartum. Yes, Target has cute clothes, but I’m more in business casual and nothing says fun Saturday-night-out attire like my collection of three-quarter-sleeve Merona cardigans. I’m currently wearing magenta.
» Saturday nights. These were like an Olympic event in my early 20s. The getting ready portion of the night was treated like a sacred ritual. Then you had the “pre-party,” the “actual party” and, finally, the “after party.” I remember seeing the sunrise and laughing hysterically, realizing how we let our fun get away from us once again. Today, Saturday nights are a little different — Disney movies and popcorn, and bed by 10 p.m. Sometimes we splurge for a sitter and have a meal at a restaurant that isn’t a franchise. Yes, I love them equally, but at times I reflect on how the mighty have fallen. Flossing in my pajamas before the opening monologue of “Saturday Night Live” isn’t exactly brag-worthy.
Reminiscing with an old friend over wine — sometimes an entire box of fermented grapes — is as close to that 22-year-old version of myself as I can be. I don’t miss her every day; I let her go gently along the way of introducing grown-up, responsible-ish me. Now, don’t get me wrong — she has her moments when she comes right back up to the surface and we play (and I pay dearly the next day).
So I ask myself — being this uncool, older, wiser, cardigan-wearing lady — what’s in it to be so cool? Was attaining any level of coolness in my youth just a way of being able to express myself because I didn’t know how to just be myself yet? Possibly.
So what’s cooler than cool? Confidence. I may go on as an invisible woman in my giant minivan, but I’m in it, I love it and, for crying out loud, it’s practical.
Kristine Rohwer lives in west Omaha with her husband, stepson, daughter, son and two neurotic dogs.