Responsibility requires a cause and it requires sacrifice. When you are living to please yourself there is no need for responsibility. However, when someone else comes into your life and you suddenly discover that you are in love.........well that screws everything up. That is exactly what happened in April of 1987. Staying true to myself, I was playing hookie from my job, which was easy to do because I totally hated it. I didn't go to work because it was Greek Week and I wanted to go to a party. Had I been a particularly responsible individual I would have graduated the previous spring. If I had been even a little responsible, I would have been at work. Instead I was at a party meeting the person who would later become my wife. This goes to show that sometimes irresponsibility pays off.
I fell in love with Carrie almost at first sight. Not really having any experience caring for anyone else besides myself, I continued to live life pretty much the same as I always had. However, it did not take me long to realize that for the first time in my life I had acquired a cause . That cause was to (1) get Carrie to love me back and (2) keep her around as long as possible. In order to accomplish that, I had to make (gasp) sacrifices. Anyone who has been in love knows what I'm talking about.
Within two years Carrie and I were married. The following year I finally graduated with a degree in Psychology. I got a job with an adult vocational rehabilitation company. Within two years I had 14 people working for me. Suddenly, I was responsible (what happened). I got a credit card, Carrie and I bought our first car, and a house. Oh, my gosh what happened! We were real adults! No way!
I had spent the 1980s irresponsible and aimless and though fun, towards the end it left me feeling empty. That space was partially filled when I fell in love with my wife. Carrie and I really enjoyed our life together, just the two of us.
During the 1990s I slowly began to understand what society considered to be a responsible lifestyle. It goes something like this:
get an education
find a good job
make a lot of money
pay your taxes
buy a house, a car, a boat, a membership to something, and anything else that you can afford
vote (preferably Republican)
start a family
raise them responsibly
go to church so that your kids will learn how to be good people
send them to college
save for retirement
purchase a good life insurance policy
buy a house on the lake to go with the boat
golf and fish
be a grandfather
and then finally, die, making sure to leave a significant amount of money for your wife, kids and grandkids.
And there you have it, the American dream and the most responsible lifestyle imaginable.
I'm not saying that Carrie and I were on the fast track to responsibility (aka. the American Dream) detailed above, but we had plenty of time and money to do all of the things we enjoyed, and we were moving down that list.....sort of. Yet I began to sense there was something missing and it was during this period of time that I began to wonder if the chase for the American Dream was all there was to life. Was there more to life than achieving perfect responsibility?
Yep, there was something. I sensed it, another relationship perhaps?