Amy was telling me about the venison in her freezer. She had called to thank me for the Christmas present. Her husband was out of town for the weekend, gone hunting. She told me that she had gone once, but the only time they saw deer was while she was sitting alone in the deer stand without a gun because her husband had taken it with him when he went off behind a tree to pee. She lives in my hometown and teaches English at the cross-town rivals of my old high school. She has not lost her accent and when I talk to her, mine experiences a revival. She watches NASCAR with her husband, who is a drag racer. I made her promise to take me to a race at the dirt track sometime, where we would bring Burger King cups full of SunDrop and whiskey.
She was telling me about the venison when I interrupted her and said, "Your life is different from mine."
I was asking Kate about this whole Pakistan thing. She was standing in my kitchen watching me make falafel, one of two vegetarian dishes that I make. I've cooked for her three times, so she's had them both. Kate's parents live in Apex, next to a llama farm, but Kate goes to school at Oxford. She is dating a boy from Pakistan and is considering marrying him and moving out there. I am worried for her, but if anyone can move to Pakistan, it's her. She has quit drinking, in addition to meat, because she is thinking of converting to Islam. When we met back in the summer of 2000, she was just converting to atheism. Kate says that almost everyone at Oxford has to face the situation where they fall in love with someone from across the world because the school is so international. She asks whether I will visit her in Pakistan, and I say yes.
Kate was reassuring me about Pakistan while I thought about how different her life was from mine.
I sit at a computer for eight hours a day and I write a program that is used by other people with jobs like mine. I own my own home just outside the city limits, a mile from the interstate. I am twenty-seven, unmarried and childless, and actually okay with that. My live-in boyfriend is in a rock band, waiting tables and living the starving artist dream. And I'm okay with that, too.
My life is different than what I expected.