My closest friends or just about anyone whom I have had the pleasure to share a drink and conversation with in the past year will probably have heard "The Egg Story." I really like this one because it makes me feel proud that I was able to come back from hardship, it makes me laugh at how stupid life can make you look and it taught me a lesson that no matter how dire your circumstances, it really does take more than you think to kill you.
The way you want your life to be and the way it is at any given moment are rarely the same vision. We are human and I believe that it is in our nature to want more. We set goals, we work to accomplish them and then we set our sights higher and work to accomplish those goals. It's that whole "pursuit of happiness" thing. The Egg Story is a symbol of how far I let my limits be pushed before I was tempted to quit. I am anxious to hear what situations others have been in where they can relate to my turbulent tail of eating eggs.
Earlier this year, I was broke. Like broke, broke. Broke as in credit card maxed out at $10,000, student loan payments at about $1,000 per month, Chicago rent payment at $1,200 per month, and oh yeah no regular income. Those were the negatives of the situation and I would be lying if I told you that I didn't lay in my bed and cry and wonder how my life had come to this but there were still positives to be considered. Even though I couldn't afford it, I did live in the Lincoln Park Neighborhood in Chicago which I loved, I had a roof over my head, I had one of my best friends named Emily who was in a similar situation at the time, and oh yeah, I wasn't dead. For the latter, I owe that to the magic of eggs.
I had some money saved from working part time at the bar next door, sharing my 300 square foot apartment with a boy with smelly feet for a month and $300 and what my parents had given me (I refused to tell them how bad my situation really was). With that money, I could buy food and my friend Emily and I would occasionally go out on a weekend and try to flirt with people who might buy our drinks. We were 23 afterall. Ever determined to not suffer from boredom and also not die, we had figured out that amongst the expensive grocery prices of Chicago, you could buy a dozen eggs for very little money which would allow us to have more money for fun things. If you do the math, 3 eggs per day will last you 4 days and a carton cost about $3. For less than $1 per day, I was able to cheat death!
Keep in mind, I was running a political campaign at the time and was leading several volunteers who were older and much better off financially than I was. So while I had meetings with rich donors, gave speeches to inspire people to participate and upheld the integrity of our campaign staff, I was living off eggs.
Emily even had it so bad as to consider trading her precious live saving source of protein in exchange for something else that we desperately needed, friends. We had often talked about how it was just the two of us taking on the city and how it would be nice to have a larger friend group. One night, two girls who lived somewhere on her floor knocked on her door and told her how they were cooking brownies but were short by 1 egg. They asked Emily if she had one that they could use and promised to bring her some of the brownies in return. Emily, ever determined to make more friends, happily traded her final egg and her morning breakfast for a brownie and more importantly, the opportunity to meet new friends. Unfortunately for her, it was very late and she fell asleep. When the girls came back later that night she never heard them knock. They left a brownie but no note and Emily had no idea which apartment they lived in. She had traded her last egg for a simple brownie.
At the time this was going on, I often wondered how on earth my life had descended to this. It was all too easy to look at what was around me and see despair. When I looked at all the negatives, I would well up with misery and feel like I would never accomplish anything. On the other hand, I was sometimes able to muster up the courage to look forward and say that no matter what, I can only go up from here. I am a douchey fan of cheesy quotes and one that I used to think of was one by Scarlet O'Hara, our heroine of the south in Gone With the Wind. "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."
I think the greater lesson at hand here is really a common one for most people who are trying to do anything with their lives. If you are content with living at home or never leaving your hometown then this is not for you. You will not be able to understand what it is like to try and fail or to try and succeed because you never even tried. For those of you who do try or want to try, don't be afraid of failure but don't expect not to fail and most of all, remember that failing is often just your destiny nudging you in the right direction. Eating eggs to survive isn't as bad as it sounds. If you cook them right, they taste pretty damn good.