I was in New York City last week and you can’t spend more than an hour there without pondering the idea of coolness. Am I cool? Am I not? These are the kind of soul-searching questions I ask myself. And the conclusion I came to? I am, in fact, incredibly cool. Let’s look at the facts, though:
1. I am 38, which is middle-aged no matter how much I don’t want it to be.
2. I drive a minivan. It’s a joke on wheels. A minivan! Why don’t I just start wearing mom-jeans while I’m at it?
3. I live in the suburbs. Not only that but I live in a neighborhood where my house is one of ten floor plans that residents can choose. In other words, bland and ordinary.
As a teenager I fantasized about the stunning London townhouse I’d live in when I grew up. And my swanky job at an art gallery. And my dashing French millionaire husband.
Didn’t quite work out that way. But I’m fine with it. Not just fine with it; delighted with it. What does a sixteen-year-old know about being happy? Not a whole lot. Teenagers (and, sadly, many adults) equate coolness with clothes and hairdos and purses. But those are fleeting and silly. How many dreadful people have nice outfits, great highlights and a $300 bag?
What is cool, then? How can I, a subdivision-dwelling, Costco-clothes-wearing mom, arrive at a self-diagnosis of “cool”? Here it is: Cool isn’t about stuff. If you think it is, then you are not and will never be cool.
Cool is about being. Cool is about attitude. It is confidence. It is living deliberately. It is courage to be who you are.
Take my minivan, for example. It has a lazy-Susan under the floor. Cool. I can pile two-weeks worth of groceries on top of the double stroller and there’s still plenty of room in the back. Cooler. I can open its doors with the flick of a finger. Coolest. Let’s see you try that, Mr. Mercedes Convertible! Your little silver hood ornament can only take you so far. So what if people say my car is lame? I say it’s not. I say it’s just about the sweetest ride on four wheels. I say it’s cool. And I believe it. I make the car; the car does not make me.
Coolness transcends the house and the car and the wardrobe. It’s in the attitude. It’s not sheepish; it’s not embarrassed.
In other words, coolness can stroll along Fifth Avenue kicking up its outlet mall heels.