Sunday, February 14, 2016

There’s a reason it’s called “falling in love...”

I decided to break the seal on a box of notebooks I wrote when I was in my early 20s (that I had packed and taped up in 1996). Reading my 22-year-old self fervently swear that she’ll never fall in love again makes me feel sad, mostly because she didn’t. Almost, but not really.

At 22, I was intensely passionate about many things—not eating red meat (the hormones! The red dye!), writing, feminism, literature (I had just discovered Anais Nin and Henry Miller, if that tells you anything), and love (again, the hormones!). I believed everyone had a soul mate just waiting for them out there in the world, and it was up to me to find him. Over a five year period, I recorded the turbulence of my love life in painstaking detail on page after page. I wrote about infatuations, crushes, obsessions, attractions, and love. Every time, it was the “real thing.” And every time, passion became my poison.

If these notebooks are an accurate depiction of what my I knew then, I can say I have learned a few things in years since. I no longer believe that everyone has one soul mate; I think we have many, and that people are drawn together by fate and circumstance. I no longer believe that such thing as an easy relationship exists or that the level of difficulty has anything to do with love.

I’ve also learned how to protect myself. After putting the pieces of a broken heart haphazardly back together time after time, I decided that spending the rest of my life shielding a heart of glass wouldn’t be a wise move. And I stopped letting other people in. 

Suppose love came knocking on your door. Would you turn it away with a “sorry, all stocked up on that here?” Pretend like you weren’t home? Chase it down the street with a baseball bat? Or would you open the door, smile, and thank it for being so punctual?

What I did was design a complicated mess of a barricade, complete with traps, skill tests, checklists, pulleys, ropes and, I think at one point, even a moat. If someone wanted in, he’d have to run the gauntlet, suffer the proving ground, navigate the emotional land mines, and pass every test. Should he make it through unscathed, I’d make certain he was sorry he even tried.

What I got for my efforts was a series of superficial relationships that never developed any depth or longevity. Or intensity. Or passion. And when they ended, I felt no more than a twinge of regret…a far cry from the anguish I experienced over breakups in my twenties. My thirties were not as melodramatic, but I sacrificed passion for peace.

I am not certain what I expected to find by reading the angst-ridden messages from my 22-year-old self. I hoped to discover that I am better off now than I was then, but I don’t think that’s true. I do mean it when I say I am happy being single, but I’m beginning to understand exactly what I’m missing out on by protecting myself so carefully. Without heartbreak, love and passion are watered-down versions of the real thing. Until now, I didn’t even realize that I missed the full-strength version.

There’s a reason it’s called “falling in love.” At its core is an element of letting go, even if you know there is turbulence ahead, that you’re signing up for an emotional roller coaster ride, and that it might end in tears. The only thing gained by crawling into your shell is, well, a really comfortable shell.

I’ll have to find a happy medium between being head over heels and in over my head if I want to experience the kind of intense emotion the 22-year-old me knew all too well. As for the happy ending, just consider me “in production”—I know that this movie won’t have an ending until I find a way to take heart instead of losing it.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Sharing the love and the weird...

Aleigh used to write these great blog posts on things her friends said via email (I think that's what it was called). I'm stealing the idea, except with texts. I didn't even ask if I could. The two of us and another friend, who I will call "Erin" (because that's her name), have had a years-long group text exchange. I can't remember when it started...sometime in the year after I moved to Austin...but I know it will probably last forever. I hope it will. They make me laugh like no-one else can.

Also science says having friends is just as important to your health as exercise. I text/talk to these two waaaaay many more minutes than I spend at the gym.

Two notes: 1) none of these texts are work-related and 2) many of the phrases are mine, but I'm not saying which ones; nor am I identifying the others.

  • You know you're getting older when you spend more money on makeup and food than booze.
  • Age defy all the things!
  • Dear god asparagus. Why? WHY? You know that scene in The Exorcist where the priest's mom goes "why Dimi why you do dis to meee?" That's what I feel like saying to asparagus after I pee.
  • Not that I have ever noticed. Maybe I just can't smell it!
  • My mother is taking pictures of her TV screen and texting them to me.
  • I need a million dollars, stat.
  • Quick get Satan and make a pact. 
  • I used to have him in my contacts but the last time I texted him he was all like "new phone who dis."
  • Satan is an asshole. I texted that I needed to remove four years from my life that I wasted on shitheads and all I got was LOL GRRRRRL.
  • You definitely need a lady's maid. 
  • I rang a fucking bell for some cottage cheese and blueberries like an hour ago and bitch still hasn't shown up. I HAVE TO WALK TO MY KITCHEN.
  • Please save me.
  • I think if I cried more often I'd be a better person.
  • Okya I’m drrunka.
  • Feel free to smack me the very next time you see me if I have become annoying.
  • Me when it was time to leave work for the holidays:

I love these group text exchanges. I live for them. There's an awful lot of talk about bodily functions, things that shall never be repeated, even if attributed anonymously. I have announced that I was renaming Thanksgiving "Bakesgiving." Once there was a three-day long exchange about malevolent vaginas. And it was funny as hell. But there was also a day-long exchange about the relevance of historic landmarks and whitewashing history (we have these sometimes so we remember that we're smart).

We live states apart, but laugh and cry together as much as we ever did when we lived in the same city. No matter what happens in my life here, these two are always in my pocket. I'm not very good at telling people how much they mean to me, but I have no trouble telling these two lifelines how much I love them. I hope everyone is so lucky.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The funny thing is...

Even when you stopped allowing the men in your life to break your heart, the thing that surprised you most was that it could still be broken — by Life, by Loss, by Things Outside of Your Control. Sometimes they didn’t just leave you and go somewhere else; sometimes they really left you and everything else in this world. When that happened, there was no ex. There was no second act, no breakup sex, and no opportunity to wait for him to come crawling back just so you could turn him away one last time.

Instead, you were left begging under the weight of the universe, asking Providence for one more chance, calling Fate at three o’clock in the morning to sob your heart out.

You did what a lot of girls do; you tried to move on. You went out nearly every night, hoping to run into Divine Intervention, or even Chance or Fortune—you weren’t picky then.

But no matter how alluring, no matter how charming, no matter how hard you tried to conceal your desperation, you brought evening after evening to a close with Grief.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Best American Horror Story yet (and I'm going to miss it so)...

There were a lot of plot inconsistencies and strange choices this season, definitely not as scary as AHS Murder House or AHS Asylum, but AHS Coven wins "Best AHS" on my list for one reason: Stevie effing Nicks.

Stevie made a guest appearance in one episode as a witch (and idol of Misty the Swamp Witch, see GIFs above), plus the season finale opened with "Seven Wonders" and an intro that harkens back to the olden days of swoony music videos. If you check out popular Google search terms for AHS Coven + Stevie Nicks, you can almost see all of the 20-somethings trying to find out who this magical, shawl bedecked, twirling pagan princess is and how they can buy the music. Here's hoping that Stevie got a huge iTunes bump from the show. Also that wearing black is the new black, because on Wednesdays they wear black.

Did you watch? Do you DIE? Shouldn't Jessica Lange and Angela Bassett be in a movie together? Is there any role that Kathy Bates cannot nail like a boss? Will you keep the Stevie Nicks episode on your DVR until you can buy the whole season online?
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