“i couldn’t just order myself to become one of those people who do go out before the rest, who stand and intercept the big social ray, or collect and concentrate it like burning glass, who glow and dazzle and make bursts of fire. it wasn’t what i was meant to be.”—The Confessions of Auggie March
I feel like I’ve given up on you. You were once the things that set me apart from everyone else. Whereas everyone else wanted ivy league schools and med school and big houses and a shitload of money, I had you: images of being a bartender in exotic locale speaking in fake accents, me on an elephant in India on a sabbatical, fake mental movies of me getting a chance to show and teach teenagers the amazing history of Civil Rights South, my imaginary animal sanctuary. Blue hair. Nose rings. Tattoos. At one point, even dreadlocks! All with mini skirts and stilettos. Examining the world from the smallest bug on the ground to the biggest cloud in the sky, and loving every second of it.
What happened to me? When I left high school, I thought I finally had the whole world opened up to me, and my adventures were finally setting into place. But I’m starting to realize that I’m just like everyone else. Now I walk through my boring life uninspired, unexamined, and completely oblivious to the beauty around me because I’m mentally balancing my bank account. I become everything I didn’t want to be.
Please come back to me. Please pull me out of reality once again. I would rather spend an entire day thinking of you than one hour living in my real life once school starts.
I’ve disappointed you. I’ve disappointed myself. And now I’m among the ranks of millions.
I know that you’ve tried and worked your hardest over the years to provide for us. I know that you gave up opportunities that most single moms can’t give their children. I hate that it came around to bite you in the ass. Sometimes I really wonder and try to figure out the grand scheme of things… I thought that if you were a good person, good things came to you. I find it harder and harder to watch you roll with the punches. I hope you catch your break soon.
There are no words. You are the biggest coward I have ever had the misfortune of meeting. Although I don’t believe your stupid ass stepson, if you are regretting your broken ties with your children, GOOD. I hope that’s your last thought on your death bed. And I hope that day in and day out, someone new comes into your life and judges you based on your ridiculous actions. You’re a drunk, you’re a nobody, and I’m pretty sure you have some mental issues that you passed down to my oldest brother. I hope you’re happy, sitting on your heaps of money. They sure got you far. Just know that no matter what, even if you’re dying a painful, long, and agonizing death and your final wish is to see me, I will never be there. I wouldn’t even shed a tear.
I don’t have a crush— been with my boyfriend for four years (!) this October…but, how about my long term high school love interest?
Dear Unrequited Former Love Interest,
You know, when we hung out for the first time in years a few Decembers ago, I think that’s when I finally realized that I WASN’T crazy. You TOTALLY should have dated me.
Throughout our high school years, I listened faithfully from the locker next to yours about the stuck up girls, the clingy girls, the high maintenance girls, the girls that didn’t want you because you were too nice. And oh, how I cringed whenever I saw the pictures in your locker of each new blonde, bimboed girlfriend. It’s true, I felt that way all through high school. I would have dropped any boyfriend for you, I would have dropped any plans for you, I would have dropped my pants for you :)
But I suppose you never noticed me, or the timing was all wrong, or something like that. On the night of our graduation, when we were all walking to our cars, tired as hell in the early morning hours, I thought it would happen. We were the last two, and we parked our cars next to each other— as usual— and we stood there and hugged for a good long time, and then you grabbed my hands and I thought maybe you had finally made up your mind, maybe you knew. But then we both drove away, and I didn’t hear from you until months and months later… in a relationship. I cried that night. Not because I was done with high school, fuck that, but because I realized it was just never meant to happen.
So there we were in December, driving in your car, and once again you’re bitching about all the debutante stuck up high maintenance girls you seem to date, and you asked me if I could do anything with my life, what it would be. And I just started ticking off all of my ideas: working with elephants, taking a tour of the European theatre of WWII that match up with the dates, start an enormous waterfowl sanctuary, help build schools in other countries, never work in my life. And when I finished, you said that those sounded like some of the best life plans you’ve ever heard, in all sincerity.
You should have dated me. And I think that’s when you knew.
I’m happy to say that I found someone better, and no, I would not drop him for you, even if you begged :)
Nine years ago, I would have found it incredible that we would end up in this situation. All the sleepovers, braces, drunk nights, and saved AIM conversations went to nothing, and every ounce of compassion we once had for each other faded away.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m just being hardheaded for not answering your occasional facebook message asking how I am, whether my pride is getting in the way of seeing clearly. But lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that my silence is deserved. This wasn’t some situation where we were kind of friends, then we had a petty fight, then we lost touch because we went to different schools. At one point, we would have done anything for each other, shit yo, we got MATCHING TATTOOS. But when I looked back on the last three years we were friends, I see now that it should have ended awhile back.
Without sounding arrogant, I feel really sorry for you that you don’t have a friend in me anymore. I was the one who would fight your battles when you were too upset, or too unsure of what to say. You could have believed 2+2=5, and even though I would have discreetly told you that you were indeed mistaken, in front of everyone else I woulda been like FUCK YEA IT’S FIVE WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?! I always had your back, and no matter what personal issues were going on between us, I would be there for you in your times of need. When I said negative things, they were never putting YOU down. I always thought that you were better than the people you wanted so desperately to like you. And ultimately, you cared more about them than me. So it goes.
But I don’t feel sorry for myself. And without trying to sound mean, I don’t miss you. In fact, the only times I find myself wishing I could talk to you is when I’m trying to remember someone’s name, or I see someone from middle school and it’s funny. And is that really something to base a friendship on?
You told me that you wanted to be friends again after unpacking a picture of the two of us from freshman year. That motivated you to give me a half-assed apology and zero explanation while in a crowded car on the way to a party two hours away. A picture is nothing. And I can look at them all the time without feeling a thing.
We had a good run, a lot of good times, but I would never put the effort into rebuilding a friendship with someone who could walk away for no reason. It’s not selfishness, or pride, or stubborness, it just is what makes sense. Time does not fade me.
If you could completely change your life, “fix it,” if you will, what would you do and how?
Have been thinking about things in my life lately, and how they’re not quite going the way they need to be. There’s a calling in me for something more, but I’m just waiting for the pieces to come together. Just wanted to throw a line out to tumblr and see if anyone else felt the same way?
“you can get along twenty-nine days with your trouble, but there’s always that thirtieth day when goddamnit, you can’t, when you feel like the stinking fly in the first cold snap, when you look about and think you’re the old man of the sea on Sinbad’s deck; and why should anybody carry an envious piece of human junk?”—
A few days before, I had just found out that my first love (who had recently dumped me) had been sleeping with another girl for the last month of our relationship. In my silly mind, I couldn’t fathom how someone could actually operate in that way. To get back at him, I dressed to the nines every morning before I started my long days of doing nothing.
Right before mid-terms, I decided to go up to the mall and sit in Barnes and Noble with an endless supply of Starbuck’s to study all the material I never learned because I spent all my time with my ex. So there I sat, diligently flipping through pages of notes and textbooks and, in my mind, looking mighty important and stressed out and busy, when you came and asked if you could steal a chair at my table. It was that pre-Christmas rush at the mall, so the whole place was packed. I said go for it, and you picked a random book off the shelf and started flipping through it.
I paid you no mind until I heard you start chuckling to yourself and to my dismay, when I looked up, you were looking straight at me. In a typical TV sitcom move, I looked behind me thinking that SURELY you’re not laughing at a complete stranger. But you were. “What’s funny?” I asked.
"You look ridiculous," you kept laughing.
"Uhh…" Never in my life had anybody ever approached me like this.
"You’re earrings. They look ridiculous. They’re too big." My earrings— huge, dangling hoops that practically took over my head— were the staple of my high school wardrobe at that point in time. I simply thought they made me look fabulous.
"Wow," I said, completely shell-shocked. "Any other problems with my wardrobe?"
"Yeah, actually, your shirt is too shiny." My shirt was another ‘fabulous’ wardrobe staple: pink, from Express, with tons of shiny sequins flowing down the front of it. I legitimately cringed when I went back and saw it at my mom’s house a few weeks ago.
And somehow, it worked. For the next six hours, we sat there and talked about cabbages and kings and our whole lives. Why not? We knew we would never see each other again. You were in the military, on leave at this point in time and visiting your family. You told me stories of brotherhood, destruction, war, and youth. I told you stories of family, melodramatic high school break up, and English papers. The one thing we did not know, however, was each others’ names.
So the mall was getting ready to close, and we needed to go to our respective homes and continue with life when finally you said, “I don’t even know your name!” Why it mattered, in this pre-Facebook era, I’ll never know. Just seemed like something we needed to do. I, being an open book, told you my name right off the bat. But you said you’d only tell me your name if I kissed you.
Now, kissing strangers is something I just don’t do, even now. So I played coy and hard to get, but we kissed. And although it was short and innocent and in public, it might have been one of the best kisses of my life. Maybe because I knew that’s where it started and began. And when you hugged me goodbye, you said in my ear not to worry about my ex, or even boyfriends for that matter, because all high school guys were pretty much assholes and that I should never change for ANYONE.
I don’t know if you actually meant that, most likely it was some bullshit canned response you came up with after stealing a kiss. But I never forgot it. It’s funny how simple advice from a stranger, who has no bearing on your life, can mean so much.
Every Sunday, when they list off all the soldiers killed in the war for the week, I look for your name, Lesley. And every Sunday, in church, when the time comes to pray for our armed forces, you are still always on my list. I hope you’re alive, happy, healthy, and well.
What can I say? I was in a slump. It literally took every ounce of being in me to stop feeling sorry for myself, get my ass off the floor, and get a ride to your mansion.
It was just a random “girl’s night” plus the guy I’d only been in love with since the first day of high school. I tried to look nice. I tried to be entertaining. But at this point in life, it wasn’t happening.
So we walked in a group of about thirteen to the restaurant in your neighborhood. One group talked about swimming, because that’s all they ever did. Another group talked about skiing, because that’s all THEY ever did. And the rest talked about partying, because that’s all they liked to do anymore. I just was there— not a skier, a swimmer, and not yet a partier.
At dinner, I was crunched to the head of the table. Everyone chatted amongst themselves, while I—with eyes turned to the ceiling— wondered why I thought this might be a good idea to come. On the walk back to your place, it started drizzling. Everybody paired up and laughed about getting drenched, or half-heartedly complained about the cold. I walked alone.
Well, the boy I was in love with left, and we turned on some stupid movie, when all of a sudden I noticed that literally every single girl in the room had changed into their pajamas, or at least more comfortable clothes. It was at that exact moment when I realized that everybody else had been invited to spend the night except for me. I frantically texted my brother for a ride home— can someone really do that?! I thought they only did it in movies!
When I picked up my purse, saying my brother had arrived and that I needed to go, I looked straight at you. I don’t think I had felt that alone in a long time, and I felt mighty stupid being the only one leaving. But when I looked you in the eyes, I saw that you didn’t exclude me to be mean, or bitchy, or bitter… I just wasn’t enough of something to stay the night. And I understood it.
Now, I look back on that moment, and I think to myself….”Wow was I fucking emo!”
Been working my ass off at a law firm for a temp job…living in a hotel while the house gets tiled…and still no money for the bar or anything different and out of the ordinary. I guess what I’m saying is… a wee too busy to talk about memories.
“i want to live each day for itself like a string of colored beads, and not kill the present by cutting it up in cruel little snippets to fit some desperate architectural draft for a taj mahal in the future.”—sylvia plath
“You ever wonder what a Martian might think if he happened to land near an emergency room? He’d see an ambulance whizzing in and everybody running out to meet it, tearing the doors open, grabbing up the stretcher, scurrying along with it. “Why,” he’d say, “what a helpful planet, what kind and helpful creatures!” He’d never guess that we’re not always that way: that we had to, oh, put aside our natural selves to do it. “What a helpful race of beings,” a Martian would say.”—
In honor of not having to work on my birthday for the first time in FIVE YEARS, I’d like to take a moment to commemorate birthdays of old.
2010- 21- So excited to have my first legal drink, I informed everybody we were leaving for the bar at 11:50 on July 2. Obviously, I didn’t want my first drink to be a BEER, so in a deer in the headlights moment, I ordered the first mixed drink that popped into my head: Long Island Iced Tea.
Not a good idea to get at a veteran’s bar, where they fill your cups with booze and then just kind of wave the mixer around in front of it.
Home by three. Up by 10. Boss man put me to work with literally the most evil, obnoxious, and annoying Morroccan lady ever. Sent home by four because she wouldn’t stop bitching. Couldn’t even enjoy my Chili’s birthday dinner since I was so hungover.
2009- 20- Just got a new job two days before and couldn’t have been more stoked about it! Worked at open, and my new boss (the one that would later send me to work with the annoying woman while hungover) let me out at 2 with a brand new dress FO FREE!
My room mates (in my first apartment) threw me a surprise birthday party. One of them was up all night making a HOMEMADE birthday cake…even the frosting she whipped up by herself. We gorged. We drank margaritas all night. And had a lovely joint birthday party with my neighbor, who also was born on the blessed day of July 3. Hungover next day at work, but it wasn’t too bad.
2008- 19- One of the BEST BIRTHDAYS EVER.
Probs am going to sound really lame, but I was working at summer camp with middle school kids, and it was honestly the best job I’ve ever had in my life. I adored it and never missed a day because my kids were so awesome (awww, how cute *gag*)
My kids all brought me in silly little cards that they made—which was awesome because they were soooooo past the card-making age, and two of them even brought in a birthday cake. One of my campers brought in a little Hotwheels car because my car had been totalled a month previous and I never got a new one. All in all, we all had a fabulous day together.
Went out to a fancy dinner with the momma after work and that was about it, seeing as I was in a different town so I didn’t quite have friends.
2007- 18- Unfortunately, at the high school age, the positioning of my birthday is a total inconvenience simply because everyone is stuck going and hanging out with their families at the beach….which is not where I lived. My old best friend was literally across the country, my boyfriend at the time was three hours away fucking his ex-girlfriend, and most of my other friends had to do family beach house things. But it’s okay.
Went with one of my oldest friends to the hookah bar and smoked the shit out of the hookah. Totally didn’t realize that even though it didn’t FEEL like it was bad for me, as a non-smoker I should take it a little easy. Had an awful, awful throat infection for the next week. Shitty birthday? Well…sorta.
2006- 17- Had to go in to work at my stupid sunglass stand in the middle of the mall. At this point in time I was such an angsty and cranky teenager that I “totally hated” all of my friends and didn’t want to deal with any of them.
Creepy boss said to his friend, “Only one more year now!” and gave me a pervy look, but it was okay because he wrote me a check for an extra $75…which, God only knows what I actually spent that money on. One of my co-workers got me a tiramisu from the California Pizza Kitchen in the mall, my favvveee dessert. And I thought the whole day of work was awesome just because a bunch of really hot guys came to my stand and chatted me up all day.
So the actual plans for this year’s birthday actually sound kind of fun! Innocent and easy going…. to all of those who share a lovely birthday with me, make the most of it and enjoy! :)
Real talk: I didn’t do shit in high school. And that was kind of a big deal at my college prep school where kids were giving themselves ulcers starting in the seventh grade. I just never could get into that mindset, so instead I would take cool trips, or drive to the duck pond and read, or hell, just pass by the exit to school on the highway and keep driving around for a class period or two. And all that was a hell of a lot of fun and I wouldn’t take it back for anything, but it surely wasn’t fun filling out college applications and realizing this stuff.
But somehow, with the help of a college counselor, I managed to flub and fluff my application enough so that it made me look like a decent student. Not terrible, but not outstanding either.
However, I never got the memo that it cost MONEY to even submit an application! So I only bothered to fill out two: my dream school….and then some random school that my mom and brother convinced me to apply to.
I had been dating you for almost two months at this point in time and it kind of sucked. We really didn’t connect all that much, we just went to the same parties and hung out with the same people and I thought you were cute and you thought I was cute and so we figured, Hey! Why not?
There were a lot of broken dates and disappointments and ventings to the best friend about how much you didn’t care, but there was also a lot of good making out and fun parties too. I got out of school early this afternoon, or maybe I just left, I don’t remember, but I met up with you and we went shopping together. At Target, we bought this HUGE frisbee that was about three feet in diameter and couldn’t wait to go and play with it.
We threw it around my front yard, and we played with puppies that were romping around, and we had Moe’s sitting on the hood of my car, and it was just an all-around great day. Then my mom got home, mail in hand, saying there was something for me.
My dream school. And it was the thin envelope. I felt my heart sink, so I threw the envelope on the counter listlessly, trying to pretend like I didn’t care. Fuck, yo, I was gonna go see Trans Siberian Orchestra that night! But my mom begged me to open it, so I did, and shockingly I actually got accepted. And just like all those cliched, silly college commercials they used to put on the air I jumped and I screamed and danced.
When I turned to you, I wanted to jump on you and give you a huge hug, but stopped in my tracks when I realized that you weren’t even smiling. Instead, you had this disappointed look in your eyes. So I ignored it, and just kept gushing about how excited I was to be moving out of that godawful state. Pretty soon, you fumbled an excuse out about why you had to go, and left half-heartedly.
Damn, what was your problem dude!? It’s not like we were even in love or anything! Couldn’t you have been the least bit happy? Because that was a major bummer, having my boyfriend indifferent to me getting into my dream school. But then I got into the car to go see Trans Siberian Orchestra and I was like whatevs and happy again because they were awesome.