It is human nature to try and find patterns. In what we do, what other people do, in your peas at the dinner table.
When I got my fifth ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ text from someone I had been seeing (which was also the third ‘I’m getting back together with my ex-girlfriend, see ya’ text) in the last couple years I couldn’t help but think it might be me. This, despite every assurance that it was not me. Unfortunately, none of these gentlemen advanced past the cliché. My taste is possibly the problem.
As a results oriented person dwelling on the problem was not going to be enough. The potential solutions appeared to be market myself as a professional reunite-er:
“Take me out and your Ex will take you back in two months or less – guaranteed!”
Or, I could try my best to interrupt the pattern. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, so this seems the healthier, if less lucrative, option.
I’m not totally sure what that looks like yet, but I feel as though not being quite so nice about being set aside like last week’s box set is a good place to start.
And so, to keep to this new resolution I decided to forgo my usual ‘It’s alright, no hard feelings’ response. It might be true, and, clearly, none of them were my soul mate, but that doesn’t mean I have to make it easy.
When I finally texted back this last time I said the only thing that could be said,
“I’m not wearing any underwear”
There are so many things that girls do when they are getting ready to go out. And a few extra things when getting ready to go out on a first date. Even with hours of preparation, part of you is always ready for something to go, if not wrong, then not quite right. That’s why you bring three different lip products, a pen, and a bottle opener (just me?). But there are some things you do not worry about. Things you take for granted. Things like your ability to open doors.
It’s the sort of thing that I would normally chalk up to being the kind of incident that would and could only happen to me, except that is not the case. My first thought when I realised I could not open a door was that a friend of mine had been in the exact same situation months before and I hadn’t really understood what she meant. But I did now. So, of course I texted her to let her know that she was not alone. But I was. Trapped on the wrong side of a door I could not open.
How did I get from first dates to locked doors? And were the authorities involved? No, legal action was not taken against my date, but a friend did later suggest that I was technically a hostage. I feel it is important to share this story for the sake of preventing its repetition and simply making you feel less alone if this was once you and you thought you were the only one. Since the evening did include interaction with another person, who possibly does not want moments of their lives explicitly detailed on the internet, I hope you will forgive the necessarily vague descriptions.
Boy asked out girl. Girl met boy at restaurant. Boy and girl ate food. Boy and girl had drinks. Then they had some more drinks. Girl came in for one more drink. She was then more surprised than she should have been that drink was not only thing on boy’s mind. She very sensibly made her way to the door… and could not, for the life of her, open it. The knob turned but the door did not open. The lock flipped, but the door did not open. Boy could not conceptualize that girl couldn’t open a door (nice of him really) and continued wooing efforts. Girl used wiles to get boy to open door for her and ran away home.
Don’t be that girl. There’s no living it down. I still have no idea how he opened the door.
Just because you get to know a person does not make them any less a person. And just because you like a person does not mean you use them for the things you like and leave the rest.
Too many people are treating the romantic interests in their life like their own personal stash of flavoured jams lined up on a shelf. Strawberry for Mondays. Grape on the weekends. Raspberry for special occasions. But putting people back on the shelf when you’ve had enough, and have a taste for something a bit different, and then picking them up when you remember how nice they were, is a pretty shit thing to do. Because while jam comes with a handy lid that maintains the status quo while your off on a multi flavoured jam frenzy, people do not.
I get it. They are all sweet, and colourful, and shiny in their own special way. And every time you open a new one they make that really satisfying, sucking, pop sound. But if you take a few bites off the top and set it back down again you are left with someone who feels a bit hollow and can’t help but wonder why you picked up the spoon in the first place.
So, you don’t like seeds. Or pulp. Fine, no problem. Pass it along to someone else. Don’t leave the jam on the shelf, missing all the good bits, until it’s lost all the appeal it ever had. It isn’t fair to the jam, or your new jam, or other jam lovers. Sure, life isn’t fair, but that is no excuse to go around buying up every flavour of jam you can find only to let it sit in the pantry until you are in the mood for it. I know you take a bite here and there to keep it shiny on top, and honestly that’s worse. Pass it along to someone who really really likes apricot. There are starving children in the world.
People are not meant to sit on shelves waiting for willing spoons. Don’t be that spoon. And don’t be that jam. You are not raspberry jam.
Pretend for a second that these are your favorite pair of underwear (this may be awkward for you if you are a male person, but just go with it). What scenario would justify wearing them? A date? Your birthday? Tuesday? Not until your 20th wedding anniversary?
How we include our favorite things in our lives can be very telling about how we are as people, I think. For a very long time I have had a favorite everything- shirt, plate, lipgloss, scissors, pen, and, of course, underwear- and got a weird sense of satisfaction out of not using it. I would come up with elaborate fantasy scenarios for the circumstances that would give me the permission to use or wear whatever it was. This nail polish is so perfect and beautiful, and cost three dollars more than any other nail polish I own, so I will only wear it when I go out for strawberry milkshakes with my true love. Cut to finding this four dollar bottle of nail polish in the back of a drawer (which it was fused to) looking semi-exploded and a completely different color than it started because it is so old and gross.
I do still believe it’s nice to save some things for special occasions, but what qualifies as a special occasion should be something that is likely to occur in the regular course of your life at least two or three times a year, or more depending on the longevity of the item. The logical reasons for this include expiration dates (not always just a suggestion), value, and the very nature of indulgence. Lots of things are at their best when they’re fresh, and not just the perishables. Clothes go out of fashion and handbags get much less dusty if you use them. And if you’ve bought something because you love it more than the usual things in your life then it’s purpose for existing, and your purpose in buying it, are squandered by it’s being put on a pedestal of seclusion.
It took me a long time to realize this was stupid, and even longer to do something about it. Now that I have consciously become someone who does and uses what they like I’m extremely aware of it and hyper appreciative when I do. And I have to say it’s so much better than not doing it or using it- as you probably knew, because you are not a freak with a five year old sample pouch of luxury shampoo.
While “you’re worth it” (and you are), “life is short”, and “YOLO” these extreme philosophies shouldn’t be necessary to get into the practice of enjoying your life. Definitely keep a nice bottle of champagne in the fridge in case something exciting happens, but if no one has commited their lives to you or decided to give you more money by the end of the year, then drinking it while you eat pie and watch your Buffy the Vampire Slayer box set in novelty leggings is a worthwhile special occasion.
She walked onto new shores, with that glint of hope in her eyes. She thought the mail would be just like her postal service back home. Respectful, always there when she called, putting everything she needed and asked for in her box at a convenient and predictable time (except on Sundays). Hillary would come home to her messages in a nice stack. Some words of love, others asking for money, but no one’s perfect. She hadn’t even thought to imagine that service would be so different in her new home.
Recklessly, she ordered boxes and boxes of things she needed for her new flat. “They’ll arrive at my door!” she thought, “I don’t have to carry thirty square feet of mattress pad across three boroughs on the tube!”. Little did she know this relationship would not be like her last. That she would be shackled to her home for days during regular business hours to have even the hope of a chance to see her mailman and receive her packages.
First, it was an email. “We’ll be by with one of your parcels today.” So she waited for three hours (mostly catching up on youtube videos) until, finally, she couldn’t take it anymore and thought she must take a shower or go mad. Naturally this is when her postie chose to arrive and her hopes of hanging up her clothes with the new coat hangers that were due to appear, were dashed. Another email came through minutes later, “I failed to deliver your order. I’ll try again tomorrow.” She knew what that meant. Hillary had heard of his kind. Just like the cable company. Keeping you waiting all day. Never vacuuming or doing dishes for fear you might miss the knock on the door and sentence yourself to another day of this anxious, anticipatory hell. She even went so far as to change her clothes in hopes that the temptation of being both half naked and trapped in her shirt would be too much for fate to resist and a knock would sound at the door.
She can’t help but wonder, how does a country that once ruled the world function this way? Building relationships based on fear and blackmail is no way to find love, or operate a postal service. She now sees why we had that revolution. The windows, the paper, the tea, and wasting your life away waiting for the Royal Mail. She ordered coat hangers from Fife. Hillary can only imagine waiting for all of your worldly belongings in Jamestown, wondering if they’re coming via freaking rowboat across the Atlantic while you fend off native peoples with nowhere to bloody sit down because all your chairs are in the parcel!
In the early afternoon the knock finally came! (And there was actually a person on the other side of the door, unlike the first three times she answered it to no one) And just like the desperate neglected girlfriend she had become she thanked the postman profusely and took her package into her warm embrace. He doesn’t know there is another way. And she still has five more boxes coming so she really needs not to piss him off. This controlling relationship will continue so long as she lets it. Or until she stops ordering things. Or moves back to America. But he still has something she wants, namely her stuff. And so she waits. Peeking through the curtains and running to the door at every noise until she gets what she craves.
I love my boyfriend so much. We are really good together. He’s always there when I need him, and I love being close to him when I feel bad, and when I feel really good. There is no one better to celebrate with or have with me after a long week.
Things aren’t perfect. When I was younger I couldn’t get enough of him and I never got tired of having him around. But as I got older that constant attention took its toll. I started to gain weight and get headaches, until I could really only be around him every once in a while. But ultimately we found a balance in our relationship and moderation really has been the key to our everlasting love. He understands when I need him and I know he’s there for me, even when I have to handle something on my own.
As Valentine’s Day approaches we have very special plans together. On this one special day there will be no moderation, only indulgence and excess. We will be with one another constantly and I look forward to every minute. And when the holiday is over we will return to our well-honed relationship based on trust, understanding, and love, and he’ll give me just enough distance that I still crave him at the end of the day.
Because our love is true. And my boyfriend is sugar.
While it is refreshing and noble to make grand declarations of all that we will do and change with ourselves in the coming year, I present a new kind of resolution: Give yourself a break.
I have no idea how all of the people I have heard about giving up alcohol for the month of January plan to pay their credit card bill from the holidays without a cocktail in their hand. Perhaps you have had time off or been spending time with your family (whether that’s a pleasant experience for you or not). Does this really seem like the ideal time to give up carbs cold turkey? Because you are going to be miserable if all you are eating is cold turkey.
This is not to say that goals are not a good thing, because they are. And goals should certainly be in the spirit of self-improvement, but they should also manifest with a nod to humanity. Moderation and exceptions for reality are everything. Of course we should all be working out more regularly, but you’re going to need to use your legs tomorrow and thirty minutes on the elliptical totally counts. When you said you were going to be more patient, considerate, and kind you have to include treating yourself that way as well.
We do not live in bubble-like microcosms where we can do whatever we decide instantaneously. Other things and people are going to get in your way, and the least you can do is not be one of those obstacles. Have an overall goal, then break it up into smaller goals, then break those up again. If you accomplish sixty percent of your tiny goals this year then you are doing amazing. And you get to have extra cake and booze. Confidently allow yourself to enjoy your life, make mistakes, and fail.
Be good, be better, be yourself.
Happy New Year.