February 5, 2013
When Lauryn Hill Talks to Me in My Sleep About Boys
"Calm down, it doesn't matter, pour another drink, no one will care."
Nora Ephron speaks to my soul. I texted my best friend today to ask her if she has ever read any Ephron before, because she focuses a whole lot on food, and cooking, and recipes, and, relatively surprisingly, I do not care so much about food and cooking. I like to bake, but I am not a baker. I eat well, healthily, but I am not a cook. I enjoy bringing food to events, but there is always someone who is more interested in concocting a fancy souffle dish that I would never dream of creating. I am a homemade chocolate chip cookies girl, but I do not aspire to one day be featured in a cookbook, or even a baking blog. This is the great thing about reading Ephron, though: not only am I inspired to write because she reminds me of myself, but I am inspired to write because she reminds me of the people I love the most. And she makes me hungry, but that's okay, too.
I wish I lived in the days of no guilt; the days where having a glass or two of wine every night was acceptable. The days in which gin was kept in the home, not consumed all in one night by a group of people. Sometimes, I wish laptops, and smart phones, and iPads were not accessible, or even real, but a deck of cards, a white russian, and a conversation were my only options. Sometimes, oftentimes, I wish I knew no one, that I was paid to write in my bedroom with a moleskin notebook and a thin point sharpie, and nothing else. I wish I did not have the option to hear Lauryn Hill's voice, I could only rely on the rainfall, or the breeze of the wind, or the creak of my upstairs neighbor for comfort.
I wish I liked animals, because sometimes I think having a cat to curl up to me sounds really sweet. Sometimes, I think puppies are really fantastic creatures, and sometimes I find them wholly obnoxious.
I think the same about children.
They say happiness is a warm gun, and maybe it is, because I don't really understand that phrase, and I don't really understand the concept of happiness.
I think people who say they dislike The Beatles are lying.
A year ago, I was desperate to be in a relationship. After my ex-boyfriend, the love of my life, the very love of my whole entire life, broke up with me (again), I wanted a boyfriend so bad. I would have been anyone's girlfriend. I flung myself head first into anything that could potentially resemble a relationship, and none of it worked out. A year later, I sat on my couch, staring blankly at the wall, barely able to finish my first glass of wine, admitting that I think all relationships are bullshit. I can name (and I will not name them) two relationships that I think are legitimately true, and honest, and inspirational, and beautiful. I know people in relationships that suppress themselves for one another (as I did in mine, subconsciously). I know people who do not value the most beautiful things about one another in relationships, and I wonder how they can possibly be with a person who does not appreciate how hilarious they are? I know people who have entirely different political stances, but instead of discussing them with one another, they ignore it and pretend that "opposites attract." No, opposites do not attract, opposites suppress. Similarities suppress. Relationships suppress.
Everyone--everyone--criticized my relationship the first time we were together. We did not have a label, we did not say "Boyfriend" or "Girlfriend." He did not know my family, we did not attend social events together, we did not hold hands in public, we did not declare ourselves "in a relationship" on facebook. But he came home to me every night after a stressful work shift. He drove me home every night, even when it was way out of his way, when we were hanging out together at our mutual friends' home. He held me when I cried, and he made me talk when I did not want to talk. It was my longest relationship, that relationship that was not a relationship. What if I want that again, not with him? What if I do not want a boyfriend so that someone can keep me company at toddler birthday parties, or weddings? What if I just want the companionship, without the title? Because the title implies something else: a future that I may or may not want.
I go back and forth, but I do not want to get married. I do not want a wedding. I look down on women that change their last name for a man. I look down on people who spend thousands of dollars on a party that lasts for a few hours, or a dress that they will never wear again, ever in their lives. I look down on wedding vows, on people who commit to each other when they know that their marriage will likely not last past the five, ten, fifteen year mark. I don't know; I guess I just look down on everyone.
My mother cheated on almost every man she was ever with, at least I think she did. My perception of my mother when I was a little girl may be skewed, but I saw through her aimless "I love yous" to the men she chose to pretend she could commit herself to. I think she loved our fathers; her children's fathers, because when a child comes from a relationship, it must mean more than all of the other old white men named James, or Chris, or Mike that she met in bars, restaurants, at work. What does love have to do with it, anyway? I don't blame her for trying to love, in fact, I love her for trying to love. No one was ever going to compare to my father, or to my stepfather, so what does it matter at this point? Neither of my fathers were my mother's soulmate, but do I even think soulmates are a thing?
I woke up with a Bible verse stuck in my head, but Lauryn Hill was singing it, and this is a true story.
Let me be patient, let me be kind.
I laughed, actually laughed, even though I was distraught that the clock read "3:55" and I had to get up or I would be late for work. I chuckled because I love my subconscious, much more than I love my conscious, because I knew what I had been thinking about in my dreams. Because I try to be fine, and I sleep stuff off, and I am full of life and fervor and joy at all times, but in the back of my mind, I am continually troubled. Because I put too much pressure on myself, because I expect the world, because I do not want a boyfriend, or a husband, but I still fall in love, continually. Because I lamented doors never closing, and when they do, I shut them so hard that others fly open. Because I can never quite articulate exactly how I am feeling, but I will always try to articulate how I am feeling.
Because I met someone two years ago, almost exactly that gets me, in all aspects of how a human can "get" a human, and it drives me crazy. Because when we met, he told me that he liked that my spelling and punctuation were "impeccable," and that I was funny, even though I don't think I'm all that funny. Because I hated that guy, hated him, until I thought he was dead, and I burst into tears when I heard his stupid voice on the phone telling me that he was in fact not dead, but just slept through his alarm in the middle of the afternoon; because when I used his full name and told him I hated him, he could only respond, "you cried?! You like me?!" which only made it worse. Because when I met him, he bragged about seeing through people, knowing everything, all of the time, and because I did not believe him, but two years later, he was always right about me, and about us, but he frustrates me as much as he ever has, but all of a sudden, everything is more meaningful.
For me, time is a thing. If you put your time in, and your effort, I am more apt to appreciate you/it/us/everything.
I like speaking to "four years ago," or ten, or two, or five. I like anniversaries. I like knowing where I was a year ago, or five years ago. I like comparisons, and contrasts. I like thinking one thing, and being totally wrong about it.
I used to sit in the back room and tell one of my dearest coworkers (almost four years now) that I was definitely, one hundred percent going to marry one of two boys I knew sometime ago. It was definitely going to be one of them, just because it had to be one of them. This same woman wouldn't let me go today, hugged me tight, and told me that my wisdom was so widespread these days. She told me she loved watching me grow, that she grew wiser through me (and so vice versa, this girl), and that she always rooted for this other guy. This frustrating man who she knows well, as well.
I used to think if I could not see myself in a relationship, like if I could not see myself as So and So's Girlfriend, it was not a realistic relationship, but you know what? I hate the word "girlfriend," and I always have. I think it is the grossest word, the most insignificant, almost offensive title. I do not want to be anyone's girlfriend. I want to be Jessica, and if I fall in love, or have always been in love, I do not want that Jessica to change. I do not want to be a thing to someone, I just want to stay Jessica, and have someone be in love with me, as well.
"You have the most attractive personality of anyone I have ever met, and you are beautiful on top of that, so."
I have no problem telling men how I feel, but men always have a problem telling me how they feel. Is it an age thing? A maturity issue? A delusion of mine--potentially no man who I think loves me has ever actually loved me?
Maybe it is all of that, maybe it is everything, maybe I wish I was born an introvert, because no one falls in love with introverts, or at least multiple people do not fall in love with introverts.
Let me be patient, let me be kind, make me unselfish without being blind.
And I feel those words, and I live them. My patience is admirable, impressive, existent beyond my own realm of understanding myself.
Though I may suffer I'll envy it not, and endure what comes, cause he's all that I got.
And Miss Hill is probably talking about Jesus, but I am not, or maybe I am. Maybe when I dream, I am a young, vulnerable, god-fearing individual.
I am substitute managing a coffee shop right now. I have twelve people who look up to me, and ask me questions, and maybe some of them hate me, but I think most of them love me, and I love them all right back. And there is power and strength in my job, every single morning when I head to work at an insanely early hour, I feel confident. I am most myself at work, when I am in my comfort zone, around people I love like family members.
I was walking outside with a huge stack of cardboard on Sunday morning. I will let men open the door for me, gladly, but if a man offers me help with a stack of cardboard, I am immediately offended; as if I have been waiting for a man all of this time? Thank god you came, sir! There is four years of cardboard stacked in the back because I cannot do this without you! I do not damsel-in-distress well. But even worse, a man catcalled me, "I like the way you break down that cardboard, baby," and I didn't skip a beat in saying, "man, I would not talk to a woman holding a box cutter like that ever again," and he left, wordlessly.
You have quite the talent for making men feel very, very small, Jess.
Well, it is not my job to fluff men up.
I want to be alone, until I am one day, accidentally not.
I have been acting morally superior for years, but I stumbled recently. I did not remove myself from a situation that I should have removed myself from, but sometimes, you just do not want to do the right thing. Who is it "right" for anyway? You, or her? I do not like pitting women against women, but sometimes, you just know a thing, and sometimes, it is okay to not be the best person in every situation.
I am not a bad person, I tell myself every night before I fall asleep. I don't know if I believe it or not quite yet.
Living just to find emotion.
I can tell you this thing, this thing sitting heavy on my heart and mind, is the first thing I cannot label. I don't know if it's love, or if it's jealousy, if it is my future, or my past, or my completely irrelevant distraction from everything else. I do not know if my vulnerability is realistic, or scary, or sad, or a facade. I do not know if it is touching, or sweet, or cute that everyone--everyone--who knows the two of us compare us to Jess and Nick, or Harry and Sally, or Ron and Hermione, or all of the cute bickery/back and forths in pop culture.
I don't know if it is because people like my life like they like those fictional lives, or if it really is us.
"I like him best when he's around you. I don't know what it is--you bring out his realness."
I don't know, guys. I know nothin'.