Should I stay or should I go (out)?

There comes a time in every twenty-whatever’s weekend where you have to make a difficult decision. It generally happens on a Saturday around 8 p.m., and becomes especially difficult if you’ve stayed out late on Friday and/or started with brunch that day. It’s the moment where you stop, reevaluate your current outfit for appropriateness and pay attention to your body for just a minute to see if there is any lingering hint of “I’ll have two shots and all of the beers” from the night before, via acid swirling in your stomach or drums playing on your brain. A quick check of the bank account balance, and then it’s decision time: Am I heading home for a hot date with popcorn and Netflix, or are we going out?

This is what happens when M and I stay in.

This is what happens when M and I stay in.

The most committed relationship I’ve ever been in is with my sweatpants. I love nothing more than sitting on my couch in my ratty college pants and an old sorority t-shirt, wrapped in blankets, engulfed by my lion’s mane of tangled weekend hair. However, this past weekend I had “rally” stamped across my forehead to remind myself that this would be an intense two days, as a joint birthday celebration for N and my partner-in-crime R was on the books. The original plan was to have a college-esque Friday night in a beer hall in the West Village, watching basketball and playing old card games, surrounded by massive beer steins and all of our friends, followed by a fancy Saturday in the Meatpacking, dressed to the nines, chasing cocktails with cute boys. It didn’t seem that daunting at the time – after all, this is a girl who went out a minimum of six nights a week in college, and even now can head out for happy hour that lasts till midnight and make it into the office for an 8 a.m. call with Europe. Staying in wasn’t part of the plan.

After “going out on Friday” turned into “getting home at 5 a.m. on Saturday,” I found myself in a tight spot the next night, grimacing through a pre-dinner beer with R and a few friends, suppressing the urge to burp what felt like carbonation for fear it would lead to me losing the contents of my stomach, trying to ignore the pound, pound, pound of my heartbeat resonating on the right side of my brain, beat please stop drinking beat I’m only going to make this worse for you beat are you sure you aren’t going to vomit? I was dolled up in my favorite jumpsuit and heels, torrential-rain-be-damned levels of makeup on my face and cash in hand for the $15 cocktails awaiting at Brass Monkey, and yet here I was, barely able to finish a Sam Summer, mood rapidly deteriorating as I realized that this night just wasn’t going to happen for me.

I triiiiiiied

I triiiiiiied

Sometimes the hardest decisions to make are the ones that are already made whether you realize it or not. That’s not a commentary on fate or pre-determined destiny, but at times, intuition tells us what we’re going to do in the end, waiting for your mind to catch up with your heart as you tell yourself there’s still a choice. On occasion, it’s a simple decision, like scrolling through Seamless pretending you aren’t just going to get your standard Thai takeout; and other times it’s more complicated, like walking away from a relationship where you haven’t been happy in months. It sucks when your intuition isn’t telling you what you want to hear: you want to believe you really are going to order tacos this time, that you’ll enjoy moving out of your apartment, that it’s possible to salvage a broken relationship. But sometimes, a poor decision is pushing yourself into something you’ve already decided you don’t want.

There was no way I was making it out on Saturday unless I wanted to subject the birthday girl to a night of me crouched over in the corner, dry-heaving and grimacing at anyone who came near; or condemn myself to a Sunday on the floor of my bathroom, likely handling a migraine, crippling nausea and deep, deep regret for that final old fashioned all in one. My birthday gift to R was taking my fun-police ass home to pass out in front of Saturday Night Live on my couch. I’m sure that me heading home won’t be the always be the case when I’m faced yet again with the eternal, “should I stay or should I go (out)” dilemma – after all, I wouldn’t have a blog if that were the case. But after waking up yesterday to my cat on my pillow and a clear head as I faced a full day of babysitting, cooking and cleaning, I’m pretty confident it was the right one in this case.

 

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PLD Montage (Vol. 1)

As we all do, from time to time I have ridiculous moments of questionable decision-origin that perhaps don’t warrant a blog post, nor the time spent on finding the perfect adjective and prose to tell a lesson, but deserve to be shared all the same. The past few weeks in particular in my life have been filled with moments that are embarrassing, and absurd, and so, so LB.

I know, I know.

I know, I know.

From time to time I think I’ll share these, just so I can give a full insight into the hijinks in which I find myself on the reg. Here’s a recent sampling, for your viewing pleasure:

  • I slipped in my shower recently and gave myself a GNARLY bruise directly on my elbow. What I’ve been telling people: that since my bathroom sometimes rains dirt from the ceiling, I had to clean it and probably slipped on leftover bathroom cleaner. What actually happened: I was dancing in the shower and took a spin a little too seriously.
    Lesson learned: You cannot pirouette on one leg while covered in soap. Or honestly, probably ever.
  • The other day I realized the sole of my favorite motorcycle boots had disconnected from the actual shoe. I promised myself I’d superglue it back on until I could get another pair. Then promptly forgot and wore them for the next three days with a broken sole.
    Lesson learned: You will trip up the stairs on the subway and bang your existing elbow-bruise if you try to wear broken shoes in the city.
  • The other day I touched something sticky on the subway, and after some minor gagging I practically ripped my purse apart looking for my hand sanitizer. Half a bottle later, I threw it back in the bag and continued on my way to work. It wasn’t till I went to pull out my building pass that I realized the sanitizer was, in fact, still open when I threw it back in there, and managed to expel itself all over my Kindle and the most recent copy of Vogue.
    Lesson learned: It’s not that hard to close a damn cap.
  • Preface: I have an unhealthy obsession with Garden Salsa Sun Chips. Not any other flavor – only the salsa ones. Yesterday I bought a bag thinking I would separate out normal-people portions so I would learn discipline and snack responsibly. Then I got bored and ate the whole bag.
    Lesson learned: You are an animal. Stop buying Sun Chips.
Eeeeh it's not like it's going anywhere...

Eeeeh it’s not like it’s going anywhere…

  • See that? That’s my lace curtain on the floor of my kitchen. It normally stays up with a tension rod, but obviously I bought the wrong size (who knew eyeballing isn’t accurate?), and so it fell the other day. Guess how long that stayed down there? Three days. I could not be bothered to deal with it for three. freaking. days.
    Lesson learned: Don’t be a lazy ass. Hang up your curtain. You are an adult.

Not everything in our lives has to be a big lesson, or regaled in such a way that makes it legendary. Sometimes it’s fun to laugh at the little things while you’re covered in bruises and Sun Chip dust, debating if you can hold off on scaling your kitchen window for one more day.

Spontaneously Permanent

This past weekend, while enjoying martinis at the Top of the Hub on a sunny Boston spring day, mama B, my sister T and I were joking around about everything and nothing, mama B’s recent travels, T’s impending engagement, my latest adventures on the NYC single scene. After three-quarters of a cosmo, mama B looked at me with an expression I know all too well, and asked her favorite question: “If I buy you a diamond stud for your nose, will you stop wearing that damn hoop?” I laughed, like I always do, and she sighed, like she always does, but then immediately started, dropping her bite of arancini back on her plate, jolted by a recent memory. She looked me up and down, narrowed her eyes and said “OH GOD I almost forgot. You didn’t get that third tattoo, did you?”

I probably understand more than most that tattoos are not for everyone. I don’t try to convince people they should consider a tattoo if they’re the type to say things like “I change my mind too often for something permanent!” (you’re really bragging about that?) or “I’m too scared of the pain.” A tattoo is a lifelong responsibility, not in the sense that it needs to be cared for forever, but if you have visible ink, people are going to look at you a certain way, think of you a certain way, and judge you a certain way, even if they’re tiny, like mine. It’s not all negative: I’ve had plenty of compliments on mine from strangers in the street, doctors, coworkers and even family. But I’ve also seen a look when people catch a glimpse of my arm or my ankle, coupled with the hoop in my nose, and there’s a brief moment where I feel them stand a little straighter, just enough so I know they’re looking down on me. After all, why would such a normal-looking girl do something like that to herself?

I’ll readily admit that my first two tattoos were perhaps a touch on the impulsive side. I’ve always been the kind of person to plan ahead, looking at things in a vast, unknown future, and then decide in a brief moment of spontaneous inspiration that the future is RIGHT NOW and NEEDS TO HAPPEN. When this is in regards to a new dress I’ve been eyeing or finally giving into my near-constant craving for Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich, the only things that really suffer are my overstuffed closet, wallet and waistline. Tattoos, on the other hand, put this kind of impulsivity into a completely different spotlight. Looking over the consent form is a surreal experience, words like “PERMANENT” and “SCARS,” “NOT LIABLE” and “PERMANENT” scream at you from every paragraph, rightfully reminding you that once this is done, there’s no turning back. That first line is a wake-up call to the lasting consequences of change, a pinch of pain, the buzzing from the gun humming at the same frequency as the ringing in your ears, and then the dull ache of needle on skin as the masterpiece comes to life.

Some people ask me if I’m sick of looking at them after so many years, if they’ve lost their meaning. I look at the cheerful heart on my ankle, blue and white stripes with an almost imperceptible sun in the middle, but I know it’s there. I smile as I’m hit with memories of wandering barefoot on my friend’s balcony in the heart of Buenos Aires, munching on bread with homemade chimichurri and endless mugs of sweet sangria, singing along to his guitar while the asado permeated the air with the heady smell of grilled meats, a reminder of another LB, another place, 19 years old, such a child. I catch a glimpse of the one on my back and remember the last time I had to adjust to single life, surrounded by wild choices and no responsibilities in my last year of college, using the ink as a reminder that to love and be loved requires only me, another LB, another place, 21 years old, still learning. They’re as much a part of me as my freckles or my scars, and I love them for reminding me of places, people, and times in my life where I felt strong and felt alive.

I always knew I wanted another, and will probably get one more still before I’m done. I know the full responsibility of a tattoo now. I know the stares, and the questions, and the disappointment etched in my parents’ faces as they observe what new hell I’ve done to my body. I’ve spent a few years planning for the third one, waiting and wanting and needing something that made all of the scary parts worth it.

Just in case I forget where I live.

Just in case I forget where I live.

A little reminder on my inner arm now serves forever as a good memory of a day where I woke up, sunshine seeping through my windows, highlighting all of the changes I’ve made in the apartment, in my life, since last fall.  I remember sipping coffee and watching the clock, anxious for it to be the time to leave, hoping it wouldn’t take too long, just wanting to see the final product, willing it to life. I remember joking around with the artists in the shop, feeling so comfortable, ten minutes, no pain, and there it was forever. I spent the rest of the day in a delirious happiness with the decision, showing it off to everyone who didn’t ask, and then waking up only to remember it wasn’t a dream, and it was forever there, forever my piece of this time. Another LB, another place, 25 years old, finally growing up.

 

The life of a sister wife.

The next person who dates me is pretty screwed. Not only do they need to impress my family, which consists of a former state police officer, heavily-involved-in-my-personal-life mother, protective older brother who lives across town and twin sister, but they need to impress my sister wife and husband as well. Confused? I’ll explain.

sisterwives

Okay, it’s not quite like this.

In normal relationships, it’s a requirement to impress the family, but it’s convenient to impress the friends. Not that a relationship can be successful if the person’s friends actively hate you, but you can politely keep your distance at social events and choose not to hang out one-on-one to maintain a semblance of acquaintanceship. While it’s absolutely not negotiable that my family approves of anyone I date, I’ve always managed to get by if a few of my friends weren’t enthusiastic about the person. However, after leaning on friends more than usual over the past crazy year, there are a few in particular that are no longer allowed to “accept” any relationship, but will have to “approve” before I’d consider even the possibility of getting serious with someone.

My lovely friend M and I have been friends since I moved to the city, but have known each other since college. To try and describe her as my “best friend” doesn’t do all the nights in the past few years where I ugly-cried on her couch as she fed me whiskey and her incredible homemade meals, justice. She knows more about me than I know about myself sometimes, and her presence in my life has made me a stronger and more responsible (well, mostly)  person. Even better, she comes with another half. I’ve actually known N longer than I’ve known M, and have had more fun with him goading her on in the years we’ve all been in New York. It’s like a ritual, our friendship: M and I talking too quickly about too many things, N offering sage advice laced with innuendo, each of us riling the others up to the point of frustration and then collapsing on the ground in laughter, immature and carefree and wonderful.

We live within 11 blocks of each other, go to the same gym (frequently together) and have been known to experience separation anxiety after 4 days apart. I’ve never once felt like a third wheel when it’s just the three of us hanging out, largely because we’ve all grown together since college and beyond. I was there for them in their brief break up a million years ago, and their apartment was the first place I went after my break up, where N gave me something to numb the pain and let me cry on their couch until I couldn’t anymore.

M, dancing with snowflakes. N in the background drawing penises on cars.

M, dancing with snowflakes. Not shown: N in the background drawing penises on cars.

After the break up, I practically moved into their apartment, helping M with the cleaning and laundry, and helping N with his work. What started as a joking apology (“Sorry I’m turning into your sister wife”) has come to identify our bizarre but wonderful relationship. Spending time with them has given me seriously high standards in terms of what I want and deserve in a relationship – someone you can share anything with, no matter how embarrassing, or scary, or very, very personal (Aside: sometimes too personal, guys. Anecdotes about bathroom habits, while definitely funny, should probably have a line somewhere. End aside).

I was afraid that my relationship with them would change once we couldn’t double date anymore, or that I’d lose myself in single life and neglect my friend because her boyfriend should and will always come first. And sure, there have been a few adjustments to us in the past few months, but it’s all been so, so positive. Someday, maybe I’ll find someone who fits into our crazy marriage, weird anecdotes and all. In the meantime, I’m content to spend time in our (fine, their) king-sized bed, whether it’s Monday television dates or weekend laundry day.

Happy birthday hubs – I’ll leave the presents to your other wife.

Dating Confessions

Confession: I’m 25, and until recently, I hadn’t been on a real first date.

shocked-will-smith

Yup.

Let’s take a step back. Obviously I’ve been on dates, but always dates with an already-boyfriend. The last time I was single was in college, so people didn’t “date” so much as “meet up at parties and/or after class” (or the dining hall, if you were feeling fancy). Plus, up until last fall, I was under the assumption I’d never have to navigate the tumultuous world of getting-to-know-you dating in my adult life. Mentally checking out of the single scene in 2010 means I don’t understand online dating (e.g. have actually asked someone “What’s a Tinder?”), social media etiquette (exactly how much do I tell them about my extensive Facebook stalking skills?) or rules about contacting each other (I’m told there is such a thing as too many emojis). And that’s IF you meet someone you even want to date, a tall order considering that it seemed I only met people after 2 a.m. with beer spilled somewhere on-or-around me. I wasn’t even sure if people just happened to meet one day and exchange numbers anymore, or if all the good “how did you meet?” stories were reduced to “a bar” or “an app.”

These are my confeeessiooons

These are my confeeessiooons

So imagine my surprise when an actual chance meeting one weekend afternoon, followed by a week of casual texting, led to plans on a recent weeknight. I suggested tapas, largely for two reasons: one, there’s a place I love in the Flatiron that was easy for both of us via metro; and two: tapas strike me as the perfect date food. Is the date going well? Keep ordering food. Not so much? Order a small plate and then pretend you need to get home to the cat. Preparations on my end were… interesting. My lovely friend M and I spent the night before creating our Very Important Questions List, which consisted of such gems as “Do you know who Alton Brown is?” and “How do you feel about drunk brunch?” My father offered me some words of wisdom, to the tune of “uuuh save the details for your mother” and “he better be a football fan” (family priorities). I realized while in the office that I’d accidentally worn a sweater with visible coffee stains and forgot to bring flats for the rain. And then, in a true space cadet moment, I sent him the wrong address. So all in all, I was pretty much nailing this “date” thing before it even started.

Everyone has a different moment where you realize you could be ready to put yourself out there, whether it’s just a date or the start of something more. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been single for years or if you’re cautiously starting over. There’s not much to lose in giving someone a few hours of your weeknight, talking about yourself and hoping it goes well. Worst case s… well okay worst case scenario they turn out to be a serial killer or a Patriots fan or something else unforgivable, but relative worst case scenario, you walk away from the night with a good story and comfortable knowledge it isn’t going to work out.

Best case scenario? Not sure I can really speak to that, given my limited experience. But somewhere high on that spectrum there’s a night where one conversation turns into another, turns into another round, turns into another place, turns into almost midnight, still laughing and desperately wishing you didn’t need to leave.

Humblebragging.

This past October, I was moping around my lovely friend M’s apartment, complaining about money and facing another 24-hour plus stretch of not hearing from the boyfriend, when she semi-slapped me across the face and said “Cheer up bitch! Want to go to the gym?” Now, all things considered, I’m more of a chocolate-and-whiskey girl than a “sweat-out-your-problems” girl, but M was really excited and I could tag along for free, so I ran (“ran”) home to put on my highly unattractive gym clothes and give it a go. It took me all of three minutes on the treadmill that first day to realize two very important things: I was DEFINITELY out of shape, and I hadn’t felt that good in weeks.

Seems legit

Seems legit

I’ve never been able to get a gym routine to stick in the past. I’ll work out for a few months and then stop, finding this excuse or that as a get-out-of-gym free card: I work really long hours! I’m exhausted from running around in heels all day! I just don’t want to! I’m not an out-of-shape person necessarily, I just have zero intention of taking $100+/session classes (unless there’s a champagne bar in Cardio Barre, I’m uninterested) and for a long time, I couldn’t find the motivation to join, let alone actually go to, a gym. I spent three years of sometimes-running a few miles in the summer, relying on juice cleanses and a fast metabolism in the meantime to keep me “in shape” on the outside, but perhaps not so much on the inside.

As I stopped sharing my time and attention and started to focus on myself, the gym became a steady part of my ever-changing life, something that I could focus on when things got really difficult or overwhelming. I can’t change my circumstances, but I can push a littler harder, run a little faster, lift a little more. It’s an hour a few days a week where I can stare straight ahead and stop thinking about anything but the dull ache in my legs and keeping my breath steady for just another few minutes, just another few reps. It’s not the most convenient part of my routine, and there are so many days where all I want is to sit on my couch with a bag of Sun Chips and Netflix, and yes, sometimes I’ll give in. But I’m focused this time: I want the routine, sweating like crazy, lost in my headphones and myself, surrounded by strangers, all taking an hour for themselves.

I’ve already changed so much in just five months, both physically and mentally. Physically, I’ve never felt stronger or more capable. The unfortunate side effect of this is that I humblebrag constantly (to the point N has actually had to ask me to stop), dying to share this new confidence I’ve found with everyone around me. Mentally, I feel stronger, more alert, like I know what I’m capable of doing if I just take a few minutes to focus and breathe. My sister T, herself a seasoned runner, hiker, skiier and all-around active person, has already convinced me to run a half-marathon with her this year, something I swore I’d never do and now I can’t wait. Having a goal set that’s entirely personal and up to me is a tangible reminder that I’m in charge of my life, I’m in charge of myself, and I can push a littler harder, run a little faster, and just be a little more.

An Anniversary

Eight people, one dog. 5 bottles of wine, 24 beers, two cheeses and an apple. A picnic in the park, Ralph Lauren tapestry, perfect spring afternoon, surrounded by budding flowers, bare trees and the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson, a quiet reminder that we were still in the city, despite the eerie calm and open space around us, the only ones on that lawn, soaking in the sun after such a long winter.

basically heaven

basically heaven

I decided to put aside the standard cry for PLDmaking activities this weekend and take the weekend to relax in my neighborhood, wandering between my apartment and 11 blocks down with my lovely friend M, our weekend routine of gym, then cleaning, then rewatching the most recent How I Met Your Mother. We did take a few hours on Saturday to round up the troops and put together a celebratory picnic in the park, an impromptu feast pulled from M’s fridge. Though never ones in need of an excuse to picnic and drink, we wanted a few minutes to enjoy our surroundings, toasting our plastic glasses of screw-top vino in celebration of my first year living alone in the Heights.

Anniversaries come and go, but the one I celebrated this weekend was especially noteworthy, seeing as I was never supposed to be in Washington Heights for more than a year. I could sit and list the wonderful characteristics about my neighborhood, like the music that swells from 11 a.m. on Saturday till 11 p.m. on Sunday, a constantly cheery soundtrack to a sunny, almost-spring weekend. Or Fort Tryon, the hidden gem uptown, all the beauty of Central Park with none of the crowds, a view of the GWB and the Cloisters instead of skyscrapers. Or even the wonderful pocket of restaurants on 181st, everything from pasta to paella, all made with love. I could list these and keep going: the people, the places, the culture, the crazy.

No, I think instead I’ll keep some of the memories from this weekend to myself, a personal reflection on the impact of choices and changes in just 365 days. And who knows if I’ll be celebrating again next year, or what I’ll be celebrating at this time next year. If it’s half as wonderful as a picnic in the park with the people (and dog) I love, that have held my hand, head and heart up any time I’ve asked and even when I haven’t, enveloped in the fuzzy warmth of Rioja in plastic cups, I’ll be completely satisfied.

On self-worth and Facebook likes.

Living in Washington Heights is a cultural shock for a tiny white girl from Connecticut. When I moved there  a year ago (from the Upper East, no less), for the first time in my life (aside from the glorious six months I lived in Argentina) I was officially in the minority, as my neighborhood is largely Dominican, populated by families that have lived there for decades, permeating Latin flavor into everything from the food to the street parties. My neighbors are boisterous, outspoken and operating on a completely different wavelength than I ever will, which is likely why I find myself on the receiving end of some very interesting catcalls and conversations on a near-daily basis. The especially funny ones I’ll usually post to Facebook, for multiple reasons: to share the spirit of my neighborhood, to scare my mother who still can’t believe she “lets” me live there, and to see how many Likes I’ll get.

That's both my dream and nightmare.

That’s both my dream and nightmare.

That’s right. I’ll admit it. I feel better about the absurdities in my life if I share them across social media and multiple people haphazardly click a button to reaffirm that my life is (a): funny; and (b): worth reading about on social media. Call me a narcissist all you want, but I’m writing a blog about myself so that should have been obvious. There’s a markedly different reaction in how I feel about something precious enough to share on social media if it gets three likes versus thirty; an Animal Farm-esque mentality of “10 likes good, 20 likes better!” I know I’m not alone in this, whether anyone else cares to admit it. People want the cute photo of their recent vacation, the artsy picture of snow and cronuts cross-posted to Instagram or the cute thing their cat did, to get double-digit likes at least. It’s not just a quantitative affirmation, either. The people that like the post are just as interesting as the amount of people that like the post. Exclusively family and weird high school not-even-really-acquaintances? Maybe it wasn’t actually that funny. But if my ex’s friends like my post? Total happy dance. 

We’re all self-involved these days, sharing select aspects of our lives, painting a careful picture of Who We Are via status updates and #SELFIES. It could be seen as a bad thing, and to an extent it is, but my friend K said something once (okay he said it to my lovely friend M who told me) which has always inspired me to enjoy social media and all its positives. K said that we’re in almost a second Renaissance, a time where creativity and self-actualization are encouraged and revered. M is a wonderful photographer and cook, and uses those talents to share mouth-wateringly delicious looking photos of her latest culinary fete. My sister T is an adventurous, hilarious and active person, cracking jokes about her latest exploits while hiking and sharing photos from various superhero-themed 5Ks. Even my father shines on social media, posting about football and why everyone should go Paleo (he’s trendy). We have these quirks and traits that our inner circles have always known, but social media lets us share them with everyone now, giving your middle school crush or college roommate the chance to see who you are and who you might become.

There are obvious downsides to social media, like the hypothetical situation where you go online after too many drinks and accidentally like a picture of your ex-boyfriend and his friends and don’t realize it for a few minutes too many (HYPOTHETICALLY it’s not like I did that once or anything…). And there will always be people who overshare anything from cat photos (definitely not me) to wedding updates (actually not me). But when your only connection to certain people is what you choose to share online, it’s nice to have the affirmation that you’re sharing something worth a smile, a laugh, and maybe even a like.

(Aside: I apologize for all the parentheticals above…)

(Including that last one. But not this one. This one doesn’t care. End aside.)

A Crush.

S/He’s just doing that because s/he has a crush on you.

Pushing my way through crowded pub a few months back, I found myself in a bad mood, frustrated with slow bar service, rude patrons trying to knock me down or pat me down (I’m sorry, did your hand just ‘fall’ on my ass?) and other standard Friday-in-the-West-Village-isms. I finally pushed my way to the front of the line and turned around to grab my partner-in-crime R’s drink order when someone caught my eye for a second.  He looked at me like I was an idea, curious yet disengaged from the pseudo-reality of the warzone that is Village Tavern. After staring for a half-second longer than socially acceptable, my attention was directed to R, who tossed me her credit card and loudly proclaimed “Drinks for them too!” ‘Them,’ it turns out, included him, and through a blur of PBR tall boys and duck hunt, the dulcet sounds of badly-mixed Britney and woo girls  became the backdrop to something I hadn’t experienced since college.

I Googled "Crush" so you don't have to. Seriously though, don't...

I Googled “Crush” so you don’t have to. (Seriously though, don’t…)

When someone is mean to you repeatedly before puberty, the Adult Handbook dictates that children are told the sentence at the top. He pushed you in the mud? It’s because he likes you. She won’t stop pulling your hair? She thinks you’re cute. Simple words like this are drilled into us at a young age, an introduction to a lifetime of misunderstanding, misreading, and straight-up missing signals from the desired sex. We learn what this is before we can even understand the all-encompassing, wild, unrestrained whirlwind of emotions that accompany the oft-maligned Crush.

It’s an odd term to use to describe the confusing flurry of emotions that arise when you see the person, especially because the actual crushing of something doesn’t generally happen. Sorting through the tangled chains of “I think he likes me back!,” “He definitely doesn’t like me back,” “OMG IT’S HIM YOU GUYS WHAT DO I RESPOND” and “Ugh, I’m so not trying to deal with these games right now”  isn’t crushing, it’s exciting. It’s an unknown adventure with a new person, like a quest to find a truth in the patterns of the butterflies on permanent flutter in your stomach since that first chance meeting. It’s having your heart broken just a little bit, enough to remind you that it’s still there and still healing. It’s just enough of an emotional roller coaster to be fun without actually interrupting your daily life.

As they often do, that first crush faded after a while, a blip in my misadventures in single life. But it reminded me how lovely it is to have someone make you smile like that. Having a crush is like summer vacation. It’s lazy and easy, it’s exciting and adventurous. It’s smiling, first inward and then for everyone, as you try to remember your first conversation, joking about Snapchat, distracted by his smile. It’s trying not to overanalyze anything and overanalyzing everything, telling yourself you’re being silly as you debate the merits of “lol” vs “haha” when he finally texts you. It’s scary, and new, and exciting, and wonderful, and weird.

It’s exactly what it needs to be. It’s just a Crush.

Awkward Turtle

Have you ever had to break-up with a friend? From experience, it’s not as emotionally jarring as a relationship break-up, but there are residual feelings of hurt and such that last much longer than post-relationship parting. Over time, we all have friends that fade into the back of our minds, instigated by distance, time, or the general growing-apart that comes with growing up. Consciously ending a friendship, however, is another beast. It’s the decision to delete the person who shares your good news and bad, the one who calls you out on poor decisions and then makes a few of her own. It’s telling the person you swapped clothes and secrets with, survived high school with, learned to drive with, that you won’t be there anymore, not in the present, not in the future. It’s hoping that time and the distance of multiple states will ensure you never run into each other again.

So what happens when your ex-best friend moves to your city?

It all started with a bit of casual Facebook stalking while immobile on my couch last weekend with what felt like strep (again), but was apparently just my larynx being an asshole. She and I haven’t been connected on social media since our break-up (friendship break? burnt yearbook? There should be a specific phrase for this), and I stopped checking in on her years ago, but I heard the phrase “Awkward Turtle” on whatever sitcom was providing the soundtrack to my exciting night in, and she immediately popped into my head. Memories of casually wandering through our hometown, linked arms, Frappuccino in hand, laughing at the absurdity of ourselves, came flooding back like a tidal wave. I can still smell her shampoo (bumble&bumble), hear her voice shrieking “AWKWARD TURTLE” as we teased each other in the back of the music room, the devious double-reeds, at it again. We used to stay up late at my house, planning our weddings, planning our prom, planning how we’d survive college when she was going Very North and I was going Very South, taking pictures of everything with disposable cameras, preserving those moments of carefree abandon like precious jewels, promising Best Friends Forever.

The details of this break-up are as personal to me as those from my relationship break-up. For such a long time, those details were tinged with red, seething with feelings of betrayal, abandon, apathy and myriad other emotions I never thought I’d associate with her. Our last correspondence was mine, a scathing message almost 7 years ago, where I told her that if I ever saw her in the future I’d turn away, like she was a bug on the sidewalk instead of someone I’d loved as a sister for all those years. As the months and  years passed, rage became anger became nothing, and the hole she left in my life slowly scabbed over and healed, leaving a tiny scar that stopped twinging in time. I never thought I’d have to see her again, never imagined she’d be in my city, living close to my office and working close to a neighborhood I frequent.

She looks different these days, her long hair chopped to her shoulders, the curls straight as the grid lines of the city. I’m sure I look different as well, though I can’t see the changes. I find myself wondering if I’ll actually run into her someday, if we’d even recognize each other amidst the strangers lining the sidewalks, heads down, walking fast. I’ve tried to summon the same rage I felt all those years ago, but mistakes we make at 19 are inconsequential by 25, and all I can feel is the deep sting of nostalgia and curiosity. I wonder if she thinks about her part in our break-up, the nasty words she sent by snail mail and the apathy she conveyed when I tried to reconcile one day, crying into the phone, in need of her friendship one last time. I wonder if she remembers my terrible words, written as I was blinded by anger, so much that I hardly remember what they were, just that they were awful on purpose, playing on every insecurity I knew, a grenade of “FUCK YOUs” written in colored Sharpies, her favorite. I wonder what kind of adult she is, and if she lost the dreamy quality I desperately tried to emulate for so many years. I wonder if she would still abandon me for a boy. I wonder so much.

She inspired me to write; she inspired me to be amazing. She made me into someone that distrusts easily and deeply fears another friend abandoning me when I need one the most. We were more than children but less than adults, stuck in a limbo that tore us apart. She might still hate me, or she might be as curious as I am to catch up one last time, to see if we grew into the adults we planned as children. Maybe I’ll reach out to her with a simple apology, and see if she wants to get a glass of wine. Maybe I’ll just keep hoping to run into her in the street one day, just to prove 19-year-old LB wrong. I wouldn’t turn away, I wouldn’t cross. I’d probably just stare, let the memories take hold of me and see if she does the same.