Panic Cord

There’s this thing that happens to me sometimes that I’ve long since learned I can’t control. It’s something I can ignore usually, or at least after a few years of recognizing it I’ve learned to ignore it, but when things in different areas of my life start imploding all at the same time, I find myself wrestling with this burning desire to do something destructive. The definition of “destructive” has changed over the years, but I can recognize that feeling coming from a mile away. It’s like an old addiction to self-destruction that yoga and clean eating and new attitudes and a new life can’t hide forever; the moment I can feel things start to slip, slip from my control, there’s a sort of cloud that covers my vision in this hazy need to do something impulsive, and big, and maybe a little dangerous to boot.

One of the earliest memories I have of the first time this happened is standing in the bathroom outside my bedroom at around 15 years old. I was angry with my mother yet again because she “couldn’t understand” why I so badly wanted the top of my ear pierced. We’d had the arguments many times, and she never gave me a reason more than “because I said so” as to why she wouldn’t allow me to have that put in my ear. Hormonal and filled with angst, I had this overwhelming impulse to do something, everything, anything. I went into one of the bathroom drawers and grabbed an earring, the one that had been used to pierce my ears a few years back, marked a spot on my left ear with a pen, took a deep breath and stuck it through. As I exhaled, I thought three things in quick succession: That didn’t hurt as much as I thought it might! Mama B is gonna be so fucking pissed off at me. Huh, I actually feel way better.

This draw to impulsive sorts of self-destruction has led to a lot of interesting decisions over the years, from bad third dates to at least one of my tattoos. I’ve had piercings all up and down my ears and face and abdomen, and many years ago this impulse may have led to an interesting afternoon in the office following a sangria-fueled lunch on a weekday with my lovely friend M. When things in my life start to feel like they’re slipping, not quite out of my control yet but on the way, I use that helpless feeling as an excuse to do something impulsive or crazy without thinking, as though I feel like things are already bad so let’s just keep rolling with it and see where we land. It’s not always a bad thing – following that impulse has led to some awesome nights (/mornings…) out and of course, at least one of my tattoos – but as I’ve gotten older, catering to such an impulse is starting to get exhausting.

That particular feeling started to bubble up yesterday while I sat in the office and watched the clock move slowly, knowing it was the first of yet another series of very late nights. It’s like all of the lucky, wonderful, something-big-is-happening feelings I’ve had in the past month finally came crashing back down, with so many things out of my control and so many things about to happen. And by early evening, I found myself contemplating a few things: Where else could I get a piercing at almost-27 years old that isn’t weird? Maybe I’ll go get that tiny script tattoo that popped into my head yesterday when I leave the office tomorrow. I wonder if anyone is around for a Sunday Funday this weekend?  I had to halt at that last one (Sunday Funday is dangerous and may or may not lead to lost wallets), take a step back, and figure out what was really going on, because I knew if I didn’t, one of those things would happen and really none of those things are good ideas.

I sighed deeply from the conference room where I’d camped out for the day, and calmly rationalized that I already have one facial piercing and I’m waiting till after T’s wedding for my next tattoo. And while I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen this weekend (aside: N.Posse – I would be super down for a Sunday Funday #justsaying), I decided instead to forget a budget for a minute and ordered a yoga prop I’ve been eyeing for months. Maybe saying “fuck it” to budgeting and spending money on a workout toy isn’t the craziest thing I’ve done to find a little more control in the wild things in my life these days. I’m okay with that, though. It’s worth it to have these little self-teaching moments that make it very apparent when you’ve grown up, if only a little bit.

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Maybe, Never

On Super Bowl Sunday, following a languid day of yoga, food prep, more yoga and of course, the Puppy Bowl, I found myself standing in my lovely friend M’s kitchen between quarters, searching for a bottle opener amid solo cups and mountains of chips. I heard a loud “LB!” behind me, and turned to find M striding quickly in my direction, stopping close enough to put her hand on my shoulder, lean in my ear and tell me something I was absolutely not expecting to hear. It’s not a secret, it wasn’t shocking in content, and granted I was a *few* beers in, but it was enough of a surprise that for most of the third quarter, I sat next to H the Scot, halfheartedly yelling at the television screen while I let this new information roll around in my thoughts, testing the words on the tip of my tongue, trying to figure out how I felt about them. I finally put the words away for a while, since there’s only one way I’ll really figure out how to feel about them: I just have to wait and see.

That next weekend was the ever-epic Nickname Posse Does Atlantic City weekend, my last “hurrah” after 36 hours of funemployment before starting the new job. While wandering around with drinks on Friday, trying to find a good spot to settle for a steady drunk on the first night, we saw on a poster that freaking Lil Jon was going to be spinning at one of the clubs in the casino on Saturday, and in the spirit of “EPIC WEEKEND,” we knew we had to go. Despite a mishap where our dinner restaurant apparently thought “we have a reservation” meant “you can wait around for 30 minutes,” we made it to the show with enough time to get primo standing real estate (complete with perfect stage view) and enjoy a few drinks before the dulcet tones of “SHOTS” started thumpa-thumping. Somehow towards the end of the night, H and I ended up as the last ones standing, downing whiskeys by the bar and having one of our classic drunk heart-to-hearts about everything and nothing. He brought up the content of the Super Bowl conversation and we talked about it for a while. It’s so dumb, how much I’ve thought about the content of that conversation; it’s almost embarrassing, a delusional dreamer who can’t get those two conversations out of her head. But H and I came to the same conclusion that M and I did: I can’t figure out how I feel about the situation, so I just need to wait and see.

I have a hard time waiting things out. Blame it on my Irish roots, my miserable attention span, an after-effect of the gimme generation or a combination of those factors and more, but my personality is not one that gravitates towards situations where the only conclusion is “wait and see.” Usually it’s harmless: I’ll read spoilers for movies I don’t want to see that badly (and some that I do), open the oven door 2 minutes before the cookies are done “just to check,” or post a video on Instagram of my partner-in-crime R and I dancing to Lil Jon in Atlantic City before watching it because I want to show off our sweet moves. Other times it’s harder: I’ll decide I want a tattoo and a week later I’ve got one, or I’ll buy a bottle of wine the night before a date with the assumption I’ll need it after the date turns out terribly and I’m alone with little miss again. I’m impatient and impulsive to a fault, and knowing there’s something coming in the not-so-distant future that can change everything or change nothing has set off my internal Uh-Ohs; I’m desperately searching for answers or even just a clue as to whether all these weird emotions are completely insane or if it’s okay that I find myself daydreaming of the summer sun on FiDi rooftops like it’s five days instead of five months away.

Something non-single people love to tell single people is “You never know.” As in, “I know you didn’t have a great time on the first date, but give him another chance – you never know!” or “Sure, you haven’t heard from him in days, but he’s probably just busy! You never know!” That’s all I’ve heard in any direction of a conclusion since hearing those words on Superbowl Sunday, in Atlantic City: “Well LB sure it’s kind of crazy, but come on, you never know!” It’s an evil yet powerful statement to hear in any situation, much like “everything happens for a reason” and “free booze till 10.” I know I need to keep those words tucked in the back of my mind for now, safely guarded within the stone walls of what are either delusions or fantasies, until I have no other choice but to deal with them. Maybe this wait-and-see will turn out to be a false alarm, or maybe it won’t even be a relevant factor in my life when the time comes. Or maybe it’ll surprise me, and waiting will have been worth it the whole time. I mean, maybe it’s crazy – but hey. You never know.