During spring break our senior year of college, I visited Andrea in New York. For one of our cultural outings, we went to the MoMA where Marina Abramović was performing “The Artist is Present.” Strangers would sit across from her while she stared back at them intently (silently).
in two hours, you turn twenty-six
(four years from thirty, not that you’re counting).
when your mother points out the “flaws” in your figure,
(breasts that can’t be contained by button-up shirts
& hips that never widened during puberty)
laugh & remember that
her spitefulness is only rivaled by her jealousy.
when you trip in front of the crowd
on the train platform & feel twelve again
(the era of an almost mullet & headgear)
look in the mirror & remember that
you’re not an awkward tween.
when a former party friend suggests
that falling in love rendered you weak,
(being the instigator of wild times
was the mark of a badass)
roll your eyes & remember that
you found strength in accepting yourself.
you are (permanently) a work in progress.
Ames, Leah, C-Tina, & me a.k.a. the Wolf Pack at Odessa two and a half years ago. I had been back from LA for five months. At the time, we had less hectic schedules and were able to reunite on most weekends. These ladies made college amazing. As is evident by our expressions, we’ve never put up with bitchassness. Though we don’t get to see each other as often, we continue to support each other’s respective paths in adulthood.
Last week, Ames was cleaning her closet at Odessa. (Odessa is the house we lived in during college. She’s lived there during med school as well.) While tidying up, she stumbled upon relics from college — notes we wrote to each other, hilarious photos, and gaudy clothes we retired because we had to be respectable young adults after graduation. (We’ve been reminiscing about and laughing at our misadventures ever since.)
The blast from the past prompted me to peruse old entries in my college livejournal. That person is foreign to me now. But I can see her motivations more clearly than I did at the time. During college (and even in LA, to some extent), I jumped headfirst into experiences so that I would have stories to tell. My worst nightmare was to wake up a shriveled old woman who had no exciting memories from her youth to stave off thoughts of her impending demise. (Morbid, I know.)
Most of the lessons I’ve learned between then and now are enumerated in this poem, but each new year calls for reflection. The new year isn’t a blank slate — you can’t erase the previous year’s events in hopes of achieving what you aimed yet failed to do.
Here’s some wisdom I gleaned (so you didn’t have to) from last year (and the previous two) a.k.a. real talk from a former party girl:
- Going out and getting hammered can be fun. But if you don’t enjoy it, don’t feel pressure to do so just because you’re young and should be partying every chance you get. If you would rather curl up with a glass of wine and marathon TV shows on Netflix during the weekend, you should. You will be more comfortable and will spend less money that way.
- You are in the relationship you think you deserve. If you want to be in a monogamous relationship, don’t settle for being someone’s booty call. If you want to be single but are passive aggressively trying to get your significant other to break up with you, put on your adult pants and end it. Figure out what you want and never convince yourself that you’re happy with something else simply because it’s convenient.
- Surround yourself with people who support you and let go of those who don’t. You don’t have time for bitchassness. You don’t have time for toxic relationships (of any kind). If they guilt you for minimizing (or eliminating) their role your life, that should reaffirm (not revoke) your decision.
- Don’t dread being by yourself. (This is different from being alone, which implies that you have no one to talk to at any time.) Don’t be self-conscious about grocery shopping or even going to the movies by yourself. “You” time consists of peaceful moments where you don’t have to entertain anyone or worry about saying/doing the wrong thing.
- Find at least one positive thing that happens each day. It’s easy to get bogged down in the things that frustrate us. But I’ve found that I’m in a better mindset when I do this. You will find yourself expressing more gratitude and being more patient, if you do this.
But what do I know?
he will ask about
your worried frown upon seeing
the downward twitch of your mouth.
he will discover that
the scrape of his week-old beard
down the slope of your neck
rouses you from sleep (much) quicker
than the loudest alarm on his iPhone.
he will narrow his eyes
(but laugh) when you pout
& claim he doesn’t kiss you enough.
he will kiss you twice (for emphasis)
& know that your craving for affection
depends on the time of the month.
he will offer his arms
(instead of platitudes)
after a horrible day at work.
you will tuck your head
beneath his chin & return his embrace.
he will remind you
of some firsts that you forgot —
like the first day you met:
you were wearing a blue dress
(which you wouldn’t have given away
if you knew he would remember).
you didn’t forget that
he was the cute boy with a French accent
at the information desk —
you just didn’t recall
what you were wearing that day.
he will make you laugh
with his catchphrases
& rants about things
like celebrating birthdays.
he will laugh when you trip
because he already warned you
about a big drop in
the last step on a staircase.
you will forget to run as
he uncovers every flaw
& learns the nuances
of every facial expression.
you will fall (more wholly)
in love with him
as you do the same.
you will believe in
the impossible magic