This show may or may not have inspired this flash fiction story.
1. you should strive to be good, not unique. (contrary to their name, special snowflakes are everywhere. genuine people aren’t.)
2. once you discover that home is a feeling, not a location, your restlessness dissipates. (you won’t find a reason to plan your next escape.)
3. when you fall in love, your badass armor will crumble. (you will embrace your softness.)
4. it is okay that your parents like you less as each day passes. (they hate everything about you that doesn’t fit their idea of who you should be.)
5. trust your first impressions of everyone you meet. (your bullshit detector gets better as you get older.)
6. do not let people bend your empathetic ear if they can’t reciprocate. (you’re no one’s crutch.)
7. you will tire of the friends who lament about missing you on social media yet don’t keep in touch. (letting them go is easier than you thought.)
8. when someone insults others in order to compliment you, you’re right to be disgusted. (& to decline the intended compliment.)
9. happiness isn’t a constant state. (even the best days have comparatively low points.)
10. your weekend ritual of binge drinking will get boring. (if it doesn’t, your abysmal hangover recovery time will deter you from continuing the tradition.)
11. everything turns out the way it should. (though you won’t see the reason immediately.)
12. you are resilient. (you will bounce back from disappointments quickly because you can’t afford to waste time dwelling.)
13. when you hold yourself (solely) to your own expectations, you will like the person you become. (you may even love her.)
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.
Three birthdays ago, Andrea, Shaina, and the Wolf Pack celebrated my twenty-third birthday with me in Atlanta. We stayed in a hotel in Buckhead (down the street from my office, where I didn’t work at the time). After dinner, we went clubbing in midtown.
The night ended with us ordering an obscene amount of food from a diner that didn’t deliver. We were too drunk to go pick up our order & passed out. The next morning, we woke up to several messages letting us know that our food was ready.
“I’m too sober for this.” Polina sighed.
“I’ve got an extra hit if you want it.” Vanessa presented a tiny ziplog bag with a powder-filled pill.
“I’m not taking molly that you bought from some rando ginger kid in the parking lot!” Polina scoffed and sipped her water.
“I wasn’t gonna buy it from that dude with meth teeth!” Vanessa chugged the rest of her water bottle.
The Quad was packed. Strobe lights flashed in unison with each song, frenetically changing colors when the bass dropped. A cloud of sweat hovered over the dancing crowd. Flux Pavillion manned his turntables. He pumped his arms to direct the sea of people — jump higher.
“Gonna run to the bathroom.” Polina squinted suspiciously at her best friend.
“I’ll stay here!” Vanessa smiled innocently.
“Damn it, V.”
Vanessa was crowd surfing. She laughed and waved to Polina. A guy in a Gumby costume and a girl dressed in a wolf headdress with a furry bikini pulled her onstage. Polina stuffed her hands into her pockets, nodding and swaying with the music.
“What the hell?!”
Polina pulled a tiny ziploc bag out of her pocket. Vanessa must’ve dropped it into her pocket before she went to the bathroom. She glanced around, popped it, and drained the rest of her water bottle.
“V — the universe is giving me a hug!”
“Isn’t it beautiful, Pol?”
“Colors are even brighter. Everything is in focus.”
“I can feel my skin breathing…”
“Is it weird?”
“I never wanna eat.”
“If we had water gallon jugs, I could easily drink one right now.”
“Me too! Heat waves are rolling down my spine.”
“See? And you thought that ginger kid was sketchy.”
“I take back what I said. How did you know his shit was legit?”
“He lives with his grandma.”
“She finds high quality drugs for him…?”
“No, he said that she always tells him to do his best in everything he does, so he would never sell anything subpar.”
“God bless ginger kid’s grandma.”
“You stole the last jalapeño popper.”
Ed turned slowly to face his accuser. “Pardon?”
The petite woman frowned. “You snatched your sixth one before I could even try my first!”
“I couldn’t help it — they’re addictive!” He held his hand in front of his mouth to hide his enthusiastic chewing.
“Good.” She smiled. “‘I made them.”
“Denise. My lil’ brother couldn’t pronounce his d’s, so he called me Nisey.”
“One of the many joys of being an only child — no siblings to give you nicknames.”
“In your case, I’m sure the bullies at boarding school did the honors.”
“How did you know I went to boarding school?”
“Just a hunch.” Nisey drained her solo cup and shook it, rattling the ice cubes.
“I owe you a drink.”
“Good thing drinks are free at potlucks. Kay’s goin’ on a liquor run soon –”
“Which is why we should walk to the pub down the street. She’ll buy the shitty stuff since the party’s winding down.”
“You’re real slick.”
Ed offered his arm. “Shall we?”
Nisey narrowed her eyes and looped her arm through his.
“I’m too old for this!”
“Neckin’ with my friend’s husband’s cute friend.”
“So you think I’m cute?”
“Wipe that smirk off your face! Would I be straddling you on your couch if I didn’t?”
“You could just be using me for sex.”
“Who said anybody’s gettin’ laid tonight?”
“I didn’t assume — just trying to lighten the mood!”
“Ed, I’m forty years old –“
“You’re smokin’ hot.”
“– thank you, but I’ve been divorced for a couple of decades. I’m good at being alone –“
“Nisey, I’m thirty years old. I’ve been divorced for a decade. I’ve dated a lot of women since –“
“A lot, eh?”
“– and I know right away whether I like someone or not. I like you.”
“I like you, too.”
“Since neither of us wants to waste our time –“
“Amen to that!”
“– what’s the harm in enjoying each other’s company, as the feeling is mutual?”
“Speakin’ of savin’ time…where’s your bedroom?”
“This was way better than either of our first weddings.”
“We should advise any youngins who wanna get hitched –“
“What’ll we tell them? If you meet someone at a friend’s party, marry the person a year later?”
“No, dumbass. We’ll tell them to save the money they’d use on a wedding and put it toward a downpayment on a house –“
“They don’t buy houses — they buy lofts or condos these days.”
“– get a friend to marry them, and go out for margaritas and nachos afterward.”
“The kids we know don’t have friends who are judges.”
“They’ve got friends who’ve bought marriage officiant licenses on the internet!”
“You can do that?”
“Yes, you old man.”
“Your old man.”
“Your sappiness is embarrassing.”
“C’mon — gimme a kiss, missus.”
“Fine. But only ‘cuz I expect wedding night action when we get home.”
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?