In case you hadn’t caught on by my Twitter feed, which was full of complaints today (hey, I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. only to be greeted by rain and a rather boorish guy at the airport who found it necessary to tell me just how tired I looked, but I’ll spare you those stories for a few paragraphs), I’m home! By home, I mean northern California, which is as dreary as NYC at the moment. Leave it to my mom to say, “You know, it was 90 degrees here just two days ago. Now it’s hailing and foggy. Sorry the weather is so bad for you.” Such is life, right? Terrible weather follows me wherever I go, but I’m beginning to shrug off the clouds and mist and instead show gratitude for what I do have, which is vacation time and R&R.
What better way to take advantage of R&R in my hometown than to scour my old journals alongside my 12-year-old dog, who is just recovering from a two-month bout of “intensive doggie therapy”? Don’t worry, her therapy consists of sleep, food, and more sleep. No instructors or meditation sessions are involved, although we did bring her to a specialist when she kept misbehaving in the early 2000s. She’s calmer now than she was during my childhood, but like me, she had to grow up sometime. The only difference is that she’s actually made substantial progress. Considering that I’m guilty of the same kind of embarrassing forward behaviors now as I was in tenth grade, I’d say my pup Roxy has made far greater strides into adulthood than I have. Here’s what I read this afternoon.
This is a diary I kept in tenth grade, when I was fifteen and creepily obsessed with a guy in my class. We’d been going to the same church since junior high, which had been a happy period for the two of us because he’d admitted to having a crush on me. Then came high school and an explosion of awkwardness on both our parts, so I lacked the confidence to strike up a conversation with him, even though we had several courses together and attended the same church. The only way to get the message across, I believed, was to send him a love note in English.
We were all required to write critiques of each student’s “Hiroshima” speech, so at the bottom of my critique for this guy’s performance, I added the line, “I still like you.” Here’s my journal passage of the cringe-worthy incident, which I must admit I do not remember, probably because I blocked it out of my mind:
Did I mention it took me five months to gain the courage to say “hi” to this fellow for the first time in high school? I’m certainly not that timid anymore, but I do find myself making the tragic mistake of pushing myself on people more often than not. Would I put together a love note now? Nope, but I’d do something equally humiliating sooner or later. I’m not one to stalk others, but apparently that wasn’t the case in high school. I just read the final line of a diary from sophomore year and it makes no sense:
“PS, no lie, the kid I’m accidentally stalking just saw me and ran away. That there is the story of my life.”
Um…what?! Who was this girl? I don’t remember this Laura at all, even though I inevitably fall into the same traps she did from time to time. All I’m saying is that life is much better now that I don’t hide from every romantic interest, although I’d be happy if one were to actually pan out for a change. I’m starting to think that’s not what I want. I mean, why else would I keep coming to you with mishap after mishap? This has been going on for years. Clearly I’m not the victim here, and I’m not sure I ever was.
A complete stranger called me out on this two weekends ago. I was out at The Penrose, where I’d previously met a young lad who cut me off for giving him a dose of the disrespect he’d been firing at me for weeks. Anyway, I couldn’t get my mind off the whole charade, so I went back to The Penrose in search of something better — or more precisely, somebody to help me forget about my woes. I befriended a Los Angeles native who listened to me vent and bitch about the terrible turn of events. After I explained everything, the LA guy said:
“And yet you’re here again. You’re back because you like being treated badly. You’re here for the same shit you got two weeks ago.”
He had a point, which has been brought to my attention a many time. I don’t need some self-aware fellow Californian to tell me I seek chaos to know I’m an expert at digging myself into a hole and perpetually craving unhealthy relationships. I’ve known about this for a while, and it’s just exhausting right now. Trust me, the last thing I need is another toxic connection of any kind, so I’m hoping to up my standards a little bit, and that goes for all types of relationships.
This is the part where I’m supposed to smoothy transition into a paragraph about my day, but my morning got off to anything but a relaxing start, so I’ll just be frank about what happened when I woke up. The alarm went off at 3:35 a.m., and somehow I managed not to absent-mindedly hit the snooze button or sleep through my 6:30 a.m. flight. I rushed outside into pouring rain and arrived at JFK at 4:45 a.m. The security line was packed and I had to endure those terrible nude scanners, which have never grown on me.
As soon as I walked out of the bizarre contraption, a female aviation employee grabbed my lower left abdomen and said, “Mind if I pat you down, ma’am?”
Rattled, I replied, “Um, yeah. Why is that necessary after I went through the scanner?”
“Because you set off the metal detector.”
Groggy and comatose, I obliged and let her do her thing. Seriously though, who wants to be violated twice before five a.m.? So not the best way to begin Hump Day.
It didn’t get much better in the Starbucks line, where I stood in front of a bro who wouldn’t shut up about his trip to Vegas. He was ready to start drinking then and there, and just as I arrived at the cash register, he said to me, “You look like you need coffee really badly right now.”
Without even laughing, I glared and responded, “That’s exactly what I want to hear right now.”
He, of course, chuckled as if we’d just shared a joke. “It’s a good thing.”
Yeah, sure. What I really need is male confirmation that I look terrible at five a.m. I’m pretty sure it has been common knowledge for a while that telling someone he/she appears tired is the same as stating he/she is a mess, and not a hot one, so the next time you feel the urge to drop that line, resist.
Whatever, I’m sure he’s retching over a toilet bowl somewhere on the Vegas Strip right now — and I’m about to go take a bath. See? Karma is real. I would have said the same thing three hours ago, when my mom and I stepped into a “Pitch Perfect” film screening only to find five screeching teenage girls in the front row. I smiled, knowing all too well my friends and I used to be just like these ladies. We disrupted movies one too many times, and I paid for it tonight by sitting near a pack of high schoolers at the film. Everything comes full circle, for better or for worse.