We’re all the lucky ones

Because it was on a weekend this year, Valentine’s Day might have passed without me noticing if it weren’t for a few Facebook friends sharing photos of bouquets and festive table settings. Unlike some previous years, I wasn’t bitter or envious of those in a pair. Sure, it would have been nice to have someone be like, “SURPRISE! Here’s a first edition Lolita with a butterfly doodle on the title page. Now let me buy you a steak!” but I wasn’t aimlessly hurling frustration just because I don’t have a guy to buy me flowers and a card.

When I think of Valentine’s, I recall an album I heard a few years ago: Daughter’s “If You Leave.” It was a dark winter morning & I was getting ready for work and I decided to buy the album on Amazon on a whim. I was groggy, craving soft sheets, snuggles, and the adoration of someone else and the lyrics hit me in the gut.

And if you’re in love, then you are the lucky one,
‘Cause most of us are bitter over someone.
Setting fire to our insides for fun,
To distract our hearts from ever missing them.
But I’m forever missing him.

It was a melancholic day in my cubicle. I spent most of the day thinking of loves lost, envious of those lucky ones who took their companionship for granted. I missed the days of democratic valentines when I didn’t understand the holiday, I just knew I was going to get 28 poorly torn and folded cards from my classmates. In middle school when I actually did get the holiday, the first three weeks of February were a slow roasting hell, seeing the halls covered in advertisements for the carnation sale. I think I received two $1 carnations – both were from female friends whose generosity felt cruel because they weren’t boys. High school was where I started seeing that it wasn’t so much about love and affection as it was about the things guys bought girls. Since boys weren’t buying me anything, it was fortunate that it was cool to hate Valentine’s Day.

I had several vaguely memorable gifts Valentine’s Days that I can fondly recall; The lunch, latte, and bouquet from the produce boy. The blood red roses from Jon. My first Kindle & pearl studs from Bill. The Second City tickets from the professor. Last year’s dozen roses delivered at work after a first date.

What I hate most about Valentine’s Day is how reductive it is. That list isn’t representative of those relationships. They ranged from simple blushing and hormone-heavy infatuation to complex and sustained commitments. But somehow, whenever Valentine’s Day rolls around, the first thing that comes to my mind is all the previous February 14ths – not the relationships I was in at the time. It takes a while to recall how the produce boy made me blush every time he delivered a white chocolate raspberry latte from my favorite coffee shop – longer still to remember how badly I craved any sign of love from Jon and how deeply I celebrated any instance of affection. It’s somewhat easier to recall the easy tenderness Bill and I shared, and the thrill of the professor’s support of my hobbies.

I listened to “Youth” again the other day, and it didn’t hold the same sadness it once did. Instead of focusing on the lingering bitterness over someone, I consider myself lucky to have experienced such a range of love and despair. It means I’ve been able share myself with a person and he’s trusted me enough to share himself with me. A successful relationship isn’t necessarily one that ends in marriage and eternal commitment. A successful relationship can also be one of mutual discovery and growth. Even the relationships that ended badly were ones that lead to further self-awareness. It’s cliche, but it really is better to have love and lost than to have never loved at all.

While the ego bruise from Valentine’s Day might still be fresh for some readers, I still want to tell people to treasure wherever they’re at. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, don’t place any importance on this arbitrary day. Just treasure your moments and savor whatever you’re doing.

Vonnegut sums it up better than I can tonight: “We are here on earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.”

Throwback Thursday: It Gets Better (Seriously.)

Every Thursday, I dig out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the left and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday August 8, 2001

“The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” Romans 6:10

How do you feel when you know you’re loved? 

           Really giggly

I so don’t know what to do. Ok, I was checking my e-mail when I came across one from Nikki. She replied to a bunch of questions I asked her, then she was like, “Well in case you haven’t guessed, Cory’s been calling like 10000x for me to ask u. So just give me an answer so I won’t be bugged anymore.”

I wrote back, saying I didn’t get what she meant, to buy myself more time. He wants to go out with me. What do I do? Should I say yes and see what happens? Or say no and not take the chance? I’m afraid I’m going to get freaked out like what I did with Tony and dump him a week later. I’m also afraid he’ll try to pull something on me. But I seriously don’t know what to do. But then there’s another thing: I barely know him! I’ve talked to him maybe a total of 5 times. I didn’t even know who he was till Nikki’s B-day Bash in February!

Oh Jesus. 

Luv ya, Ash

I need time to think. 

Good lord, I’d like to smack this girl. You know what you do in this situation? You say no and tell Nikki to give Cory your phone number and tell her that if he decides to grow a pair, he can ask you himself. Then you move on with your life, like a self-respecting young woman.

It’s not so hard.

For the record, I’d like to say that I’ve matured quite a bit since 2001. I don’t accept second-party boyfriends. I don’t keep boyfriends around unless I am absolutely crazy about them. I do this because wasting time in this fashion is frustrating and painful for both parties.

The handful of “boyfriends” I had in middle school came to me by way of Nikki. She was the pretty popular one, but in a pinch I would do. One of them was a boy named Tony, whom I remember only for looking like a pumpkin. Eventually Cory got my number and we would awkwardly stand next to each other at lunch and while waiting for the buses after school, so yeah. It was pretty serious.

I got the feeling that they felt they were settling for me, but I was just happy to have the attention of someone for a while. Being able to say that I had a BF was prize enough – I didn’t really care who it was. This is probably why I spent the first part of my dating life believing any guy’s interest was genuine. I figured they were just bidding time till a prettier girl came along. It didn’t matter if we were just hanging out in his dorm room while he organized his Radiohead discography or if he had planned an afternoon of hiking (complete with disposable cameras, granola bars, and a thermos of cocoa) with homemade chili in the slowcooker at home – I just refused to invest myself. I’d like to maintain it was because I wasn’t sure I felt a connection with him, but you could just as easily attribute my commitment reluctance to self-preservation. Eventually I met men who intrigued me for years at a time, but that’s for a different post. But if there was a message I could relay to Young Ashley, it would be this:

You feel really giggly when you’re loved? That’s the best you could do? I don’t think that’s the kind of love your bible’s devotion was asking you about. Even though you lack critical thinking skills, have some faith in yourself. If these turds don’t see how great you are, don’t waste your time, energy, or emotions on them. You’re meant for greater things than to be the second-choice girlfriend of a pumpkin.

Heart shaped glasses

If I had kept these glasses, I never would have had an issue getting a boyfriend.

Throwback Thursday: How to be a Doormat

Every Thursday, I dig out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the right and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Monday May 29, 2000

Dear Libby, 

Sorry, but I was just thinking about what an idiot I am. Did I tell you the Jocelyn dumped Benjamin? Well, the other day, I wrote Benjamin an e-mail saying: 

    Ben, I’m sorry to hear about Jocelyn dumping you. But If you need to talk, I’m here for ya. Just tell tell me when to get on aol or just e-mail me. 

    luv ya, ashley. 

    P.S. :*(sealed with a kiss.)

I am such an idiot! ‘sealed with a kiss’?!? How stupidly insane can a person get? Probably no lower than me! But eww! Sealed with a kiss? Ugg! I can’t believe I put that. 

~*Ashley*~

I had yet to develop empathy – I just figured that since he wasn’t with Jocelyn, it was somebody else’s turn to be his girlfriend. I expected  he would be so taken with my willingness to tie up the phone line to IM him on AOL that he would drop a note, declaring his love into the slot of my locker. As you can probably guess, this isn’t how things went.

Before I roll my eyes so many times they get stuck like that, I’d like to offer Young Ashley some advice:

When pouncing on a dude who’s on the rebound, it’s best to not remind him that he was just unceremoniously dumped by a girl. I know you haven’t been romantically disappointed yet, so you don’t understand that the purpose of post-breakup flirtation is to swiftly bolster one’s ego. Also, from what I remember, he wasn’t flirting with you, so calm the hell down and put up your away message with the N’Sync lyrics.  Was ‘luv ya’ a casual way to sign emails or were you actually telling him you loved him? And was it necessary to note that you were signing it with a kiss? The emoticon wasn’t enough? Because seriously, you are the epitome of Crazy Girl right now. You’re the exact opposite of “suttle” (I’m assuming that’s how you’d spell it). The sneakier way of doing this would have just been to say, “BENJAMIN I LUV U. LETS DATE NOW THAT UR SINGLE!!!!!!!!!11 LUV U LOTZ, ASH” You don’t know what they are, but you are doing the exact opposite of what The Rules advise.

crazy-girl-YouTube

I have a headache. I forgot that how often I roll my eyes when reading these old diaries.

Jaggerbombs & Sushi: Determining Romantic Compatibility

A few months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about new relationships. He was developing a theory (he’s always developing a theory) about how you can usually tell if you’re compatible with someone by just a few criteria. It varies between individuals, but everyone has some small collection of questions he or she uses to weed out potential partners.

When I asked him to clarify, he gladly did (he’s always happy to clarify). “I like to ask a girl what kind of sushi she likes,” he said. “And if she says she doesn’t eat sushi, then why the fuck am I even talking to this girl? And if she’s like,” he paused to change his voice to high-pitched and squeaky. “‘Oh, I like california rolls,’ then I’m like meh, okay, we’ll see. But if she’s like, ‘I get octopus, yellowtail, squid salad, and a new roll each time,’ then I’m like DAMN GURL. ”

I didn’t bother asking for another example because I knew he would go on.

“Second point: the kind of car she drives,” he said, probably pausing to drink wine (he likes wine). “I mean like, the car she chooses to drive. If we’re younger and it’s just like a matter of circumstance that she’s driving a Geo Tracker, I won’t judge her.”

“The Tracker was awesome and you know it,” I said. He wasn’t going to get away with dissing my bitchin’ ride during high school.

“But the car she chooses to drive – the one she bought when she could choose what ever she wants. If she drives something like a Neon, I’m probably going to hate her. And she probably doesn’t read a lot.”

“Just like if a guy picks me up in a truck. I bet he’s listening to Big and Rich and probably won’t get my Arrested Development references,” I said.

“Yes. Point three… how does she like her steak done? If she gets it well-done, then shit – why not just order a hot dog?”

“Might as well be eating leather,” I said.

“Point four….I haven’t thought of. I’m still developing this theory,” he said, then probably changed the subject to something he saw on Twitter the other day.

I wanted to come up with a list of my own criteria, but I liked his too much to get rid of them completely, so I decided to include them in my list. Before you judge me, just know that I can do ridiculous things like this right now. As a girl woman who is 1082974937% single, it’s responsible to be thinking about how to distinguish between the men I tolerate and the ones with whom I’d like to drink craft beer.

I don’t pretend true compatibility is so easily reduced, but these are a few points that will need to be addressed or determined by some means within the first few dates.

  1. What kind of sushi do you like?
  2. Realistically, what kind of car do you see yourself driving?
  3. How do you like your steak?
  4. Red or white wine?
  5. Have you done a jaggerbomb unironically in the last two years?
  6. How often do you talk to your mother?
  7. What do you wear when you work out?
  8. Do you use Netflix for tv shows or movies?

While there aren’t correct answers to these, their answers will indicate the level of our compatibility. I’d like to date someone who is adventurous (tries new food), responsible (doesn’t waste money on needlessly jacking up a car), unafraid (steak is rare to medium-rare), spontaneous (red and white, OBVIOUSLY), intelligent (idea for a thing: jaggerbombs that lower sperm count), independent (a pleasant conversation or two each week), confident (no t-shirts cut from the shoulder to the hip, showing off his pecs), and easy-going (tv shows).

That being said, if Ryan Gosling picked me up in a rusty Fiesta to drink Coors and jaggerbombs while he talked about how much he benched that morning, I’d probably still look forward to his “Wut up” text the next day.

Hey girl. I heard you like Cinderella's pumpkin, so I decided to drive it.

Hey girl. I heard you like Cinderella’s pumpkin, so I decided to drive it.

SWOON.

SWOON.

My point? Ryan Gosling is hot & women are fickle.