Brains

Rising from the ashes of a broken engagement took some considerable time.  After eighteen months of scrubbing off the grey, I started to wade into the real world again.  For the first time in a long time, I started to accept invitations.  I started to go out alone, and I felt myself laugh again.  Now every new thing feels a bit like cliff diving, and slowly but surely, I am testing the waters.

At my Alma Mater’s homecoming game, I grin and bear it as I shut down painful questions about my non-existent wedding from well wishers who don’t know any better.  I’m tougher than I used to be; this whole thing has thickened my skin so much that a hot iron poker wouldn’t phase me.  I break away from the crowd searching for friends from my scholarship program, and I see a face, then a hand poke out of the crowd and start waving towards me wildly.  I check over my shoulder to be certain he’s waving at me before realize, it’s Kyle.  Kyle who threw toga parties downstairs in the left wing of the D building.  Kyle who organized mud football behind the dorms.  Kyle who somehow turned from awkward and acne covered to impossibly adorable without any of us realizing it some time between freshman year and graduation.

“Hey kid!” I hug him and he hands me a beer.  We start to catch up over watered down Budweisers.  He’s been working in Tustin.  He’d spent some time in Greece.  He starts to ask me what I’ve been up to but as I open my mouth to answer, his old frat brothers, clad in neon and jumping and screaming, come tripping over one another to fetch him for the mechanical bull.  They’ve been waiting all day and it’s finally his turn; they pulled his number.

I smile, “Looks like your time has come.”

“Chug it!” He shouts.  So we do.

“I’ll find you once it’s over.” He says as they’re dragging him away.

“Have fun!” I holler after him.  But I’ve had about as much strained socializing and drunken bull riding as I can take in one afternoon.  I duck into the crowd and make my way towards the parking lot.

A few days later, Kyle adds me on facebook.  He doesn’t say anything to me, but I add him, and I’m scrolling through his profile when I see a rather snarky status update.

“Listen folks, it’s mind boggling, not mind botting, how could you get that wrong?”

I see this, and I think I’m smart, so I say “For all intensive purposes, it’s mind bottling.”  Then, concerned he might not realize I’m joking, say, “If you don’t get it I’ll have to come over there and personally bottle your mind.”

Facebook makes a keyboard sound at me.  Oh, I have a message from Kyle.  Private message?  Hmmm.  Brain says something, but not sure what.

“All right,” the message says, “You’re gonna have to bottle me.”

I pause for a second, then – “I know where Tustin is.  I could get over there and bottle you in half an hour.”

Is this flirting?  If it is, then I’m bad at it.

He tells me he’s never bottled before, but bugled once in college, and seriously though, we should hang out.

We pick up a slow volley of texting until someone is free on a Sunday.

“There’s that Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA I really want to see.”

“Yes!  I’ve been dying to see it.  Let’s go.”

We agree to a day at the museum, and I tell myself not to think about it too much.  Based on an off-handed gaze he gave me across a dorm room , I had casually determined that he thinks I’m cute, but I was three sheets to the wind and that was a long time ago.  Brain is still trying to tell me something, but not sure what.

***

Kubrick films are like sex instruction movies.  You think you’ll get all hot and bothered but it’s actually supremely technical, a bit uncomfortable, and totally weird.

Enter the exhibit, stage left.  We rifle through things and sheepishly admit how many of the films we haven’t seen as we progress.  We stop in front of the woman shaped tables from A Clockwork Orange.

Him: “That’s a cool table, but you couldn’t put your drink on it.”

Me: “Nah, you totally could.  You’d just have to balance it.  Right here. (I wave my hand above the tables pelvis) On her torso.”

Is this dating?  If it is, then I’m bad at it.

Still, I’m laughing, I’m smiling again.  I don’t know what’s supposed to exist outside of that at this point, but it feels like a step in the right direction.  The museum turns into grabbing dinner which turns into beers at my place.  And my place, having recently been vacated by the roommate who owned everything, is catastrophically empty.

“It looks like a crack den.” He offers.

“My crack den has crown moulding” I say as I point.

I have no couch to speak of, so he lays on the floor.  I lower myself beside him, and we’re inches away, looking at the ceiling, but not touching.

It’s awkward.

We talk about the exhibit, about how we wish we didn’t have to work tomorrow.  And after the beer he gets up, and I hug him goodbye.  No moves made, he’s probably not interested, and in a way, I’m relieved.  Regardless, I feel like I just had a good day with a friend, and that’s more than I imagined I could feel in almost a year and a half.

“I’ll take it.” I think.  And satisfied unto myself, prepare to release it into the universe.

He’s in the driveway, walking off, and I’m watching his back and his tall frame get smaller as he goes.  Then suddenly he turns, smiles, and says, “What are you doing next Saturday?”

He thinks I’m cute.

I knew it.

Nineteen

The first time I heard this song, you were stretched out on your back in the emptied out shell of Charlie’s van.  The three of us had stayed out all night, and come sun up, bleary-eyed and drunk on adventure, you were driving me back to my dorm room.  Lying down in the spot where the chairs should have been but weren’t, you had your eyes shut and were mouthing the words along to the music with this smile on your face.  I had never heard the song before, but instantly felt lovely – overwhelmed in some confusing, ridiculous, catastrophic teenage emotion that really, I still don’t understand.  Ten years later, give or take…. to this very day; any time I hear it, I imagine you silently mouthing the words in the back of a van, and me, nineteen and stupid, twisting around from the front seat to look at you, smiling at your quiet lipsync as the two of you ride us towards home.

Things I Learned When I was 21

A few weeks before my twenty second birthday, I decided to write a list of the things I had learned in the previous year.  Year after year I look back to this list, and laugh not only at how true it remains, but how reflective it is of being precisely twenty one years old.  It was a time of discovery and stupidity.  I had a lot of both.  I like to re-post this each year to remind myself of where I was, and where I’m going.

THINGS I LEARNED WHEN I WAS TWENTY-ONE

Wherever I go, there I am. Disappointing, but true.

The best way to get free ANYTHING is to go out dressed as a naughty nurse.

Working full time and simultaneously attending school full time is the death of everything you hold dear. Only do that if you enjoy watching all of your health, sanity, and relationships deteriorate.

Travel. Travel travel travel. There is so much world out there and you can’t die knowing that you didn’t bother with most of it. Go get you some.

Drinking a third of a bottle of Jäger in a bathroom stall will not necessarily make you vomit, but downing a Guinness immediately afterwards will probably put you over the edge.

Hot tubs, S’mores, margaritas, high heels, bikinis, and my girls are the stuff dreams are made of.

It isn’t worth seeing the greatest sights in the world with people who don’t care about you, it’s a wasted opportunity for a grand adventure.   Experience life with those who love you, otherwise it’s not worth living.

Mono sucks. I mean really really really sucks.

Love is in the touch of a friend.

If you see your ex’s parents, be super nice to them. What goes around comes around.

Garages can be comfy places to live. Better than cars anyway. Make friends with spiders.

Double Decker busses, like everything else in life, will only get old if you let them.

My mom is an all-seeing, all knowing being.

It shouldn’t be too scary being who you really are, because those that love you best, love you no matter what you do, say, believe, or don’t believe.

Europe really is everything it’s cracked up to be.

Body boarding might rip your nose ring out, but it’s still totally worth it.

Every good relationship should have a million inside jokes, including but not limited to barn animal names, salty nut sundaes, Scrumsquatullating, “Space chair”, putting Johnny Depp in Princess Sophia for a little ride, and bumpin’ knees with nacho cheese.

Change is inevitable, and often painful. Buck up. Run into it with fists flying and make it suit you. Embrace that which you don’t understand because it still happens to be what you’ve got. If all else fails, buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, get your cat, call a friend, and watch a movie with explosions instead of a romance.

Nothing compares to a lazy day spent laughing over old family guy episodes while drinking beer and eating pizza with your favorite British person.

Tanning beds give you cancer, but even your parents will tell you that you look great.

Catching bouquets at weddings should be avoided at all costs. Even if they hit you in the chest.

It turns out the best thing my momma ever taught me was that you can get upgraded tires with a delicate mixture of tears and cleavage. Thanks mom.

Don’t kiss everyone you know on New Years just because it’s New Years. January 2nd, things might feel awkward.

College has a four year way of neatly wrapping itself up. Bands break up, friends get married, and everyone starts packing.

Mistakes are just that. Mistakes. Tattoos on the other hand, are permanent etchings on your body.

Your ex-boyfriends are your EX-boyfriends for a reason.

You will get hurt, badly, playing football in a hallway.

It’s bad to make the same mistake over and over expecting that it will work out well this time.

Family is the best thing to ever happen to me.

Mayonnaise on french fries actually isn’t all that bad.

The dorms are all fun and games until you’ve been living there for four years. Free rent can only get you so far.

Politicians, the guy who fixes my tires, and the ring finger on my right hand are crooked. There are some things we all just have to learn how to live with.

Everyone should find a person who will have adventures with them and cling to that person for the rest of their life. The mundane is a slow and painful death. Creativity is like a sunrise every second.

Nobody should ever have to live anywhere without access to, or the ability to make a little music.

It’s a bad idea to admit what you’re thinking most of the time. It’s only going to get you into trouble.

School is just not that important.

Laughing loud enough to get kicked out of somewhere is a GOOD thing.

Always live somewhere that has a bathroom.

Butt charades is an effective means of communication.

Plastic purses can effectively carry all the sand you might ever want from the beach to your dorm room.

Studio apartments =   

Long distance relationships =   :<

No bar in America truly knows how to make a snakebite.

Fanny means vagina in England.

The best things in life are free, but it costs a lot in gas money and airplane tickets to get to those things.  😉