The Blackbyrd comes in contact with VD

After conducting some research, I’ve reached one conclusion: I’ve successfully avoided writing specifically about Valentine’s Day on this blog for nearly six years. I wrote this post, but it doesn’t count; it’s just a 14-year-old Emily gushing over celebrities that she just so happened to publish on Valentine’s Day in 2009. Definitely doesn’t count.

Thus, the world has no idea how I feel about said “holiday.” (Why does it care? You’re probably thinking. I know.)

Uh, Valentine’s Day sucks.

Ever heard of Sweetest Day? Rolls around every year on the third Saturday in October. I’d rather partake in that than VD (haha, venereal disease, geddit? If you do, you probably only began reading this because of my super enticing and witty title. I flatter myself. I know.).

I’m making a pretty sweeping generalization here, but I’m assuming most girls want to be pampered and treated like princesses come February 14. From the perspective of a girl who has been mercilessly pampered and treated like a princess on VD, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Flowers die; chocolates get eaten; I have to sift through the damn mystery box to avoid the nut-filled and cherry-filled ones. Yuck. I’ve even received one of those gaudy, 2-foot by 3-foot cards. It seemed sweet at the time, now I look back and roll my eyes just a tad.

Maybe I’m desensitized because my first-ever boyfriend dumped me two days before VD during my freshman year of high school. I’ve learned to expect less, even when Mr. Wonderful showered me with so many nice gifts for several years.*

Summer's Eve's ad here is about the only thing that makes me thankful for VD.
Summer’s Eve’s ad here is one of two things that make me thankful for VD.

You can hate me for dissing VD, but just know that, like I said in my last post, I can be rather flaky. I’ll probably be crying into a gallon of chocolate ice cream at this time next year. Still.

I don’t need February 14 for a man to tell me he loves me or to confess his true feelings.

I don’t need the giant VD card, the boxes of terrible chocolates, a teddy bear holding a heart or a bouquet of flowers I’ll definitely hang upside-down to dry, only for the dried leaves and petals to fall to the floor, making a mess.

And don’t even get me started on the cheesy, gag-me-please diamond jewelry commercials. A $1500 rock doesn’t tell me you love me; it makes me mad that you didn’t spend it on groceries, the rent or plane tickets to go somewhere warm. I totally just jumped ahead of myself by 10 years, but I think you get my point.

You love me? Show me every day. Don’t buy me a $5 Hallmark card once a year, scrawling your name into it each time without even reading it first.

At least VD-themed Hershey Kisses will be half price at Walmart the day after. I’ll see if I can sucker my guy into stocking up for me. That’s enough to make this Blackbyrd happy.

How I react to those jewelry commercials.
How I react to those jewelry commercials.

Stay tuned: in next year’s post I’ll be mourning the loss of my college career and surely the plenitude of relationships with men that just didn’t work out.

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*Though Mr. Wonderful did once tell me something that made me laugh. He sold more condoms on and around Valentine’s Day than any other time during his, uh, tenure at a local Rite Aid. Haha figures.

Kitchen decor, sans highchair

I want a bright green kitchen with black-and-white checkered flooring. Laminate’s fine; I’m not trying to break the bank here. Sky blue and lime green dishes will show through the windows of my white, country-style cupboards. My countertops will be poured concrete with flecks of different colored glass shards. I’ll do this by myself, though my brothers may help me.

Mismatched chairs. Check it. [Image courtesy of deerbunny.blogspot.com
Remember the table Monica had in her kitchen in Friends? Same concept here. Mismatched chairs. Mismatched cushions. But my table will be painted white. With a sky blue tabletop. Then a round piece of glass. Again, I’ll do this shit myself.

Because Monica and Chandler moved out to the country when the twins were born, a highchair never joined the apartment’s dinette set. Same concept here.

There will be no highchair. Or at least not until I am good and ready for one.

I’ve lost touch with several people over the years. It’s okay. If I wanted to continue a friendship, I’d call, text or message you every once in awhile. But here and there, I’ll “creep” on someone I haven’t seen in years.

My jaw dropped today.

The girl who was my best friend from kindergarten to third grade is due this week. As in, her baby is due this week. As in, she’s going to be a mother. 

There will be a highchair at her table, wherever that may be, a diaper bag to accompany her purse and a carseat in whatever car she’s driving now.

I hope she and her boyfriend can be together and raise this child as a family. I wish them the best. But shit. We’re the same age. The thought of having a tiny human being in my realm of responsibility is enough to make me panic every month, even if/when I have absolutely nothing to panic about.

I need these crazy college years right now.

I need to get drunk on the weekends and forget about my day-to-day responsibilities and refrain from creating a new one.

I need to figure myself out before procreating.

I need to have my career and my own life.

I need to take care of myself.

I need to actually fall in love.

I need to be ready for a child. Sometimes children really are blessings in disguise, but I’d rather endure Aunt Flo’s visits right now. (Then I get to use The DivaCup –– sorry, had to squeeze this bit of self-promotion in here.)

I don’t need someone holding me back. I’ve had that in the past. I’m done with that. And if I can prevent the the presence of an anchor keeping me down, you’d better believe I’m going to.

Someday I won’t be afraid of pregnancy anymore. Someday I’ll be in love with someone and I’ll be ready.

Right now I just want to be a driven, self-centered college student dreaming of the decor that will someday be in her very own kitchen. Sans highchair.

Because “buoyant” is a cool word

I wrote this post on my friend’s and my shared blog after my first day as a single lady.

I was worried. Scared. Lonely.

It’s been nearly a month.

Uh… it’s been awesome.

No joke. Yes, this is Emily typing. No, I’m not on something right now. I’m serious.

I am finally –– finally –– living the college life. I haven’t left campus to see a boyfriend, I haven’t been home since midterm break. I’m here. I’m going to live.

I flirt with whomever I want. Sometimes it’s reciprocated. Sometimes I get rejected. But I don’t even care. For the first time in five years, I don’t have a crush running my life.

“I’m all out of pick-up lines,” I said bluntly to a guy two weekends ago. So I grabbed his hand and led him to the dance floor. Two other girls intercepted him.

But I didn’t even care. 

I danced with my girlfriends, instead.

I’m happy. Buoyant, even.

I’m doing things for me instead of worrying about someone else.

It’s about damn time.

Summer lovin’, happened so fast

He reached into his black backpack and pulled out a plain hemp bracelet. I wore it from that day on for several months. It was a reminder that, like the song in An American Tail, someone was thinking of me.

I'm the yellow one.
Professional. Plus the bracelet. : )

I wore it on my right wrist and never took it off. It went with me in the pool, in the shower. It switched wrists when, at my very corporate summer internship, I shook hands with a colleague and could feel the damp hemp against my wrist, meaning he probably could feel it on his, too. Whoops.

I wore it for the times he played guitar and sang to me, played soccer with me, went for walks with me and ran down the hill near his house with me. We had a wonderful summer together.

A couple of days before I was to leave for school, I noticed it wasn’t on my left wrist anymore. And I couldn’t find it anywhere. At that point, things in our relationship hadn’t been going the greatest. I took it as an omen.

While packing for school the next day, I found it in my laundry basket and breathed a sigh of relief. I eagerly put it back on my wrist and went on packing.

…he broke up with me on Labor Day. I sobbed and sobbed and he held me. But then we kissed and went our separate ways and I figured I’d never see him again.

But –– surprise! –– just like the bracelet situation where I found it the next day, he called me the next night and wanted to give it another go. So we did.

But, again, things didn’t go so well. So when he called me last week after I got home from Los Angeles (which I should probably write about on here at some point) and said he couldn’t let our relationship go any further, I let out a sigh, smiled and agreed with him. I knew it was only a matter of time before we broke up again.

We both hung up and I went to the bathroom to do my nightly routine.

After I had brushed my teeth and washed my face, I noticed that I didn’t feel a damp bracelet against my left wrist. The bracelet was already gone. I paused for a moment and tried to think. Where could it be? 

I looked at pictures from our L.A. trip and realized that, not only was it gone, it hadn’t been on my wrist for almost the entirety of our trip.

I never even noticed. And I’ll never find it.

I’m taking it as an omen.

Seventeen

“Your cousins said they couldn’t believe how much you’ve changed,” my mom told me two weeks ago as we drove to Chautauqua.

Well, yeah.

Papa died in May of 2011. That was the last time I had seen the only two cousins I have on my mom’s side.

Senior in high school. Seventeen. Tightly wound. Homebody. Impressionable. Judgmental. Narcissistic. Steady boyfriend with military ideals. Clean, if that makes sense.

Cigarette smoke floated up to my window from the front porch and I silently cursed the headache-inducing smell, along with my cousins’ useless nicotine addictions.

They saw a different Emily last month.

Junior in college. Nineteen (nearly 20!). Explorative. More –– but not completely –– open-minded. Independent. Still tightly wound, but knows now how to let go.

Short, boyish hair. Navel piercing. Tattoo (a new addition!). Bigger thighs (a big thank-you goes out to those damn squats in weight room freshman year).

And I don’t mind the cigarette smoke anymore.

I wouldn’t be who I am now if I had stayed in that militaristic relationship.

So I’m glad 17-year-old Emily is gone. This 19-year-old Emily has seen more of the world and, as a result, is closer to her older brothers and cousins than she ever thought she’d be.

My 6-second Vine loop

I’m not scared to be alone anymore.

I’ve found happiness in myself and I carry it with me on my evening bike rides and runs. I sit on benches, swing on swingsets and pedal through now-familiar neighborhoods.

My single room at Bonaventure, while a colorful space I sought solace in at times, became a lonely prison. I never went out and did anything on my own. I always had to have company. I always had to be in a group of friends. I felt like a lonely, boyfriend-less loser if I went to the dining hall alone after getting out of work at nine o’clock. I entered, I ate, I left. And when he found someone else, I felt even worse.

Being alone meant rethinking every decision I had made; everything I had done. Being alone meant a constant, 6-second Vine loop of things I wished I could take back and pictures I wished had never been taken.

College and the hunger for friends made me yearn for constant company and being “in the know.” I feared the thought of missing out on something or not knowing about an inside joke the next day. Now I’ve realized I just don’t care. 

I’ve been set free.

My group of friends here can hang out as much as they want to –– I don’t feel obligated to stick around like I normally would. It doesn’t bother me to be excluded from what they talk about. I have so much fun by myself that I feel like they’re the ones missing out. And I don’t feel bad for myself and I don’t feel even the slightest twinge of homesickness like I did my freshman year of college. I feel content. I feel happy. I’m seeing more, noticing more and experiencing more. I make time for friends and save time for myself. My hour-long breather at the end of the day consists of a bike ride with the sunset as its conclusion.

It helps knowing that, though I’m alone, it’s never complete solitude; the person who matters the most is always thinking about me.

The view from my favorite bench in the park.
The view from my favorite bench in the park.

Questionable behavior, apparently

He really brings the best out of me. Isn’t that what they –– significant others –– are supposed to do?

I promise not to get all mushy. But, seriously. He’s…he’s…himself. And I’ve never met anyone else quite like him.

He challenges me. He doesn’t accept my behavior, he questions it. He makes me think, and that’s exactly what he wants. (I think part of this is because he’s a few years older than I am.)

For example:

Me: “When I pull up to intersections I always turn my music down.”

Him: “Well, why do you do that?”

Me: “Uhh…I don’t know… I guess because I don’t want people to hear what I’m listening to and I don’t want older people judging me and thinking I’m just another stupid teenager.”

Him: “Why do you care what other people think?”

 

…yeah. I never know how to answer him when he calls me out on stuff like that. He’s made me realize just how self-conscious I never thought myself to be. Now that I’ve become aware of this little self-esteem problem, I’ve been trying to rid myself of it completely.

He’s also trying to slow me down so I can appreciate the little things. When we went for walks this past weekend, we walked at his pace rather than mine. You wouldn’t believe the difference. Miss Busybody always has something to do and somewhere to go. He’s slowing down the busybody in me. She’s still here, sure, but she knows that she doesn’t always have to be in a hurry just because her chosen career path forces her to be in certain situations.

When I look forward to something, I feel dread mounting up on top of the anticipation. I’m always anticipating the end of things. So, when I found out he planned to visit this past weekend (I looked forward to it for days), I told him how I already felt dread toward Tuesday, the set day of his departure. He told me to focus on enjoying the moment, instead.

“Don’t think about what comes afterward,” he said. So that’s what I did. I focused on the way his hand felt to hold, his musical laughter, his smile and our many conversations. It was hard to watch him leave, but I just smiled. I’d focused so much on the moment that, by the time this morning rolled around, it felt right. It needed to happen, much to my chagrin.

On top of the plethora of deep thoughts and conversations,  he makes me laugh like an idiot. Oh, and he plays guitar and sings to me.

I’m doing just fine. : )

Catastrophically minute

I am so self-absorbed.

I think that I’ve had a tough life recently because went through a break up and lost a best friend. But, the thing is, I chose my way. I made my decision and had to deal with the consequences. It makes me sad that I lost my best friend, but I had to have seen this coming. Only an idiot would believe that, despite a break up, a friendship can pick right back up where it left off before the dating began. So when I noticed tonight that he removed me from his Facebook friends, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I shouldn’t have called it immature. I ended it. I made the decision. It’s done. Move on.

And oh, I have.

I have recently been made more aware of the people I’m surrounded by. We live in unison. I’m writing this right now, but someone in the world is brushing his/her teeth in preparation for bedtime, someone else is gardening and this other person is up and on his/her way to work.

Maybe this person’s mom just died. Or maybe, just maybe, that man over there is battling a disease that will eventually claim his body in its entirety.

You just never know.

So I need to stop being so self-absorbed. Because, yeah, Emily went through a break up and yeah, Emily left the cross country team and might not be able to pay for college, but these catastrophic details in my life are minute to someone else. The kid who gets picked on for being gay would rather be in my shoes, as would the man who just got jumped on the streets of New York City.

My problems don’t mean anything. I should stop acting like they do.

Five minutes ago

This tab has been up on my computer now for a solid 30 minutes. Time to write and fill the white space, huh?

But, try as I might, I can’t get this worded correctly and succinctly. So another five minutes passes. And I’m no closer to writing this than I was five minutes ago.

Here we go.

One of my favorite Gertrude McFuzz lines.
One of my favorite Gertrude McFuzz lines.

I was told last year that I have a “swagger.” I walk with a purpose; head up, eyes forward, smile –– usually –– on. I wouldn’t call it swagger; that has negative connotations. Especially when nobody knows how hard it is for me to put that smile on and walk around.

I’ve been demolished several times. Shut down. Turned off. Doubted.

Eighteen-year-old Emily walked onto campus and acted like she owned the place.

Fast forward to the tear-stained, first night of my second semester.  Through hearsay, a friend told me the freshman girls in my major who knew me didn’t like me.

I sobbed. I don’t know why, but I sobbed. Then I learned how to say “fuck you” and got over it, but some of my confidence remained shattered on the floor. And I didn’t know how to fix it.

Having my boyfriend of nearly three years join me at school the next year was a treat. He pumped me up, overflowing my world with unnecessary, dare I say it, cockiness.

I had to. I just had to. I began this semester, sans boyfriend and basically parent-less after informing them I had decided to leave the cross country team.

The quotes on my walls served as my only vice, helping me through a terribly difficult time and inspiring me to climb out of bed, despite the urge to stay tucked in and continue hugging Strawberry, my barely-pink-anymore teddy bear. I read these quotes every morning and remind myself that everything is going to be okay and that, though I’m just a little girl in a big world, I have the power to change it.

Thank you, Papa.
Thank you, Papa.

As my Papa said and as the quote on my wall states, “Everything happens for a reason.”

I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in right now if I still had that boyfriend or if I still ran on a rigorous, D1 cross country team.

I made these choices. I stood by them. I defended them.

Now I’m waving to a scared, 18-year-old Emily from across the gorge, urging her to take a risk. Assuring her that she’ll land safely on the other side and I’ll be there to comfort her.

Rearranged

I’m on a roller coaster.

Image
[The ex and me the day of our Hersheypark trip sophomore year.]
I rode my first one in Hersheypark almost four years ago with my then-boyfriend. We then rode the second-steepest roller coaster in the nation. Fahrenheit, with its 97-degree drop, transformed my breathing into a scream.

He and I went on to Darien Lake together that summer (2009) and rode all of the coasters in a matter of hours.

They’re thrilling. The chug-a-chug of the climb, the intensity of the sudden plummet. The world dissolves beneath the tracks and you feel like you could fly right off into the clouds.

I’d give anything to fly off into the clouds right now.

I remember a poem I wrote several years ago that goes like this:

“Everything’s the same, but I have changedI’m different now, rearranged.”

I feel rearranged. I’m still me, just different.

On my drive back to school over a week ago, Taylor Swift’s “Begin Again” popped up as the first song. It’s odd how well it fits.

I’m beginning again this semester, in more ways than one. I’m still me, just rearranged. Revitalized. Reawakened. Reusing bits of me from the past and repurposing them. Replenishing.

Releasing.

I love roller coasters, but this one needs to get back to its station soon so I can get off.