If you had just taken that damn tag off of your button, maybe we wouldn’t be here, two years later, still splitting sour beers and smoking in your truck and kissing eagerly after a week of not talking. What a cycle we started, almost immediately. It’s almost laughable—what a witty piece I could write—almost. I could be sarcastic and flirty and go the whole Cosmo article route and shrug this all off as an unfortunate series of events—oh how I wish I could do that and end it all with something like, “At least I still have wine, am I right ladies?”
But I can’t do that. We’re so past the silly, ridiculous point of me being able to do that. Now we’re here and I’m split and splintered and shattered and suffering and every heart-wrenching s-word you can think of; I am that.
I think about that button a lot though, and how it was cold that night and I saw a tiny glint of white silk popping out of your collared shirt.
“Did you buy a new shirt for our first date?” I asked coyly.
“What? No…” you looked down and pulled your jacket to the side and noticed the white. “Oh. I thought you were supposed to leave these on.” You toyed with the small tag around the middle button.
“What?!” I was incredulous—half on purpose, half actually incredulous. “Of course you’re not supposed to leave it on!” I laughed and took another sip of the sour beer you’d bought us, pretending to like it.
“Well take it off then,” you said, leaning towards me. I knew I liked you then, after only 15 minutes, because if I didn’t, I would have scoffed and told you to do it yourself. But instead I leaned closer to you than necessary and took off the button tag more slowly than necessary, smiling up at you as if I was fixing your tie for the hundredth time.
If only every human came with a list of warnings, like medicine does.
Male, aged 30 years. Much like the bullshit biblical figure he is named for, Adam is amazing at reaping all of the benefits of the earth while his companion sins and is blamed and undergoes great hardship. He will be messier than any person you’ve ever met, yet he will not trust your dishwasher and will re-wash every dish and glass offered to him. He prefers dinner no earlier than 10PM and he will never try to not wake you up when he gets up earlier than you, flicking the bathroom light on before shutting the door like some sort of animal. He will introduce you as a friend and he will smell so good, but he will never, ever know how to communicate. He will be the first person you want to tell things to and you will always want to feel the tiny gray hairs hidden on his head but he will be absent when you most need his Tejano music and giant breakfasts and giggly existential conversations so you will be forced to tell someone else all the things.
Consult your therapist before accepting this human into your life, as this is not the suggested course of action for all willing participants. Side effects may include love, regret, heartbreak, death, or in some cases, all of the above.
Let’s be real though, I still would’ve taken that pill—I still would’ve leaned toward that stupid, fucking collared shirt. That’s what we all do, right? We’re warned and warned and warned—every day, about everything! And we still do almost everything that “could be” harmful or “could be” dangerous or “could be” the worst decision of our life. You could’ve been the best decision of my life. And now you’re just last night. Now you’re just text on a page. A button in a whole box of buttons.
I was walking barefoot down the grungy sidewalk, carrying my two black wedges and sipping from a giant can of Arizona Green Tea. Maybe it would’ve been better if it was a canna beer or a bottla wine, but nope. It was the same 99 cent turquoise garbage that I’ve been buying from convenient stores since high school.
The pop top gleamed under the street lamp and I spat loudly into the night, trying to swat a moth away with the only free “hand” I had. I wondered what anyone would think if they saw me walking toward my apartment building looking like this. Mascara and short, white hairs caked on my sticky cheeks from sobbing into a puppy’s neck, dress torn if you looked close enough, heels in hand, taking huge gulps of tea every few steps as if they were shots of tequila. I looked like a dime-store whore, and I laughed up at the branches at that thought.
There’s something about hurting that makes you not give a shit about what you look like–about anything really. I climbed the gritty steps, feeling bits of dirt (and who knows what else) fall off my feet and new bits of dirt (and who knows what else) collect on my feet.
I wished, in that moment, that I could’ve held my head high and sashayed out of that house, into my car, and out of my car like a movie star, like a rock star, like any star. I wished my whole look and demeanor and attitude and confidence and poise and ferocity had been untouched, an unwavering smile, unfaltering mirth-filled eyes, always.
But that’s just impossible, right? You’re the loser of the story in your own life…a lot. Often times, you’re the minor character–the one that looks like a hot mess, probably cracked-out, drunk, and pregnant with a one-way ticket to jail, a comedic relief. The ridiculous best friend, not the one who gets the whole plot line.
Other times, you’re the funny girl at the beginning of a rom-com who’s chugging Arizona Green Tea like it’s unicorn blood–and then something crazy happens and then something hilarious happens and then something cute happens and then something romantic happens and everything is rainbows and butterflies and all is well in the world for that silly little dime-store whore in the end. Right?
P.S. These are all real things…??? Need.
I can’t even remember all of my crazy October 31st nights, but I know I’ve loved every single one of them. Halloween’s been a long-time favorite–I LOVE dressing up, being someone else for a night.
College was a blur of “sexy somethings” and I was sadly among them–sexy cop, sexy Girl Scout (used my real, patch-covered vest). One year I was Risky Business Tom Cruise, Gold Dress Marilyn Monroe the next. In Hawaii, I was a fellow drinking game (we were Beer Pong, Power Hour, and King’s Cup together) and then a hippie (but that year, a tsunami warning halted our plans). Then back to Texas, borrowed my best friend’s ancient flapper dress.
I’ve had quite the string of awesome Halloweens–late night kisses, hilarious drunken tales, insane parties…That’s why I’m OK with kind of giving up my favorite holiday this year. Turning it in for a Hocus Pocus movie night with the girls, complete with wine and take-out. No costumes, no raging, no hangover, and hopefully no bawling over last Halloween. I was Mystique. It was kind of epic.
But before you start picturing “Break-Up Alysha” weeping to Adele’s new song over a pint of newly released Blue Bell, please know that I am [also] remembering some of the things that are great about being single. More importantly, I think I finally know what I want and need in a relationship.
It’s funny, how I thought I knew a year ago.
I’ll stop it now, promise.
Anyway, I’m excited about a different kind of Halloween this year. It may make me feel old as dirt and my heart might wind up hurting just as much…who am I kidding, of course it will…but that’s OK. At least I won’t be a wasted mess. There’s always next year (not to be a wasted mess, I mean, there’s always next year to carry on with my tradition of awesomeness). I’ve been trying to convince my best friends to get on board with a cutesy Three Blind Mice get-up for years and I think the stars may finally align in 2016.
To NEXT Halloween! Watch out, Austin. Or wherever I’ll be (spoiler alert: my next blog might be about where to move).
I used to be one of those people–you know who I mean–the people who think that you only go to therapy if “something is WRONG with you.” The people who think that “mental health” is only important if you’re having suicidal or homicidal thoughts.
I’m so glad I’m not “one of those people” anymore. However, I AM broke–and sadly, to take care of ourselves mentally is significantly more expensive than taking care of ourselves physically. I can afford a gym membership, a massage, a whole grocery list full of fresh fruits and vegetables, daily vitamins, FREE birth control, and all of my yearly medical expenses, yet…I can’t afford to go to therapy as often as I’d like? THIS IS BULL. Insurance should cover this 100%…but that’s a separate blog post. This is not about that. Moving on.
I’ve always wanted to go to therapy–this mainly stemming from movies I’ve seen and books I’ve read, where the character lies down on a couch and it all seems so…cool. But also, I always knew I’d have things to talk about–I’ve never considered myself perfect, I’ve never considered my childhood drama-free, I’ve never considered all of my relationships healthy…I wanted to talk about these things with a professional. If, for nothing else, just out of pure curiosity. What would they say? Would it be helpful at all? What would they write in my file?
Late last year, I finally made that leap. My life was a frenzy of stress and anxiety. I felt…helpless. So when a friend of mine started raving about her therapist (she was going through an ugly divorce), instead of just listening, I said, “Hey, can I get her name and contact info?”
It was great…and I mean GREAT. I should make it clear–when I said stress and anxiety, I literally meant stress and anxiety. That’s it–normal, extremely common feelings of stress and anxiety, weighing down on me. Life, career, family, friends, relationship…everyday stressful, anxiety-causing stuff. I wasn’t depressed, I didn’t want or need medication of any kind…I just needed to talk. And that’s the amazing thing about therapy–you’re talking to someone who a) isn’t biased b) has an education and work experience in psychology c) doesn’t treat you with pity or annoyance or judgment and d) isn’t tired of hearing you talk about a subject, like some of your friends or family members might be.
These people listen WHOLEHEARTEDLY and give fantastic advice for a freakin’ living. They are basically YOURS for an entire hour, completely tuned in to your wants and needs and thoughts and emotions and rants and frustrations and…need I go on?
Granted, you may need to search for a therapist whose personality fits what you’re looking for. Not everyone will be as lucky as me (my therapist looks sweet and innocent, but has a mouth like a sailor when need be and doesn’t take anyone’s shit…I adore her). After my first session with her, I felt immensely better about my situation–not just because she listened, but she also gave me some things to think about that no one else had even thought of. My swimming, muddled mind was, for the first time in months, clear.
Let me wrap this up before this turns into a novel-sized stream of conscious on the benefits of therapy.
- If you’ve never been, you should! It’s pretty awesome sauce and can truly help with any issue that’s itching at you, big or small…
- DON’T FREAKING JUDGE PEOPLE FOR GOING…that just means they take their mental health seriously, which is super mature, proactive, and beneficial to them and everyone around them. It’s 2015. Don’t be “one of those people.”
I’m supposed to be working on my novel.
I’m supposed to be sipping this Live Oak Hef, my favorite beer, and working on my novel.
I’m supposed to be enjoying the Texas summer (before it gets too hot)—wind through my hair, sun on my skin, taco truck scents drifting my way—and working on my novel.
I told my friend Ashely that it’s been difficult to write lately because I’ve been so happy. “Give me a heartbreak and I’ll pump out a few novels,” I’d laughed and given her tiny Pomeranian a pat. And it’s true, it really is. I mean, that’s how the first novel came to be.
But the thing is, you make me want to write all the time. And that’s not always a good thing. Usually it is. Usually, you make me want to write sappy poetry after I’ve had a few glasses of Cab. I grab the first writing utensil I find in your grungy garage and jot some cheesy observations into the legal pad that you draw in. I sketch stanzas about your whiskers and kisses and huge hands and you telling me you loved me in that sketchy motel we stayed in. I paint lines with your expressions, sayings, Spanglish, noises your watch makes.
But sometimes. Like now. I’ve felt on the edge of crying for a couple hours—thankful for my Ray Bans and lipstick and beer. I wish I could explain why. I wish I could be honest when you ask me what’s wrong. I think the sad fact is simply that I’m in love, I’m so in love with you and I’m so scared and I don’t want to feel completely destroyed ever again and that’s the only thing I wind up being able to write about.
I get anxiety, I feel this intensely strong desire to put giant walls back up, brush these feelings aside, break this off and avoid any kind of pain. I thought I’d be over this—I thought you’d be the one to be freaking out, tight chest, on edge. How hilarious that it’s me!
I wish I could explain this…better. But that’s what it is—you haven’t done anything wrong, necessarily. I think I’m a little crazy is all. Isn’t everyone? That Kerouac quote about “mad ones,” you know?
I need reassurance by the bucket or else I think you’re going to leave. It’s sad, really, but it makes me feel better that I’m not alone. So many of us have these skeletons, the burned past—the exact same insecurity, fear.
I wish it were my fault and I could fix it. I’m great at fixing things that are my fault. But I didn’t do this…my father did this, my ex-boyfriend did this, my friends and their stories, their nightmares, almost every single man I’ve dated, actually. It’s a long list, it’s a lot of pain, it’s kind of like this campfire experience of ghost tales that travels with you forever, the smoke seeping into your heart.
I hope you won’t be added to the list. That’s all I can really do, I suppose. Drink my beer, try again tomorrow to work on my novel (I’m supposed to be working on my novel).
Sometimes, when I’m in a writing slump (which lately, is always), I allow Twitter to feed me prompts. There are an astounding number of tweeps whose sole tweet purpose is to motivate others to write. It’s pretty great. So here goes: an unexpected night.
Blue paint was creeping into my nostrils and caking around every crease of my lips but I was two drinks down and feeling anything but blue. I guess I can be more specific—it wasn’t blue paint exactly, that was curdling around my eyebrows—it was (unfortunately) more like periwinkle. Luckily, I had a BLUE long-sleeved t-shirt, BLUE shorts, and BLUE tights to combat any confusion: I was blue (even if my face was periwinkle). A long, RED (orange-red, if I’m being honest) wig draped itself around my splotchy neck and YELLOW (definite on this one) cat-eye contacts continued to rotate creepily since I was wearing them over my regular contacts.
In other words, I was a bit of a mess. The paint wasn’t spreading onto my skin very evenly, in fact, it was being downright exasperating. I had chunks on one side of my face that were thick and wet, spots on the other side that were thin and dry, flecks in strands of my hair (real and wig), flecks everywhere else within a 10-foot radius… I looked like something out of a budget Smurf production. An elementary school’s Spring performance. An understudy for a second-grade Smurfette.
Luckily, I didn’t give a damn. Amazing friends, Halloween excitement, and vodka do wonderful things to a mind, body, and soul. I hopped around my living room in my beige canvas slip-ons (apparently I don’t own blue shoes), sipping and laughing and unknowingly splattering a few paint specks on couch pillows and the likes.
“Girrrrrl, you are BLUE!” Anne giggled in her goddess dress and I eyed her (cat-eyed her) jealously. She looked like a goddess, with or without the costume. Giant green eyes, dark hair, olive skin, white dress, curves for days—she was straight out of a Greek myth.
“Do I even look like Mystique, though? Or do I just look like a blue girl?” Mystique has been an idol of sorts for years. First of all, holy hell she’s smokin’ hot. Secondly, she kicks ass. Third, she can literally be ANYONE she wants to be. I’d thought about buying a latex suit to look more like her—I mean, let’s face it, clothes really aren’t her thing. But um, tummy pudge is also not her thing, so yeah, I decided on the t-shirt-shorts-tights.
“Yes, you really do. You really, really do!” I knew she was lying, but in a lovely, daughter of Zeus kind of way.
“It’s actually creeping me out,” Jennifer the 80’s rocker chick chimed in. I was surrounded by such happy, “fluffy” costumes. Athena, the Molly Ringwald-esque punkstress, Tara was Rainbow Brite, and Sandra was a cute pirate. I stood out, obviously. I looked pretty evil, but like I said, Smurfette. So a Smurfette gone bad.
We eventually shuffled into a taxi and met up with a few more friends on Rainey Street. Here’s where I cut to the chase. Fill in the holes with (what else) drinking. There was lots of that. Also, random guys shouting out things like, “Ohhh, I get it! AVATAR!!!” and “Genie chick, cooooool.” To the bro’ who guessed that I was Beetlejuice: You. Are. An. Idiot.
Two pedi-cabs and lots of walking later, we drunkenly made it to our final destination: Gypsy Bar on East 6th to see our friend Brian’s band play.
Here’s where it’s important to know a couple things about me and alcohol.
- I’m pretty good at it.
- I get suuuuuper ballsy and confident and seductive sometimes (i.e. when I see something I want).
Also, I’d told Anne earlier in the night, “I’m gonna make out with someone tonight, OK? That’s the goal. You in?” And she was in, SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO EXECUTE THIS PLAN WITH ME. However, the goddess, Molly, Rainbow, and One Eye watched as I, and I alone, smoothly decided to yell at a stranger, “WHY aren’t you wearing a costume?! How lame! It’s HALLOWEEN, HELLO!”
Super sexy, amiright? Paired with my crusty paint job and rotating, wompy contacts, I was basically a catch. Did I mention that my skin was starting to itch underneath all that periwinkle? Downright foxy.
Look: he had dimples and he was really tall and someone obviously needed to yell at him for not wearing a costume (that’s just dumb…why even go out?).
Even closer: goddamn he was really tall and he had a random sprinkling of freckles and gray hairs and his eyes were kind of caramel in the light and he immediately matched my bluntness with, “Well, at least my paint isn’t weirdly coming off. And your contacts are all kinds of crooked too.”
Barely a breath between us: “Well then here.” I pulled the cheap tube of paint out of my purse—it was almost the only item in there. “And while you’re at it, go ahead and rotate my contacts for me please.” I leaned up towards his stubbly chin and opened my eyes wide, not allowing him to hesitate, my lips pursed in amusement.
All of our friends had vanished by this point, leaving us in a strange bubble we’d created within minutes. This is apparently the point in which I tell a stranger everything about me: teaching, my novel, moving from Hawaii…I don’t even know what else I told him, I just know that we were locked in conversation and we’d moved to a picnic table and it was ten minutes ‘til the bar closed.
“I really want to kiss you but you’re going to get blue paint all over your face.”
Yeah. That came out of my mouth.
He must’ve said he didn’t care or he might’ve not said anything at all, but as people shuffled out of the back gate and the lights were being shut off, Mystique made out with the costumeless man with two last names. He looked like he’d been periwinkle-pied. I giggled and tried to wipe it off of his lips. He asked for my number. I gave it to him, scampered off, and expected to never hear from him again.
Five months later and my friends still affectionately call him “Blue Man Group,” but usually just behind his back.
Sometimes it’s not a terrible idea to paint yourself periwinkle, take a few shots, and yell at a stranger.