High School Reunion

Published in Branded Magazine

IT HAD COME TIME TO ATTEND MY 10 YEAR HIGH SCHOOL REUNION.

How did I get here? I still remember what I wore on my first day of university. And didn’t I just move out?

I have to remind myself that I’ve had, like, six boyfriends, seven roommates, and it’s already been five years since I finished university. On a sunny afternoon in June of 2005, everyone warned me, “Don’t wish time away; it’s going to fly.” I was in my gown with too much eyeliner on and too platinum of hair, thinking only about after-grad and not much else.

Well, as expected, they were right.

I wish I had a hilarious reunion story about running into an old crush that had rejected my 15-year-old self only to wind up being one of those guys who ‘used to be hot.’ We all know those people who peaked in high school.

But I don’t have a story like that because I didn’t go. I don’t even know when it was, but I decided I would be busy that night.

Nevertheless, having been free from the doors of my high school for an entire decade, I’ve been thinking about all of the things that I’ve done and haven’t done since. In reminiscing, I became aware of the lessons that I’m really happy I stumbled upon. Though some of them involved a lot of growing pains, they have been instrumental in shaping the pretend fully functioning adult I am today.

10 Things I Learned in the Last 10:

1. There are many unconventional ways to make money. For a long time I felt judged for not taking a traditional career path, knowing that trying to justify my choices was futile. Yet I spent the majority of this summer working from my cabin. Never had I thought that I could design a schedule and a life that allowed me so much flexibility. It doesn’t have to be 9-5.

2. I remember hearing these lyrics for the first time and knowing exactly who I would dedicate them to: Ive got some friends,some that I hardly know, but weve had some times I wouldnt trade for the world.” Swing Life Away Rise Against

They reminded me of those restless souls that I stumbled upon while backpacking SE Asia, the standard twenty-two year old thing to do.

HSTRAVEL2

Traveling is a better teacher, self-discovery method, and roaring good time than you can imagine. Short trips or big trips, it’s worth every penny.

3. You’re going to offend people— it doesn’t make you a bad person. You are a good friend whether you say yes or no to going out for drinks. And anyone who is up to anything in this world is going to piss some people off.

There’s bound to be someone that thinks of you when “Bad Blood” comes on. Speaking of Taylor Swift lyrics…

4. a) Dating is hard. 

4. b) The grass is never greener. All you want is a boyfriend/girlfriend until you’re fighting with them about their ex, or what Netflix series to start. When you’re finally single and free again, the hunt for your next mate commences and the cycle continues.

4. c) Don’t compare your relationship to other people’s. You never know what their relationship is really like – we only post the good stuff, and even the good stuff is filtered.

4. d) GIRLS: Ignore boys who text you after 10 p.m. BOYS: If she doesn’t text you when she’s drunk, she’s not that into you.

5. Write things down. I first started writing down my goals when I was 23. Five years later, I am living the exact life that I envisioned. It’s freaky. Now I write down ridiculous unlikely things just to test out my manifesting powers.

But in all seriousness, you really are a powerful creator. Just decide, write it down, and take a tiny step in the right direction.

6. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. I’ve learned this lesson about 7,345 times.

6 b) What classifies as binge drinking is really not that much, and you’re probably going to have to lie to your doctor.

7. McDonald’s will never fill you up.

8. You will finally understand why your mother always bitched at you to put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher—especially if you end up with a messy roommate.

9. At some point you will realize that you are either wearing, or have eaten, all of your money. You will then proceed to scribble down a ‘budget’ that you’ll follow for a day and a half. Nothing will change.

10. Dating will seem like the most complicated thing in the world, until you’ve met someone great. Then friendships will take the cake for the thing that drains energy out of you. That is, if you let them. Relationships are tricky, whether they are romantic or not. The best advice I’ve ever been given is to speak up when something is bothering you, and to say what you’re really trying to say—but say it now, not three days or three years down the road.

And this:

One day, whether you are 14, 28 or 65 you will stumble upon someone who will start a fire in you that cannot die. However, the saddest, most awful truth you will ever come to find is they are not always with whom we spend our lives.” –Beau Taplin, The Awful Truth.

That good old saying, “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime,” is true. And it’s okay. We play different roles in each other’s lives. Sometimes we are cheerleaders from afar as we watch one another conquer goals via social media. Sometimes we are not much more than drinking buddies, an occasional therapist, or a shoulder to sob on at 2:30 a.m. outside of a bar. And sometimes we even play the villain.

Overall, the last decade seems to have been a trial in learning to chase after what we want, while simultaneously learning to let things go. As much effort as this life requires, it needs to be matched with an acceptance and willingness to roll with the punches.

To the next 10.

I have to admit that the closer I get to 30, the less scary it seems. I imagine it to be a time where I’ll laugh at my twenty-something self and her petty problems, finally have a career figured out that seamlessly weaves together my passions that pays triple what I make now, and of course, eat salads every day.

I know, dream on.

I can only hope that the approaching dirty thirties have some great times in store. Until then, I will bask in the knowledge that the last 10 years have brought, and of course, continue to lie to my doctor about how many ounces of alcohol I consume on a weekly basis. 

I’ve also been writing about coffee and jackets. Check out brandedyyc.com

Respect the Phase Out

“What kind of girl, busy or not, texts this little? Screw you too.”

That was the response I got after I sent my latest version of the “I’m flattered BUT…” text. (I edited his response for spelling and grammar)

I put my phone down. “Well guys-he didn’t take that very well.”

In defense, I’m not a big texter. Ask my best friends. But I admit I was avoiding the guy… A string of really eager text messages were giving me the creeps. When I say I’m busy this weekend it means I’m busy this weekend. Please don’t question how many hours I’m working on a Sunday and insist on picking me up from work.

But anyways here’s how I got told “Screw you” this week:

For the first time ever I got asked out by a guy in public where no alcohol was involved.

“Do you have a minute? Are you single?”

Um, yes.

“This might be weird but I saw you walk by and thought you were really cute and was wondering if I could get your phone number?”

I really appreciated his boldness! And I definitely didn’t want to discourage him from being that confident in the future. He was cute, polite, kind of nervous…So I said yes. And I was even planning on going on a date with him until he questioned my busy-ness and then proceeded to text me 5 times in a row asking why I hadn’t responded.

I thought about never texting him again.

But I really appreciate honesty and felt sort of guilty for leaving the guy hanging, so I sent a polite yet straight message back explaining that I was flattered and thought more guys should do what he had done, but that I wasn’t interested in meeting up anymore.

Maybe I deserved to be told to screw off. I don’t know. But here’s my question: Would you rather be given the honest truth, or would you rather be phased out?

When I showed my neighbor Janine the string of text messages I had from him and my few responses she thought I had been pretty clear. “Dude. Respect the phase out.”

But I’m a believer in the truth setting you free! One time, many years ago, I sent my ex boyfriend a really sincere apology. I let that guy love me for way too long knowing that deep down I didn’t feel the same. And so I told him so in more or less words.

At first he was f*cking pissed to say the least.

But, less than 24 hours later, he thanked me for my honesty. He knew that it must have been hard for me to say those things but now that he knew the whole truth he could actually let me go.

See? Truth=freedom.

But I have more questions. What are the rules around this form of honesty being in person versus writing? How long do you have to date someone for before you can’t get away with an “it’s not you it’s me” text?

Because not that long ago I sent a guy I was dating a message explaining that I didn’t see things going any further for me blah blah blah blah…. And he responded so well!

He appreciated my text message so much that he even recycled it.

Shortly after me he was seeing a girl for 1.5 weeks when he decided that he didn’t want to date her. So he literally copied and pasted what I had said to him and sent it to her.

WELL.

That didn’t go over very well.

Apparently there is another blogess out there who occasionally writes about boys and breakups. My ex took me out for dinner last week (See? Truth=freedom=friendship) and showed me this girls post about him.

Sure enough there were my break-up words verbatim.

“Wow, you literally didn’t change a word eh?”

“Nope!” he said cheerfully. “Your message was perfect; polite but straight. I got the point.”

This girls blog went on and on about how inconsiderate he had been; her main point, as it seemed to me, was that she REALLY didn’t like that he had said those things over text.

So sometimes we like honesty, but only if it’s delivered in person. And other times we’d rather not have honesty, just a string of text messages that slowly die.

Breakup etiquette. Yet another set of rules I don’t understand. What would you rather? Honesty or phase out?

Choose your poison. Chances are neither will go down good.

A Grumpy Cat and Two Flamingos Walk Into a Bar

“We lost the kitten to a heterosexual drag queen.”

So said a text between two of my friends.

Halloween. It was like every other mediocre Friday night at National, except there were costumes. The best part of the night was in my condo. Girls, “punch”, and Taylor Swifts new album on repeat.

Shortly after we arrived my friends found a large group of Waldo’s.

I don’t have anything against Waldo, but I was not into being chatted up by these guys. Maybe I was just getting into character. I was Grumpy Cat. And the grumpy part set in as soon as I was surrounded by men dressed in red and white stripes.

I was contemplating leaving when my friend and I noticed a large woman in a revealing tight pink dress with cupcakes all over it. She was wearing a curly hot pink wig and looked kind of sad.

She waved; we waved back and went to sit with her.

Okay so, not a woman.

“Hey gorgeous how are you?” he said to my friend. My girlfriend would go on to say that she loved gay guys; she instantly felt incredibly comfortable with the guy in the pink wig and thick falsies.

Eventually my friend went back to her Waldo of choice and I got into conversation with the drag queen.

“Why do you look so grumpy babe?”

Because I’m Grumpy Cat, obviously.

He didn’t fall for that answer. You know when you don’t feel like talking about your problems with a stranger dressed as a drag queen but for some reason they feel compelled to give you a bunch of life advice anyways?

Eventually he stopped and said, “Take my arm darling, I’m not going to buy you a drink because there’s another girl here that I’m into, but I’m going to show you a good time.”

Wait, what? Apparently not gay either.

I decided to take his arm and do one lap. I’d have one more drink, go get a slice of pepperoni, and call it a night.

Unfortunately for my drag queen who had coined himself my fairy godmother, we ran into the mystery girl that he was into. But she didn’t see that he was just my fairy godmother, holding my hand in friendly companionship.

“What the fuck Dustin.”

I immediately snatched my hand away as he tried to reason with her. Was I going to get into a cat fight dressed as Grumpy Cat? That would be kind of funny.

She stormed off; he looked defeated.

“She wasn’t even dressed up. Look at you, Dustin. You deserve someone who will put as much effort into a costume as you did tonight. I seriously thought you were a woman.”

It was my turn to cheer him up. We spent the rest of the night standing at the bar. He started slurring and complimenting me way too much in between more life advice.

“Look at you. You’re so pretty. Except is your nose always that pink?”

No Dustin. It’s part of the kitty costume.

My phone buzzed. “Where are you Grumpy Cat!?” My friends noticed I was missing.

“Still with the drag queen. Pizza time?”

We all got given a phone number that night. 2 Waldo’s and 1 heterosexual drag queen.

Will I be calling my fairy godmother? Probably not. There’s something about thinking a guy is a woman, and then gay, and then realizing he’s as straight as can be that kind of kills any potential attraction.

But I made sure he knew how much I appreciated his kindness. He could have spent his night trying to pick up (and probably confusing) any of the witches, animals, nurses, slutty ____’s in the place, but he chose to try and cheer up a grumpy cat.