Lightning flashes. Rain hits my window, creating rivulets that slide down slow as molasses.
A peek at some raindrops.
I’m safe in my room. My hotel room. My own bathroom in the back, my own king-sized bed in the front facing the window. I turn off the TV and my bedside table lamp to make it lighter outside, but sky blue sheer curtains interrupt my view slightly. The air conditioner hums to remind me I can’t open my window to smell the rain.
I’m under the covers, picking at the acne between my eyebrows and trying to string together the web of raindrops on my window to make something work. Anything work.
My parents and brothers have roofs over their heads, even though it isn’t raining where any of them are right now. There’s just one storm cloud over the palace –– yes, palace –– I call “home.”
We celebrated my brother’s 27th birthday this past weekend. Twenty-seven; six-ish years my senior. He has an apartment that he shares with his 5-year-old Golden Retriever. He’s a success story; an internship he had during his undergrad summers morphed into a career. He’s single. He watches seasons of TV shows on Netflix, takes the dog out for walks and visits friends. He’s happy.
In fact, I’ll never forget what he told me during my birthday celebration a couple months back when I told my family about a guy who wanted to take me out on a date.
“It’s okay to be single for awhile, Em,” he said.
You may have read this post a few months back. I wrote that 89 days ago. I’ve kissed six different guys over these past 89 days, ultimately (drunkenly) sleeping with two of them. I looked up the word “slut” in the dictionary and have concluded I am neither promiscuous or slovenly –– I’m merely going for the men who seem to readily give me attention. “Promiscuous” implies I’ve had sexual relations with each of these six guys and that is simply not the case.
Still, in the process, I’ve lost real feelings. So imagine me a little over a month ago when a really nice, respectable guy began giving me attention. I went a little nuts and it scared me shitless. He scared me shitless. My friends told me they could tell how much I liked him by the speed of my talking and the high-pitch tone my voice adopted. That scared me, too. Now I think I’ve scared him away. Real smooth, Em, ya dummy.
I’ve realized that being rejected really depresses me. I go into full-blown nihilism mode and lose track of everything I’m working for, everything I’m trying to be. I’ve lived under the mindset of what good is anything if I have nobody to share that ‘anything’ with? for a very long time, leading to never watching movies by myself or going shopping for fun by myself.
I need to get back in touch with the adventurous version of myself I found while living away from home last summer for an internship. My brother’s found it. I’d like to join him. I’d like to be happy, learn from my past mistakes and begin a new relationship when I’m good and ready for it. Too many of my insecurities rule my life and my way of thinking –– I need to squash them before I begin anything new.
I haven’t been single since my sophomore year of high school. I’m currently a junior in college.
Eight months, three years, five months, five months; each one a separate relationship.
So when my (now ex) boyfriend called last night and said, “I just can’t do this anymore,” I breathed a sigh of relief, smiled and agreed with him. I had been thinking the same thing.
We started out strong and had a fun summer together, but my return to school really changed things. I noticed how different he and I are and how we don’t have much in common. We tried to build something substantial around a simple, mutual attraction. It didn’t work.
I could tell our relationship had been failing, but I decided to cling onto the hope that things would return to how they were in the beginning. It was effortless then. I was absolutely crazy about him and knew he felt the same way about me. But it slowly deflated. And instead of owning up to this and breaking it off myself, I waited for him to do it.
Why? Because I’m scared of being alone.
There. I said it.
“You’re 19, Em,” my mom says, “you’re fine.”
I know I am. So why do I feel this intense pressure to meet someone, fall in love, get married and live happily ever after?
One word: Disney. And all the other happy-go-lucky movies I watched as a child.
It’s their fault I grew up and babbled about my eventual wedding and practically have the whole damn thing already planned.
I need to change some things.
I don’t just want to be alone, I want to be okay with being alone.
I don’t want to see my ex with his girlfriend and feel sorry for myself. I want to continue the laughter I had a few weeks ago when he returned to the dining hall with his and her dishes to put in the dish rack. He thinks he’s being a gentleman, but he’s really just stripping her of her independence. (She can do it herself, ya dummy!)
I don’t want to walk around campus looking for my next beau. I want to focus on me and my work. And if something should happen along the way, cool. It shouldn’t be It’s not a priority.
I don’t want to panic anymore. I want to feel secure in my own skin. I owe that much to myself after being a shapeshifter in these relationships over the past five years.
Jane Eyre said, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
June 24, 2011. Blue and white caps and gowns dotted the football field. From my chair in the front row, I remember thinking to myself, “I will never be in the presence of this exact group of people ever again.”
Since then, I can count on one hand how many people from my high school graduating class I’ve gone out of my way to see since that June evening over two years ago (the answer is three –– not kidding).
But my lack of friends from high school is an entirely different matter; the real point here is that there are moments we seriously can never get back. And places, too. Physical locations are just as important.
I adored my freshman year dorm room. I have so many memories trapped within the walls of room 157 in Loughlen Hall. My friends and I watched Jenna Marbles videos and snuggled in my bed. We got fancy with wine the night before one of my finals and shoveled handfuls of classy taco cheese down our throats, the next-best thing to Gruyère.
It hits me when I remember that room doesn’t exist anymore. And some of those people in the memories don’t even attend the university now. We’ll never recreate that group of people or the place we once called “home.” The then-polka-dotted walls are back to their original white cinder-block state, with lonely bed frames housing empty blue mattresses.
I’m currently in limbo, picturing my dorm room from this past year instead of looking forward to a new white box to call my home. And what I’m thinking of and picturing doesn’t even really exist anymore. The frame does, the touches that made it Emily’s Room don’t.
Next time you’re in a group of friends, look around. Memorize facial expressions and laughter. Take the time to discover what each person contributes to the gathering and ponder what it would be like if he/she were not there. How do your surroundings make an impact? What if you could never return to that particular place? You’re living in a moment that may never present itself again. Cherish it.
I hope that if/when my parents sell my childhood home, the new owners take the time to look it over and imagine bare feet tearing through the different rooms and up the staircase. I know I will be.
The minute that “SOLD” sign is posted, I’ll have lost access to a portal containing countless memories; one that can never be reopened once sealed.