A Valentine’s Day Tale for Sweethearts

One of the defining facts of my life that I take a certain amount of (perverse) pride in is that I spent the first quarter-century of my life (plus five months) “unrelationshiped.” A related fact, though less defining, is that during those 25 years I did not hate being unrelationshiped on Valentine’s Day. (This was back before Leslie Knope coined the term “Galentine’s Day” and made female friendship a focal point of this most useless holiday. This was back when Groupon regularly sent me deals for fried chicken baskets and sewing classes, like they knew me or something.) I approached Valentine’s Day in pretty much the same way I approached any other day: a combination of mild amusement and tired indifference. To put it another way, at best I felt nothing, at worst I felt very little.

On Valentine’s Day 2012, I suddenly fell ill at work and left early. This was a major event, because at the time I was working for the book publishing equivalent of Mussolini’s fascist regime. Once I was a minute late coming back from lunch (I mean this in the most literal way possible––sixty seconds), and my boss asked in an accusing, mocking tone if I had hit traffic coming back. I said yes, not bothering to mention that I had only just been sitting in the break room watching The Aviator. I worked for this company for nearly three years, and this Valentine’s Day is the only time I ever left early due to illness––and believe me when I say I felt ill with stunning regularity while I was an employee there.

Anyway, on Valentine’s Day 2012, I left work early, drove home in what can only be described as near-delirium, arrived home, dropped my things, and collapsed into my pillows fully clothed. I didn’t move or speak for the rest of the day. Day turned into night, and there I stayed, in bed with my eyes closed in a feverish state, TV on but muted, mentally crafting one-liners/Tweets about how I was having a “steamy Valentine’s Day” but “too bad it’s because of a fever!” Something like that, more clever in theory than in execution.

By the next morning, I had unexpectedly and quite miraculously made a full recovery. My fever was gone, and my head no longer felt like it had fifteen bricks resting on it. I was confused, and then elated, which quickly turned into despondency because feeling better meant I had to go to work. (Not that I would have actually taken a sick day, mind you. We didn’t get sick days. But more on that in my best-selling tell-all.) At some point that day, or perhaps a later point in time that escapes me now, it occurred to me that maybe my sickness on Valentine’s Day had been psychosomatic. Maybe all of my “I don’t even care about Valentine’s Day, you guys” was really just a lame defense mechanism; maybe I had been suppressing my tortured feelings for the entirety of my adolescent, young adult, and adult life, and now my torment had manifested itself as physical symptoms. Maybe I was no better than one of Freud’s women.

I entertained this notion for all of three hours. Life continued. But then.

Two years later on a chilly February morning about a week after Valentine’s Day, I was running on the treadmill in my basement around 6 AM when I started to feel a little lightheaded and queasy. I stopped running right away like all those signs at the gym* tell you to do, blaming whatever this was on the Trader Joe’s “Green Juice” I had had before bed the previous evening. (That stuff and my gut have a volatile relationship; sometimes they’re on, but most of the time they’re off, and I just can’t learn my lesson and move on.) To give you some unrelated details about this time in my life: I had severed ties with Mussolini the year before, started a love affair with oatmeal, and also had a boyfriend of two years. In fact, three days after the incident of Valentine’s Day 2012, my boyfriend––who is, I feel compelled to report, still my boyfriend––had not bought me a drink for the second time (the night I met him, which also happened to be the only other time I had seen him before this second time, he also did not buy me a drink despite my undeniably sexy knowledge of 90s infomercials, and I have preserved a $34 receipt from a club called “Moon” to prove it), and then asked for my phone number. So, that had happened. But probably the most important of these is the one about oatmeal. It really changed my breakfast and my life.

Anyway, twenty minutes later, I fainted in my hallway. (“How very nineteenth-century of you,” said my “best friend” when I told her many hours later.) If you guessed that I ended up being fine, then you’re right: I ended up being fine, just as I had two years prior, though I scared everyone in my household––especially my dog, who I hadn’t yet let out for her morning poop. And while 48 hours of throwing up in a bucket and sucking on ice cubes is among the least enjoyable experiences of my life (second only to watching the movie The Master and enduring all eight years of Field Day in elementary school, which are tied), the episode served as a reminder of my sudden illness/sudden recovery of two years earlier and the (mostly) facetious Freudian explanation I had given it at the time. If any part of me had ever truly wondered if my fever of Valentine’s Day 2012 was a grand metaphor or neurotic breakdown––or, more likely, my body’s clever way of bowing out of the day altogether, like seeeeyaaaa––then this more recent incident, my dramatic fainting spell and subsequent upchucking, had confirmed that it was nothing of the sort. Indeed, Valentine’s Day had nothing to do with it. But the entire month of February had everything to do with it.  My body, I concluded, was not shutting down at the sight of candy hearts and roses, but rather was shutting down at the sight of February in general, which I think we can all agree has absolutely nothing going for it in the slightest except for the fact that we only have to endure 28 days of it instead of 30 or 31. I apologize for being so blunt about it, especially if your birth month is February or if you appreciate the fact that it’s the one time of year when you can catch Roots on TV or, more bizarrely (if I may so), you really, really, unironically like Valentine’s Day because you need a day to show some appreciation for your loved one, whom you berate on the other 364 days of the year. But it’s true. February is a barren wasteland, and my physiology understands this on the most intuitive of levels.

Of course, a more probable explanation for all of this is that none of it means anything, particularly if you’re one of those people who thinks everything means nothing. But I prefer to be at the helm of the ship that is my life, even if that means sailing into Newark and calling it Paris. Ya know? No you don’t.

Anyway, it’s now Valentine’s Day, and I have to go celebrate the only way that seemed appropriate when I booked the appointment a couple weeks ago: with my dermatologist, so that she can check out this freckle on my back. It hasn’t seen the sun in a half-decade or longer, but you never know. It’s February, after all.

 *When I say “the gym” I am actually referring to one specific gym, which also happens to be the only gym I’ve been to since 2005. The fitness center at the Microtel in Johnstown, New York, is modestly sized but aims to please.

PREACH!!!

 

Something I absolutely did not write, but really, really wish I had:

“…what we’ve come to call ‘women’s culture.’ By this I mean all the crap in the media that suggests not only are women a special interest group, they’re a group whose primary interest is themselves. I mean the fetishistic attention paid to makeovers and diets and weddings and baby showers and enormous walk-in closets as proof of a husband’s love for his wife. I mean moms who are obsessed with their motherhood and single women who are obsessed with their singleness. I mean most romantic comedies and most novels with stiletto heels or martini glasses on the covers and every yogurt commercial ever made. I mean the girls’ toy aisles in stores that are an ocean of pink: pink Scrabble games, pink guitars, and pink guns. I mean the hair and eyelash extensions that have become commonplace. I mean the fact that there is nothing unusual about seeing businesswomen walking down the street in six-inch heels. Gone are the 1980s, when women tucked their pumps into their briefcase and commuted to work in power suits and running shoes. Gone are the 1970s, with their conspicuous body hair and unapologetic strands of gray pulled into unkempt buns held up with leather stick barrettes. Here in the era of bosomy, spray-tanned, baby-crazed bling, femininity has become a cartoon version of itself. It is at once exaggerated in its presentation and reductive in its implications. It’s enough to make a butch out of anyone who just wants a comfortable pair of shoes.”

-Meghan Daum, Unspeakable 

2015: Post #2

So the big ol’ blizzard that everyone said was going to trample the Northeast and destroy our way of life wasn’t so mean about it after all. This is a good thing, because now I don’t have to eat my shoes to stay alive, which was something I wasn’t fully prepared to do in the first place. (I just got these really chic-looking black ankle boots.) But it’s also a bad thing for the same reason that everyone was a little sad when they woke up this morning: We were all hoping to not have to go back to the office for at least a week. Juno (the blizzard’s name, says the National Weather Service) knew this. I know she knew this. And yet she did nothing about it because she is a capitalist pig.

But fine, I’ll take a single snow day.

And an aside:

On most days of the year, living with your parents as an adult is a test of strength. On snow days, not so. The Day family has a clearly gendered division of labor whereby I am not required to perform most types of manual labor, including lifting a snow shovel. That’s men’s work, and I doth protest not at all. (Shakespeare) I am simply responsible for taking a hot chocolate order by shouting from the front door (while still in my pajamas). My mom uses snow, or any kind of inclement weather for that matter, as an excuse to produce copious amounts of baked desserts, so there’s that too. I am a teeny bit fatter than I was yesterday in the best way possible.

So if anyone ever judges me for being a 28 year old gal kickin’ it in her childhood bedroom, I will merely recite the paragraph above.

Also, I hope this post finds you well. (Mom)

 

2015: Post #1

As of Friday I work in a new office building that really makes me feel like I’ve “made it” because there are free snacks and centerpieces filled with candy and automatic shades on the windows. For the first hour of the work day I walked around with my mouth hanging open asking different versions of the question “So I can just take this?”  I drank a lot of seltzer that day. Free.

A Wandering, Problematic, Highly Subjective Reflection on Marriage (Sort of)

Marriage is everywhere, all the time. Or more accurately, weddings are everywhere, all the time. So it’s something that I almost can’t help but find myself thinking about a lot on many different levels ranging from the semi-philosophical to the harmlessly superficial. (In more concrete terms: “Does marriage really fundamentally change the nature of a relationship?” to “Will I have a Pinterest page for party favors?”)

I can’t remember a time in my life when I did not want to get married. This was in spite of the fact that I didn’t go on my first date until I was comfortably into my 20s; I didn’t meet the guy who would be my first (and last––aw shucks!) boyfriend until I was 25. Twenty-five seems so young now––because it is so young––but at the time I felt very abnormal and it frequently occurred to me that continuing to imagine that marriage was in the cards for me was perhaps overly optimistic. Again, this was not overly optimistic, because again, 25 is basically puberty still. I’m just trying to get to my point, which I am not doing a very good job of, which is that even when my dating life was nonexistent and pretty far-off, I always, always had this notion hanging out in the back of my brain that one day I would wear the white dress and marry a then-faceless man in the black (or dark navy, I couldn’t decide) tux, and we would have probably three children and I would name one of them after either my grandma’s maiden name (Taylor) or my mom’s maiden name (Kennedy).

I couldn’t, and can’t, help it; the idea of marriage is built into me, as I’m sure it is for lots of people who were raised on things like pot roast and religion. My parents have been married for almost thirty years, and they are best friends who do everything together but also nothing together in that they spend a lot of time on the couch playing Bingo on their iPads, not talking––an inspiring portrait of long-wedded bliss that I’ve always wanted too.

On December 30, 2011, I landed in JFK after four days in Las Vegas. The next day, when my mom started to ask a long string of questions, interro-style (as is her custom), I couldn’t hold back any longer. I told her I had met the guy I was going to marry. I can only assume that my mom was taken aback by this news, as I was the same daughter who had, only days earlier, snorted at her suggestion that I’d meet my future husband in Las Vegas. (Because who says that?) Now I was prancing around in my leopard print Snuggie eating leftover Christmas cookies gushing about a mystery man with an anachronistic French-sounding name who had also once been Mormon (two of the three or four facts I had about him). But my mom entertained my girlish whimsy nonetheless––for awhile, anyway. Then, when she must have realized that I was showing no sign of settling down about it, she began to say things like, “Maybe you should stop saying that, um, you know. That you are going to marry him.”

Pragmatic advice, definitely. So I stopped saying it (out loud).

Two months later we had our first date. The next day, when my mom started to ask a long string of questions, interro-style (as is her custom), my reply was nonchalant and matter-of-fact: “Oh, we’re getting married.” (I’ll add that this response was far too confident for someone who had said goodnight with a firm handshake/ “Go team!” huddle formation–type gesture.) I don’t remember my mom asking too many questions after that.

It’s three years later now, as you’re probably aware. It is a Monday night and I am lying next to Beau, who has stolen the remote from me and has changed the channel from Dancing with the Stars to Big Momma’s House. We engage in a brief skirmish. All in all, things have worked out.

We aren’t married or engaged, and to be frank, we aren’t even really all that close to being engaged. This is fine for the most part, because the thought of giving away all my money right now to wedding vendors makes me feel queasy, as does the thought of Beau spending many dollars on a piece of jewelry that Leonardo DiCaprio smuggled from Sierra Leone. I also would like to have a longer courtship because when the “engagement” does happen, I would like people’s reactions to err on the side of, “Fuckin’ finally” rather than “Well, someone’s jumping the gun.”

Still, I have my moments. I am not proud of these moments and I fully acknowledge that my “having a moment” stems from factors that are mainly external and social. I also acknowledge that whatever stress or pressure or frustration I occasionally feel about marriage places me in a very specific socioeconomic category (hetero, privileged) that in fact de-legitimizes the stress, pressure, and frustration. That is why I have inserted the word “problematic” into the title of this post; it’s my small, feeble attempt at self-awareness. Though I suppose if I was truly self-aware, I wouldn’t have written this at all. But let’s ignore that for the purposes of getting through this. My point is that I know I do not have any real, valid right to feel in any way angsty, even occasionally, about me and marriage right now, because 1) I am only 28 and I should not feel compelled to speed up my life when its current pace is suiting me just fine, more or less, and 2) the fact of the matter is that I have a legally, socially accepted right to be married, period, and when I am married one day, no one will think twice about it or say “Do they really have to shove it in our face like that? It’s just not natural.” At least I don’t think so. But you never know.

The thing about marriage that’s most bothersome to me at the moment, I think, is not that I am not married or close to it, but how all the outside nonsense about marriage makes you feel about yourself when you aren’t. How everyone sort of acts like it’s the pinnacle of every young man or woman’s life, so you better on that, kiddo. How it’s an assumed step in one’s life trajectory. How people might feel a little sad or uncomfortable for you when your younger sibling gets on that saddle way before it’s even a feasible option for you. And also how the labels “husband” and “wife” and even “engaged” automatically, unquestionably elevate a relationship. You know? It’s somehow unfair that a couple who has dated for only a few months and hasn’t even heard each other fart yet can get engaged and BAM! They are a realer, truer pair than a couple who has dated for a few years but can’t, oh I don’t know, scrape together the funds to throw an expensive party for their love. The new couple is now out there hobnobbing with all the marrieds, having board game nights and talking about place settings and wall colors, and the other couple––and they’ve been through some shit together––they’re now the black sheep cousin living in the basement playing video games. Where is the justice in that?

One may say, aw, come on man, that’s not true, or aw, come on man, you can’t put a time stamp on love!  Well, no. Maybe you can’t. I know every relationship is different, and time is no guarantee. I know there are married couples out there whose short courtships and perhaps hasty engagements have withstood the test of time, and who have grown past googly eyes and explorative sex into a love that is mature, and tested, and deep. I know it’s not fair to say that a couple who has dated for only a few months loves each other less than a couple who has been together for years and years. But you know what? I’m sort of saying that. Well, “less” probably isn’t the right word. But “differently,” I think, is. They love differently. Not better or worse or more or less. But differently. And I think that difference, however you want to articulate or define it, matters.

I guess I don’t really know what I’m saying here, but I have to write a conclusion so here it goes. I like the idea of marriage and always have. I think it’s a nice, meaningful, beautiful thing. And I want to be married––maybe not now, but one day. I would just like all the hullabaloo surrounding it to settle the fuck down, a little. I do.

A Town Called Paradise

I hate New York City.

I know that’s unforgivable, bonkers, a hillbilly thing to say, but it has to be said: I hate New York City. Maybe not all of it––for instance, I really love the tiny beagle that sleeps beside his owner in Grand Central Station, who I pass on my way to work every morning. I also like the bomb-sniffing German shepherds in Penn Station, who sit politely and smile as they watch commuters whizzing by. They are the only part of New York’s post-9/11 militarization that I don’t mind.

So, I guess if someone asked me what the best thing about New York City is, my answer would be “The dogs.”

I didn’t always feel this way. I grew up about 25 miles away from the garbage dump known as Times Square, and a trip into the city was always a magical adventure. One of my earliest memories is going to Radio City during Christmastime with my grandparents; we used a parking garage and ate at TGI Friday’s and went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where I got a laminated prayer card, and the excitement and novelty of that day surely surpassed any other experience I’d had thus far in my short time on earth. A handful of years later Felicity premiered, and I was only a few episodes in before my 12-year-old self decided that my life’s trajectory could only lead to and take place in and end in New York City. I wanted to be Felicity. I wanted to wear lots of oversized sweaters, drink lots of coffee, and read lots of books, all while having Major Life Experiences and being fought over by sensitive men with good hair in the Big City. And in a most serendipitous turn of events, that dream came partially true (I was not the cause of any male fights) about a decade later. During a time in my life when I was seriously contemplating a PhD in literature, I decided to sign my life over to New York University and let them school me in how to read books “critically” and write long-winded sentences about them for roughly $4,000 a class. Even at the time I knew what I was doing was vaguely irresponsible; I would be tethered to loan servicers for years and possibly ruined financially for life. But ah, what is money in pursuit of a dream?

Cut to present: I do not have a PhD in literature (but I do have a Masters, which is almost pointless but not totally pointless, so there’s that), and checking my account balance is a daily activity. But I am not ruined financially (yet), and I now can look back on my life and remember that two-year period when I lived like a true New York intellectual: holed up every weekend in my childhood bedroom with a blanket over my head, books and journal articles spread around willy nilly, leaving only when a full bladder or hunger necessitated it, or to yell at my brother to stop playing the drums before I truly lost my shit and ended up in the hospital on sedatives. You just can’t put a price on that.

**

Today I work in publishing and commute roughly 90 minutes each way, so it often feels like I see more of Penn Station and the subways and the streets of Midtown East than my own bedroom. Despite having lived there for 28 years, hanging out on Long Island now sometimes feels more foreign than familiar. I went to see a movie last Friday night and at one point looked around and realized everyone but me was in sweatpants, which isn’t something you’ll ever see in the city, unless some kind of natural disaster occurs and destroys all the skinny jeans and slim fits within a 15-mile radius, but probably not even then. I think people would just make new pants from the wreckage and call it high fashion. The abundance of sweatpants in this movie theater, though, was a breath of fresh air and I immediately hated the fact that I wasn’t wearing them too. It is the little, inward (and in this case, admittedly shallow) moments like this when my resentment of the city becomes palpable, churning inside of me like lunch from a food truck. The city is just so not real. It’s so impersonal and uptight. It is frigid. It is, simply, soulless.

That’s the second-most contentious, hillbilly-sounding statement of this essay.

Perhaps it’s just that I haven’t found my place here. Perhaps it’s because I am never fully here, even though I spend most of my waking life here. There’s a difference—I know there’s a difference. I am living my life in what my grad school professors would call a liminal state, stuck between two modes of being and thus part of neither. I’m mentally programmed for the city (rushed, generally antisocial, often unsympathetic), but I’m suburban in my tastes (I like Panera and wearing men’s undershirts and oversized gym shorts to the nail salon). I did a truly New York Thing the other day when I ordered tickets to a comedy show on my phone while walking from the subway to the shuttle train in Grand Central, deftly maneuvering around people and poles and trash cans, but it was also a truly Long Island Thing in that the tickets were for Aziz Ansari at Madison Square Garden.

**

When people find out I live on Long Island, they assume I’m just saving up until I can finally make the move—maybe somewhere in Brooklyn? They’re right to assume I want out of my current living situation; I imagine very few 28 year olds’ first resort is their parents’ house, and it’s definitely not mine. I’d like to move in with my boyfriend, but preferably when he is my fiancé or husband, since to move in before that crucial transition would mean imminent death at the hands of my conservative, traditional parents. But even when that finally happens (making assumptions here, but a girl’s gotta hope), I don’t think the city is where we’ll go. In fact, I’m pretty sure it isn’t.

My boyfriend lives in Brooklyn in a quiet neighborhood with lots of families but also some arty types with tattoo sleeves and rompers and Oxford shoes. There are at least 72 different places to get brunch, and on weekends I’ll sometimes run from his place down to Brooklyn Bridge Park, dodging strollers and bikes like I’m on an obstacle course, which I am. Over the last few years, we’ve walked along the Promenade to admire the skyline, ordered Middle Eastern food and ate it at the small kitchen table in his apartment with glasses of wine, brunched in Brooklyn Heights, walked through Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on a busy Sunday, gone to games and concerts at Barclays Center, and taken a taxi from Manhattan to Brooklyn along FDR Drive, which is actually quite scenic and might stir up some emotions if you’ve had a few drinks and are listening to a song that reminds you of your childhood. We’ve trekked through snow with new furniture from the IKEA in Red Hook and groceries from Whole Foods in Park Slope. New York, especially Brooklyn, holds a central place in our relationship because it’s where we dated and fell in love. But it is not really our place. It’s not my place either.

**

Our place, my place, is 2,500 miles away. I was there this weekend for my boyfriend’s high school reunion, for which I spent a good part trying—and likely failing—to gently explain to all the non-New Yorkers for whom the mythology and magic of New York is very much alive why it is I don’t like it all that much. New York has its good points, sure. Lots of people love it. Lots of people feel like they fit there. Lots of people are moved by what they perceive as its energy and life.

But it gets tiresome, I’d like to say. It’s competitive and hectic. You feel like you always have to be doing something. It’s expensive. Everything is a show. Trains smell like puke and subways smell like pee and the streets smell like garbage. People push and yell and curse at you. I bring hand sanitizer wherever I go because it’s dirty out there. There’s lots of honking all the time, just inexplicable, needless honking. People have lots of goals and do a lot of impressive things, so you feel like shit if you’re not one of them. (I am not one of them.) You never have enough money. Nothing runs on time and places are always closed when you need them to be open. There are a million places to get brunch with unlimited mimosas for $40, which is useless. It’s crowded, and you feel frumpy if you wear flats to a bar. Also, walking everywhere gets old because it makes everything take twice as long.

It’s not like Las Vegas.

**

I went to Las Vegas for the first time in December 2011. I wrote about that trip in an essay, “Vegas ‘With My Girls’.” The essay is sort of jokey, but the feelings expressed are all sincere. I remember sitting on the plane to go home, waiting to take off, and feeling like it was just so wrong. That I shouldn’t be leaving, that I was meant to be there. I’ll be back, I told myself. A few days later I posted an album documenting the four-day Vegas vacation on Facebook; the last picture in the album was taken at sunset on an overpass overlooking the Strip. In a nod to Grease, I included the caption, “This isn’t the end, Las Vegas. This is only the beginning.”

This statement proved prophetic because I was back in Las Vegas a little more than six months later, this time with my boyfriend, whom I had met on Night 2 of Trip 1. Now I go with him twice a year, maybe three times if I’m lucky, to visit his family and friends in the place where he grew up. We spend most of our time in the parts of Las Vegas that aren’t glittery and pulsating with electronic music. His town is a typical suburb, not totally unlike the one I live in on Long Island, but it’s spread out and there are palm trees and neat lawns of sod. The roads have names like “Pebble” and “Stephanie” and “Wigwam,” and there’s a litany of Mexican food chain restaurants. I once saw a waiter carry a scorpion on a plate, trapped underneath a clear plastic cup, through a bar to meet its maker. I’ve gone to a local art festival in downtown Las Vegas, an atomic testing museum, a Mormon bookstore. I’ve sat on a blanket at Cashman Field to watch fireworks as kids ran around and rolled down the side of a hill, squealing. That night, it was 105 degrees at 9 PM. One Fourth of July, my boyfriend and I sat on his covered patio and watched it rain, because rain in Las Vegas is such a rarity that it is kind of an Event when it happens. (On the other hand, when it rains in New York I want to climb under my covers and never wear pants again.) We’ve taken trips to Los Angeles, Zion National Park, the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, Red Rock Canyon, and St. George, Utah. We’ve eaten sandwiches from Port of Subs at Spring Mountain Ranch, and chicken pad Thai at a late-night restaurant in Chinatown. We’ve gone through the Grouchy John’s drive-through twice in one hour because you won’t find better iced coffee anywhere else. We’ve gotten drunk at Frankie’s Tiki Room (arriving just as Andrew Dice Clay was leaving), and ordered takeout there at 3 AM (Roberto’s, obviously), eating nachos at the high-top table surrounded by cigar smoke. I’ve now seen the Pacific Ocean and know what an actual desert looks like. Every time I fly into Las Vegas when there’s still daylight, I make sure I look out the window for the last 30 minutes of the flight so as not to miss the truly awe-inspiring landscapes of the American West that never get old. It’s maybe the only time I feel patriotic.

But we’ve done the glittery stuff too. We’ve played video poker at the Wynn while drinking champagne, gone to clubs and seen popular DJs and that guy who sang “Gangnam Style,” watched fireworks on the Strip all dressed up (heels, bowtie). One night we had a big multi-course dinner and then accidentally crop-dusted Jermaine Dupri’s table. I also saw The Killers at the Cosmopolitan, one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, moved to tears by Brandon Flowers’ love songs to Las Vegas. For me, these songs reveal how deeply underestimated and undervalued the city is, and yet how rich its inner life, history, and people. The Las Vegas of these songs is one I don’t know fully yet, but it’s the one I know exists because of the glimpses I’ve had of it over the years, and the feelings I get when I’m there.

It’s true I fell in love not only with Las Vegas, but also with someone from Las Vegas, and it’s impossible for me to separate those two things. And it’s also true that they aren’t separate. Would I envision my life there as clearly as I do now if I had never met my boyfriend? Probably not. But that doesn’t change how at home I feel when I’m there, how I feel like I belong there like some people feel like they belong in New York City. In the same way that some praise New York City for liberating or fulfilling them in ways their hometown never did or could, I feel the same might be true for Las Vegas and me. I don’t feel rushed when I’m there. I don’t feel grumpy and stressed out. I don’t have to answer the question “So what do you do?” and even when I have gotten some version of that question, the answer is always received with enthusiasm and interest rather than judgment. I don’t have to dress to impress just to go to the grocery store. I don’t feel claustrophobic and dirty. I don’t really have to carry around hand sanitizer. (I do anyway because I’m too far gone.) To date, I have not witnessed anyone cursing each other out on the streets over an alleged invasion of personal space. When I go running in my boyfriend’s neighborhood, everyone waves and says “Morning!”

Plus, you can get a two-bedroom apartment for $800 a month, it never snows, and Costco sells liquor. Las Vegas is my Eden.

**

One day I’ll live in Las Vegas. I’m not sure people believe me when I say this. After all, I’ve lived in one place my whole life, and in the same house my whole life. I’m the person who tried going away to college and had to transfer because of homesickness and what was essentially a fear of drugs, drinking, and sex. Is that same person really going to be able to pack up her whole life and move across the country?

I have this thought frequently, usually right after I return from a Las Vegas visit. It never feels right leaving, so that must count for something, right? But surely others have had this same feeling—it’s Las Vegas, after all––and maybe some of those people moved out there and now wish they hadn’t. There’s probably at least a few people out there who moved to Las Vegas recently and are underwhelmed by it all, who can’t really get into it. Plus, there’s a whole school of local thought devoted to the idea that Las Vegas doesn’t have enough “culture” because it’s so dominated by the industry of the Strip. I don’t even really know what that means––not enough art? Not enough museums? And not enough culture in comparison to what? But maybe when I’m living out there I’ll get bored one day and it’ll suddenly hit me that my boredom stems from the ineptitude of Las Vegas in the culture department. This scenario is unlikely (I’m very under-cultured and I consider it a virtue), but who knows?

On the plane ride home yesterday I sat next to a woman from Connecticut. We got to chatting because she had noticed that some coffee had spilled under her seat, leftover from a previous passenger. She was warning me so I didn’t ruin my bag. (It happens to be one of the five bags carried by female New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 30, because we tend to be sheep over here, but I love it all the same.) She asked if I was from New York or visiting, and I said “from” but then quickly added, “Long Island” so as not to feel deceitful. She said all of her college roommates were from Long Island, that she used to visit all the time and loves it. “I love the East Coast,” she added. “So much better than the West Coast.”

I wasn’t looking for a debate because I wasn’t really looking for a conversation, so I just said, “I don’t know, I could probably get used to Las Vegas.” And then, as if to offer up an explanation, said, “I like the sun,” as if most people don’t like the sun. She just nodded, smiling. “Yes, my sister has lived in Las Vegas for years. She met her husband out there. She loves it—she’s not planning on ever moving back.”

“That’s really good to hear,” I said, meaning it.

**

In LaGuardia Airport, I take my boyfriend’s hand. “Back in New York,” I say with a sigh. “Yeah,” he responds, with a bigger sigh.

We walk through the low-ceilinged, dim, narrow hallway of the terminal, so different from the wide open, gleaming white, slot-machine-lined terminals of McCarran. Here in LaGuardia, there’s just a light-up sign flashing “GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS” and a close-up of what might be either a chicken leg or a mutilated human body part. “Is that an esophagus?” my boyfriend asks. “What the hell is that?”

**

Now at my New York home again, I’ve already started planning my annual Christmas visit, calculating my vacation days and how many JetBlue points I’ll have accrued by then. Someday, maybe sooner than I think or further away than I think, I’ll be planning not just a visit but an all-out relocation. And after I’ve been living there for awhile, I hope to finally write the essay about Las Vegas that I want to write. (Because this one isn’t it.) That essay will be about living in Las Vegas and experiencing the West Coast, and I want it to include the sentence “It is everything I thought it would be.”

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On Going to a Concert on a Work Night in NYC

You usually don’t leave work late, but you have some time to kill tonight. The concert venue is only a 12-minute subway ride from your office according to Google Maps, and the show doesn’t start until 8, so you might as well get some extra work done. After all, you’re working from home tomorrow and won’t have access to some files. Maybe just get those squared away? And speaking of that, working from home isn’t a terrible idea, right? You’ve been scarred by fascist employers for whom working from home was simply not an option, you didn’t even dare ask. Also, your dad, whom you still live with, does not believe in the concept of “working from home”––thinks it’s a sign of weakness, laziness, lack of work ethic and discipline––so do you really want him on your case? You’re almost 28 years old, but a father’s disapproval is a heavy cross to bear.

Okay, email reminder sent. “Just a reminder that I’ll be working from home tomorrow.” It’s practically been sealed in blood.

You look around the office, which is empty save you and one other person. You pick up your things in haste, not wanting to be the last one out, mostly because you don’t know the protocol. Lock the door? Leave it unlocked for the cleaning crew? Turn off the lights? Don’t turn off the lights? Too much responsibility for a Thursday.

The 6 train is crammed with people from all walks of life, including a woman in a long dress of greens, reds, yellows, and what appears to be tiny Malcolm X faces. Her son climbs into the lap of a Spanish lady in a low-cut shirt and starts pawing at her boobs. She smiles affectionately, which, you think to yourself, is a very benevolent reaction that would not have been yours. Then the boy’s hands find your butt and start tapping it. You look around the subway car absentmindedly, focusing on the dentist ads, and think about the last emails you sent off before shutting down your computer.  You hope they actually sent. Outlook had been having some functionality issues.

You get off at Astor Place and pick a waiting spot outside Starbuck’s––your boyfriend should be meeting you any minute. You check your phone and see you have a score of new texts from him. Yes, a whole score*.

What’s for dinner, Wendy’s?

I’m dressing 90s btw.

‘How bad could that be?’ you ask…. Oh, I’m good.

Hope you didn’t bring along anyone from work to meet me.

That’s the most texts you’ve received from him consecutively in months, you think to yourself before texting back, Ok. I’m hungry.

You survey your surroundings. There’s a group of Asian girls standing to your left, giggling, and a middle-aged man with a briefcase pacing back and forth right in front of you, eyes glued to his cell phone, appearing disgruntled. A few moments later, a middle-aged blonde woman in a longish black dress and silver jewelry approaches him. She too appears disgruntled.

“Where the hell have you been?” the man snaps. You gather that the woman is his wife.

“You said you’d be here at a quarter of,” she snaps back. “It’s now 6:51. So what?”

“I texted you. I called you. Where were you?”

“You said you’d be here at a quarter of. It is now 6:51. So. What.”

This goes on for another couple minutes until the man starts to walk away.

“Where are you going?” his wife asks loudly, her mouth slightly open, puzzled but in an angry way.

“I’m going.”

“But I have to use the bathroom.”

“So meet me there.”

Your phone buzzes. You look down:  I’m here btw. Astor place island. Your brain will probably tell your eyes to look over me because that embarrassing looking weirdo couldn’t possibly be me.

That’s exactly what happened. When you do finally spot him, you shake your head, but in a way that implies fondness and mild amusement. He beams in response, striking a pose on Astor Place Island to show off his neon-colored MC Hammer t-shirt, half-hidden beneath a button-down sweater vest. The end of his canvas belt hangs down in front of the crotch of his tan shorts, which are complemented by the purple and blue socks pulled up past the top of his low-rise boots. He looks like Sam, the friend from Clarissa Explains It All––the one who was always climbing in her bedroom window. You, on the other hand, are wearing a modest printed top from H&M beneath a sensible gray cardigan, your Longchamp bag slung over your shoulder, pearl earrings perched on your earlobes. He is ready for a sweaty concert with East Village delinquents; you are ready for lunch with your grandma.

You cross the street, kiss him hello, and playfully crinkle your nose at his costume before reminding him that you’re hungry. As you begin walking in the direction of the venue, he asks what food is around. “I don’t know, but walk a few paces behind me so people don’t think we’re together,” you deadpan. He cackles and pulls you toward him, planting a big kiss on your cheek. “You think I’m dressed nice enough for Wendy’s?”

You end up at a Thai restaurant, where you are seated discreetly in the back, next to the bathrooms, probably because of your boyfriend’s Ringling Bros. getup. You have no qualms about pointing this out to him. You order two large mojitos, chicken pad Thai, and a red curry dish that tastes similar to what you imagine fire tastes like––but blue fire, like the kind under the burner on a gas stove. You sweat profusely–or maybe it’s just the curry seeping out of your pores––as you talk in a harried sort of way about your decision to work from home tomorrow. “You think that’s an okay idea?” you ask him. “I mean, they seem very laidback about that sort of thing, and I only have this eBook to proofread, it just seemed like a good opportunity? I won’t work from home again for another six months. Plus, don’t you think it’s worth it because now I won’t be nervous the whole night about getting home so late?”

“So what, you’re just going to be nervous about working from home instead?”

“No.” You take a bite of a spring roll. “No.”

You decide not to continue this strand of conversation by reminding him of your recent dream in which you are fired from your job and change the subject instead. “If I meet Lena Dunham tonight, should I give her one of my business cards?”

Your boyfriend asks the waiter for the check, and you stand up to go to the bathroom. It’s a one-person, and the door is slightly ajar. You open it a tad more, just enough to make out a dress draped over the hand dryer. You let the door slam shut. A second later, you can hear the lock being turned. You return to the table, where your boyfriend is counting out cash.

“Did you go?”

“Someone’s in there.”

A couple minutes later, a tall lanky guy walks out. A couple minutes after that, a girl, in the dress that you had seen draped over the hand dryer. You decide maybe you don’t have to use the bathroom after all.

A short stroll later, you’re outside of the concert venue, where a line has already formed. Your fellow concert-goers are all of a similar variety: the guys have good hair and glasses and button-ups, the girls have good hair and glasses and vintagey-looking sundresses. Everyone is wearing Keds. No one is wearing MC Hammer t-shirts or sweater vests. You do not mention this to your boyfriend.

Very tall, almost unreasonably tall, bouncers yell for everyone to have their IDs out and ready for a cursory check. They seem gruff and angry, which is also a little unreasonable. You do not mention this to them. The second batch of bouncers are similarly seemingly angry, but not as tall. “Keep ’em out, keep ’em out, keep ’em out,” they yell (re: IDs),  which reminds you of Jay-Z saying, “Bring ’em out, bring ’em out,” which you then begin to sing (rap?) in your head.  The second ID check happens right at the door, and your driver’s license won’t scan properly. You shrug innocently, so as not to incite any rage. The license finally scans, and now you’re in.

Not much to see here: Inside is dark and dingy and smells like teen spirit. Everyone looks like an NYU student, probably because everyone is an NYU student. You get instant flashbacks to your grad school days, which took place at NYU because ever since the show Felicity happened to you at age eleven, you could not fathom a life without NYU; and so when you were accepted into their graduate program for English lit, you went, and the rest is history––a history carefully recorded by the nation’s most popular student loan servicer. But you’re getting off track. Focus.

There’s a mid-sized bar (about as long as your average sedan) and a merch section. The opening band has already started playing. The lead singer is female, but all the musicians are male. You’ve never really cared for bands with female lead singers and that fact has always made you, as a woman, feel a little guilty. Like, unsupportive. You listen respectfully and with a modicum of interest, watching the lead singer dance and stomp and whip her hair around the stage. She has nice hair.

But you’re more interested in watching everyone else there, for the outfits, mainly. So many outfits. You appreciate a good outfit, because it takes a lot of energy and thought and money to pull off a good one and you’ve never seemed to have all three of those things at once.

You look over towards the bar and see a sign that reads “$8 BEER AND SHOT SPECIAL!!” You tug on your boyfriend’s sweater vest and yell over the music, “Hey, you want a drink?” He shrugs, then nods. You ask the bartender for the special and she explains that the special is good only for Budweiser and house whiskey. You can’t think of a worse possible combination, so you put the “never mind” on that and order two Brooklyn Lagers.

After that, some other things happen. You buy a crewneck sweatshirt with the band’s name on it. In retrospect, you think you probably did it more for Lena Dunham than for the band, as though one day you’ll meet her and be able to win her over with the line, “Oh yeah, I went to your boyfriend’s concert in September 2014! I bought a sweatshirt!” You also saw Lena Dunham, albeit from far away. She was up in the VIP section and even though you didn’t think you loved her all that much, when you see her in the flesh (albeit from far away), you are suddenly overcome with nothing but affection and admiration.

“That’s so cool!” you exclaim to your boyfriend.

“No it isn’t,” he replies.

Another thing that happens is sweat. A lot of it. Some of the worst smells in the world are sweat, booze, and weed, and the concert had all three, their pungent odors wafting and coalescing into one giant, monster odor that made you grateful the band only has 8 real songs. But you happily half-sing along anyway, and when you’re not singing you’re looking up to the mezzanine to see what Lena Dunham is doing, and if she’s singing along then you start singing along too, even if that means having to make up words. And if you’re not glancing at Lena Dunham watching her boyfriend, you’re glancing at your own boyfriend watching her boyfriend. It’s all very meta.

The show ends on a loud, thunderous, foot-stomping, fist-pumping, hair-whipping note, and you check around you to make sure none of your valuables has fallen out of your bag in the heat of the moment; in particular, your Tide-to-Go pen and hand sanitizer. Both are still there and intact, carefully tucked into their respective compartments in your bag. You try to move towards the exit but discover that your feet are stuck to the floor, glued down by beer. You put all your weight on your right leg as you pry your left Target sandal off the floor, and then do the same to the other. You are tugged along gently by your boyfriend who is keeping up with the rest of the herd, many of whom are shouting up to rafters, “LENA!” and snapping pictures with their iPhones. At least you’re not one of those people, right? But why hasn’t she responded to your tweet? It was very polite and normal-sounding.

Fresh air never felt so good, or at least it hasn’t felt this good since the last time you went to a concert. You and your boyfriend exchange pleasantries regarding the good time you both just had. But now you have to pee, and you need water and probably frozen yogurt too. “Self-serve,” you say, clarifying for your boyfriend.

But you don’t get frozen yogurt, because self-serve frozen yogurt is surprisingly difficult to happen upon in this part of the city. Not trendy enough anymore. Too suburban and lowbrow.  Plus, you have to catch a train. Working from home isn’t free license to act irresponsibly, after all. Working from home is still work.  And God, you really hope you don’t get fired for this. But now still wouldn’t be a good time to bring up that nightmare, the one about getting fired, you had a couple weeks ago. Your boss likes you, you tell yourself. You are an otherwise very conscientious employee, and besides, you only have to proofread an eBook.

Your boyfriend takes you back to Penn Station, where you spend your last two dollars on a bottle of water. The track number is called, and you kiss your boyfriend goodnight. “Let me know when you get home,” you both say, followed by things like, “I had fun” and “Me too.”

On the train, you alternate between reading your book and staring out the window. Getting hungry due to lack of frozen yogurt, you find and eat a creamy praline (packaged) that was buried in your bag. You did have fun tonight, you think to yourself. But it would’ve been nice if it had been a Friday.

*Not actually a score. More like 7.

Tuesday Evening on the F

Here’s a story about last Tuesday night.

Last Tuesday night I was on the F train heading to Brooklyn. My boyfriend and I had plans to eat Middle Eastern food and watch the ending of Source Code, which he had edited to be, in his mind, what it should have been in the first place.

So I’m on the F train, standing room only, and I’m holding on to a pole with one hand and holding my unwieldy hardcover book in the other. I usually have issues standing and reading, but I made an exception in this case because I had about 50 pages left and was in the middle of a particularly arresting chapter. But I was holding the book in my less dominant left hand, so every now and then I’d feel a twitch in my bicep, or my forearm would start to burn until I’d momentarily set the book down, letting it hang down my side just long enough for me to scan the subway car for any questionable characters, and then lift it up to eye-level again. At some point, maybe around West 4th Street, I decided that, even though I was sort of enjoying what felt like a left-arm workout, it would be easier and require less breaks if I just held the book against my abdomen.

It was maybe a stop or two later that I saw a woman gesturing to me out of the corner of my eye. I stopped reading and looked at her. She was smiling. “You want to sit?” she said, pointing to an empty spot on the bench.

“No, I’m okay,” I said, shaking my head. “Thanks.” I smiled politely and turned my eyes down to the page again, but she kept going.

“No, really. You don’t want to? You should sit. You’re uh…” And then she gestured, with a sort of point, towards either my stomach or the book resting on it. Which one of these things it was, though, I’ll never know.

I repeated my response of three seconds earlier. “No, really. I’m fine.” I was still smiling nicely, but at that point I think my brow might have been sort of furrowed, puzzled-like.

The woman sat and went back to scrolling on her phone and I went back to my book. But not really.

Now I was confused. Why should I sit? Was she so nice as to offer me the spot because I was standing and trying to read at the same time, and a book that was pretty big, at that? That would be above and beyond in this city; people read and stand all the time. In fact, people read and stand more than they read and sit. And there were at least two others in my vicinity doing the same thing as me. One of them, a middle-aged man in a concert T-shirt and sunglasses resting on his head, had popped a squat at the end of the subway car and was lounging with his legs spread out. So she was trying to give me a relaxing reading experience over that guy, who would apparently rather risk bed bug infestation and come into close contact with blood, sweat, dirt, pee, vomit and who knows what else rather than stand up? That couldn’t be it. And then a thought, a horrible, embarrassing, humiliating thought, occurred to me.

Did the woman think I was with child?

Quick, how was I standing? I wasn’t standing up straight, probably. And the book resting on my stomach made it jut out a little maybe? And okay, this dress doesn’t really do me any favors––one of those damn shift dresses that make me look like I’m hiding something, which I am, but not a fetus.

I couldn’t focus on my book for the rest of the ride. I kept peering down my front, wondering if I had a paunch or could conceivably, from a stranger’s perspective, have a paunch, whether real or an illusion created by poor posture and an unflattering fitting dress. What had she been gesturing towards? My pizza box of a book, or a nonexistent baby growing in my womb?

I’ll never know the answer to this question because I didn’t have the gall to ask her. And it’s still haunting me, and it will continue to haunt me until I lose those 15 pounds I’ve been meaning to lose for the last three years.

The woman and I got off at the same stop but walked off in opposite directions. The walk to my boyfriend’s apartment was torturous, me studying my side reflection in car windows, looking for any hint of a pregnant-like protrusion.

To add insult to injury, our favorite Middle Eastern place was all boarded up, with a note taped to the window explaining that the owners would be on vacation until after Labor Day.

And we never did watch that alternate ending to Source Code. I mean, why the hell would I want to watch that?

An Open Letter to My Best Friend Summer

Dear Summer,

You came and left too soon. I know there’s still a week of August left but it feels like you’re already gone. It’s been cooler in the mornings when I go outside to get the paper and summer clothes aren’t even on clearance anymore at H&M, they’re just gone. I’ve officially given up on (my version of) a summer body because if it didn’t happen by three weeks ago it’s not happening. I can accept that––the cookie butter ice cream from Trader Joe’s is worth it. Plus, flowy shift dresses are having a party right now and I’ve got like seven of them, one for each day of the week, perfect for any time of the month if you know what I’m sayin’. In fact, I just ordered a new one because it dawned on me recently that I don’t have a black shift dress, which is ridiculous because if there’s one thing a woman needs, especially during the worst week of the month––if you know what I’m sayin’––it’s a flowy shift dress that is black. You know what I call that? No fear. A force field that feels like sweatpants, but with a breeze.

Summer, out of all the seasons, I still like you best of all. Our relationship has metamorphosed over the years and I don’t get to enjoy you like I once did––at the public pool eating a bag of chips while hidden under a towel tucked into the back of my mom’s lounge chair so that the lifeguards can’t see me and aggressively blow their whistles while making “NO, STOP” gestures. No, summer is different when you’re 27, and not just because you’re older than all the lifeguards with whom you might cross paths by at least a decade, and you can whistle at them for not respecting their elders and getting in your way, chump. Go on, get!

I need look no further than my planner for an idea of just how different my summers are now that I’m a bona fide adult because 1) I have a planner, and 2) today’s entry in said planner reads “Google Greek yogurt recipes.” You want to know why that is, Summer? It’s because I bought too much Greek yogurt, and that shit’s too expensive to just throw away. If my 10-year-old self had any idea what Greek yogurt was she’d have cried at the thought of having to find recipes for it one day in the summertime, a time of year that should be reserved for more worthwhile pursuits like watching all three hours of VH1’s New Videos every morning, or flagging down the ice cream truck for a chocolate eclair. On the other hand, she would appreciate my ongoing commitment to life organization and daily planning, because that girl knew what was what.

This is not to say that summer as an adult isn’t without its perks. For one thing, margaritas. Like Ecto Cooler but mature. For another, have I mentioned shift dresses yet? Most of the time work clothes cause digestive problems (just me?) but OH HO HO HO not in the summer! Enter: shift dress. Free as a bird, light as a turd. I really can’t say enough good things about them.

Another thing is vacations. Now that I’m old and can drive and have a credit card, I can go places of my choosing without parental permission and do what I want, like eat dinner at 11 PM. (YOLO, right?) Take Las Vegas, which is my favorite city in any season but especially in the summer, even if I do sweat through at least three pairs of underwear a day. I was there for a week this past July and packed enough clothes for three months, a fact at which everyone guffawed; but I had the last and heartiest guffaw of all because Las Vegas in a heat wave is essentially a sweat lodge, but with lights and hookers and video poker. As I’m sure all fellow sufferers of undiagnosed and mild forms of Raynaud’s phenomenon will agree, Las Vegas is the ideal climate for maintaining our physiological homeostasis––we never have to worry about our toes turning purple. I’m also a fan of the city’s arid desert air, which works wonders on my naturally shapeless, frizzy, 80s-mom hairdo. In Las Vegas I’m sleek and straight like Anna Wintour (more or less).

Now, not to get all Stella on you or anything, but summer, I’ve found out, can also be a time to get your groove back, which is of critical importance when you are creeping up on your late 20s and feel like you may have sort of let yourself go a little bit after getting a boyfriend. It’s the modern love story. Girl meets boy, girl wants to get bodied for boy, girl goes on diet hoping collarbone will become more pronounced, girl and boy make it official, boy accepts girl for who she is and also likes Papa John’s and also does not notice girl’s collarbone efforts, girl says “Screw it” and eats the pizza. Two years and two pants sizes later, girl looks down at herself and wonders how her grandma’s butt ended up on her body.

“Calm down, girl, I got you,” says Summer gesturing towards the new Jillian Michaels workout DVD adorning the shelves in Target’s “Sports & Fitness” aisle. Yes, I nod. I will lose 10––okay 5––okay 3––okay, just one toned muscle will be good––just in time for the big trip to Atlantic City with the girls.

I did not lose any weight in time for the big trip to Atlantic City with the girls. But you know what, Summer? I think I got my groove back anyway––and all it took for that to happen was a group of decent-looking gentlemen (term used loosely) buying us a bottle of wine and one of everything off the dessert menu. Clearly, we are not “Can I buy you a drink?” girls. Ain’t nobody got time for that. We are “Can I get you woozy and full of tiramisu?” girls. Why yes. Yes you can.

But Summer, just so you know, we declined the invitation back to their hotel room for massages and banter. We had bigger fish to fry, and we were about to meet several other bachelors of dubious eligibility looking for a good time: three doe-eyed youngsters in the Marines (or was it the Navy?), a likely sex offender named Julian whose lurid embrace we had to dance away from more than once, and then a man whose name I can’t spell or pronounce or remember right now, who we asked for directions to the nearest establishment still serving food at 2:30 AM. This one took a shine to the engaged one of our crew, forcing her to gently break the news of her betrothal.

But probably my favorite of the night, Summer, was the hotel employee who delivered our room service pizza and nachos, which was essentially a plate of thick cheese and therefore all the more necessary. He informed us that we were about an hour early as far as drunk room service orders go, momentarily making us feel old and wornout and ready to watch Matlock––until he added, “I got a couple daughters your age!” with a nervous chuckle. This was obviously less for our benefit than his, a middle-aged man standing in a hotel room of twenty-something-year-old women in their pajamas. Even in my vodka-induced haze, this scene did feel a tad inappropriate, but we were too into the nachos to care.

And I feel like I got a bit off track there for a second, but ah. Oh…. those suh-hum-mer nights. Just give me a moment.

Grease-Summer-Nights-Screencap-grease-the-movie-16004494-480-358

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, better. But you know what I’m talking about. Those nights that are wild and free and just a teeny bit reckless. Like eating-your-weight-in-cheese reckless. Buying-a-sailor-a-shot reckless. Telling-men-your-real-age reckless. A kind of reckless you should curl your hair and then pop an Advil for afterwards.

Heck, maybe summer as an adult isn’t so bad after all. Don’t get me wrong. There are some things about summers of my childhood that I miss and will miss my whole life. I still feel a flutter in my heart whenever I hear “Semi-Charmed Life” and am immediately transported to 1997, where I am in my Speedo one-piece bathing suit, lying on my Lisa Frank towel and trying to get my Nano Baby to poop. But there’s something to be said for summers in adulthood, too. Now there’s such a thing as a “getaway” and a bronzy glow that transforms your whole look. Ice cream every day because there’s no one to tell you no. Cold cans of Coors Summer Brew, with any resulting bloat well hidden beneath a comfy shift dress.

Wait a second.

Could it be? Is this what you intended for me to realize all along, dear Summer? That, while our relationship may have waxed and waned over the years, it has ultimately changed in only the best way possible? That summer is so much better when you’re old enough to fully appreciate its charms? That the other seasons rob us of energy and vitality and youthful spirit, but that you, Summer, you give it back?

Oh God. You can’t leave me, Summer. Please. Not yet. Not ever, preferably, but I know how Fall probably gets if you’re not out when it’s his time. He’s overconfident because of pumpkin spice lattes. Well don’t let him bully you. You stand your ground. You STAY. Stay for me. You let him know that not everyone likes pumpkin spice lattes. They are loaded with calories and give you gas. You know what happens if you get a pumpkin spice latte during your lunch break and then proceed to sit at a desk for another 5+ hours? Indigestion happens. And not just any old run-of-the-mill indigestion. It’s intestinal meltdown indigestion. The wrath of the titans indigestion; the kind where your insides gurgle and pop and explode. And you know something else about Fall? Its jackets suck. They are either too warm or not warm enough, and now they’re apparently all going to have leather sleeves because someone decided that robot arms are cool (which they are, but only within the context of a dance-off). Oh, and one more thing. Halloween? Dumb.

So you take all this knowledge I just laid on you, Summer, and you give it to Fall good and proper. You make him self-reflect for a hot minute with an even higher heat index.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go Google Greek yogurt recipes.

Love you forever,

Colleen,

Your Boo