***in the winter of 2000, i took a class in creative writing.
this was not an easy class for me.
i know that might seem like a really dumb thing to say. i mean, obviously, i like to write. i think this blog is pretty good evidence of that.
the problem is--and some of you may have noticed this--i'm not a particularly creative person.
i mean, i can tell a pretty good story. the catch is, the stories i tell are all ACTUAL stories that ACTUALLY happened.
if you ask me to create some kind of story--say, for a creative writing class--all you will find is me, sitting in front of a computer for a very long time.
anyway, the class wasn't that bad, because we spent most of the semester doing poetry, which--while terrifying--is a bit easier to bullshit through.
when it came time to turn in a 'longer' piece of 'prose,' i was absolutely frozen.
the thought of sitting in the classroom while the rest of my classmates discussed my writing rendered me completely incapable of even going into the room where my parents kept the computer.
in true tiffany form, i managed to avoid writing a single word until the night before the assignment was due.
by that time, my task was even more daunting because i had managed to develop a MAJOR crush on one of the guys in my class.
and, of course, i managed to convince myself that even though he had never actually spoken a single word to me, if i could manage to write something fabulous he would fall in love with me and we would live happily ever after or something.
anyway, i was thinking about the piece i ended up writing recently, because my sister asked me for a copy. so, for her (and because seeing what a loser i am is fun!), here it is.***
from march 2000:
if my heart were at all functional these days, it would surely be breaking right now. i can hear my little sister crying herself to sleep in the next room. fifteen minutes ago she was in this room, crying into my pillow, and asking me for all the answers to all those questions we need answers to so badly when we are seventeen years old and heartbroken.
watching jillian cry is like being stuck in the lowest level of hell--it is bad news. jillian is a tough little cookie; she's really not at all like me. her feelings don't get hurt that often, and she only cries to get out of trouble with our parents. it's actually a little infuriating. and, it makes it that much sadder to see her so devastated--so genuinely surprised that her and her (ex)boyfriend are not, in fact, going to be together forever. i gave her a chocolate chip cookie, wiped her nose, and held her. i told her everything would be okay. we listened to britney spears sing about her own heart on the radio, and i sent her to bed.
there were a lot of other things i should have said.
i think you may be asleep now. i don't hear you crying anymore. i'm supposed to be writing a story for one of my classes, but the only thing i can think of to say right now are things i should be saying to you.
just let me say, before i begin, that i do not know the answers to all of your questions. if i think i do know the answers to a few of them, it's still possible that i could be wrong. i do know for sure that i've been searching to for these very same answers since you were ten years old, and--if not absolute truths--i have at least come up with a few theories on people falling into and, consequently it seems, out of love.
what should i tell her first?
should i tell her that last night i was crying in our bathtub because i realized that i am a liar, and about to fail at another attempt at a happy relationship? it might be a bit too depressing. along with half the world, jillian thinks that boyfriend 3 and i make a perfect couple.
plus, i sound so full of shit. 'oh, poor me, i just realized that i am a liar.' i know we're all full of shit in our own ways--but jill is young. she is still somewhat idealistic. i don't want to crumble too many walls.
still, all this searching hasn't found me too much happiness. people change their minds--especially young people--and sometimes even old people who've been married for a really long time. there is nothing you can do about that.it sucks right now because what's-his-name (i find it easier to get over someone if i just pretend like i can't remember who the fuck they are) changed his mind and you didn't, but someday you will change your mind about someone, too. the shitty part is that it really doesn't hurt any less to be on the other side of a break-up. it just hurts different.
theory #1 (this one i'm pretty sure about)
it may sound weird, but everything in the world happens in one big circle. it's a pretty big concept, i know, but think about it. you have to be aware that everything you say and do--everything you put out into the world--changes things and people that weren't even around when you did it. it's definitely scary--just try to remember what dad always says about 'what goes around comes around.' he was actually right about something! it's just that sometimes what goes around comes back around so slowly that you don't notice. but, make no mistake. it is coming back around.
i know this is true because my relationship with my boyfriend now almost exactly parallels my relationship with the boyfriend before him, except with the roles reversed. boyfriend 2 was around for four years. they were painful years. they were passionate years. they were ecstasy and despair and everything else you feel when you are sixteen years old and think you know what love is. my mother thinks that the entire experience was an enormous waste of time, but i am glad of boyfriend 2. boyfriend 2 showed me that there are two (or more) sides to every story.for real. boyfriend 2 taught me how to kick ass at tekken 3, and how to make a bong out of a soda bottle. because of him i know how to forgive and be forgiven, i can accept criticism (most of the time), and i know that
the amount of happiness a person brings you when you are together is directly proportionate to the amount of unhappiness you feel when that person is no longer with you. i know that's not particularly comforting, but i think it's good to know anyway.
it was either because i had already come up with that theory, or because i had recently consumed five shots of crown royal in somewhat rapid succession that i puked all over my favorite sneakers exactly four minutes after the first time boyfriend 3 kissed me. it was a good kiss. it was the kind of kiss that would normally have you running off to call your best friend, if you weren't busy cleaning vomit off your shoes. to this day, i think it must have been the best kiss ever, because the euphoria it induced in me tricked me into thinking i was in love again too soon after boyfriend 2, and it was so strong a deception that i only recently realized that boyfriend 3 is actually a rebound-man. this has been a problematic realization. what are you supposed to do with a rebound man that you've accidentally been dating for a year and a half? certainly you can't just show up on his door step and say 'i'm sorry, i just realized that i'm not actually in love with you. i was fooled because you are such a good kisser. you are actually just a rebound-man to me. good-bye, i'm going to find a real boyfriend now.'
no. i don't think so.
resolve your past before you begin your future. if you do this well, you will never find yourself in a long term relationship with someone who was only supposed to be your rebound-man. not that you have any idea what a rebound-man is at this point. but, you might soon. and if you do find yourself in need of a little pick-me-up, try to remember that the only kind of rebound-man that's worth any good at all is the 'one night stand rebound-man.' i can't believe i just wrote that to you, but it's true. wait, i meant to say 'one night stand rebound-man, with whom you have a SAFE one night stand.' ok. i guess that's better.
i know i should have said something as soon as i knew i wasn't in love with boyfriend 3. i know there's not really any excuse for withholding your feelings from someone. but, let it be said that boyfriend 3 isn't the easiest person to talk to. in fact, he's sort-of an asshole (another fact the good kissing blinded me to for a while). he throws chairs. he punches walls. he screams. still, despite all that--and mostly because i'm a stupid girl--i kind of thought i would change my mind about him. all relationships have upswings and downswings. i was waiting for things to swing back up, i guess--to be like they were in the beginning. with the good kissing. not so much with the puking. but, the longer i wait, the more i notice how he hates to talk about anything except himself. i notice that he is NEVER happy about anything. at all. i get more and more irritated that after all this time, he can't seem to take into account that i don't like country music, DMX, or sloppy joes.
i do have some amount of sense, so the more i thing about it, the clearer it becomes. boyfriend 3 and i are doomed. but it's still not so simple. i still don't know how to hurt someone. i guess there are some things you just never get good at.
though it can be tricky telling sometimes, it is usually far worse to say nothing and wish you had, then it is to say something and wish you hadn't.
i just came up with that theory last night, while i was crying in the bathtub. i sat in the water for so long it turned cold. i've always been a big fan of baths--maybe because i like the way i look naked better in water than out. no gravity, you know. in this particular bath i realized that hiding your feelings from someone can quickly turn into the worst kind of lie. which makes me the worst kind of liar. the longer i sat there, the sicker i felt. the water shooting through the jets seemed to be berating me, rather than soothing me. it hurt. i had been afraid of losing the tranquility, and now boyfriend 3 would be just as much a victim of my weakness and i was a victim of his poor anger management skills.
despite all his bad qualities, i am quite sure that boyfriend 3 loves me as much as his unhappy little heart will allow him to love anyone. last night, he was playing sega dreamcast with his friends on the other side of town. one of his friends commented that he was jealous because boyfriend 3 and i seemed to have such a perfect relationship. boyfriend 3 told me he thought to himself how lucky he was to be part of a perfect love, and all the while i was sitting in my bathtub thinking that i don't really love him at all.
i'm not even sure if i ever did. not that i wasn't fooled. the falling gets you every time. everytime. it's the landing that ruins it for most of us. you stand up, brush yourself off, and usually run off in different directions, looking to fall again.
i went to sleep last night knowing that i would have to come clean very soon. it's funny that i was just thinking about my dad being right about that 'what goes around comes around' thing. my relationship with boyfriend 3 really does mirror my relationship with boyfriend 2. despite the #2, boyfriend 2 was my first love, and he broke my heart--about 233 times. i am boyfriend 3's first love, and i will probably break his heart.
i can feel it coming back around.
you have to lose your first love, or it wouldn't be called that. it would be called your only love. so, assuming that you're like most of us, you're going to need a couple of tries to get it right. as stated in theory #2, it will take time. but if you reach the point where you can talk about your first love fondly, instead of through clenched teeth while gripping some kind of large weapon, then you're doing alright.
every time i catch myself performing some kind of ritual with some person who has somehow become a part of my life, i start wondering about how all that occurs. on really hot days, boyfriend 3 and i would lie in bed all day, and take turns going to get popsicles out of the freezer. he's always let me have the red one; thank god for small happinesses. we would lay there, sticky with each others popsicle juice, and lust, and august sweat, and i would wonder how it is that in all the world, two people manage to find each other and create a ritual of eating popsicles in bed on hot days.
lying in bed, alone, seven months older i have to wonder how something that once made me so completely happy could now be the last thing on earth that i would want to do. if two people do manage to find one another, and become enchanted with one another--how do they stay that way? when is it ok to settle for something less than what you had dreamed your life would be? when should you compromise? when shouldn't you? how do you know when you've found the right person? when is the fall worth the pain that usually come with it?
no more theories, just random thoughts for you now.
i once heard a wise man say 'my rewards were in the journey.'
i don't remember who he was, or even if those were his exact words. but it seems to me that he was right.
if you're very lucky, and a little bit wise, you will earn a lot in life and have a lot of opportunities to use what you've learned. but mostly you will learn the really valuable things by fucking up a bit.
there is no scoreboard for love. it would be really cool if we could all walk around with little cards--like nutritional guides--on our foreheads that clearly stated what we were capable of giving and receiving at a particular time, so you could know in advance. but that just is not the case. you can not look at it as a race to know everything you can about how love works, because if you do, you will surely end up falling in love with someone who knows nothing and being completely miserable anyway.
you don't get to save up a bunch of tickets and then turn them in for a prize at the end, like in skiball.
the rewards are in the journey.
the rewards are every single person you meet, and finding out every little reason why they should or should not be your friend or lover. the rewards are hot days and red popsicles with someone who might have been the right one for you. if you're lucky, one day you'll have the reward of knowing that someone is.
a few more thoughts:
you should compromise when you love what you'll get more than what you'll lose. if you feel real love, even if it's just for one minute, than it's always ok to accept less than what you dreamed for your life. it would be pointless to do anything else, since love adheres to absolutely no rules, and seldom do we get to choose who we fall in love with. you know you've found the right person when you stop worrying about finding the right person, and it is ALWAYS worth the pain that comes with falling.
i love you, little sis. keep your head up. we've all cried ourselves to sleep before.
the sun will still be shining tomorrow, you just have to let yourself enjoy it.
march 25, 2000
3:23 am, and i'm so going to sleep now.
so, that's that.
i know some of you more observant readers are saying--wait! she still just told a story!
and, yeah. that's somewhat true.
the parts (you know, the parts that make up almost the whole piece) where i reference my relationships are all real.
but! my sister was not undergoing trauma of any sort! i totally made that up so i would have a way to tell my own stories! i am so creative!
the point is, i totally got the guy.*
**although, to this day, it has never been proven that it had anything to do with that piece...
...it also hasn't been because i've kept him drunk for six years, which one might think from looking at these pictures. at least, not as far as i can tell.