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Lost and Verdict-less

16 May

“Admit that adult life is scary because there is no clear path to success… Be grateful for the chance to be lost — it means you’re living your own life, because no one can make choices in the exact same way you can, whether they are right or wrong.”
– Penelope Trunk

I had a house guest last week. That house guest and I have had chemistry since we met in the dorms (and later, dated briefly) in college. Over the years, we’ve remained friends and largely ignored the lingering sexual tension, but I knew his weeklong visit to Atlanta would force me to decide once and for all whether we could ever turn that tension into something more.

As much as I love this boy as a friend, it took me less than 24 hours to realize friends is all we are ever going to be. Moreover, I was clobbered with the realization that I have built myself a stable little life — with my dog jumping on me to wake me up and only special occasions interrupting my Monday, Wednesday and Thursday night yoga sessions and my girly DVR settings (definitely talking Gossip Girl, all the Real Housewives and The Vampire Diaries — with no shame, thank you very much) — and I really like it. And I don’t like when it’s disturbed.

This realization comes on the heels of me beginning to understand just how petrified of commitment I am. I have always found pride in my independence, probably because I’ve always been so good at it. But I’m just starting to recognize how much comfort I find in it too. How much ease. How much stability. And ironically, the acknowledgement of this stability has me all kinds of torn up, because as much as I cherish my independence, I don’t want to fall victim to it. I don’t want to trap myself.

All of which amounts to me going over this little fear/independence dilemma of mine in my head for days weeks: Have I developed this level of comfort as a coping mechanism for fear of being perpetually alone? Or have I begun to genuinely let that fear go and thus, found stability within myself? Do I intentionally push well-intentioned boys away so I’m not vulnerable? Or am I just willing to have fun with the Right Nows while patiently waiting for Willing to Permanently Put up with Whitney’s Crazy? Am I walking in the right direction? Or running around, lost, in serpentines?

Then I read Penelope Trunk’s blog this week, from which the quote above is taken, and it reminded me that these contemplations are okay. It’s okay to wonder if I’m doing any of this right or if I’m just wandering in circles (Cue pundit: Not all who wander are lost, my dear.), if I’m completely off my rocker or just navigating the normal new-adult terrain.

I might be on the best path for me. I might be off the map. It doesn’t really matter. Because Ms. Trunk is right — being lost is far from the worst thing in the world. It’s actually kind of fun. Liberating. I mean, the lost-without-a-map road trips always yield the best stories, right? They tend to include the best music and friends, too. And really, I’ve been lost on a lot of interstates and highways (I really do have a love/hate relationship with I-10.), and I’ve never not made it home eventually.

Granted, I have no idea where “home” will be for me. But I think the scenery from here to there could be kind of great.


Twenty four hours after this was taken, Lauren and I were supposed to be home. Instead, we were still in New Orleans. Because, somehow, we had ended up lost on I-10 and halfway to Texas. I wouldn’t trade those eight extra hours — three days before I left for Europe, no less — with her for anything.

“It might be a quarter life crisis /
Or just a stirring in my soul /
Either way, I wonder sometimes about the outcome /
Of a still verdict-less life /
Am I living it right?”
– John Mayer, “Why Georgia”

Two Prayers

2 Feb

“I don’t know where I’m at /
I’m standing at the back /
And I’m tired of waiting /
Waiting here in line /
Hoping that I’ll find what I’ve been chasing.”
— Jason Walker, “Down”

Graphic from Olly Moss.

For her:

“My friends from high school married their high school boyfriends /
Moved into houses in the same zip codes where their parents live /
But I, I could never follow… /
I’ve always found my way somehow by taking the long way /
Taking the long way around… /
Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else /
Maybe someday, someday I’m gonna settle down /
If you ever wanna find me I can still be found /
Taking the long way /
Taking the long way around.”

– Dixie Chicks, “The Long Way Around”

Don’t get discouraged. Don’t let the melancholy and loneliness distract you. You’re going to get out. You’re going to do everything you always said you would. It’s okay that it’s taking a little bit longer.

Don’t listen to those other voices. Don’t listen to their whispers. You’re better, stronger. Whichever path you choose, you’re going to do great. Be great. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on something crazy. That’s how the best stories start.

*****

For him:

“So you’re standing on a ledge /
It looks like you might fall… /
But you could have it all if you learned a little patience /
For though I cannot fly, I’m not content to crawl /
So give me a little credit /
Have in me a little faith /
I wanna be with you forever if tomorrow’s not to late /
‘But it’s always too late when you got nothing,’ so you say /
But you should never let the sun set on tomorrow before the sun rises today.”

– Nine Days, “If I Am”

I hope you’re okay. I hope you know that you’re going to be okay. I don’t know you. Not really, anyway. I know you can kiss. And I know you can steal my breath. But of the big things — the reasons you clam up, the lingering sadness, the self-doubt — I know very little.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be privy to these secrets.. That’s okay. But I hope someone is. Because even though you’re plagued with waning confidence, I see what you could be. What you will be. And it’s a beautiful picture.

I want you to know that you’ll make it. You possess too much effort and enthusiasm not to. As stressful as this path seems now, you’ll look back on it in 20, 5, 2 years and know that it was the best one for you. You’re going to have the successful, creative career you crave. You’re going to make some special girl blush every day. You’re going to have access to whatever you want.

I really hope I get a chance to tell you these things, to show you what I see behind the sorrow and stoicism. But if I don’t get to, I pray someone does. Because I think you’re worth it.

*****

Sleep tight tonight. You’ll both be just fine.