The stories others remember 

Today for class my professor had us text our friends and family and ask them, “what’s your favorite story about me?” She then had us put away our phones and wait.

After awhile, we were to pick one of the responses and think about why that person remembers that story, and what it says about you. The idea was to deconstruct why we tell each other stories–to see the stories we tell at parties as a (true) mythology of ourselves. This is how we cement our personal identity in a group.

My sister told me her favorite story was the time we were playing hide and seek in my grandmothers house. It was my turn to hide, and the grown ups were telling me ideas on where to go. Now, my grandmother collects dolls. Three-foot-tall, life size dolls that live in the corner of her living room. My sister is counting down, and I decide, hey, I’ll be a doll.

So I posed in the back, smiled, and waited. My sister hunts around the house for a long time–she even makes eye contact with me and keeps looking. She actually thought I was a doll.

I thought for awhile why she remembers this and what it says, both about me and about her. It was funny, sure, and I do love making her laugh. But why does she tell other people this story? What trait of mine does it show, in disguise? 

I realized that this story shows that I don’t shy away from a challenge. Yes, a “safer” hiding spot would have been under the table or in a closet. But I chose to be a doll, the more interesting and difficult path.

This class literally just ended about 10 minutes ago, but I can tell this will be something that sticks in my mind. Why d we tell stories? Funny stories, cool stories? What does it say about us and our relationships? How is it that we bond through storytelling?

Telling stories is, of course, what I plan on spending my life doing. I guess it had never crossed my mind why stories exist in the first place. It had always seemed so obvious, just an integral part of humanity. It is, I think, integral. 

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Alone again

Seems like I can never be happy on this blog, can I? I think it’s because I use it when I’m feeling down. Writing out my feelings makes me feel better, so I end up blogging at low points.

My boyfriend is gone, and I am alone again. Being in a long distance relationship is hard, especially going back into one after a months-long paradise of being together practically every day.

I’ve improved, mentally, so much since last time. Since mid-January when he headed off to Mexico. I’ve improved 100-fold. I no longer feel devastated, lost, isolated. I have my family, however weakly-held together it is, and I have my friends. If I open my mind, I have plenty to do and plenty of people to do it with. I will get crafty, I will knit to my heart’s content, I will clean every corner of the house, I will learn to use a curling iron and learn to crochet and learn to bake bread. I will learn every song in my ukulele book. I will write fiction, I will write articles, I will update my blog more and more.

I will be okay. But now, so soon after he’s gone, so soon after the summer has ended, I feel alone. Not lonely, because of all I’ve already said. Just alone.

In the car, when I was driving away though everything in me wanted to stay, I could still feel the imprint of his lips, the weight of his hands,  the tenseness in my neck from resting it on his shoulder. It’s impossible to think I won’t see him again until Christmas. It hurt me to type that. It hurts me to think that way. So I won’t. I just won’t.

It’s  not bottling: it’s feeling, accepting, and tossing out. I cried long and loud and messy, on the drive home, and now I’m done. I’m done with that feeling. I can do this. It won’t be so hard this time, it won’t be so hard this time, I will chant that like a mantra until even I believe it.

But for now…before I move on, before it becomes easy, before we find our rhythm of when to text, call, Skype, while I can still imagine his voice with clarity, I’m allowed to feel alone. And I do feel alone.

I’m an introvert, I like being alone. I guess it’s a different kind of alone. It’s not a quick aloneness. It’s both longer and shorter than it seems. I’ll be away from him for awhile, but I’ll be with others soon. They will patch the hole.

I will be okay. We will be okay.

I am okay.

A stranger’s graduation

Yesterday I went to a graduation that was not my own, nor anyone I cared about. I was writing an article about it.

It was so strange, for many reasons. The first was that it was the first high school graduation I’d been to since graduating. I went to four in high school including my own, since I was in the orchestra and we played Pomp and Circumstance and etc. It seemed magical, because it was something I hadn’t accomplished yet.

Now, at 20, I’m both too old and too young to appreciate high school as something challenging. For me, right now, it’s something that people younger than me do every day. It’s something I already did. So listening to the speeches talk about the struggles and challenges they overcame…felt like exaggerations.

And yet…I remember my own time in high school. There were challenges. I overcame them, with great effort.

Graduating high school IS something to be proud of. It’s something to celebrate, and I realized that as I left.

The other reason it was strange, though, is that I felt like I was intruding. Everyone was so happy. Everyone remembers their graduation, for one reason or another, and I felt like I was intruding on that memory, somehow. I was probably the only person at the place who didn’t live in that town, or at least was related to someone who was. It felt so wrong.

I think it was a way of me realizing how minor everything is. Their graduation meant the world to them and nothing to me. My graduation meant nothing to them and the world to me. No matter what I or anyone else does, there will be people–most people, in fact–who won’t give a damn.

That thought, like graduation itself, is bittersweet.

Friends and heels

Last night I saw a friend I haven’t seen in nearly two years. It’s always strange when that happens…do you act like nothing has changed, or like you’re meeting them again for the first time?

I wouldn’t have been so nervous, I suppose, if he and I weren’t so close before. I know I’ve changed in the past two years…has he? Will we be too different to be friends?

When he came over, all my worries went away. God, he was so him. So normal. I caught myself watching his mannerisms throughout the night, the way he laughed. He had the same glasses. So normal, but so strange to see him again.

Nonetheless, distance was persistent in being the forefront of the evening. While he was talking about the college he goes to, he said, “And my girlfriend–I have a girlfriend named Sarah….”

How do you count friends? I would still count him as my friend, though we hadn’t spoken in so long and were so separate I didn’t know he had a girlfriend, never mind her name. He, who I used to know everything about.

How do you count friends, in a world that’s always changing, in a world that allows you to be virtually inseparable but physically worlds away?

I can only imagine what it will be like when we’re older and even further from our roots. When I see someone I used to be close with decades ago, will it be just as easy and strange? I’m terrible at recognizing faces and remembering names…then again, I can always look people up on Facebook if I forget them.

Social media is weird. Growing up is weird. Friendships are weird.

I wore heels to work today and I feel old.

Notebooks never forgotten

Does anyone else fall in love with their notebooks? I’ve never thrown one away. I flip through them when I reach the final page and reminisce about the doodles in the margins, the swooping titles shaded and shadowed during boring lectures and five minute breaks. I love the feel of well-worn pages, I love the smell of quick-run ink.

I can’t throw it away! Not after hours spend sliding the side of my hand over the blue lines, not after flipping each page one by one—except the one that stuck and got skipped. I couldn’t possibly send this to the curb after it supported me during late nights studying, during impossible essays.

Dark, denting consonants when I was angry. Soft pencil scratches when the teacher turned on the overhead light. Slanted print when I took notes during a film. Perfect cursive at the beginning of class, slowly morphing into illegible loops and bumps, like my pen had monitored an irregular heartbeat.

All the knowledge I had soaked up and forgotten lay fresh on the page, preserved from light and water by thin shiny covers. Coffee stained corners, nail polish smeared on the edge.

The black ink haloes finished classes with rosy nostalgia in the wistful summer. The thing I snatched off my desk in a rush, threw across the room in frustration, attacked with red pens, bought for fifty cents at Walgreens—this is what I swoon over? This is what makes me sigh and shove in a drawer instead of a recycle bin?

Emotions are strange…but perhaps for a writer, who swears every word is her heart bleeding on the page, it makes sense for a notebook to feel like a part of her that can’t carelessly be forgotten.

Wednesday

Wednesdays tend to be big procrastination days for me, mostly because it’s right in the thick of everything. Nothing is ever due on a Wednesday; I always have at least Thursday to get things done for work, and oftentimes the whole weekend to get things done for class.

I’ve always aspired to get things done early, and as I’ve gotten on in college I’ve gotten better at time management. But for a long time in high school I was the one staying up until 2 a.m. on a Sunday, writing a paper due in six hours.

I work best under a little pressure, and when something isn’t due for another few days I can’t help but push it off a bit—especially if I’ve already done something productive that day. Eh, I could be super on top of things, or I could do that tomorrow. Tomorrow’s good.

It also depends on how I’m feeling about things. If I’m in a good mood I tend to do better work, but because Wednesday is Wednesday and not Friday I’m rarely in a great mood. I’m just in a Wednesday sort of mood: mild and lazy.

As an introvert I usually have a few moments during every event when I wish it were over, if only so I could have a few minutes to myself, and work is no exception. Parties, school, work…it’s all socially and mentally and physically draining, no matter how fun it is.

Noel Coward once said, “Work is more fun than fun.” I totally buy it. I hate boring summer days spent wandering listlessly from television to video games to eating too much junk food. While it’s what I look forward to now and then, too much of it is, well, too much. Likewise, while I love travelling, the plane home is always a touch more sweet than it is bitter. Perhaps that’s due to my introversion, or my attempt to look at things positively, but also perhaps it’s due to a drive to return to work. We like to feel productive. We don’t like to feel like wasteful lumps.

Work is fun, fulfilling, and makes us feel full, but it’s only natural to want to procrastinate it. Especially on a Wednesday.

Introvert Fashion

I’m addicted to scarves.

No, it’s true. I have probably about thirty scarves. It’s a problem. But I love them.

I do really like fashion, but I’m not a huge risk-taker. I wouldn’t leave the house in a Lady Gaga meat dress or anything–in fact, I often limit myself to one “strange” thing per outfit, whether that be a scarf or bright shoes or big earrings.

The second thing about my fashion sense is that, obviously, I’m an introvert, so while I like being fashionable I don’t like to stand out too much. I wear a lot of earth tones. Burgundy, olive, dark  brown. I also like to cover up quite a bit with cardigans or tights or, yes, scarves.

There are some strange fashion choices, especially at a liberal college like the one I go to. I’ve seen girls with full heads of hair wear wigs to class. I’ve seen fake tattoos, platform sneakers, and sweaters with boobs embroidered on the front.

This is all fine–fashion is about expression, and if girls want to express themselves with neon and flash that’s fine! It just usually signals a neon and flashy personality, which I don’t really have, so the fashion seems odd to me.

Fashion may seem trivial, but it’s a way for other people to see who you are at a glance. However, it’s not just about how daring your choices are. Even as an introvert I like a bit of color. I like painting my nails and wearing hats and just a bit of flair, because I like to.

What I would never wear is a political tee shirt or button. A lot of my (liberal, young) friends are very much into Bernie Sanders (democrat running for president in the US). That’s great, fine, but then they also wear his shirts, his buttons, his stickers, like flashing billboards about their political views. I just wouldn’t be comfortable doing that. It’s not so much about the color of the clothing as what it says about you.

That’s kind of why I like fashion. I get to pick what my outfit means, one piece at a time, and then how those pieces relate say something as well. Everything you wear says something about you, whether you realize it or not.

So, I will keep my brigade of scarves and wear them with regardless of warm weather!