The problem with love at first sight is that it’s too easy. Too outwardly simple. It leaves no room for the imperfect, unfiltered journey through which love often weaves. And yet it exists, this indecipherable, beautiful, almost magical phenomenon of how we love, whom we love, and when. As if the choice is made beyond our control. Something we fall into.
I wasn’t dreading the bachelorette party. It’s just… drinking isn’t really my thing, and I didn’t know the majority of the other ladies, despite the fact that I’m in the wedding, and I’m really only in the wedding because I’m one-fourth of The Dinner Club, and two of the other Dinner Club members weren’t going to be there, and… I just don’t know. I love the bride-to-be. She’s sweet and fun and eternally charming, but she’s also part of a larger group of friends whose massive social circle often resembles Game of Thrones, where the relationships are deep and complex and almost impossible to comprehend at first glance.
I realized I didn’t belong when I forgot the name of the Bride’s aunt during dinner. “Aunt B,” she told me when I asked, and I—a woman who has defecated myself, twice, as an adult, and can relate that anecdote now, with zero shame—felt mortified that I thought she was Aunt J. That’s how out of the circle I am.
But the night was fine. It was better than that, actually. It was fantastic.
The Bride was like a beautiful, brunette Malibu Barbie. She danced and drank and relished in her much-deserved weekend of celebration. Her maid of honor, four months pregnant, showed me that some women are just destined to be great mothers, and that the life growing inside her has been blessed by this great universe to belong to someone so kind and selfless.
I ran into a dear friend from the short-lived “party days” of my 20s. Her presence reminded me of the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies from Insomnia. The first time I bit into one at the store’s Center City Philadelphia location, I asked the lady at the counter if the exotic flavor in my mouth was coconut. She nodded, and I gleefully devoured the remaining bites. “Oh Mr. Coconut,” I exclaimed with joy. “You’re like finding an unexpected friend at a party! Such a delightful surprise.” That’s how I felt about my long-lost bar friend, who I hadn’t seen since our wild Thursday nights in 2008. Ms. Coconut didn’t drink much either, but she danced and partied, and somewhere around 1am, she drove three hours home to spend some precious Time with her seven-month-old daughter before heading to work the following morning.
All of the girls were fabulous, and I felt silly for my earlier anxiety. It turned into a great night. Especially after I smoked up.
I’ve always viewed alcohol as the drug of the insecure. A way to shed inhibition and become a looser version of yourself. You, but askew. The You you want to be, but can’t quite get to on your own.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m all for a glass of wine. It’s just not my drug of choice.
I much prefer the introspection of marijuana. Of creeping into the weird and winding corners of my brain. Finding comfort there, along with other dear friends. Humor. Peace. Gratitude. Time. Always, Time. Where marijuana slows it down, alcohol speeds it up. Nights lost in darkness.
I’ve reached those blackout points myself on a handful of occasions, and they’ve always left me shaken. Horrified of the could-have beens. I could have been the victim of something awful. I could have driven home and killed someone. The possibilities are endless.
I say all this not to judge the drinkers. I get it. I’ve done it. I do it still.
I’d just prefer to spend my St. Patrick’s Day smoking green instead of wearing it at the bar.
I loved him before the drugs.
Sitting in the corner of Mr. Pierogie’s 9th grade, Honors English, we’d pass each other notes, handfuls of which I still have saved in a frayed, decades-old Victoria’s Secret box. There are the snarky one-liners about the class know-it-all; the fear we harbored for the wobbly barstool upon which our sweet, fat teacher would sit; the exchanges that said nothing and everything about life at 13.
When I try to pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with D, I return to that classroom. We had finished the first half of The Odyssey, and from his precarious perch, Mr. Pierogie asked us which of Odysseus’ challenges had been the most dangerous. “The Lotus Eaters,” D whispered to me. It seemed an odd choice, only a few small pages about a flower that forever trapped its willful victims, certainly less exotic or action-packed than some of the other stories in the epic, and my face must have reflected my bemusement. He smirked and added, “It’s the only one I actually read.”
When the know-it-all raised his hand to make the same argument—something about hopelessness, loss of willpower, how those who ate from the flower abandoned desire for all else—I fell madly in love with D’s smile, the free-of-arrogance, I-told-you-so expression that said, “So what if I got lucky? I’m right.”
Shortly after our initial drunken kiss some 11 years later, after we went from being friends to being more, I asked Mr. D if he, too, knew the moment he loved me. “We were in the cafeteria,” he said, going into explicit detail of watching me, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, as I devoured what must have been a very delicious popsicle. “That’s the girl I’m going to marry,” he joked, and we both cracked up.
We didn’t share another class until senior English, and our casual connection continued through college. We’d hit the bowl in his dorm, exhaling pot smoke into an empty water bottle filled with dryer sheets to mask the smell. Once, I accompanied him and his girlfriend on a blunt ride behind campus, grabbing the closest available beverage to soothe my throat, only to gag as the gin-laced juice seared its way to my stomach.
We went to parties in the seedier parts of the city. He taught me how to hock loogies and download songs off illegal websites. We took statistics sophomore year, our first shared class since high school, though he’d eventually fail the course and drop out altogether. After that, it was years before we saw each other again.
When we did, it was at my wedding. Newly single, D came alone and caught the bouquet. At 22, I had married a former pothead who smoked with me on our first date but never touched marijuana again. The sex was mediocre. When a friend once asked what it was that I saw in him, I apparently replied, “He has D’s sense of humor.” She’d remind me of that after the divorce, after D and I became “more,” after my corny remark of always loving him and after the chorus of duhs from our mutual friends.
We were potheads that first year, but D was more, and I didn’t realize just how debilitating more could be. D knew. He had called it eleven years before, in freshman English.
Mr. D says I have a tendency to project my stress onto our relationship, and he may be right. Sometimes when we smoke at night, I find myself unable to get comfortable in his arms, or on the couch, or in the bed. I just sit there, on edge, anxious and tense, wondering why I can’t relax, and it compounds the already growing feelings of inadequacy and insecurity that mar my Groundhog’s Day existence, where every day is the same, and I never feel good enough at home or at work, and I wonder if I’m arrogant for wanting more for our life, or ambitious for dreaming big.
I told Mr. D that I was sorry if I take my woes out on him, and he said it’s okay, that at least I don’t express it on the kids, or at my job, or with my parents. And then I wondered, is that marriage? Is that what we do for the ones we love? Absorb some of their stress while they get their shit together?
If so, I’m grateful for it. If not, I’m tipsy (I hate alcohol), and these are all thoughts for an essay on another day.
Angelina Jolie once said it was her son Maddox who adopted her, and not the other way around. That his three-month-old smile gave her a confidence she had never known.
“I held him for the longest time, and finally he woke up and stared at me, and we stared at each other, and I was crying and he smiled and I felt… my discomfort with children is because I assume I can’t make them happy, because I’ve been accused of being dark I wasn’t sure I’d be a great, loving, perfect mom even though I wanted to be so bad. Could I make someone comfortable and happy? But he smiled and we hung out for a few hours, and I could make him happy, and we felt like a family.”
That was from a 2005 Vanity Fair interview to promote Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I thought of it a year later, at the Humane Association, when a scruffy mutt nuzzled its way onto my lap with such boundless affection I felt confident in my ability to be his mom. “I want him,” I told my husband.
I was 22 and married to a man who I disliked far more than I loved. We bought a house the week before our wedding and adopted Grizzly the month after.
How do Buzzfeed Quizzes so profoundly nail the story of my life?
How do they know my zodiac sign from my favorite sex position; or that I love to eat and am also a bit of a lush because of Peter Griffin; or that this is the year I’ll quit my job based off the Australian snacks I happened to choose at random?
Seriously, this is what it said: “You’ve been sitting at the same desk, staring at the same screen blankly for far too long, and this is the year you’ll finally take action! Out with the old, in with the new.”
The headline, alone, gives me hope.
The First Amendment is the cornerstone of what makes America great, and it’s beautiful to see these freedoms being upheld. In fact, maybe Trump–with his ironic platform and backwards ideals and misguided crusade against the very founding principles that distinguish our United States from the wider world–will, in fact, serve to unite us.
Maybe we needed to be grabbed by the pussy, these cold and chilling threats to our democracy the unexpected glue that will band us together in ways that transcend politics and bond us in the indestructible beauty of our nation’s moral fiber.
Maybe that’s the audacity of hope. That we are great because we are good. That our destiny will be written by us, not for us.
This is the start of an essay for a longer day, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about. Mostly because of my last essay on Gwyneth.
“Well, it’s not like she’ll ever see it,” Mr. D said after I posted it.
“No, she might,” I replied. “She knows about the blog.”
An hour passed. I felt anxious about letting my bitch flag fly so flagrantly.
“Do you think she’d be offended,” I asked Mr. D.
I thought about it for a minute more. “Well, it’s not like we’re good friends. Plus I ruin friendships all the time.”
Mr. D laughed. “And now you know why.”
We used to own the book 102 Dalmatians, and it was one of Big A’s favorites. We would read it all the time a few years back, one of those fleeting childhood fixations I had forgotten all about it until Saturday morning, as my stoner hands scrolled absentmindedly through the kid’s section of HBO Go.
“That one!” Little A cried, and navigated my cursor to not 101 Dalmatians, but it’s sequel.
“Are you sure you don’t want to watch the first movie instead,” I asked, and she remained adamant.
So on went 102 Dalmatians, and off to the kitchen I sauntered. I paid the movie only half an inebriated mind as I pottered around the house, but during one particularly evil exchange, I looked at the television and declared my hate for Cruella de Vil. I gasped as the word escaped my lips, and backpedaled. “I shouldn’t have said that,” I told Big A, preemptively, expecting her to call me out.
“You can say the H word,” she said. “Oh… but you used it on a person.”
I could almost hear the wheels turning in her brain as she thought about it more. “Well,” she conceded, “Cruella is trying to kill the puppies.”
“Yeah,” I said, as I picked up some fallen toys, “She’s just a bad person.”
I felt wrong saying it.