Sunday, July 26, 2009

What's in it for me?

In an age when status updates and tweets overtake in-person conversations, handwritten letters and phone calls to old friends, what’s the use in attempting to reconnect with old friends when you already know what they’re up to?

(Yeah, there was a thing called correspondence before e-mail and texts. People actually used all their fingers to write messages back and forth, not just their thumbs. In the olden days, there was even a pony involved in the exchange process. )

Our curiosities have become so easy to feed with the abundance of accessibility yet lack of proximity.

It’s hard to face, but there’s really no use in striking up a conversation with someone you knew a couple years back when they’re already telling you without asking. So while my Facebook newsfeed continues to flood with engagement announcements, wedding photo albums, and “we’re expecting!” notices, I take to stalking (who doesn’t?) and floodgates of emotion break the levees.

“Wait… s/he's getting married/is engaged/preggers?”

Jake Ryan: Married???

(from behind front door)
Long Duk Dong: MARRIED! JEEZ!

The first step to overcoming a problem is admitting it, so here goes: I’m uneasy with the inevitable fact that people I know are getting married and having babies - "growing up", if you will. It takes me a while to process, and I'm pretty sure the entire range of human emotion shows up on my face - if my reaction were seen live or on tape. And anyone who knows me knows that if I'm silent, they can hear volumes of my thoughts via my facial expressions. For that, I have no filter.

Oh, here’s another fun fact: I’m 21.

People I went to high school with are reaching back to their old cliques and recruiting former members as each others' best men/MOHs. When I hear about this, I start to question motives.
  • Does he know your fiance’s name? First and last?
  • Has s/he been around to see your relationship blossom enough to speak of your unity in genuine support?
  • Do you really think s/he honestly wants to be your BM/MOH?
  • Or are you asking because your OCD compels your bridesmaids and groomsmen be equal in number? Is it just about the symmetry? Superstition with evens and odds?

I’ve come across a couple of quizzes and articles from various women’s magazines and websites that provide the right questions to ask one’s self when choosing players to bat for your team on your wedding day. They’re similar to the ones mentioned above, as it’s only common sense to have a reasonable amount of proximity to the bride and the groom if you’re going to be part of the procession. At least in the game of participating in the wedding party, no one’s ashamed of being picked last… or not at all. Some would rather spare the expense - financially and emotionally speaking.

Maybe I’m speaking for myself.

I decided to have a rant-fest after the notices began to appear more frequently. I’m talking every other week, at times in multiple increments on the weekends. Who else to have such discourse with but one of my own former high school clique-mates/beloved friend? Cue Cheryl.

And she didn’t let me down. Of course she had something brilliant to add.
"I don't understand why people don't have more patience, with themselves and with others."

It's so true. And really, that's what it boils down to -- everyone trying to grow up so fast and attempting to capture this "American dream" - whatever that may be. Whether it be to have what their parents have, to have more than their parents ever gave them, or simply to have and to hold.

I just feel like we're at the age where we're supposed to do things for ourselves, not have any major connections or ties that keep us from achieving our innermost desires and aspirations -- yet some are choosing the settle down-get married-have 2.5 kids-pay the mortgage-work the 9-5-feed the dog-Charlie, take out the trash before I have to ask again route.

Not to say that I’ll never have that life - because my career choice and future plans say all systems go - but I’ve got a long way to go until then. I fully intend on traveling and enjoying me, myself, and I for a good amount of time. I want to enjoy time out with my friends without having to worry about finding a babysitter. I need the ability to be spontaneous without it affecting someone else negatively.

I find comfort in not knowing where the road leads. And if I take a chance on a hitchhiker one day, maybe going out on a limb will be the best mistake I make. Gaining a road buddy couldn’t hurt. If love and I happen to have a head on collision at some point, it’s all part of the ride.

(Save the serial killer reality displaced on hitchhikers, all right? I've actually been to a place where hitchhiking is a safe and common way of getting around: Kauai, Hawaii. And if your paranoia can't seem fathom that, just take the metaphor for what it is.)

Road trips are bound for memory making and story telling. And everyone’s got a story to tell; we’ve just got different ways revealing them. I’m willing to wait for someone who captures my attention as they recount their experiences. Even if it means having to run on empty to find the next man who’s flashing a thumbs-up - a fool proof sign of a genuine optimist.

I know you're out there, love. So I dedicate this to you:

For now, I’d just like to declare this decade – my 20’s – a period of self-discovery.

Thirty - and all the stuff that comes with it - can wait. My itinerary doesn't call for it being my next semi-permanent destination any time soon, and I'm expecting routes down the beaten path filled with forks and u-turns to prolong my arrival there.

Life's about meeting new people, seeing new places, reinvention - more or less, novelty in different forms.

That novelty jolts our blood with the adrenaline that provides us with exhilaration. It's that spark to the love flame that people constantly refer to.

What powers the drive within us to get up every morning is the anticipation of something new. And society has a fixation on renewal, if you haven't noticed. How else do you think icons like Michael Jackson and Madonna maintain cultural relevance throughout the years? Mmmhmm.

Not to say that we’re born doomed. Far from it, I think.

As children, I feel it's as if we're deaf to the noise of the world. All we can hear are the good - not the bad and the ugly. It's a sense of naivety that keeps us yearning for more, to change and grow and reinvent ourselves, but as we age, our ears are forced to become more receptive because the noise just keeps getting louder. Not like a crescendo, more like a sforzando, until it surpasses a threshold and we're incapable of filtering out what we're really meant to retain. As adults, we’ve gone deaf but all that’s audible an ugly perception of reality.

Unfortunately, I’ve come under the impression that some people wake up and realize everything they've got isn't anything they really wanted -- exeunt "happiness" (air quotes) and enter mid-life crisis, divorce, misery, what have you. See Jon and Kate Gosselin for a full definition.

During spring semester of my Freshman year, I took a Chick Rhetoric class, in which we read Bronte, Austen, Kinsella, The Rules, and dissected episodes of Sex and the City to breakdown female stereotypes and gender differences in addition to contemporary perspectives on love and relationships. At 19, I theorized that soul-mates do exist, at least one to each person, but the reason divorce rates are so and why we are more prone to cynicism when it comes to love is because some aren’t with the right people. For reasons I know not, people who aren’t meant to be remain together - perhaps for comfort, stability, status, or a combination of these - thus impeding the rest of society from finding love and happiness, with whomever that may be.

Another aspect of my soul-mate theory concerns the chase. The cat and mouse game doesn't work when people don't have themselves figured out. They don't know what to chase after; they don't know what they're looking for. Which is why I think some people end up with the wrong people. Because they think they'll find what they've been seeking in themselves in others.

And suddenly we can't see anything else but our age and how little we've accomplished in that timespan, so perhaps the reasoning is that beginning lives with another and creating more lives serves as means to gain those experiences vicariously.

I refuse. I absolutely refuse to do any of the above. I don't care if having a child-like perception of the world that encourages me to better myself may seem selfish - I'm doing it. I want to have enough time to figure it out for myself. I want to be able to own who I am. I want to be able to recount my life stories, look back and see that what I've done, what I've been through really has made me whomever I turn out to be rather than looking at the histories of my children. I don't want to resent anyone - my future husband or children - for taking a few precious years from me of a single-girl lifestyle that I couldn't possibly take back or for finally realizing that I'm not the person I portayed to be - to myself and everyone else.

To quote Titanic’s Jack Dawson’s speech to the less appreciative first-class passengers,
“I figure life’s a gift, and I don’t intend on wasting it.”

We're so young. Forever young. And I cannot emphasize this fun fact any more than that.

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