Indefinitely growing up

Burning the “Boyfriend Box.”

Finding handwritten notes shaped like a triangle or artfully folded into a square and throwing them away without even reading them.

Not getting upset when your dad paints over the height measurements you –– at 13 –– and your ex boyfriend had recorded in brown Sharpie on your closet’s wooden frame.

Putting that sweater in the donate bin –– even though it still fits you –– because you’ve had it since eighth grade.

Realizing the book “How To Get Over the Nerd You Used To Call Your Boyfriend” your mom gave you when you’d been dumped at 13 isn’t relevant anymore because you can now just buy wine. And get drunk.

Reminiscing for two seconds when you find handwritten essays from your favorite high school English classes (and narcissistically admiring your own cursive)…then adding them to the burn pile.

Wondering why it was ever OK for your high school to give out martini glasses and beer mugs as prom favors while noticing you’d never put pictures in the engraved picture frame they gave out two years later when they finally smartened up (THE GLASSWARE PROMOTES UNDERAGE DRINKING, DUH) because, even then in your teenage naïveté, you probably figured you wouldn’t care about that prom date in a few years.

Throwing out bouquets of dried flowers. Bouquets of fake flowers. Bouquets of roses made of feathers. And a giant-ass Valentine’s Day card.

Rearranging your closet –– ridding it of porcelain dolls you find really creepy, making you wonder who got you interested in collecting them in the first place –– and finding just enough room for each article of clothing you own.

Settling in indefinitely
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Going to a job interview.

Getting the job.

Looking for apartments on Craigslist.

Finding the perfect apartment.

Realizing everything you’d done in your childhood bedroom to settle in for the “long haul” has to be done all over again. This time more thoroughly.

Saying goodbye to more clothing that you’ve had since high school that you really don’t need.

Putting more tee shirts sporting your high school’s musical or play or event into the donate pile.

Preparing yourself for the number of complaints sure to come from your parents and brothers when they see just how much stuff you have to move.

Living for a few more days under your parents’ roof, under their care, under their security blanket.

Looking into buying a washer and dryer, a bed and more furniture for your place.

Growing up.

Advertisements

Cheers to my friend named Emily

So this year I  met a girl named Emily and she completely changed my life.

I found Emily in January. She had picked up a job at an Olympia Sports store near her school to show her parents she was well aware of her financial situation based on the decisions she’d made.

She donned the athletic pants and company tee shirt every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday night. We ate dinner together at 9:30 p.m. in the dining hall, but sometimes she didn’t have time to eat anything at all. I watched her type texts to her Ex boyfriend when she got lonely and kissed someone else just to feel something.

Emily avoided talking to her parents, avoided going home. Waking up and having the motivation to get out of bed became a struggle. But I kept her company.

I helped her squeeze into her senior-year prom dress, and then we drove to the venue for the 2013 Military Ball and met up with Ex, even though she had told him beforehand that, should he want to take someone else as his date, it was perfectly okay. He responded with, “I promised I would take you,” and avoided the question.

They talked during dinner and discovered they were both “seeing” different people. Then he introduced Emily to his new girl because –– of course –– she just happened to be at the ball, too. New girl squeezed the absolute shit out of Emily’s hand.

I think she was trying to prove a point.

When you're watching the  Rose Bowl tomorrow, picture me standing on the field!
When you’re watching the Rose Bowl tomorrow, picture me standing on the field!

And just as everyone else kicked off their heels to dance, Emily kissed Ex on the cheek one last time and left alone, wishing the windshield wipers on her car could work for her eyes as I drove her home.

I get it. She broke his heart, he returned the favor. They’re even now.

That night, she ran from what had been instead of running from what could be like Cinderella did. Then, unlike Cinderella again, we drank together to forget. Unless Cinderella did get belligerently drunk after losing her slipper and riding back in a carriage-turned-pumpkin.

I know I’d need a drink after that.

But that breakup –– which happened over a year ago, now –– was the best thing Emily ever did. It’s taken nearly a year, but she has FINALLY realized just how much Ex hindered her.

Held her back.

Pumped her up with too many empty compliments.

Accepted her behavior when he damn well shouldn’t have.

Emily scored the right internship, the right scholarships and the right connections. She lived on her own over the summer and learned what personalities the group she fits in with consists of. Her baby-blue Schwinn helped her escape an air-conditioned hotel room and explore a new place, a new city.

The other four Murray Scholars and me
The other four Murray Scholars and me

She opened up so many doors her 17-year-old self was all too content on keeping closed. She’s ready to open more.

I’m ready to open more.

In October, she cried over a childhood friend’s open casket.

Later that same night, those tears helped her reconnect with colleagues from high school she hadn’t spoken to in years.

She traveled to Pasadena, Calif., to accept a $5,000 scholarship she’d won by entering the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s annual sportswriting contest.

…Emily doesn’t have trouble getting out of bed anymore.

I don’t have trouble getting out of bed anymore.

So I met this girl named Emily. She’d been sheltered and smothered and I helped her live again. I helped her find her independence again. She ditched her pessimistic thoughts and began seeing the future’s many possibilities.

Together, we plan on opening more doors.

__________________________________________

I submitted an application to the Los Angeles Times today because, in 2014, I will remain open to possibilities and seek out exciting opportunities. I won’t let anything –– or anyone –– hold me back. Cheers.