I’ve got an itch.
It’s for some sort of change. Well, really, it’s for drastic change. It’s to grow up, to figure myself out, to treat myself better. It’s an itch for immediate change: to feel happier, more energetic, more satisfied, more self-disciplined, stronger instantly. But then, in the back of my head, I’ve got another very simple, very stupid itch.
I’m looking at my unfolded laundry, shuffling through old notebooks, and sipping on my third cup of coffee. The clock reads 9:16, and I just have an itch. I’m not going to scratch.
Being an adult is hard though, right? I’m terrible at it, and yet my job is to take care of little people who are okay with yogurt and snot dripping down their faces, of little people who will ignore you until you lie and say, “I’ve got cookies!” At work I get to build with legos, color, and dance. My job is mostly to play, and when it’s not, my way of handling drama may not be as “teacherly” as some might prefer. I’ve told a little girl to push someone back after being shoved a few too many times. I told a child in the midst of a breakdown over his toppled lego tower that “things fall apart, and you have to rebuild them.” Sometimes I tell kids not to touch me or talk to me... at all... for the rest of the day. But! All that aside, the kids call me a “grownup” so that must mean I am. Do other grownups still call their mom every time they get sick, too?
I spend my days caring for a gaggle of other little people. When I come home, the last person I want to take care of is myself. Where’s the person that’s going to do my taxes and take my garbage out and bring me seltzer when I’m sick and buy me new shoes when my old ones fall apart? Why do I have to remind myself that a box of Cheez-Its and a bottle of wine for dinner is not a good idea? There should be someone to do that for me!
Strangers tell me that there’s “a special place in heaven” for me, that I’m a “saint,” that I must be “so patient” when they find out that I work with preschoolers. There’s not. I’m not. I’m definitely not. Teaching young children is not a saint-worthy occupation--we all lose our tempers, we all yell and say things that we shouldn’t, we ignore fights between kids and let them fend for themselves. There are mornings where I throw temper tantrums about getting out of bed: real life tantrums, kicking and hitting the entire time I’m getting myself dressed. Don’t reserve some special spot up there in the sky for me, I just want a vacation. Because I’ve got another itch.
It’s to smoke a cigarette and it’s to shave the hair off my head. It’s to pick up and move far away, or maybe to buy a house. It’s deciding whether I want to wake up and go for a run in the morning, or just to sleep until my five minute warning. It’s to start applying to schools and to give up eating meat. It’s deciding between a childhood dream, a new hobby, or health and dental insurance. I can’t sort out any of my own thoughts clearly enough because I want the same things that I do not want. I’ve got an itch that I can’t quite place. Because people have stopped saying things like good job and when you grow up and take your time; because people ask a lot of questions. I want to scratch, to gnaw away in my head until I get down to the very bottom of it, the most basic of basic, the essentials. What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you do for a living? What’s your career path? When are you getting married? Have you thought about kids? I’ve got an itch. Someone hold onto my hands.
On my commute into work the other morning, a Pandora ad for some new movie started playing in my headphones. “I will never be good enough for you,” said the actor stud, “but I will spend the rest of my life proving to you that I am.”
When did romance become an unbearably cheesy portrayal of a man or woman sacrificing their entire life to make the other happy? When did it become romantic to prove yourself to another person? Isn’t the sappy, fulfilling purpose of love to accept one as they are? If someone is going to tell me they’re not good enough for me, I’m probably going to believe them. It’s a stupid thing to say. And if you follow up that point by saying you will prove to me that you are good enough, well now you’re just contradicting yourself.
Romance is not blockbuster quality. I don’t want flowers on Valentine’s Day because someone told you to buy them for me. I don’t want you to say your whole life is based on whether I am happy or not, because then what are you doing to make yourself happy? Romance could be mailing your vegetarian girlfriend a new flavored Cliff bar because you were at the corner store and thought of her. Romance sometimes is a single rose you found outside the cafe, left on the front stoop because you knew she was having a rough day. Romance is often holding someone until they fall asleep as their nose drips a puddle of snot onto the pillow. Romance is a sad song sung simply because you know the person you’re singing to still loves Ryan Adams. #notembarassed
Sometimes it is cliche, but it is not defined. Still, if you know how I like my eggs made, I’ll be way more fond of you than if you tell me I’m the one you can’t live without. Because you can. I’m sick of advertising and pop culture and outdated social norms defining relationships for us. I’m sick of Cosmo articles “reflecting” upon the worst dates we’ve ever had, because half of them sound like a relatively typical night. (See for yourself.) I’m sick of the rules and games we’re supposed to play, and the timelines we’re supposed to set up. But really, I’m just sick of fucking “romantic dramas” continually warping the minds of too many people into believing that if someone you love is unwilling to sacrifice EVERYTHING ELSE in their life, they must not love you. Because love, romance, none of it is about sacrificing the person you are to please someone else.
It’s not just in movies though. Every day we are trying to prove something: to our bosses, our coworkers, our parents, our friends, most especially to ourselves. My Facebook feed was a barrage of happy wishes and bitter memes yesterday. You can almost smell the roses you’re not going to get? Why can’t you find a nice guy/gal? Valentine’s Day is set up to make one either feel incredibly lucky and special to be with “the one” or to make us feel bad and lonely because there’s no one we’re sharing the commercialism with. Is it really necessary to have one specific day where we either feel the ultimate bliss of coupledom, or the unbearable loneliness of being single? Comparisons like this start to take hold of our lives; we find ourselves online stalking where someone we haven’t spoken to since high school last vacationed to, a childhood friend who is already pregnant with her second child, the promotion our ex got and the number of people that make more money, are more “successful,” are “happier” than us. It’s built into our society to compete, to feel the need to show our self worth, rather than allowing ourselves to falter and flail along the way. Most of us don’t display those moments where we’re just barely treading water to the world; we show the successes.
Some days I am happy and in love. Some days I am sad and in love. Some days I am scared, or anxious, or tired, or excited, but all of those days, I am still in love. I’m in love with sleeping late. I’m in love with burritos. I’m in love with coffee and cigarettes and tequila, even when they’re bad for me. I love people, even if they fart in front of me. (Seriously, I had a middle school teacher tell me once that if a guy farts in front of you, he doesn’t respect you. Seriously.) And I don’t need one predetermined day to prove that I love those things, or to devour that burrito.
Happy Not Valentine’s Day. And a happy 363 more.
heavy heeled when walking; heavy handed when pouring a drink