When I was a freshman at Holmes High School in San Antonio, Texas, I met an obnoxiously tall boy named Will. Something about this gawky kid made me crush on him immediately. Three years later, he’d ask me out after a blissful two week flirtation when he suddenly became aware (or decided to act on) a crush he, too, had on me. He stood me up, and ushered in my first major depression. For a solid month I’d come home from school and cry until dinner, when I’d wipe off my tears so my mother wouldn’t see I was upset and ask “what are you crying about!? I’ll give you something to cry about!” (sadly, this was often her reaction to my tears), eat my dinner, then return to my room to cry the rest of the night. At this time, one of my good friends was Laura, who I would lament to about Will and my broken heart. Summer break came, and when I returned to school for my senior year, I sat next to Laura in my creative writing class. She quite sheepishly informed me that she was now dating Will and that, oddly enough, he had stood HER up on THEIR first date, too. She let it go and they tried again, and were now a couple. I secretly kicked myself for having called him up and chewing him out after he had stood me up, for I now realized that I had blown my chance with him.
For several months after that, I found myself trying to dress more like Laura, as if my suddenly wearing long flowing skirts and being more girly would make Will notice me again. I soon abandoned the desire to “be Laura”, for I realized, while I may have wished Will back in my life like that, I didn’t want Laura’s life. Laura’s life would come with her past, her experiences, her family. At that time, I preferred my own life to hers.
I’m now at the stage when I don’t necessarily prefer my own history to someone else’s. I’ve recently discovered Jenny Lawson, and am apparently the last to do so. She’s wickedly, hysterically funny. She struggles with depression. She lives in or around San Antonio. She’s married and has a daughter. This morning I realized, I’m close to wishing I was her. I don’t *think* I’m entirely there yet. I think what I’d most like is to have her chutzpah. How is it she’s struggled with so many of the same issues I’ve struggled with, yet she’s been brave enough to put herself out there? Now, for all I know, her lifelong desire is to be a world-famous tap dancer, and her life as a blogger/writer is her gilded cage but, still, how did she push past her fears to become…fabulous?
About Will….we remained friends for years, but for at least 10 years after high school, I had a monthly dream about him that somehow involved the lost opportunity I had with him. Finally, about 10 years ago, we were both visiting our folks in San Antonio and decided to go out on that date. I arrived anxiously at the restaurant and waited for him out front. My heart leapt as he turned the corner and approached me….and sunk as I saw the expression on his face change from happiness to horror at the site of me. Though he was the same tall, lanky boy he’d been in high school, a back injury, chronic depression, and an ever-increasing dependence on Jim Beam had left me 100 pounds overweight. Watching that disappointment register on his face completely crushed me, and it was the most painful date I’ve ever had in my life. We no longer communicate at all, and I no longer dream about him. It took me a while to get over, but somewhere in my subconscious mind it must have registered that if that prick was so shallow as to discount me due to my weight, he wasn’t worth dreaming about.
I lost a good portion of that weight prior to meeting my husband. I put some of it back on and at one point was the heaviest I’ve ever been since we married. The entire time my husband has adored me. He’s stuck with me through back surgery and childbirth (though he fell asleep briefly while I was in labor…grist for the mill right there), through morphine drips and alcohol withdrawal, gallbladder attacks, the death of my grandfather, two beloved cats and a dog, and recurrent depression. And he gave me a beautiful, funny, smart daughter who makes us both laugh and our hearts smile on a daily basis.
Though I aspire to be braver like so many of the people I admire, I do not yet wish to actually be them, because if I were, my husband would not be in my life and my daughter would not exist. And that would be a greater loss than anything I’ve experienced.