Nothing like a public diary (blog) to help you see the ways you’ve (hopefully, but not always) grown and matured, and to observe the running themes in your life. On big days, or days that seem big, I like to look back and reflect at previous entries.
Sometimes I can’t believe I still haven’t developed a filter that keeps inappropriateness under wraps, but I guess that wouldn’t be true to who God made me. Sometimes the entries are still spot on, which can be gratifying or terrifying. The Valentine’s Day collections showcase some truly unique feelings and declarations from the minds and times of me.
Here’s an excerpt from my Valentine’s Day post from 2007:
I fully embrace my singleness, even in the face of a quietly ticking biological clock that compels me to check out every single male and size them up for possible genetic compatibility. But I refuse to feel sorry for myself. There’s plenty of awesome things going on in mi vida, and I know I don’t need a guy to make me feel like a complete person.
This, of course, does not mean that I am not hoping in secret, dark places of my heart that some gorgeous man will come into my life within the next 72 hours to sweep me off my feet. This, of course, does not mean that I won’t be applying my makeup very carefully, painting my toenails, wearing my cleanest work shirt and cutest skirt to work at Natural Café on Wednesday, and hoping for all the world that my current customer crush comes in and hands me his heart.
Whatever. I bought a fish and named him Mulder, after my lingering obsession with David Duchovny and the Xfiles. He’s really cute and a good listener. So there, I’m not alone after all.
It is nice to see that so many years later, my love for the XFiles has been rewarded with the revival series!
And then there’s this, from 2009, when I was fresh from backpacking through Central America for six months, spending the previous few weeks sequestered in sweatpants at my parents house, applying to and being rejected by about 40 different jobs. I was in a super frame of mind.
Lets be honest – I’m complicated enough on my own. No need to throw someone else into that madness. And having a boyfriend right now would reeeeeally cut into my Craigslisting and eating my feelings.
I drove down to Santa Barbara this last weekend with streamers, conversation hearts, heart-shaped brownies. I had imagined my triumphant post-world-travel return to SB being tan, thin, cultured, dressed in some wild ethnic prints and saying things like “oh, this bag? I worked as an apprentice to a blind indigenous lady in Panama. We knitted this together over a hot pot of yerba.” Alas, being neither thin nor tan and wearing clothes purchased by my mom from Target in the year 2005, I brought what I could – lots and lots of Rachel-sized hugs.
And we went out in our pajamas and danced our booties off, and any night that includes shimmying in sweatpants, the deejay playing every Britney song we want, and ends in ordering twenty five dollars worth of food for three people at Taco Bell is a good night.
There’s 2011, when I composed a love letter to Brian Wilson using conversation hearts.
Here’s 2014, fresh off the breakup to end all breakups, when I was still stuck in North Carolina wondering what the @#$%# I had done wrong:
Valentines Day I spent as any self-respecting single woman does – drinking wine and making out with a loaf of bread and cheese. I bought myself a balloon, but it broke, which seemed a little mean. And I texted my best friends, and we all decided the best relationships we’d ever had were with each other, so that was fun. I thought the cat might be nicer to me, given the circumstances. But he was decidedly not nice.
And last year, 2015, I let myself get sad and get real and just feel it.
Now, 2016, it’s a little different . . . living abroad and all the transition that comes as part of that package has kind of turned off the part of me that wants to be with someone. Most of the time.
If I were to allow myself to think about how lonely I can get, and allow my hands to feel empty, or lie awake in my twin bed at night with only mosquitos for company, thinking how nice it would be to let all my curves snuggle up into someone’s spaces, to tell him all my secrets in the dark where it’s safe . . . honestly, I have to shut that all down before I get started, because it leads down a sad path.
And Rachel likes happy, sunny paths where there are jokes and costumes and a sweeping denial of life’s harsher realities. Rachel likes watching the same tv series over and over because it feels good, and kids jokes, and chicken nuggets.
But sometimes . . . sometimes the fear and the loneliness bursts out in odd ways. Tonight I was on a walk and a dog bit my hand. I looked down in shock, screamed some bad words, and walked away, crying, sucking the blood from my knuckles and irrationally thinking “if I had a BOYFRIEND in this STUPID neighborhood that would have NEVER happened.”
Sometimes I can’t zip up a dress by myself and cry. Or get sunburned in a weird place because my hands couldn’t reach it with sunscreen. Or check “single” boxes on one too many government forms and then quietly lose my s*&^. Sometimes the constant stream of happy announcements on Facebook gets overwhelming. I used to buy myself flowers, ice cream, and a bottle of wine for every engagement, wedding, or baby born to someone I knew on Facebook. But that became a very expensive and depressing habit.
I wonder if I will ever find someone who will care that last night I dreamt I ate cottage cheese at a salad bar with a lot of friends from college, and woke up smiling. Someone who will let me celebrate mundane holidays, and take long long long walks every night, use mason jars for everything, make almost constant noise, and stay up way too late reading under covers. Someone who will let me lead them on hikes into nowhere, and sit with my crazy family, and be my person.
When I let myself, I miss feeling in love. I miss loving. I miss feeling loved back. I miss the nervous stomach cramps, the sweaty palms, the thrill of catching eye contact and then flickering away. I miss the way my insides flip over when his hand hits the small of my back, I miss the hours spent making conversation and fun out of nothing, the text messages in the middle of the day for no reason. Holding hands while driving and mutual eye rolls at church service and ‘I’m proud of you.’ I miss someone to bounce decisions and ideas and goals off of, to share inside jokes with, to build dreams and make plans with.
At this very moment, I’m binging on conversation hearts and sipping a mocktail out of a mason jar, because always mason jars, and I’ve given up chocolate and alcohol for Lent. I will probably stay up too late and regret it later. I’ll watch “Terms of Endearment” or similar and have a good cry to get some of the feeling out. I will run on the beach tomorrow. I’ll simultaneously resent and envy every couple I see. I’ll continue watching 90s music videos all night, specifically Celine Dion and Whitney Houston, as it’s giving me so much life.
On Sunday, I’ll go to church, remind myself to let God love me, and then go out to a sushi rodizio with all the single girls I work with, and try to navigate the conversations as carefully as everyone else. And then hopefully tuck all the tears away until they’re truly required.
Maybe you’re like me, single and wondering. In that case – a virtual high five of solidarity. Maybe you aren’t single (congrats!), and have a friend like me that you want to reach out to. I encourage you to do so. I have several mentors in my life who are so good about lifting my spirits and helping me see things I sometimes can’t.
Maybe you’re Brian Wilson and you’re my future boyfriend and just doing some due diligence to figure out the hot mess you’re getting yourself into.
In any case, in every case, if you haven’t heard it today and need to: You are the bees knees! You are the cat’s pajamas. You are beautifully and wonderfully made and worth knowing and loving and celebrating.
Get out there and be the somebody you are.
Happy Valentine’s Day and every day. You are loved.