All Hyped Up on Love

Though I may only be a 20-something, I’ve been through quite some pop culture and trends.

I grew up on everything from TGIF, Sister Sister, The Adventures of Mary Kate & Ashley, Full House, The Secret World of Alex Mac, Figure it Out, Clarissa Explains it All, and Rugrats to All That, Hey Arnold!, Saved by the Bell, and Boy Meets World. By some strike of fate or stupidity, my mother eventually allowed me to watch MTV and Friends (where I appropriately flooded her with questions), and some ex boyfriends introduced me to shows like Alf, long after they were off the air.

I convinced myself I could sing just like Mandy Moore – breathy and incredibly too dramatic and all. Outside, with that same recorder I used to interview people with, I’d belt out a Mariah Carey with the neighborhood kids, who at one point, all got together and formed a band, The Butterflies. I always wanted to ride places in my dad’s truck because it had one of those new CD players and if I was careful not to scratch them, I could listen to The Beatles, the Beach Boys, The Temptations, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and Jim Croce while we were driving around town. He’d always serenade me with “My Girl” and hearing it still makes me smile today, though I’m positive I prefer his voice over the original. With my belly button visible, I danced in front of the mirror to Britney Spears, I cried over a Backstreet Boys song when Mr. Curls didn’t show up to my seventh grade birthday party, and I lost my virginity to “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boys II Men.

Being an early bloomer who sprouted out of training bras and into the real ones the summer between fifth and sixth grade, I was amazed with my new curves and unsure of what to do with them. I did, however, notice the looks older boys gave me. So did my mother. I can’t count how many times she left me at home because I refused to change into something more age appropriate, and then I’d call her on her cell phone that was the size of my forearm, and beg her to come back and get me in my jeans and unflattering t-shirt. I wore the platform shoes like The Spice Girls, I braided my hair with a colored strand, I wore glitter on my eyes, and though I thought Abercrombie was cool, even at a young age, I realized how ridiculously overpriced it was. I also didn’t enjoy being choked to death by cologne ten steps before the store front.

I lived, breathed, and loved all of these hypes.

They came, they served a purpose, and they left. I was onto the next band, the next technology, the next style that would fade faster than I could begin to afford it. It took until junior year in college for me to stop caring so much about hypes or what’s hot and to focus more on what I wanted instead of what was new.

This week, to keep my spirits up and to lower my peeking stress level, I’ve been listening to 80’s music. I wasn’t alive in the early 80’s, but some of my youngest memories involve my mom dancing in hot shorts to Michael Jackson or Fine Young Cannibal’s “She Drives Me Crazy” while cleaning. Because my office is in the process of moving, we’re all packing up and my “You Make My Dreams Come True” Pandora station proved to be exactly what we needed. As the songs were playing, I’d notice how certain songs remind me of men I’ve loved or guys who have introduced me to a band I didn’t know. Some of the other women in the office would start singing and then proclaim who they were dating when that particular song came on. Somehow, the best of the 80’s translates into the best and the worse of men of the 80’s for those who lived through it – or discovered the music later on.

Listening to the stories while pouring what I owned into a large Staples cardboard box, I wondered if love is one continuous hype.

We’re sucked in early with fairytales and if we’re lucky, by watching our parents verbalize their admiration for one another. I didn’t really go through the “boys had cooties” phase, I was more concerned with my kindergarten boyfriend, but all of my friends were repulsed by the opposite sex (funny thing is, they’re all married now, and I’m happily not). Once that period comes to a close, we transition into middle school where holding hands and doodling our names with hearts and “forever-ever-and-ever-and-always” seems like the only important thing in the world. High school introduces us to sex, college we have a lot of sex, and in our 20’s we discover what great, incredible sex is, and wonder what we were thinking (or who we were doing) the years previous.

For most, it is one date after another, one relationship after another, one bed and then another, one romance and then ten more. The personalities change, along with the clothes and the mannerisms, but the men essentially are all the same, each time – we get ourselves all hyped up on love. And when it’s good, when it has promise, we’ll go as far to think we’ll never feel it again. That this feeling, whatever it is, is impossible with another man. We’ll get so dead-set on this hype that we’ll become depressed thinking he is the end-all-be-all and we’re doomed if this doesn’t work out…or worse yet, if we screw it up.

If that was the case, Buffy the Vampire Slayer would still be making shows. So would Dawson’s Creek. We’d all still be listening to LFO, eating Dunkaroos, and wearing those god-awful acid-wash jeans (keep in mind Williamsburg is excused from this analogy). We’d all carry mobile phones that don’t fit in our bags and our dial-up internet would greet us with “You’ve Got Mail!”

Things change, so do people. We fall in love and we fall out. We think he’s The One and then we want him to be the one who never comes back. We are addicted to our pair of skinny jeans until our bodies grow some curve, some place, and they don’t fit anymore. We buy into something until it becomes a commodity and we got for a cheaper alternative. Much of life is a hype – but the one thing that remains consistent is me. I’ve been through all the hypes, all the love, all the coming and the going, and I’m still who I am. I’ve adapted and learned, grown up and become a woman, and while I don’t forget the trends I trended through, I realize I’m always going to trend through something.

And if a particular style doesn’t look right on me or a musician doesn’t get me moving, or a man doesn’t hit the spots I need him to hit – I rest easy knowing the next hype is closer than I think.

All I Want for Christmas is Me

There is something about this time of the year that makes everyone, young and old, near and far – want to be less of a “patridge in a pear tree” and rather one of two turtle doves. With less than 12 days left to Christmas – how’s a girl supposed to get through this season without wanting five gold rings (or just a diamond one), a kiss under the mistletoe, and someone to prove to us that really, every kiss does begin with Kay.

Since I started college, and freshman, sophomore, and junior year passed swiftly without a significant other to dote on me during the holiday season – Christmas has served as a nagging reminder that I was (and am) in fact, single. As my friends and their newly found college sweethearts would plan out trips to their respective hometowns (and now are married, by the way), and obsessively describe what they wanted and what they were getting their boyfriend – I silently wished they would all just shut up.

During breaks, I’d work at a retail store at the local mall and constantly watch couples cooing and smiling with their little shopping bags and hand-holding techniques that made me want to gag myself. And of course, at my Southern-inspired Christmas dinner, where at the ripe ol’ age of 20 – I was the strange one who was not only without a boyfriend, but also with no intentions of getting married right after graduation. Nope, I was the crazy misfit who wanted to move far, far away to a scary place called New York City and be a writer. Though they supported me, I’m not sure they ever quite understood.

But this year, this Christmas, this season, something in me is different. In fact – I hadn’t even noticed that I was single for the holidays until a dear friend of mine, K, sought my counsel and said “You know, it is just really hard to be single right now.”

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been well aware that Christmas is quickly approaching. I’m flying home on Friday to spend some much-needed time with my family and long-lost friends whom I haven’t seen in ages. I’ve toured all the window-displays on Fifth Avenue both with my friend E, and Mr. Possibility. I had front-row tickets to watch the tree at Rockefeller Center light up with Mr. Unavailable. I saw the Rockettes in complete style and everlasting wonder with my friend J, and I’ve walked throughout the city admiring the lights and the peace that seems to come with this time of year. Mr. Possibility took me ice skating and we went to Macy’s to check off gifts on our shopping lists. Right this very second and for the last few weeks, my Pandora “Christmas” station has been getting quite the workout. And most important of all, when that first flake fluttered to the Manhattan ground, I was completely alone and completely in awe.

I’ve embraced Christmas, and without even knowing, I’ve been perfectly content without a boyfriend. I haven’t been putting myself down because for the fourth year in a row, one of my best friends, L, will be my date to our Christmas Eve dinner. I haven’t felt ashamed that I’ll reunite with my extended family and they will probably ask me when I’m getting married. I haven’t wished and hoped and dreamed of being proposed to on Christmas morning (as I used to carefully plan out in my head). I haven’t cursed the smitten couples or the newlyweds who are so excited to spend their very first Christmas together.

But for the longest time, this season was so difficult, so grueling, so sad, so disappointing – because isn’t Christmas or any type of holiday at this time of year – supposed to be about love? About celebrating miracles and hoping for all that is to come? Or trusting that even if you can’t see it, it is out there – waiting to come into your life and shower you with gifts not only under the tree, but also helping you hang ornaments on the top limb.

But really, aren’t all of those ideas applicable to being single? Even when we relate it more about being a pair?

That while we think meeting Mr. Right will be a miracle, the true amazement is that before him, we get this incredible time to just love and concentrate on ourselves. We hope to see our children’s faces light up and ask us about Santa and play with our hubby in the snow – but don’t we also hope that we don’t lose ourselves in a relationship, and that we continue to adore the person we’ll see staring back at us in the mirror, each and every day for the rest of our lives? That sometimes it is so tough to believe there is a light at the end of the single tunnel or a glimmer of positivity in truly, finding peace in being alone – but even if we can’t feel it, we know it is possible, we know it can be ours.

This anticipation of a man to enter, to make the holidays brighter and fuller, to give us little boxes with bows, and to love how we look in our red sweater dresses – tears us up inside. Because really, we fear it will never happen. But instead of doubting the process, doubting the fates, and even worse, doubting ourselves – we miss out on how magical and truly beautiful a Christmas can be without a man. How experiencing flickering lights, parties, and travel can be just as entertaining when we’re out of love.

I don’t feel like I’m waiting on something. I don’t feel like I’m missing something from Christmas or that the universe is depriving me of a companion to make the holidays bearable. But instead, I’m excited. I’m so ready to shout from the rooftops that I’m single and that I’m happy. That I have a life that I created, that the presents you see were bought by only me and my money. That while I’m not kissing under the mistletoe – I haven’t lost hope that one day I will. Besides, it isn’t the number one priority anymore – not at Christmas, not at New Year’s, not at all. Right now, in this moment, in the snow, in the lights– the only thing to focus on is myself and this journey. And I can say with confidence that I disagree with you, Mariah Carey – I don’t want you (whichever man that represents) for Christmas, but all I really want is me.

Tis Christmastime in the city, and my, oh, my is the weather frightful

…but the feeling I have inside is so delightful. It is a feeling of wholeness, of completeness, of security, of magic – that derives from the greatest blessing, the most thoughtful gift, and the most incredible miracle I could ever experience – and that’s celebrating self-love. Celebrating…me.