On Valentine's day, the teacher whose class I tutor asked me to collaborate with him and my co-tutor on write-around love poems, to give the students an example of what a completed cooperative poem would look like. & where the stanzas penned by my teacher and co-tutor were very romantic, profound, and touching, my stanzas were sarcastic, pessimistic, and wry.
"You should give up on this lawyer thing and become an angry spinster-writer," the teacher joked.
"Can't you tell: this IS me giving up on the lawyer thing; this IS me on my way to spinster-dom," I barked back. & if I haven't entirely exposed my defensive, translucent, inner layers, the thing is: I have been thinking the exact things.
Am I doing this wrong?
If there's anything I've asked myself more persistently as of recent, nothing comes to mind (a close second, however, being: what kind of rash is this? Which is not only a cheap joke but also an embarrassing truth, as I suspect I've developed a latent allergy to tomatoes).
& though I usually proceed through relationships at a pace that would frustrate even the most precarious of snails (& you may believe that the sheer amount of relationships I've had negates that statement, but trust me, I take my sweet ass time when it comes to romance), I've lately felt a pressure that makes me second guess my molasses-drip methodology.
Today, I talked to my dad about things.
"Dad, when you talk about me, do you ever feel embarrassed?"
"That's crazy, baby. You're the best thing I've ever done. I would never be embarrassed of you."
"Thanks, dad. But I mean: do you worry?"
"Sure I worry; I worry about you driving around Texas late at night & not looking for deer, I worry that you're not checking your surroundings when you walk through parking lots, I worry that you're too quick to trust people..."
"Dad. I'm asking you something specific. Do you worry that I'm not where I'm supposed to be in life right now?"
"& where is that?"
"Married? Or like, getting married?"
"Here we go again," & I can almost hear his eyes rolling all the way in West Virginia. & so my dad puts on his southern drawl, the one he uses when he means to be mocking. "Well, shucks; I reckon it's a right tarnation ya ain't seen fit to be married before turnin' the ripe old age of twenty-seven." & you'd think this sort of thing is kind of cute; my Puerto Rican dad doing his hillbilly impression to alleviate the pressure. But just imagine growing up with it & hearing it, for example: when your first crush rejects you in the fourth grade; when you get your first period on a day your wore khakis to school; when the computer-lab teacher consistently picks on you for correcting her every time she mispronounces your last name; and a million other childhood traumas, or even now...
"Dad, I'm serious. This is real. This is a real thing that's happening to me...or, not happening, I guess?"
& my dad, who is marrying for the second time this July said, "My thing is, Lauren, no company is always better than bad company. I don't think you should settle down until you're 100% about someone. & when I say 100%, I mean 100%. You know why I married your mom? I thought she was good lookin' and I liked her cookin' (momentarily using his drawl again). That was it. There were other things but those were the major ones; all together, what I liked about her was maybe 90%. Now, I know you didn't go to law school so you could solve math problems, but that means I didn't like 10% of her. That's all. But 10% of dislike is a lot when you have to get through the rest of your life with someone. I know that for sure after 27 years of marriage."
Later, I was watching 10 Things I Hate About You and a line stuck out to me:
"Don't ever let anyone
I heard this line and my brain was like, Well, what do you want?
make you feel like
you don't deserve what you want."
All I know is that it's a feeling--an inconvenience; a nagging, persistent hunger; a hopeless addiction. More than that, I can't say for sure but I know now that I won't feel bad or apologetic or guilty for expecting it and holding out for it. I won't settle for anything less than 100%.