I dare any of you to watch this trailer for About Time and not have feelings about feelings. Look, it’s basically the Time Traveler’s Wife with a few key improvements: hot gingey lead actor, less of a downer, and IT’S BRITISH. It’s from the same creator as Notting Hill and Love Actually, which means, you should already be looking forward to Target selling it for five dollars so you can have it forever and EVER.
Ugh, the only problem is, we all have to wait until November to have our hearts touched by a sappy indie rock soundtrack and Rachel McAdams sweet sweet smile. BUT, I truly feel that it will be worth the wait because the impending holiday season will only heighten the feelings about feelings.
I bring this up because I have a longstanding reputation as…an emotionally cold lady. Advanced robots probably have an easier time emoting than I do, especially when it comes to feeling anything remotely close to a human reaction in movies, TV, or books.
The first movie my mother took me to in theaters was Bambi re-released. I was three years old, and once that notorious shotgun crack heard round the forest went off, I didn’t bat an eye. My mother was in hysterics, and apparently I leaned over and asked what she was upset about.
“Heather, Bambi’s mother died. Don’t you think it’s sad?” she asked me.
“Mom, it’s just a movie!” I said with an eye-roll.
Honestly, it’s no wonder the woman stuck me therapy at five years old. I’m as empathetic as a clammy rock.
So, aside from the lump in my throat that appeared when my precious Leo was sobbing and drooling in a soggy bathtub that he could have drowned in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, I move through media like statue.
Until recently. Age has caught up with me. I have started thaw…I think. This trailer touched me deep within my organs. Is that how normal people feel things?
I think getting older is making me soft. Maybe it’s because I have a few more real-world experiences on my emotional resume. Maybe it’s because your hormones supposedly change every seven years. Or maybe, I’m subconsciously becoming more comfortable in my own skin, and allowing myself to feel a little bit more than normal.
Either way, no matter how much I end up weeping in this absolutely perfect British romantic comedy, I don’t think I’ll ever let go of the fact that it’s just a movie. I’m all about evolving as a person, and letting down walls, but I was born an sassy pragmatic bitch, and I intend on dying that same way.
I hate to admit it, but twenty-eight is creeping up on me in a couple weeks, and I can’t help but be conscious of this black mark on the passage of time. I’m deeply aware real-time aging, in real time no less, all year round, but the month of May is always a particularly sensitive time. Because of my impending birthday, which draws me dangerously close to thirty, the signs of aging have become increasingly heightened.
But mostly, I’m content. I’m just…feeling really OK with myself, and if that’s what getting older is all about, then bring it on.
We can just pretend like I didn’t eat three cookies before noon, like I’m not wearing contact lenses far past what the package recommends, like I don’t have a Hello Kitty air freshener in my car, like I don’t actively watch ABC Family programming, like I didn’t spend too money on clothes this month, like I don’t pop my gum really obnoxiously in public, like I don’t say fuck in professional settings, like I didn’t accidentally wear a see through top to a financial to talk about my money, like I’m not still wearing a nose ring, and like I don’t still dream of being a soloist in the American Ballet Theater.
We can just pretend.
Yesterday in typical morning fashion, my best friend Gchatted me to catch me up on what had I had missed being out the day before. She had finally met a new “distraction” on Tuesday night. After the requisite flirting, he finally said to her, “Well, if you ever want to hang out, you know…find me through the avenues.” WHAT? No, what does that even mean? Not only does is it not make any literal sense, but it’s also the worst mixed message ever (Yes, Berger; there ARE mixed messages). It’s so vague and passive that it could have just been a nice gesture, trying to get out of looking like a first class A-Hole.
Being a veteran, my friend wasn’t going to let this ambiguous crap fly. She told him whatever sentence he had just strung together made no sense. He responded, “Well, I’ll give you MY number and you can text me yours if you want. I would never ask for yours, because you’re a lady.”
Ok, this still makes no real sense, but it least it was clear that he was interested, but being a weirdo about it. So, she texted him. They volleyed until she fell asleep. Game, set, match. Your move dude…MAN UP AND PLAN A DATE.
Cut to this morning, and my other friend is telling me a similar incident occurred last night with a friend. They were out at a bar and her friend was flirting with a dude for a while. Eventually, without any inquiry for her digits, she rightfully abandoned ship. She was obviously not going to go back and ask for HIS number, so her two friends went back to ask for her. Once confronted, he was super weird about it, “What, is this high school? Why didn’t she come herself?”
“Because you should have asked her in the first place!!” The girls cried. He eventually gave up gis number, but the conclusion was that this guy was a dick.
There appears to be an epidemic of passivity amongst modern day men. While chivalry isn’t completely dead, it’s definitely on life support. I think we can speculate why.
1. Feminism is confusing men.
Yes, we want equal pay. Yes we don’t want to have choose between motherhood and a career. Yes, we want to be able to be the breadwinner without resentment. Yes, we want equal rights. But, for the love of God…WE STILL WANT TO BE ASKED OUT ON A PROPER DATE. Just because we want to be treated like men in the eyes of law and even at work, it doesn’t mean we don’t still like being taken care of, or hold high standards of “Notting Hill” romantic ideals. We’re just girls standing in front of boys, asking them to love us!!
I think a lot of guys are genuinely confused about whether they should let the girl make the first move. Sometimes girls are super hard to read, and they want to respect boundaries. Boys were also raised by the same bra-burning mothers who taught us all to speak our minds and that we could be whatever we wanted. The same mothers who taught their daughters to respect themselves, also taught their sons to respect girls. They just never got a very clear instruction manual because gender roles had already been bent by the time we came into the world.
2. Women have become more aggressive.
I went to a fratty college where there was a whole street lined with Greek mansions; it was obnoxiously called, “The Row.” The sororities were Hampton’s style estates, while the frat houses were hovering just above condemnable. For this reason, among some other rather obvious issues, parties were held at frats. On Thursday nights, girls would put on their best Seven bootcut jeans, a going out top, some awful strappy sandal heels, and traipse down the street, popping into their favorite frat houses.
This always struck me as a creating a very strange dynamic where all these gorgeous, smart, funny, athletic girls were on display, competing for these gross dudes’ attention. We were on their turf, and in the popular houses, there were usually more girls than guys. Even the shyest girl had to step up to the plate if she wanted a drunken make-out. But what was the point? The good ones had girlfriends and the hot ones only wanted the blondes.
In general, our generation of women is more forward because we were taught that anything you can do, I can do better. We all learned that it is OK for a girl to tell a boy she likes him. Just because it’s totally acceptable doesn’t mean it’s the preferred method. Sorry bros, get off your asses; the pressure is not off.
3. Boys fear rejection too.
I know this is the most benign reason, which leads to skepticism, but it IS true. I remember being in P.E. during Freshman year of high school, when my silly friend Miles asked me on a date. I laughed, and said, “Yeah, right.” I sincerely thought he was joking at the time. He was not. (Don’t worry guys, Facebook tells me he lives with a very pretty girlfriend now.) Nice guys probably have just as many dating battle scars from jerky girls like me, and yeah, they’re probably afraid to put themselves out there a little.
4. He’s just not that into you.
Yeah, that’s a thing. (Sorry, I have to give Berger this one.) The blow-off is a thing; we all do it, girls and boys alike. It’s always disappointing, but it’s better to spot early on.
5. Boys are intimidated by strong women.
This is so lame, but many times true. Most of the time it’s because a guy is insecure with himself. If this is the case, he needs to crawl underground until he can handle himself a real lady. Take his inaction as a compliment. You’re too awesome to take on.
6. The stereotype of the marriage crazed women.
Don’t get me wrong, I would watch wedding shows all day long if I could. But what deranged message are they sending? Romantic comedies depict love-starved women who have it all except romance, and they’ll do ANYTHING to get it. Man, if this was the shit being pumped into my head, I’d stay the hell away from me too. Dudes! Not all women want to get married and make babies after the first date. Don’t be scuuuured.
I now have less than a month left to be twenty-seven, so I’m living it up in the grocery store aisles dancing to my sweet baby Phil Collins and thinking about having a bowling pizza party for my birthday.
(Can you even believe this was the message my tea bag had to give me tonight? I took it as a sign.)
The night began with the best of intentions, but somewhere between a homemade sandwich dinner and an episode of lovingly borrowed HBOGO, I started to power down. Quite literally, I powered down, curled into a ball on the bed, in and out of consciousness for a half hour. I had real plans this evening; I even put makeup in my purse in anticipation (something I never do) of a late night, but I couldn’t muster the energy to follow through with them.
I was supposed to go support my boyfriend at his alumni improv show at our mutual alma mater, and then later head out to a friend’s birthday party at a warehouse in downtown. Sounds reasonable for an actively social twenty-something, right?
But, I just couldn’t get up and out. Two seemingly difficult prepositions at ten at night on a Friday. To be fair, Fridays are especially difficult when you have the weight of the week hanging under your eyes.
Truthfully, I didn’t want to go to the show. I had just been back for a college nostalgia rerun, and as funny and ironic as that can be in theory, it tightens my chest to be slapped in the faced with how quickly time passes. I’m only on the eve of my twenty-eighth birthday and can already tell I will not age gracefully mentally.
On top of not wanting to go back to see my dorm building for the second time this month, I knew dragging myself to the cool downtown party wasn’t going to be easy for me either. Even before I became closer to thirty than twenty-five, late nights were never my strong suit. Every hour I am awake after midnight is a minute victory. I would need cartoon toothpicks to hold open my droopy lids if I were to show up anywhere at close to one in the morning.
And yet, here I am in my lumpy pajamas sitting on my couch, exactly as I wanted…experiencing major waves of FOMO (fear of missing out).
WHY? WHY? WHY?
It is my belief that this newly coined anxiety has been around since the beginning of time. Those who went off to hunt felt like they were missing out on happy, fun times in the cave, and those in the cave longed for adventure. It’s not documented, but I know this to be true.
But with social media feeding us daily live streams of what we are actually missing out on, it’s no wonder that this affliction is on the rise in young adults. No one is documenting the night of too many losers (except me, apparently) where nothing cool happens, so our feeds are wrought with carefully curated good times. And even though we hate it, we fucking love it.
I’m not the only one either. FOMO is a regular topic of conversation amongst my friends. Because we’re over educated and self aware individuals, we struggle with this anxiety more than most because we not only feel bad about missing out, but also feel guilty for being so silly. Consciously we know how ridiculous the feelings are.
I wish a FOMO vaccine could be administered to every person on their eighteenth birthday. Or at the very least, if only it could be like chicken pox; you get it once and then you’re immune. But something tells me this feeling isn’t ever going away, and it’s probably going to get worse before it ever gets better.
Eventually, I think that even if the FOMO rears its ugly head once in a while, the episodes will grow increasingly infrequent and less intense. As I’ve gotten older and taken on more responsibility I’ve been forced to really streamline the things I can physically give a fuck about. As this trend continues with age, I am certain the FOMO is going to have to fall to the wayside if I want to succeed at life.
So, I’ll sit here in a pair of nasty old shorts I’ve had since college and believe that it’s as much of a connection to those four years as I need tonight. I’ll watch Jeremy Piven play Ari Gold play Harry Selfridge in a Masterpiece Classic turn of the century mini-series because I miss Downton Abbey. I’ll drink ginger tea instead of whiskey and gingers. I’ll fall down a few Instagram worm holes, spending entirely too much time scouring the profiles and photos of people I’ve never met. I’ll get eight hours of sleep. I’ll go to yoga in the morning. I won’t be hungover after two drinks tomorrow. I’ll write this blog. I’ll think more about the concept of FOMO.
But mostly, I’ll be happy with my decision because stressing about what I didn’t do tonight is a lot more exhausting than enjoying what I did choose to do.
I’m standing in the back of a house, run down by years of parties, beer, sloppy sex, laughter, tears, and cheap late night food. I don’t dare go inside, but I know the walls are smeared with the stickiness from ghosts of friendships past. It’s already after midnight, and these kids are just getting going at a time when I would typically be winding down.
We’re all standing on a backyard slab of concrete, clumping in smaller groups to better hear conversation and to keep warm. Los Angeles is a temperate city, but its nights are always surprisingly cool. I know I probably look out of place by my clothes alone. I’m by no means dressed up, but my shirt and pants have some semblance of an outfit, which is enough to blow my cover. It’s very apparent that my clothes were the byproduct of a comfortable salary. I’m wearing lipstick.
There is an adult at this college party; it’s me.
I wonder, hope, and pray that these young people mistake me for one of their own. At the very least, perhaps a very recent graduate, rather than someone who attended this school while the rest of the party struggled with burgeoning acne, training bras, and general middle school malaise. Even though I’m most likely infinitely more secure with myself than these students, I am desperately seeking their approval.
It seems as though no one really notices I am there. I take a sip from the Coors Light that has been handed to me. It strikes me as phenomenal that college kids all the dress the same, somehow breaking the space, time continuum of fashion. They are all under dressed in either the literal or figurative sense.
I want to bite their heads and suck out their youthful optimistic minds. I want the time and opportunity that haven’t cashed in yet. I want it so bad.
I’m sitting on the arm of a patio chair and a tall boy approaches me. As I turn to look up, his eyes widen.
“Hello,” I say.
“Hello,” he replies, as he grabs my outstretched hand.
“I’m Heather,” I tell him.
“I’m XXX (Full disclosure: I do not recall his name),” he says as he cups my smallish hand into both of his larger overgrown child mitts. It feels like he is fighting the urge not to kiss the back of my hand like a medieval knight.
“Nice to meet you XXX.”
“You too,” his eyes still staring like he’d never seen a girl like me. At a party like? I doubt he has. I’m (and I hate to say this shit) a woman. “What team are you on?”
I’m at the closing party for a college improv festival, where teams from multiple schools were present.
“Oh, I’m not on a team. I’m just…visiting.”
“Oh cool. What school do you go to?”
“Well, I actually went here, but I graduated.”
“Did you graduate last year?”
“No..I graduated a while ago. I’m kind of old.”
He laughs. I smile awkwardly. We exchange more easy, digestible chit chat, and he moves on. I’m suddenly awkward, embarrassed, and insecure at a house party. So, college.
Shortly after my conversation with XXX, I meet another boy, whose name also escapes me. The brave boys want to talk to me. The shy boys are intimidated by me. The girls want nothing to do with me, and I don’t blame them.
This new conversation companion is a classic “nice guy.” Very early into the conversation, I reveal that I graduated college six years ago. I’ve dropped the damn charade. He takes this as an opportunity to ask me a million questions about post grad life. I reassure him that life is better, less stressful, and infinitely more interesting. I realize what a Dr. Suess world it really is out there as I explain the places he’ll go, and the people he’ll meet. He seems relieved when I tell him that he’s in a holding pattern; he hasn’t lived yet.
Once it’s clear we have nothing left to discuss, he politely excuses himself and walks away. I think that I should have erected a Lucy-esque booth with a sign reading, “Life Advice $5. The Adult is In.”
I end up talking to Cody, who is so worried about graduating and trying to pursue his dreams after college. He asks my boyfriend and I if we like living in LA. He doesn’t think he would. He doesn’t want to raise a family here. Cody is plotting his every move for the next fifteen years.
“Cody,” I say, “I hate to burst your bubble, but whatever you think you want right now, whatever you think you need, wherever you think you will be in a year or two…is bunk. Your life will change every year, and you have to be ok with it. That’s how you become who you’re supposed to be. So…why don’t you just figure out what you’re doing this summer, and stop trying to plan your life, because it will drive you crazy to tackle an impossible task. Don’t be afraid to walk away from what you love to pursue something else. Everyone has different stepping stones.”
He sincerely thanks me for telling me to chill the fuck out, and we hug. I feel thankful for allowing him the opportunity to have some perspective on my own getting closer to real adulthood life.
I stand in the middle of loud drunken people who haven’t grown into themselves. I’m invisible as I watch them have “the time of their lives.” I realize that many of them are still virgins, have never had their heartbroken, never feared paying rent on time, have not yet been forced to work a menial job.
What they are telling me is that they’re all scared about graduating, finding a job, paying off student loans, being happy, financial independence without a safety net.
They have awkward self-conscious sex, cry over people who they will only know through Facebook in five years, worry about mid-terms, don’t take internships seriously, believe vomiting is the sign of a solid night, and think that they are genuinely already adults because they went to Cabo San Lucas for Spring Break and didn’t die. They think that have everything and nothing figured out at the same time. They live in terror of being uncool.
But they’re also optimistic, innocent, authentic, wide-eyed, and eager to please. As much I want to steal their time and opportunity, they want to suck my experiences dry. They want to know their future. They want to know that everything will be OK. They want to know that they will end up as stable and happy as me.
So we are at a standstill. I can’t go back, and they can’t move forward. We’re both trapped in our own separate limbos. I finish my beer without vomiting, and I still consider it a solid night.