(Brilliant “hipster” rendition of myself, done by a close friend. But can I be defined by the limited accessory options available?)
Shopping, chocolate, gossip, self-deprecation. These are all major components to my life. So much so, in fact, that my boyfriend has taken to calling me a Cathy Comic. And, I don’t disagree. That bitch had it going on; SHE HAD HER OWN COMIC STRIP.
But apparently, I’m not just a Cathy. I’m also a Daria, whom I received as the result of my "Which 90’s Babe is Your Style Icon" Buzzfeed quiz. And, again, I don’t disagree. I’m totally a Daria. I even have a Jane, who coincidently ended up with Angela Chase as her 90’s babe.
But, I have to ask, is it possible to be both a Cathy and a Daria? They couldn’t be more different.
I think the answer is a resounding: YEEEEEEES!
It’s human nature to stereotype, compartmentalize, and generalize other human beings. It’s a fundamental way that we interpret the world around us. It’s easier to comprehend something that is already known, so we familiarize situations and people by putting them into little buckets to better understand them.
"Oh, you remind me of Kaitlyn from middle school. You must be just like Kaitlyn from middle school. I now understand who are, and how to deal with you." But she’s not Kaitlyn.
It’s just easier that way. I get it. I do it. All. The. Time.
BUT, my cartoon doppelgängers were a nice reminder that we aren’t just one thing. No one is just a Carrie (GOD WILLING), or a Serena, a Phoebe, a Hannah, or a Marne. It’s a dumb game to play because we’re all very complex people.
It’s all too easy to forget, or to ignore, because it’s really difficult to understand complex people and situations. And unfortunately, we’re only going to become more complicated as we get older, and the world is only going to get bigger and cloudier. To speak in prolific metaphor, we’re all growing snowballs barreling down a hill.
Sure, I might exclusively dress like a dude in his dive bar best and only speak in sarcasms, but I also insisted on seeing Something Borrowed on opening night because I was THAT excited about a romantic comedy starring Ginnifer Goodwin and regularly tweet about everything spilled on my shirt. I have Hallmark movies championing true love saved on my DVR, and yet, I can’t accept Valentine’s Day cookies from my boyfriend without an eye-roll (I know I’m a monster).
It’s hard to say that anyone is just one thing.
I am a Cathy. I am a Daria. And I’m probably also a Peggy, a Monica, and maybe even a Betty Boop. I’m a lot of things. And it makes me think, isn’t it sort of amazing how many fictional characters it takes to define just one of you.
I purposely got up too early to complete my tax worksheet before I meet with my new grown-up CPA, only to realize that I can’t complete most of it because I don’t know how, which is why I’m going to a CPA for the first time anyhow. So, now with time to kill before I have to leave I’m watching old reruns of “I Love Lucy” because I love Lucy; I always have because my mother loves Lucy so now I love Lucy. And, I feel like a little kid again because I always used to get up too early and watch TV by myself picking the chocolate chips out of Chewy granola bars waiting for my parents to wake up, but I’m by myself today drinking coffee with too much creamer; and it’s just me and the cat and the cat is awake. I’m scared of owing thousands of dollars to the government this year but I already texted my best friend inviting her to go shopping in the event that I don’t. But, I’m already second guessing that decision even though all I can think about is a new pair of boots because I suddenly hate all the boots that I own and I’ve had a pretty shitty last month and don’t I deserve something pretty? But I’m almost 29 years old, and I should be more careful with money and, maybe not just more careful, but calculated and aggressive with saving because nice houses don’t just grow on trees. But boots, I really want boots. And my friend told me she decided to go to Coachella and now I think I’d like to go as well, but do I really or am I just experiencing pre-FOMO FOMO? It’s hard to tell, and I don’t say that with my tongue in my cheek; it’s honestly very hard to separate what I want, what I think I want, and what I think I should want based on everyone else’s curated life on Instagram. I try to remind myself that nothing is ever as fun as it seems, except this one birthday party in a downtown warehouse last year that I decided I was too tired to go to. And I’m probably the only who still thinks about it, even though I wasn’t there. But back to Coachella; sure I’d like to go but it’s hundreds of dollars, but what’s hundreds of dollars? And aren’t I only young once? But, at what age do you stop telling yourself that? When do I stop being young? Let’s just see how the meeting goes. Maybe I’ll even get a refund, and wouldn’t that be something?
When I was eight years old, my family had a garage sale. In preparation, my mother wanted me to go through my old toys. As I ran my dumb little hands over the glossy board game boxes, I noticed that quite a few of them specified target age groups. 3+, 7 & Under. It was then that I banished any game that was for any person under eight years old, all the baby games. I wasn’t a baby anymore.
I’m remembering this memory now because a similar feeling crept upon me recently while trying on various cuts of skinny jeans at Urban Outfitters. Cigarette. Mid-rise. High-rise. Ankle. I just knew I needed some new jeans, and didn’t feel like paying over a hundred bucks for them like I had recently.
So I came back here to Urban, my safe place.
There used to be nary a weekend that didn’t involve a quick stop to peruse the sale rack, just to check. You never knew when they would spring a half off sale sale on you, where ugly t-shirts were just too damn cheap not to buy. Poorly knitted sweaters. I wanted them all. Ill-fitting crop top dress shirts, I’d find a way to make them work.
Right after my last break up, my best friend and I went to our local Urban and she helped me blow $500 worth of emotional baggage on new clothes. I needed a new look, and I didn’t care if I had to pay full price. I NEEDED tank tops and skirts for Coachella.
Oh, but shopping off the sale rack for a non-occasion was always a dream. “I’ll wait until you go on sale,” I’d whisper to a chunky cardigan, or a sheer blouse. I loved Urban Outfitters.
Of course, I’ve loved it for a long time. My first encounter was in 1997, in seventh grade, at the location in Old Town Pasadena. It’s where I bought my clear inflatable chair with matching inflatable pillow with the green feathers inside.
But, I hadn’t really been to Urban Outfitters recently, not until the day I needed the denim. I hadn’t felt the urge I once felt on listless Saturday afternoons and low Tuesday nights. Oh sure, I’d passed the window displays, but those butterflies, the prospect of a new skirt…it seemed to have escaped me.
It’s fine, I just need to go back in and take a look one more time, I thought to myself. It’s just been a while. It’s probably nothing. And, as I walked up the stairs into the women’s section, I thought, this feels good. These clothes are cute!
I made my way over to the rows of jeans, all lined up like sardines on a table, pulled my size in just about every style and headed for the dressing room. As I stood in the doorway entrance waiting for my turn, a young girl, maybe in her early twenties, came out of a room wearing a small crocheted halter crop top. “It’s cute right? It’s good for Coachella.” Her friend nodded in agreement. “Totally.”
The jeans all fit horribly, not designed for my almost thirty lumps and bumps. I gave them all back to the girl working the rooms. “Did anything work out.”
"No, thanks though."
I’m not a baby anymore.
Zero creepiness!! Blog crush is the highest internet praise, and I take it very seriously. Come be my little sister, ookay?
(Last seen, hopefully unrecognizable)
Last week, my boyfriend and I decided on an impromptu Valentine’s Dinner a few days before the holiday to avoid the crowds, pre fixe menus, and general hype. As we walked into our favorite Italian restaurant we noticed a table in the front with four friends, a double date. With a single table free next to them, it became apparent that our romantic dinner for two would be happily forgotten for a fun and jovial dinner.
As I sat down in the chair facing the booth, I caught the eye of the girl seated in the booth across from me at the neighboring table, feeling a flash of familiarity from another time. It took me half a second, but I realized this was a former classmate from middle school.
I felt that this girl had recognized me too; perhaps it took her a little longer to place my face seeing as we aren’t connected through social media and God willing, I don’t look anything like I did in seventh grade. But, tacitly we mutually decided not to acknowledge the recognition.
I threw myself into the conversation happening at the table, of which I was now a part, but couldn’t shake the feeling that I should say something. However, the very small window of opportunity where it would have made sense to interrupt had passed. And besides, what was I going to say? “How has life been since puberty?”
There was a giant diamond ring on her left hand, and seeing that she was still lurking around the same neighborhood where she had grown up, I felt that I could make some very base (albeit judgmental) assumptions about her life, just as she could about me.
It felt strange to not reach out and verbally, publicly acknowledge that I had definitely gone to her Halloween party in sixth grade. I dressed up as a gum ball machine and called my parents to come pick me up early because I felt uncomfortable in a big house full of people I didn’t really know.
But, what would be the point? We’d exchange phone numbers and grab coffee? I would possibly, maybe, add her on Facebook, but reopening a friendship beyond that wasn’t likely. And, it’s not because of anything other than, it’s unnecessary. Social media and the instant network of the Internet compels us to feel something if we don’t at least try to connect: guilt.
In today’s world, it’s easy to stay in touch, and we feel guilty when we do not, because all it takes is one click of a friend request. One disingenuous happy birthday on their wall, even if you’ve not spoken in years. A random text when you’re in their part of town.That’s all it takes to make you feel assured that you did your part to breath life into a relationship that quietly deflated a long time ago.
I’m sure she’s lovely. I’m sure her dinner companion, to whom I hadn’t really paid any attention, is lovely too. Toward the end of their meal, I realized that she too was another classmate, which solidified my confidence in the decision to keep my mouth shut and avoid the fifteen year recap. We might as well have been strangers except that her face registered with a name in a brain.
Even though you have a history, it doesn’t mean you need to relive the past.