It’s 1:55 A.M. Saturday morning. Or I guess, for most people, Friday night. I’ve eaten three and a half pieces of pepperoni-jalapeno pizza, drank three Belgium White Blue Moons and watched two movies: Anchorman and 500 Days of Summer.
I’ve seen Anchorman at least a dozen times and have easily memorized every other line. It has been a favorite movie of mine since Freshman year of high school. I don’t know if it was my favorite movie because I had always wanted to be a journalist, because I awkwardly related to the “special” character Brick…or because my very first boyfriend introduced it to me; and therefore I fell in love, simply because I was in love with everything that embodied him.
I had never seen 500 Days of Summer before. It’s beautiful. In fact, I haven’t written in over a month because I’ve been stuck with very little motivation in my life to find something meaningful to actually write about. It’s amazing to me how a movie can provide that motivation–it can spark an emotion in your heart that you thought had left long ago, but then all of a sudden it appears again as your eyes unveil, scene by scene, the picture that fills your screen, and at the end you’re left crying, tears flowing down your cheeks, and you don’t quite understand what happened until you look yourself in the mirror.
Fifteen years old. Seven years ago.
My life encompassed the following: 4.0 GPA, honors classes, varsity soccer as a freshman, captain of my club soccer team, a stellar body (thanks to sports), a confident personality, a group of 16 girlfriends, my first love and an unbreakable, All-American family.
I say unbreakable because I always look back on that “blissful” time and somehow seem to overlook one thing that weighed down on my family, something that could have easily caused destruction but didn’t. Despite everything that seemed so “perfect,” my life also encompassed a father who was taken out of his position as caretaker and was forced to let his family support him. A father whom I had never seen shed a tear, let emotion get the best of him or ever disarm his strong, steady demeanor. A father who, even as he was struggling to defeat cancer, I still pretended was unbeatable, untouchable, undefeated.
And this is what I always did. I always envisioned this life of mine to be something a little skewed from what it actually was. I saw myself as a princess with a fairy-tale of a life story, and I simply ignored anything that interrupted that happy ending. Well, I learned that when it comes to people you love other than yourself, that happy ending isn’t going to be just the picture-perfect moment I had doodled in my Geometry notebooks all throughout Freshman year.
In fact, my life wasn’t going to even be CLOSE to the fairytale-esq story of the First Woman President I had planned practically since the day I emerged from the womb.
You see, I never expected myself to be in the position I sit today. When I was fifteen, I thought that, by 22, I would be living this Gossip Girl lifestyle, wandering the streets of New York with a trendy fur coat, Louboutin heels in one hand and a martini glass in the other. I thought my family would be happy and whole, my job would be a dream-come-true and my heart would be filled with the love from my high school sweetheart, marked by a diamond ring on my left hand (probably the one holding the martini glass).
Well, just as the director of 500 Days of Summer juxtaposes Tom’s expectations with Tom’s reality when he goes to meet Summer at her roof-top garden party overlooking the buildings of Los Angeles only to find out she is engaged to another man, it seems my expectations also clash with my reality.
I am 22, sitting on my used-leather couch, with a half-eaten piece of pepperoni-jalapeno pizza in front of me, wearing a pair of yoga pants I stole from my sister and a shirt I wore this afternoon for an interview that didn’t actually appeal to me whatsoever. Needless to say, I am jobless. My family is still unbreakable, yet we are not whole. And Tom–whose name ironically coincides with the main character of the film that motivated me to write this entry–has turned out to not be the love of my life; thus, no diamond ring.
Just as Tom figures out in the film, I’m surrendering to the actuality that, for two years–no, for seven years, I have continued blinding myself with the sunlight of a fairy-tale vision that was blocking the rain of my reality. And, though some people call it strength that I was able to come out of such experiences with an un-skewed perception, I honestly believe it was a weakness. I was too weak to face the burdens of my reality and crush my picture perfect plans.
But, I’ve recently discovered what I believe to be real, genuine strength.
Strength is understanding that my life is not a fairy tale, and I am far from being a princess. Strength is taking the steps toward bettering myself and seeking a brighter future. Strength is being able to step away from a dream of helping others in order to first help myself. Strength is finally opening up to my reality. Strength is putting aside all the plans and expectations I had set in order to let life just…..happen.
My life today may not be where I envisioned it seven years ago. But seven years ago, the picture-perfect life I doodled in my Geometry notebook left me with my only B in all of high school.
In fact, I’m okay with where I’m at today, despite my broken vision. I enjoyed my Friday night tonight, or Saturday morning, or whatever you want to call it. I don’t even like Louboutin heels because they’re overrated; in fact, I had to look up how to even spell Louboutin. I don’t even like fur because I don’t believe in killing animals, and quite frankly, I sweat way too much to wear fur even if I didn’t give a flying you-know-what about animals. I don’t particularly enjoy drinking mixed drinks, let alone martinis because the sugar gives me the hang over from hell and a vodka-soda is less caloric anyway. And, overall, New York is way too trendy and way too cold for me.
I enjoyed my 3.5 slices of pizza tonight over a pair of Louboutins (at least pizza is easy to spell). I preferred my 3 beers over a martini. I liked my two movies instead of a night out. I love my small apartment on the beach, as opposed to a more expensive one in crowded city thousands of miles away from my family.
And my family.
I like the fact that my family is far from the All-American, postcard, toe headed group of completely normal individuals. In fact, we are quite the opposite. We are as un-normal and dysfunctional as they come. But one thing definitely different from that picture-perfect family I envisioned, and something I cherish most of all, is that we aren’t just a group of individuals: we are a team, a unit, a bond, a real, tried and true family. We may not be complete physically, but we are unbreakable spiritually. An angel continues to keep us together. And because of this angel, together we can continue to smile and laugh through it all.
And finally, I am able to laugh, too. I giggle at the fact that I imagined my first boyfriend to be the man I would marry. I chuckle at my pre-economic-downfall aspirations of finding my ultimate dream job right out of college. I can laugh at myself for envisioning all of these crazy, unrealistic ideals because I’m 22, and I still have absolutely nothing figured out.
All I really know is, like both Tom and Summer figure out in 500 Days, fate works in crazy ways. All we can do is laugh through the obstacles that we endure until fate finally figures it out for us.
Now, fate is leading me to my current path: a cozy bed, next to my sweet boyfriend, with a tummy full of beer and pizza, a mind at ease from writing, a heart filled with content, and a future–undetermined, unscathed, unplanned.