My friend Samantha and I grew up together and have always compared notes when it comes to men.
There was a time when she found herself very mired in depression due to the seemingly never-changing state of her on-again, off-again online dating relationships. ("The dating profiles look so familiar they could be my family now," she once said to me.) On crappy days, she was sometimes at a point where she would try to convince me how she was right (she might be alone forever!) and I was wrong (she would find the perfect guy!).
When we were at the height of our romantic-status emailing, it was 2009. At the time, I was happily ensconced in a relationship that I did not foresee ending (two Christmases spent visiting my parents in San Diego, every weekend spent together, romantic bliss!).
What I love in looking back on this very idiotic (on my end) email exchange are these five elements:
1. How I am Needy McLoveMePants in my every exchange.
(I actually edited out quite a bit of this, so any annoying super-ooshy sentiment I write, multiply that times a thousand. I simply did not want to be responsible for the cost of you literally throwing your computer off a balcony into the ocean as a result of the frustration at reading this.) It's as if I'm trying to be the ever-encompassing supply of assurance, love and sunshine not only for my friend Samantha, but for the entire world. But mostly, my main point in all my interactions with Samantha is so blaringly clear to me as I look back now.
I had one talking point, one theme in everything I wrote, which was this: LOVE ME. And yes, you may not think I've grown much, but I do see at least incremental improvement. For one, I no longer write insanely long novellas of emails. That's progress.
2. My friend actually PREDICTED that she would marry the man who would eventually be her husband in this email.
You know how people are always saying, "Never say never?" Dude, seriously. Never say never. I only stumbled across this email exchange because I was trying to find something in my email, and this random exchange popped up. (I sure hope I was searching for "Liz Phair" as I seemed pretty focused on proving how much I knew about her at the time.)
So when I re-read this, my jaw dropped when I happened across the joke that Samantha said right near the end as a throwaway aside: "Thank God I'm marrying Timothy." She literally married him not under two years later. She wasn't even dating him at the time she wrote this. She never in a million years thought she would date him. They were friends.
3. How identities and life turns on a dime.
My identity in writing this? The Smug In a Relationship Person. My friend's identity? The Unlucky In Love Depressed Friend. A few years later? She's Married With Two Kids Happy In Domestic Life Lady. I'm Perpetually Single Chick Who Never Makes Time For Men.
4. The fact that I am one of those annoying friends who takes a small nothing email and then hijacks it by reply to tell you ALL ABOUT MY LIFE.
And all about my relationship. Did you just break up? Oh, good. Then you'll probably love to hear ALL ABOUT MY RELATIONSHIP. Good lord. The worst.
5. Vision boards.
Yeah. I understand if you can never look me square in the eye after reading this again.
I guess my biggest point is this: Never think that what exists right now is what your future holds. Tomorrow you could be dead. Tomorrow you could be married. Tomorrow you could be on the cover of every newspaper in the city. Tomorrow you could be typing up an unwieldy email about Liz Phair and her family relations. You honestly never know.
Which is one of my favorite things to remember every time my brain starts synaptically misfiring my 10- and 15- and 50-year plans based on a scrap of information. What the hell do I know? That's the cool and exhilarating part of life: perpetual reinvention, perpetual opportunity, perpetual potential.
And now, for the totally ridiculous email exchange, all sparked by Liz Phair's new album dropping:
Samantha: From a discussion my brother and I are having about Liz Phair: I didn't hate the album as much as everyone else seemed to. The problem is she's not angry anymore. No one wants to hear a happy mom singing about "Hot White C--." So... I'm thinking "no one wants to hear a happy mom singing about Hot White C--" is going to be my new mantra that I chant Louise Hay style.
Me: Did you know, her dad is a famous virologist AIDS doctor at Northwestern Medical School -- John Phair, MD. He has her Rolling Stone cover framed in his office. The worst selling Rolling Stone cover in the history of Rolling Stone, incidentally.
I shared with the boyf a Liz Phair song recently telling him how feminist and badass I thought it was. And he said, "Why? She's talking about f-ing and running. How is that empowering?" I told him, "Because she's showing that women aren't alone. We've all had bad hookups. We've all had bad one-night stands. And by not being afraid to talk about it, you know, it makes you a superhero if you love yourself without shame."
His reply: "Oh." Or something like that.
But OMG, so um. Wow. I have to tell you. I can't even write, I'm a bit excited. But it involves me making a vision board last night...with all this wedding stuff (this sparked by me leaving his apartment after the smack in the face of opening the Times wedding section and seeing some friends of ours marriage announcement who started dating after we did and me being like, "Yeah...I have to go.")
So I go home last night. I turn off my phone at 4 p.m. Then, in the morning I wake up and am reading my little book of affirmations.
A knock on the door (which I thought was a possibility, that he would stop by, so I had done the chain, since he has a key...) and me saying, "Who is it?"
Knowing it's him. He's there.
I say -- just a minute -- because you know, I had this idiotic big wedding love engagement ring poster I put on my altar and well, yeah.
So I scoot it into the closet, he comes in, and we have the talk.
It's basically that he wants me to know that he does take this seriously, and he said that he knew I was worried that he was a perpetual bachelor, and I don't know what he said, a lot of it, because I was a little delirious. And to me, I take this, that he is aware that I won't just be his girlfriend perpetually.
Anyway, I felt good about it.
And hey, I want to say something else. I'm afraid you are still sad about your ex and maybe I am insensitive by going on and on about this. But I think that you do enjoy being supportive, as I do to you.
You are one of the most special people I've ever had the good fortune to know -- and the man who is lucky enough to win your heart is going to be so worthy of you.
I guess I say this because I felt like you were annoyed when I said I was going to lend you that dating book I had read. I just want to be a good source of love for you. So know that.
You are a very freaking funny person, and I love you.
Samantha: Hey there -- that is great. It's a really great conversation to have, and I'm really happy that things seem to be going in the right direction.
I am fine. Yes, I am still sad about the ex, and sometimes yes, this stuff isn't exactly what I need to hear. I guess what hurts is about a week ago you made some comment like, "God I'm so glad I'm not single," and that really kind of cut me. I know you didn't mean it that way.
I don't want to borrow that book because I am so sick of the game playing. It's kind of exhausting. It just seems really contrived.
Sorry, I just can't write that long. Long emails overwhelm me. I am very happy for you.
Me: Yeah as soon as I said that I realized it was just completely dumb. I meant it from the sense of, "I am so glad I am not Single Mandy from a few years ago." Meaning I had acted very dumb when I was single right after getting divorced. But it wasn't clear, and from the depth of my being, I am sorry.
Thanks for telling me that, and I hope you laughed at the idea of me scurrying to put away the vision board like a forest creature. And know that anything you want -- you are going to get.
Samantha: No don't worry about it. I know that you didn't say it with any malice. I did like the idea of you scurrying around with the vision board. Was a great visual :) I wish that attraction was something you could manufacture. I am bummed because I have been hanging out a lot with my friend from college who is somewhat overly into me and we kissed and I realized I was Just Not Feeling It. Sigh. But anyway.
That's why I'm so happy Timothy and I are getting married.
Like I said, she and Timothy got married just a few short years later. He was just one of the greatest guys she knew at the time -- but she never in a million years thought that was even a remote possibility.
You never know.
And, me? Well, my relationship completely imploded.
(I must have used the wrong kind of gluestick and glitter on the vision board or something.)
Reading back on this was so hilarious to me. I'm like an insufferable, insensitive codependency bomb wrapped up in a bunch of Oprah Book Club selections all set on fire with some really overpriced Pier One vanilla candles.
And, man, was I ever one to show off all of my extensive knowledge of Liz Phair's extended family. (Because that's impressive?)
So, I ask you.
Have you ever had experiences like this? Where you stumble upon some old bit of writing that turns out to be prophetic -- or you are kind of unwittingly psychic? Tell me. I promise to reply in a less annoying way than the exchange you just read above.
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.