Galentines

My first kiss was at 15. He was my first boyfriend, but the relationship lasted a month. He “couldn’t do it anymore,” for reasons that are still unclear.

The first time I made out was at 17. I met him at a Zox concert and we kissed in the rain. I saw him once more before that relationship ended — I skipped work, my mother found out, and I was grounded “forever.” In reality, forever lasted a few weeks, but I broke it off anyway; he didn’t have a car, his boarding school was an hour away, and my pragmatic side didn’t see a happy future.

The first real relationship I had came after high school graduation, after we had both chosen where to go to college. We fell in love quickly, but he moved 300 miles away, and we saw each other roughly every three weeks for two and a half years. We were finally in the same city, but he took that for granted, and I broke both our hearts by leaving him.

The first boyfriend I saw regularly came into my life at 20, and we became official shortly after I turned 21. He was emotionally abusive, and I clung to him long after we were officially broken up, letting him use me for sex at his convenience, carrying on a secret half relationship for six months after I finally decided to leave.

Then I let my husband, and all of that came to an end.

—-

Today is “Galentine’s Day,” an unofficial yet-to-be-Hallmarked holiday meant to be spent with the women you love most in life. It also marks the third anniversary of beginning my relationship with my husband, so I won’t be drinking wine tonight with my friends at Solera, or pouring myself a glass at home and Skyping the “friend fam” from my breakfast bar. And, in a way, that’s sad.

I’ve spent most of my life either single or close enough to it, and the people who loved me, each and every day, were a ragtag crew of women, some now married, some dating, some engaged, and some single.

And I wish, especially for the single ones, that I could spend tomorrow with them.

—-

I was never good at being alone. I hated being around couples, save one. They never made me feel like a third wheel to their bicycle; instead, we all rode our own side by side.

Apart from them, though, relationships made me miserable. I so wanted to be loved by a guy that seeing it in front of me was deeply sad. But I always had My Girls.

The girls whose houses I would sleep over so often that their mothers would start to parent me as much as their own child. The girl who would hug me when I cried over these mini-relationship breakups, convinced I would never love again. The girls who would take my drunken phone calls and laugh at my slurring “I love you”s. The girls who would listen to me rattle off my host of bad decisions, and tell me that I was going to be fine. The girls who would split packs of cigarettes with me in high school because we were ‘so badass.’ The girls who planned out my weekends freshman year of college, because I was friendless, and miserable, and didn’t know what to do with my free time. The girls who would call me during American Idol to critique the performances. The girls who always encouraged me to keep writing, who always told me how talented I was, and to never give up. The girls who would pick me up when I fell — sometimes literally — and bring me down when I was off my rocker.

This is for all of those girls, who have been there long before any boy came along, and far before my husband. The ones who I called when I got engaged, who flew to Las Vegas on their last pennies for my wedding, who rapped at my reception (and then collapsed from dehydration — yes, this really happened). The ones who listened to me go through my lowest lows of mental illness, and always promised to be there for me.

And I knew they meant it, because they always have been.

This is for you, My Girls.

Keep In Touch With Friends

I have two apps, both on the homescreen of my iPhone, that I use to make sure I do everything I’m supposed to do in the course of a day. Apparently it takes two to keep my life together.

There are reminders to take my medication (despite the fact that my cocktail of pills keeps me sane and functional, you’d be surprised how often I forget them), to meditate, to write a daily blog post (ahem), to drink more water, to reach Inbox Zero (this one hardly ever gets checked off my list), to practice Spanish, and even to floss.

I don’t particular feel anything about these tasks — perhaps annoyance (Duolinguo, do I have to?) or relief (oh yes, I am so turning off all my screens after 10PM), but those are fleeting and inconsequential, really. The one exception, which is listed on both apps, is “Keep In Touch With Friends” — and I didn’t notice it until just today.

My best friend of twelve years texted me to tell me about a guy she had been seeing for a little while (circa 4-5 dates), and how he ended up being a huge jerk who criticized muffins she baked him — this is actual truth; I wouldn’t even know how to make up such a thing. The troublesome bit is that I can’t remember whether I responded or I checked off that daily goal first.

I do remember checking the boxes, while my mind fell straight down into my lap — these days, there’s not much difference between heart and mind, nor do I much trust either, but I knew this wasn’t a chemical trick. This was my best friend —

— and I choose that verb tense wisely. Can you still call someone a best friend when you don’t call? When you don’t Skype? When every time she brings up a friend or a guy, you have to ask, “Which one is that, again?”

We live too far away to visit, but I don’t see friends of mine anyway. It’s an anxiety/depression thing. People take it minimally personally. I don’t Facebook like I used to — my business life exists on Twitter, so that’s my landing page for the majority of the day. I would hate to say that I don’t interact with people who don’t have Twitter accounts, but I would say it anyway.

Keep in touch with friends — apparently a reminder I need? Shouldn’t there be something in my nature that compels me to reach out to others for companionship outside my marriage? Humans are said to be social creatures; does this reflect on my humanity?

I feel melodramatic.

Nevertheless, there is a part of myself that is either missing or comatose. I used to be a party girl, you know. I would take shots of Everclear, really lose at strip poker, and text the entirety of my local address book every Thursday. What’s going on this weekend?

An invitation out feels like a chore now. I can’t drink without becoming filthy drunk after one beer, so I avoid alcohol altogether, which is another kind of sadness; I once was also the girl who trolled the town looking for the best Manhattans. What instead? Board games? Dinner parties? Coffee dates?

Droll.

I have things to do — editing, writing, occasionally relaxing when my schedule permits. The touch of ‘keeping in touch’ has begun to feel itchier, wool-sweatery and it used to be cashmere.

And everyday, the reminder pops up to Keep In Touch With Friends, and I hope someone contacts me, or that I can make a suitable excuse to contact them — you see, just now I got a text asking “How’re things?” Today I’ve succeeded — because apparently that’s what people do, and I, somewhat sadly, have forgotten that part of being a person.

Latuda and Yurt

Today I leave to go live in a yurt for four days. This is an at-least-annual tradition in my Family of Two. Real life is suffocating and frustrating, and the way to fix it is to drive a couple hours and escape to nature. There should be internet because we’re not savages, but also a fireplace, and the building in which we stay has to be strange in some way (last trip was an A-frame cabin; the one before that was built by hand by a retired pilot for his daughter). This is how we unwind, leaving everything behind except food, booze, and nicotine. We sleep according to the sun. We play Trivial Pursuit. We have much more sex. We find contentment in the midst of chaos.

Yesterday began with a rousing game of what’s plaguing Liz’s brain? My psychiatrist (The Vet) has begun to pursue other avenues, including mood stabilizers — a big neon sign flashing: Bipolar! Bipolar! I don’t mind — whatever makes me better — but New Medication #1, Latuda, has decidedly not. 

I’m not a fan of atypical antipsychotics. They turn me into a zombie who sleeps for 10-12 hours a day and shuffles around for the other half, barely aware, barely alive, barely worth it. I never stay on them for longer than a day or two. I took 20mg last night with roughly five mini blueberry scones (as directed), and woke up dazedly, several hours late for my morning work session. Cue immediate irritability, especially when waking up means needing to stumble out into the cold for creamer so the coffee can do its job.

Next on the schedule? Abilify. Another atypical antipsychotic. I intend to have a few words with The Vet about this.

Thankfully, I have a wonderful friend who has taken everything under the sun, and who can attempt to warn me about what to expect. She’ll be watching the Little Monsters (read: cats) while we’re gone, so she stopped by yesterday to get the keys. Over two cups of coffee and cinnamon bun creamer, we talked about the ridiculousness of mental health horror stories, and it was the first time I’d seen a friend in person since our wedding in October. I didn’t have to leave the house, get dressed up, or drive anywhere. We sat on my pew, chatted for an hour, and when she left, I felt revitalized. I hadn’t expected that — people exhaust me these days. Most things exhaust me these days.

But not today. Today is about packing, and driving, and settling into a beautiful yurt with my husband. There will be writing, and reading, and drinking (hopefully I can manage that — whatever’s gone haywire in my brain has taken away my enjoyment of beer, wine, and cocktails, much to my constant dismay). There will be movie marathons of Oscar contenders. There will be a sincere and whole-hearted attempt to leave all of the bullshit behind until Monday.

Lord knows we’ve had our fair share.