Posts Tagged ‘respect’

Peaked too soon

14 Feb

The honest, and oft-repeated, truth is that I don’t like Valentine’s Day. And I blame Adam Jenkins.

Adam was my best friend at Scott Mill Lane preschool. We sat next to each other during carpet time, we roughhoused on the playground, we even had play dates at each others’ houses. He was my best friend. In kindergarten we had a Valentine exchange. And despite the fact that was 34 years ago, I remember it as if it were yesterday. Because I grew up in an age where you were allowed to give Valentines to whomever you chose, and were not forced to include every single person in the class (even if they were a paste-eating, wedgie-giving neanderthal) our exchange took place one student at a time. All the other students were to sit with their heads down on their desk while the person went around and stuck Valentines into the construction paper envelopes that were taped to the back of our chairs. I was peeking through my folded arms as a very earnest, slightly embarrassed-looking Adam approached the teacher and started whispering to her. I closed my eyes as she glanced my way, afraid I was going to get into trouble for peeking. As he went about the business of delivering Valentines to their proper recipients, Adam came around the front of my desk and slid something towards me. Despite the fact my head was still down, my eyes squeezed tight, I felt it bump against my arms. When we were finally allowed to lift our heads I saw it, a small, heart-shaped box filled with conversation hearts. And just like that my best friend became my boyfriend.

So, to you, Adam Jenkins, I say, “Thanks for nothing!” No, I’m just kidding. Here it is, 35 years later, and I still remember his name. All because of that tiny box of conversation hearts. And there hasn’t been a Valentine’s Day since that could even touch the sweet romanticism of that day. Because isn’t that the ideal way for love to evolve? When your best friend singles you out, lets you know that you mean more?

And that’s why I could never get behind Valentine’s Day. It is a day fraught with unrealistic expectations. It is a holiday tailor-made for disappointment. Because, as the multiple Valentine’s Day related memes featuring Admiral Ackbar have pointed out, “It’s a trap!” Can you trust your girl when she says, “You don’t have to get me anything for Valentine’s Day”? Do so at your own peril. But then there are girls like me who truly don’t want you to buy flowers or candy. Yes, if we were dating I’d want you to acknowledge the fact that Hallmark insists you show your love on February 14, but a post-it with a heart drawn in red Sharpie will do. I just can’t stand the idea of forced romanticism. Bleech. It’s false. I’m sure there are people to whom a mylar balloon, a cellophane-wrapped grocery store bouquet, and a Whitman’s sampler is the most perfect expression of love. But not me. To me love is taking your garbage can up to your house because I don’t want you to have to do it when you get home from work still wearing your suit. Love is a picture texted because the view makes you wish that person was sitting right next to you. Love is watching a movie I raved about, or reading a book that made me cry, because you want to better understand my obsession/point of view. To me love is thoughtfulness expressed every day, not just on February 14. Now, that said, if it takes a Hallmark holiday to force your hand, to push you over the edge, then I can see the redeeming quality of using it as a jumping off point. But if you’re already in a relationship, then it should be acknowledged, sure, but overall just treated as another day filled with love and respect. Any day of the week I’m going to buy your favorite sour gummy candy when I see it on sale. But I’m not going to pay full retail for it on February 13.

Love is rightfully expecting reciprocal respect, even during the other 364 days of the year.

So, wherever you are Adam Jenkins, I hope you’re happy. I can’t see conversation hearts without thinking of you. And I can’t stomach forced, saccharine displays of false affection when you made me smile with a simple, surprising gesture, an expression of love from one friend to another. It’s sad really. I peaked too soon. Reached my romantic pinnacle at the age of 5. Oh well,fingers crossed for Arbor Day…

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14 Feb

Am I the only person who watched that show staring Keri Russell called “Felicity”? The one where she is a recent high school graduate that scraps her big educational plans to follow an unrequited crush cross-country to college in New York City. Then she ends up dating her RA, then she gets her shot with the soulmate/crush, and then she dances around the ex-boyfriend, lather, rinse, repeat. Much college-based “who am I?” angst. Much relationship-based emotional angst. Did anyone else watch that? I guess that’s a stupid question. I mean, it ran for 4 seasons, from 1998-2002. Even earned Ms. Russell a Golden Globe, while also being nominated for multiple teen choice awards in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002. So, clearly, I wasn’t the only one watching it the first time around. But then again, I also wasn’t a teen when it was first on the air. I was three years out of college when it started. I guess that was still close enough for me to vividly remember my college experiences. Those that I was destined to remember, anyway. But the point is, whether or not I fit their intended demographic, I loved that show. Loved. It. Was fairly obsessed with it, to be honest. And for whatever reason, or maybe more accurate to say for multiple reasons, I related to that character in so many ways. So, now that I’ve caught up on Downton Abbey, and finished watching the original British series Coupling, I’ve been using my Amazon Prime membership to stream episodes of Felicity. Thus far, I’ve gotten about halfway through her sophomore year (season 2). It is funny to watch this again, to experience Felicity’s college experience now that I am 17 years out of college, instead of just three. Those experiences, those memories, those emotions, well, they’re a little blurrier now. But watching this show brings so many of them roaring back.

I have a friend who thinks I bear more than a passing resemblance to Keri Russell. Personally, I think our similarities end at us both having attached earlobes*. And I highly recommend that my friend visit his friendly optometrist. Keri Russell is an elegant, long-necked, delicately-featured sprite of a girl. I am, well, not. But I do think that I bear more than a passing resemblance to Felicity Porter. Felicity is this hopeless romantic trapped in the body of a pragmatic realist. She is wide-eyed with innocence and delight. Naively trusting and open. Expects people to be the best versions of themselves, and is honestly disappointed when they reveal themselves not to be. This applies especially to herself. She thrives on logic and order, and is confused by people who do not behave in a logical manner. But she is also passionate and playful, an artist. She is a good friend, an excellent listener. But she is also an emotional basket-case from time to time. Sound like anyone you know?

But I tell you what, she is definitely more confident than I was at that age. Perhaps at any age. And I love that about that character. She is so very full of self-doubt, yet, at times, steely. Knows her mind and won’t let anyone take advantage of her. One of my favorite episodes is when she tells Ben (the soulmate/crush) that she is tired of him repeatedly leading her on. It’s one of those speeches you wish you had had the courage to make. That you hope your daughter one day has the courage to make. Choosing yourself over someone else’s unrealistic notion of what is means to be in love. Honoring your expectations of how you want other people to treat you. We should all have the courage to stand up and say this sort of thing. Not necessarily to a boyfriend or a lover. To anyone who isn’t treating us the way we deserve to be treated. Anyone who isn’t respecting us. We should all have the courage to say, I want this, I want you in my life, but I won’t change for you, and I’ll get rid of you before I get rid of me.

This is the character I wish I had written. The person I hope I can be.

“I mean I’m an emotional person. I feel things, and I need to be able to get upset and talk about how I’m feeling. I mean that’s just who I am, and I can’t change it. I don’t want to. And the thing is, you knew that, you knew it, and you still pursued me. Because you want something with me. You just aren’t strong enough to have it. Which in a way makes you a coward. And the saddest part is that one day you’re going to wake up and you’re going to realize what you missed. And it’s going to be too late.”   — Felicity Porter



* The earlobe thing, it’s genetic. Look it up if you need to


© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim