Believe in the best-case scenario

Went to see a movie by myself last night, and I mean by myself. Straight up the only person in the theater. Not too surprising for a little-known indie rom-com on a Sunday night in Springfield. This means I could laugh out loud and (cry? who cried?! not me!) and scribble notes on my phone without disturbing a soul. I did catch myself making audible “oh that’s cute”-type sounds, more than once. And I sure did scribble notes. I love that feeling of “oh boy! I feel a blog post coming on!” though I feel it less and less these days…

Longtime readers of the blog know how much I loves me a good romantic comedy (and just how hard they are to come by in a post-Nora-Ephron world. Hell, even bad romantic comedies are hard to come by anymore). This little movie was a total delight. A romantic comedy that is both romantic and funny. Think When Harry Met Sally meets Garden State. Can-men-and-women-just-be-friends? meets twee twenty-somethings and a very of-the-moment soundtrack. Guys. Just sign me up.

It was refreshing to watch a movie in which not a single thing blows up—besides interpersonal drama, of course. Don’t get me wrong: I did very much love Guardians of the Galaxy. But come on, Hollywood. There is a whole world of material outside of comic books and trilogies. This was easily the best rom-com I’ve seen in a long time. Now, I don’t know whether it was actually a good movie or just happened to be what I needed right now. But I don’t think it really matters either way.

Isn’t that at least 50% of a good movie experience? The way in which it meets you in your life, wherever you are right now? It felt funny to watch this movie, now 10 years after I first watched Garden State, noticing how 20-something romance feels a little faint and distant to me. Like looking through a Facebook album from 2007, familiar but a definite glimpse into the past.

Garden State: I can still remember how I felt, sitting in Campbell 16, watching the scene when Natalie Portman and Zach Braff “shout into the abyss” (…GIANT eye roll) and then kiss in the rain (come on!) while Simon & Garfunkel play and Peter Sarsgaard (Hey, remember Peter Sarsgaard?!) looks on. I no doubt described it at the time as “heart explosion,” the pain and pure joy of the very-first moments of being in love.

10 years ago, I was 21 and starting my junior in college. Three years into an on-again, off-again relationship with my high school boyfriend, My First Real Boyfriend, the first boy I ever loved. (Yeesh. Guys. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Feelings that intense at that age…so dangerous.) At the same time, I was in the midst of the very-early stages of another romance, a friend who was an RA with me in my co-ed dorm. We shared an enthusiasm for dorky residence hall shenanigans, The Office (British version—Jim & Pam didn’t exist yet), and the Garden State soundtrack. It wouldn’t be long until he became My Second Real Boyfriend.

Those two relationship timelines collided in ways of which I am not proud, 10 years later. But that’s life and that’s love and that’s being YOUNG. Every romantic comedy has its equal share of tragedy, right?

What If

When Harry (Potter) Met This Girl

So back to What If. Take in this little exchange, won’t you:

Wallace: In fairy tales, love inspires you to noble and courageous. But in real life, love is just an all-purpose excuse for selfish behavior.
Chantry: I don’t know if you are actually cynical or just a super-crazy romantic cheese ball.

And that, my friends, is exactly what I am. Always on the verge of an eye-roll and waiting for the shoe to drop, but with a crunchy romantic center ever-present beneath my cynical candy shell.

After the mistakes I’ve made, and the mistakes that have been made to me, it takes all my willpower not to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction from any potential happiness. Because I’ve seen the flip side of that coin. And I think it gets harder every time when things don’t go well. Because I’ve also gotten better every time; I’ve better figured out how to love and be loved. And how not to.

After a full decade of good beginnings and eventual breakups, you start to wonder whether it’s worth it to even think about trying again.

But in spite of myself, a movie like this can still make me want to, as a character says to our young hero at one point in his just-friendship with the girl he looooves, believe in the best-case scenario.

That’s why we keep watching movies like this, after all. In spite of so much evidence to the contrary (lookin’ at you, Katherine Heigl), every once in a while, one turns out to be just exactly what you need.

 

best worst idea

Just went running in the rain — yes, on purpose — and it really is the best worst idea. Not crazy / lightning / downpour style rain, of course. Just a nice little summer-night sprinkling.

And, man, it feels good!

Skittish about damaging my iPhone, I didn’t bring along any music. I hardly ever run without headphones now, but once upon a time, it was all I knew. I even ran my first half-marathon that way (2 whole hours, guys! how? why??) and it was my fastest time so far, funnily enough.

Something about falling into the trance of the rhythm of my breath. Letting my mind wander where it wants to, without the helpful distraction of songs or podcasts. It’s meditation. (And can also be maddening, don’t get me wrong. Have you noticed how little time you spend alone with just your own thoughts? It’s a jungle in there!)

Within minutes I was transformed back to high school, in my earliest running days, looping the u-shaped pavement of our neighborhood, with nothing to listen to but my feet on the ground and the air in my lungs. (Didn’t have a Discman. Those things were bulky, awkward, and still skipped. We can all admit this now. It’s time.)

I started running back then to “stay in shape” (hahahahaha. Shut UP, perpetually size-4 high-school me. Shut your DAMN. MOUTH.) and I got the bug for real my junior year of college, which is also the first time I ran with an iPod. A bulky, first-gen brick-sized item by comparison now, and I had to carry it because I didn’t have an arm band or anything, but it was a revelation. (Didn’t hurt that it was my boyfriend’s iPod. Is there anything better than a little voyeuristic love-drunk music-snooping? The Garden State soundtrack was in heavy rotation that year, I can tell you that much.)

photo (5)

There’s something so nice and freeing about a little rainy-day run. Leaving the house knowing I’m going to get rained on. Doing it anyway. When I first started running and writing about it, I was constantly finding little metaphors for life. I can’t help it! They’re right there! Tonight’s would be something along the lines of: Don’t always shy away from the potentially messy or uncomfortable things. Those things can also end up being the most peaceful and fulfilling, and almost always a better decision than staying inside.

And also puddles. Puddles are also fun.

(Really) Real Estate

In March 2010, when I was 26 years old, I bought a house. It seems like such a bonkers decision to me now, but at the time, it made perfect sense. I wanted to move out of my apartment, and I was pleasantly surprised to find I could afford a house for not much more than my rent. (Oh, Springfield! God bless your reasonable cost of living!) I had a good job that was not far away. I had a serious boyfriend, and we had made plans.

photo (8)A lot of things have changed since then, as they do. I moved into my current place last summer, but I didn’t find any takers for my lovely little house. So here we are four years after I bought it, and I’m more than ready to be rid of the mortgage and memory-baggage associated with 2502 N. Campbell.

Summer’s supposed to be prime house-selling time, so for two more months, I’m trying one final push before I resort to renting.

It really is a great little house.

I could tell you all sorts of things that were wonderful about the time I lived there. Owning a home, MY home, by myself, as a single gal. Nothing like it! It’s the big things like painting the walls or throwing parties, and the small things like the little cat door leading to the laundry room or the left-hand doorknob that turned the wrong way and always, always confused people.

pianoI could tell you about the Ozarks springtime tornado warnings, huddled with my cat in her Pet Taxi, while KY3 newscasters told me what to make of the ever-greening sky. The particular bad-weather nervousness that I only felt inside the home that I owned. 

Or the 30 Rock finale party, where one of my lovely friends actually made Cheesy Blasters (thanks Meat Cat!), following the sing-song instructions: You take a hot dog, stuff it with some jack cheese, fold it in a pizza: And you’ve got Cheesy Blasters! They were wonderful. And awful.

The singularly grown-up thrill of purchasing my own absurdly expensive washer and dryer that looked like outer-space machines.

All that was worthwhile. But there are plenty of memories I’d be content to move away from and permanently close the door. It feels melodramatic but it’s also just true: I can’t help but associate the house with the relationships that ended when I lived there. (Counting only official, capital-R “relationships” that ended: There were three.) R.I.P. R.I.P. R.I.P.

The moments of overwhelming sadness while I was moving (brief, but unpleasant) took me by surprise. While boxing up my life there, I opened up forgotten feelings.

photo (5)Like that first “I love you,” after the first time “we” had people over. Or was it before? Couldn’t tell you for sure. But I could tell you where I was standing (at the sink), what he was wearing (a light blue sweater), how he acted (gravely serious) and how I felt (caught off guard).

Or, with that other person, who expressed his feelings in different, while still meaningful, terms when he told me: “I need you to know I’m about to poop in your house for the first time.” (A significant moment in the life of any couple, we can all agree.)

Or with this other one, as we sat across from each other on my bed, exhausted and numb from one-too-many last straws. When he said, “I just want you to be nice to me.” And I said, and meant, “I don’t want to.” (You’ve seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, yes?)

Criminy.

So you should buy my house, is what I’m saying. You seem like the sort of person who’s ready to make some new memories of your own.

Did I mention the kitchen cabinets?
And the spacious backyard?