This is a facebook post written to me by my friend, Ellanee, circa January 2008:
i hope that one day, i am as cool as you. i hope that one day, i make convenience store clerks fall in love with me while i am wearing pajama pants and i hope that one day, i own a [VHS tape] of malcolm mcdowell as a paraplegic. and that i can drink 500 glasses of water in 2 seconds.
I copied the post and saved it as a Word document. I was that touched.
I can’t believe it was four years ago that Ellanee and I solidified our friendship one afternoon over too much Captain Morgan and too much burnt popcorn. It was Sunday. The plan was to watch the Tim Burton version of Sweeney Todd. That was it.
“Want a drink?” became, “Want another drink?” which became, “Pause this, I have to pee” and, “Pause this, I have to smoke.” Finally, it was, “Pause this, we’re out of popcorn.”
We walked down the street to the neighborhood liquor store. At the time, I found it obscenely convenient to have a liquor store so nearby. Looking back, it was just obscene.
The walk to the store was really something special. It was raining and we looked ridiculous. My hair was thrown up in a messy, greasy excuse for a bun, and I was wearing black pajama pants with hot pink bunny rabbits printed on them. I also had on a black t-shirt with cartoon monkeys playing guitars. I believe Ellanee and I were both wearing fuzzy slippers, but I may be thinking of a different occasion. Ellanee was struggling to light her cigarette while avoiding puddles and remaining upright. We weren’t just two tipsy college girls — we were poetic. We were divine. We were a scene from Withnail & I.
We were Rain Dogs.
We exploded into the liquor store like a Ralph Steadman cartoon. There was no one else in the store, which left us free to stumble down the aisles in our solitary fancy examining the tiny plastic bags of gummy sharks, debating whether or not we should buy apple rings, arguing about Swedish Fish versus Sour Patch Kids, etc. We managed to look through the entire store without finding any popcorn.
I ran up to the counter and roared, “Do you have popcorn?”
The hippie behind the counter smiled.
“Yeah,” he said. “Over there.”
Our brief interaction was sobering. I noticed he was young. Then, I noticed he was wearing a beanie. A beanie. And he looked cute in it. He looked damn cute in it. A young, cute hippie in a beanie was smiling at me, the pajama-wearing, obscenity-spouting asshole who was drunkenly demanding popcorn at 3:00 in the afternoon on The Lord’s Day.
I managed to formulate a “Thank you,” and then stumbled in the direction of the popcorn. I found Ellanee in the candy aisle.
“I know where the popcorn is,” I said.
“I want Red Vines.”
“Get some,” I said.
“Will you eat some?” she asked, raising her voice a bit.
“You have to eat some!”
I slammed the three-pack of popcorn down on the counter.
“You found it!” said the hippie.
“Yeah,” I managed.
He didn’t say anything; just smiled his hippie smile.
As soon as we were outside, Ellanee exploded with, “He liiiiiiiikes you! He was kinda cuuuuuuuute! He looooooooooves yoooooooou!”
I denied any and all accusations of winning the affection of the hippie behind the counter.
“It’s truuuuuuue!” she continued. “He was lookin’ at you and smiiiiilin’ at yoooooou…”
I used my hands to block the wind and rain from Ellanee’s lighter while she lit her cigarette.
“Nope,” she said. “He fell in love with you.”
When we got back to my house we microwaved a bag of popcorn, mixed another pair of cocktails, and watched Johnny Depp kill a whole lotta people.
I was a junior in college and every little thing that happened to me was important. All-nighters were news-worthy. Class presentations were news-worthy. I rewarded myself for making it to my 8am classes. My idea of stress was having to write an essay and do laundry. If I had a free evening, I spent it writing poetry or preparing for my radio show or watching some documentary about Bob Dylan or Nico and crying over music and history and my love for all that weird shit called “art.”
On January 17th, I will officially be 25 years old; my New Year’s Resolution is to act like it. At the same time, I need to get back in touch with an earlier version of myself. I don’t mean I’m going to casually get plastered on Sunday afternoons and start dating liquor store clerks (again), but I think it’s time I started taking myself seriously (again). I want to think that what I do is important. I want to reward myself for my hard work. I want to set aside time for creativity. I don’t want to cry about Bob Dylan and Nico because I feel shitty, but because I love Bob Dylan and Nico so damn much.
I hope that one day, I am as cool as 21-year-old Me.