Oliver. I write about him in Straight Up and Dirty. Each January he liked to begin the new year with a midnight run. You know, for fun. In Crapass Central Park. In the cold. With gloves on. Sober. I should have ended things just then, when learning of this entirely too healthy tradition of his. There would be no midnight toasting of champagne, no caviar or kiss. Just the sound of a gun and the smell of its powder as we leaned over a starting line, racing for a finish line we couldn’t see. This just wouldn’t do. None of it. The running, the resolutions, and, dear God, the boys.
New Year’s resolutions are aptly made at the beginning of the year. July is the mid-way marker, serving as an indicator of our progress. Have we stuck with it, our promises to ourselves made in the bitter cold of a hungover, or sore as he would have it, morning?
I have and I haven’t, I suppose, stuck to anything aside from the couch because this year I didn’t have the slightest inclination to make any resolutions. Much like therapy, resolutions are only useful if we really want to change. You have to be pretty fed up, get to the point where you realize, "I don’t want to live like this anymore." And only then will you change your behavior, when you’re pretty sick of who you are. Which of course throws into shadow everything we’re taught about loving ourselves just as we are. "Well, you can still love yourself and want to change. You know, kind of accept your flaws and still make a commitment to changing them." Yuh. You might as well add, "Vow to stop lying to myself and others" to that neat little new year list of yours. The only way you’re going to change is if you hate it. And then, far harder, if you have the determination and patience to work on it, to change your habits, to really make an effort, especially after you fumble.
I’m at the point, or maybe it’s the age, I don’t know, where I don’t really hate anything about myself. Yeah, I suck about certain things, 100% suck. But I’m okay with it. So I have back fat and pretend it’s just a groove for the back of my bra, so it doesn’t ride up. Whatever. It’s not ideal, but I still make room for "but" in that sentence, so it ain’t changing anytime soon.
I didn’t make a resolution this year, and if forced to come upon one now, I’m still left in a composed shrug. I don’t want to make a commitment to myself because I’m content. Some might say complacent. There’s a fine line, I find between contentment and complacency. Both are feelings of satisfaction that accompany an ease of mind, yet it’s deemed "complacency" if along with the quiet pleasures of security there comes a looming potential danger, as if to say, "You had it coming you smug sum-bitch. How’s content feel up against you now?" When I begin to feel content, I get a little nervous, as if by being completely at ease I’m inviting disaster to join us. As though I’ve said how happy I am and forgotten to knock on wood. Living in a superstitious fear, though, never allows for true contentment. It’s when we flip fear the bird, that we’re finally free.
Independence day is soon approaching. The day serves as a reminder for me of my own declaration of independence. It wasn’t from Britain but from British boys (one titled The Eurosexual in my memoir), and from boys in general. In the years where I’ve promised myself a gym and trim body, I did so because I was uncomfortable, disgusted really, in my own skin. Yes, I’d lie to myself and others, I’d be doing it for "health reasons," not aesthetic ones. Yeah, I sneeze bullshit on that one. Or when I started this blog, the intent was to write every day. It was a resolution to put energy where it belonged: not on dating and boys but inward, toward improving myself, growing, and investing my time and energy in something that would be around longer than the eventual, "I think we need some space" talk. I committed myself to my own independence because I was so Les Miserables.
It was my resolution, and come July 4th each year, I remember it. I celebrate it. And when the fireworks sound from afar, and I begin to grinch out on them, unsure what the whole appeal is, I’ll remind myself that I should be proud. Proud that I cut myself off, forced myself to sever the bad ties and took steps toward my own independence. And even though I’m married with children now, a mother with her own two dependents, I like to remember and honor the strides I took to get here. And for me those steps required me to walk away, not toward, someone. I like this idea, that the 4th of July should serve as a reminder not just of our country and those who fought for it, but should keep us in check, questioning our resolutions and reminding us where we want to go to feel our most free. And I feel free to plug my own book here, despite the people who’ll throw in a "is this a post or an advertisement that your book is now in paperback?" As if that’s something wretched for me to do. I’m proud of what I’ve gone through to get here. And when I say "here" I don’t mean married or mommy, I mean away from my sandbagging behaviors. I’m proud that I have the courage to live out loud, in the face of people who’ll always look to tear me down for doing just that. And I sincerely hope in sharing how I got here it will encourage others to live their most free lives, free of the fear of what others might think.
*If you know someone, even if that someone is you, who could stand to learn a thing or two about independence, not just independence from relationships, but an independent life, free from the feared, "what will people think?" grab a copy of Straight Up and Dirty now that it’s in paperback, perfect for the beach or to make Crapass Central Park a bit more tolerable.