Bag Ladies and Grand Gestures: Changing, part 2.

In my last blog, I discussed the concept of change and the difficulties that can come with attempted life alterations.  It was something I struggled with because I had an idea of where I wanted to go with it, but could not make my ideas flow and connect the way I wanted them to.  Finally I realized that the second half of the blog really was stand-alone, so here is part two.

“I am someone who is looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, cant-live-without-each-other love.” – Carrie Bradshaw

I used to love this quote.  There was so much passion in the way she said it, so much conviction and longing.  “Yes, that is what I am looking for too!” Women across America said in unison, as they identified with the characters of Sex and the City, and Carrie seems to be the general favorite.

As I have gotten older, this quote seems less magical, especially because she gets back together with Mr. Big, the man who kept her on a string for six seasons of the show.  I would describe their love more like, “Painful, heartbreaking, one-sided, what-the-hell-are-they-doing-back-together” kind of love.

The following seems a little more truthful:

“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”  -Harry, When Harry Met Sally

But even this movie has its faults.  How often do two friends really end up together and working out as a couple?  I think the statistics are low.   The formulas of romantic shows involve some kind of grand gesture.  Mr. Big flew to Paris to find Carrie, driving around the city, as if her friends couldn’t have just told him what hotel she was at so he could head straight there.  No, it’s much more romantic to have him search for her, because he is finally consumed by his love.  *eyeroll*

Harry is also performing the grand gesture after realizing he’s been acting like a tool.  He runs through the streets of New York to reach Sally before midnight to profess his feelings.  Why couldn’t he just wait until morning?  In real life, Sally would have been like, “Back off, you are making a spectacle of yourself.”

I hate that I love romantic comedies.  Relationships never happen the way they do in the movies- there are no grand romantic gestures that ever seem to work out.  It took me a long time to come to the understanding that I must take those movies with the tiniest grain of salt and just enjoy them for what they are- absolutely fluff.  The one grand gesture I got was a proposal in the parking lot of the Outback Steakhouse at 11:00 at night after I had gotten off work.  I smelled of Bloom sauce, it was 30 degrees outside, and halfway through his speech, it began to hail.

That’s the thing about romantic relationships.  They never come with perfect moments.  I will always remember the time I was on a second date with a guy I could already tell I was head over heels for, and he brought me a firework (it was the day after the 4th of July) to light off in the parking lot.  I was tingly with anticipation (for the guy, not the firework) and instead of shooting up into the sky, it sparked, twirled around vigorously for thirty seconds, and then made the saddest little sound before it came to a stop.

“That was one of your best fireworks?”  I asked him incredulously, thinking that maybe he just brought one of his crappier ones to try and pass off as special.  It turns out he accidentally lit the thing upside down.  He was so frustrated that he screwed up that moment.  “I was going to shoot off the firework, let it explode in the air, and then kiss you!” he said, exasperated.  I couldn’t help but laugh.

And I let him kiss me anyway.

That’s the thing about dating- you never know if it’s going to take off into the sky, or just fizzle out on the ground.  It’s a risk, and if you are lucky, it gets better each day with that person.  We get excited and start thinking about the future and what your life with that person could be like and then….


When Pavlov conditioned his dogs to salivate when a bell rang, I wonder if he thought about the way humans can emotionally condition themselves to certain thoughts and behaviors.   When it comes to change, how do we change our lives to admit someone else into it?  When you start dating someone, it’s fun and exciting.  You are willing to give up time with your friends, sleep, exercise, if it means you get to hang out with that special someone as much as possible.  After a while, the newness begins to wear off, and things begin to get real.  Little quirks that you once brushed off start to be less cute and more annoying.  You ask yourself if those are deal breakers or things you can accept as part of who they are.   You start evaluating this person on deeper levels.  You begin to move out of “dating” and into “exclusiveness.”  If you’re lucky, things are going well, and you may think this person could be around for a long time.  Maybe they could be your forever person.

For those who are emotionally stable and carry around zero baggage, I imagine you ease into this transition with little issue.  For the rest of the human race, the transition can come with a few bumps *boulders*hills*mountainchains* in the road, and the emotional change that needs to take place to keep moving forward can be stunted in its growth. This is no longer playground affection, like when you would tell your friends to go tell their friends that you like them, and then wait anxiously for your friends to return with either good or bad news.

I once received a grade school love note that reads “Will you go on the 5th grade dance with me?  Check yes or no.”  I never responded to it out of fear and shyness.  But I did keep it for years.  I’m sure he fully recovered.

Fast forward into adulthood, and this shit gets real.  This is looking someone in the eyes and dropping the L-bomb out loud, in their face, without a buffer.  You have no friends or notes to hide behind.  You just have to sit there like a jackass and wait for that person to respond in some way, hoping, praying, and willing them to respond with the same affection for you.

This, dear readers, is more than asking if that person will “go on a dance” with you.  It is telling someone that you think someday you might want to be in a room with them in front of everyone you know.  And you’re at the front of that room wearing fancy clothes and promising them forever.  And then you eat cake.  (WITHOUT smashing it in his or her face if you hope to get lucky after everyone has gone home.)

So what does this have to do with change?  As I was driving the Prius, I realized that I need to change because I’m trying to incorporate something/someone new into my life, and I’ve got some baggage I’m surrounding myself with  in order to keep my life in its normal, safe routine.

Bag lady you gone hurt your back

Dragging all them bags like that

I guess nobody ever told you

All you must hold on to

Is you, is you, is you

One day all them bags gone get in your way

One day all them bags gone get in your way

I said one day all them bags gone get in your way

One Day all them bags gone get in your way*

 So what bags are in my way?  My dad disappeared on my mom and I one night…

Wait- I need to interject with a little back story.  This is the dad who took over for my biological dad, who left when my mom got prego.  Neither of these men are the same dad I have now.  That’s right, folks.  I have three dads:  BioDad, FauxFather, and the Fiendish Dr. Phuc (major kudos and brownie points if you can name that reference.)

In case you are confused, let me break it down: I have a Vietnamese dad who stepped in for my long-term dad, who took over for my BioDad.

But that is a story for an entirely different blog.


After twenty years of marriage, FauxFather left two Dear John letters for my mother and I, and he was nowhere to be found.  It’s been eleven years, and I honestly don’t remember what he wrote to me.  I don’t remember what we did that night, or that week.  It’s all a blur.  I bring it up because there is one thing I took away from that experience, threw it in a bag, and carried it around for ten years:

You don’t ever really know a person.  They can promise you the world and do things like raise your child as their own, buy a house together, make a home, and build a life, but that can all be snatched away at a moment’s notice by a force other than death, possibly worse than death, which is the choice to disappear.  It’s the choice to take a wrecking ball to the life you have built with someone you once claimed to love, bash it into little pieces, and leave the rubble for those you left behind to clean up and somehow rebuild.

Bag lady you gone miss your bus

You can’t hurry up

Cause you got too much stuff

When they see you comin

N**** take off runnin

From you it’s true oh yes they do

 Throughout the years I’ve done a lot of talking, counseling, introspection, what have you, to work through that betrayal.  The human mind and spirit are strong, but not impervious to damage.  If you take a piece of smooth paper and crumple it up, no matter how much effort you put into smoothing it back out again, those wrinkles will forever remain in place.  They may fade overtime, but they will always be there, marking what transpired.

So pack light

Pack light

Pack light

Ooh ooh

 I’ve done my best to smooth that piece of paper out.  After a run of worthless men, I began dating men who were kind to me, and I learned what a relationship should be like.  Then I met my ex.  He promised many things, and I bought into it without thinking, without caution, without fear.  It was going fast, and I chose to ignore red flags, and just as quick as he said, “I love you,” he was saying “you have a lot wrong with you and I’m leaving.”  And he left.  Well, actually, I grabbed him by his arm and literally pushed him out the door.  *points for me*

Girl I know sometimes it’s hard

And we can’t let go

Oh when someone hurts you oh so bad inside

You can’t deny it you can’t stop crying

So oh, oh, oh

If you start breathin

Then you won’t believe it

You’ll feel so much better

(So much better baby)

The work I had done to push out the thoughts that everyone will just leave took a big hit when the ex left me, and an even bigger hit when I found out about a month later that it  was for another woman.  It doesn’t matter that hindsight has shown me I didn’t love him; rather I just loved what he was promising me.  The person I thought he was, well that was just a show.  It wasn’t real.   The only thing real about any of it was how clear my desire was to find my person, get married, and start a family.  When that was taken away, I think it hurt more than actually losing the person who promised it.  I’m so thankful now that it ended, because I don’t want a fantasy that’s going to crumble at the first sign of conflict.

More importantly, though, is this undeniable truth: every person and every relationship is different.  Rationally, I know I cannot expect the same outcome every time I meet someone new, because I will turn my life into a sad self-fulfilling prophecy.  I’ve done that in the past, and desperately don’t want to do that in the future.

Bag lady

Let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go

Ooh, ooh

Girl you don’t need it

So how do I change my thinking?  How do I change the expectation that, eventually, someone will leave for [insert reason here]?  I need to change it, I want to change it, and perhaps recognizing the issue is a sign that I am actively shaping my thoughts to something positive.   I am dating again.  Right now I have someone in my life who challenges me.  He has shown me his flaws, and I’m showing him mine.  I’m not trying to pretend I’m something I’m not.  We already came to an impasse once, the details of which are not meant for publication.  However, as the impasse went on, I did sign his walking papers and prepared myself to move on.

Then a surprise came.  Somehow those papers were torn up.  It was slow tear at first, until suddenly I had a pile of paper bits in front of me and there we stood, no buffer, no paper, just us.  That was when shit got real.   I may or may not have stirred up an anxiety tornado that left me spinning.  Luckily, I weathered the storm, and feel fairly calm now.

So here I am in the present moment.  Me and Him.  We are dealing with all aspects of each other- the good and the bad.  This is real.  It’s gritty.  (Real and gritty… like a 90s show starring Richard Belzer.)   My wall is coming down.  I imagine it like a brick wall, actually.  Every day I manage to take another brick down, hoping it’s not in vain.  (He’s probably hoping I don’t throw bricks at his head.  I wanted to yesterday morning during a conversation involving an appointment, a beard trim, a misunderstanding, snarky remarks, and one “Calm your tits” meme.)

I betcha love can make it better

Betcha love can make it better

Betcha love can make it better

(Need someone to love you right)

Every day I tell myself that this day is different, and what happened in the past belongs there.  I don’t need to carry it with me.  This relationship may not work out, and if it doesn’t it will be for different reasons and under different circumstances.  (Although I think the odds are looking good.)

 This is where I am making up my own definition of a grand gesture.  It’s not waiting until you’ve pushed someone away and then desperately pull out all the stops to get them back.  No, the grand gesture starts from the beginning with you.  A real GS is allowing yourself to love someone, to let them in, to change your life in the necessary ways to make the relationship successful.  This isn’t changing who you are, but rather changing what you are capable of, changing how you react to love and relationships.

So here’s the last thing on my list from the change blog:

Dropping all my bags- letting go of the past, taking down walls, changing the way I think and react, and grand gesturing the shit out of life.

 Betcha love can make it better

(I betcha love, betcha love)

Betcha love can make it better

Betcha love can make it better

Betcha love can make it better

Betcha love can make it better

Bag lady, hmm

Let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go

Girl you don’t need that, hmm

 Until next time ~ BC

Erykah Badu, “Bag Lady”


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