Wild Nights And Where I Went

Here’s something I’ve started to think about a lot lately:

I’m not anywhere near as “fun” as I used to be.

I’m using the word “fun” in the very most cliched of ways, of course – the way that a teenager would use the word (“God, mom, you’re no fun.” Like that).

What I mean is really that I used to be…a little wild. Spontaneous to a fault. Even – yes – stupid on occasion, and way too interested in risk-taking for my own good (sometimes I think about my 23-year-old self and just want to scoop her up and drop her in the middle of Montana for a couple of years, so she can get whatever was in her system out in relative safety).

These days, I’m just not anything even approximating “wild”; you’re not going to find me out past midnight…ever, really. A few weeks ago, our friends came over for an afternoon BBQ and ended up staying until around 11:30PM, at which point I panicked and more or less threw them in the direction of the train station. I mean, I am tired. And I wake up at 6:30, because that’s when the sun gets up, and our son really enjoys getting up with it.

I was telling some of my “back in the LA days” stories to a new friend at a Hanukkah party this weekend, and she said, “Wow, we should go to Vegas together or something sometime. It sounds like you’d be a lot of fun.” Nope. If you took me to Vegas, I’d probably plant myself in a spa, eat sushi until it came out my eyeballs, and then pass out for twelve hours. I mean, I think that sounds fun…but I also think that’s not exactly what she meant.

The truth, of course, is that I’m having a lot more fun these days than I ever did back when people may have been more likely to associate me with the word. Mostly because I’m a generally happier person than I ever have been before, and also because I honestly think that Storytime at the Children’s Library followed by a playdate that includes cheese sticks for the short people and wine for the tall ones makes for kind of the best day ever.

Last night I was paging through US Weekly and came across a photo of Demi Moore and Lenny Kravitz – you know the one I’m talking about, the “Demi’s having a breakdown!” one, where she’s sorta dancing awkwardly and Lenny Kravitz looks miserable – and you know what stood out to me the most? That the photo was taken at 1:30AM. And my jaw basically unhinged itself in awe at the disconnect between their lives and mine, despite the fact that they’re both parents, and both quite a bit older than I am.

The fact that I got all pearls-clutch-y “oh, my…but that’s so late!” about this photo is nuts, when I consider what I was up to just a few years ago. Closing down bars, dancing on tables, seeing sunrises…none of these things were unusual on a Tuesday. I’ve alluded to my time in LA being everything from lonely to troubled – and it was those things, yes yes – but it was also wild. If you catch me in just the right, overshare-y mood…I’ve got some pretty crazy stories to tell.

And! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being out late, with partying (responsibly; let’s stick to moderate amounts of legal substances and stay far away from wheels), or with Demi Moore flirting with Lenny Kravitz (hey, I would, and Kendrick would understand why, because the man is cute). I just don’t want to do it. Like…ever. There are things I enjoy doing these days getting up early to eat pancakes at a diner with my family, watching episode after episode of American Horror Story until the ungodly hour of 11PM, grabbing dinner with some girlfriends, fixing up our house – that are fulfilling and exciting to me now in the way that finding the best afterparty used to be.

And when I think back on what I was doing…I realize that I was trying to fill a hole. A hole that’s filled now. I’m not saying that’s what everyone is doing when they’re going out and going a bit crazy – not at all; I think in many ways it’s an important part of the growing-up, boundary-pushing process – but that is definitely what I was up to. My life felt purposeless, out-of-control, lonely…and when I was sitting in a bar with people I had just met but who suddenly felt like my best! friends! ever!…it was better in some ways. And worse, of course, in others.

But I still worry, sometimes. Because that girl who I used to be, just so you know, is the same girl who Kendrick met. And over the past few years…I’ve changed. A lot.

Let me explain where I think all this worry comes from: The guy I dated for a couple of years right before Kendrick was very into going out, and did go out pretty much every single night. And a year or so into our relationship, I started to realize that I didn’t want to go out all the time; that a night in with a movie and take-out – just the two of us, chilling out and maybe even, I don’t know, talking (!) – was starting to sound not just like a nice change, but completely wonderful. A necessary evolution, in fact, if our relationship was ever going to be more than what it was. But when I suggested that we start staying in more often, what he said to me was this: “I’ve been married before, and marriages get boring, and if that happens with us that’s going to be a real problem.” In other words: you better act like my crazy 23-year-old girlfriend in the very specific ways that I want you to for the rest of your life, or I am outta here.

He was not a very good boyfriend. This is a pretty good example of why we broke up.

I’m more than aware that “going out” doesn’t equate with being “fun” or “exciting”, and that my ex had extremely flawed priorities, but that conversation still pops up in my head once in awhile. And I still worry, you know: is it OK with Kendrick that he met and fell in love with one girl…and now, six years later, wakes up to a different person entirely? I’m sure that some part of him misses the girl who used to be more than happy to play darts until four in the morning, but I also feel relatively certain that the things he got when that girl started shape-shifting back into who she truly was are things that he likes even better.

I think what it comes down to is this: life changes, families expand and contract, and people evolve to fill the corners of their new lives. And that’s a good thing. But there are some things that don’t change, that can’t, and those are the things that the ones who care about you love the very most. It wasn’t the crazy party girl that Kendrick fell in love with; it was the crazy party girl that he liked. The person he fell in love with was someone very different, someone who was just trying a “party girl” persona on for size for a little while.

I didn’t fall in love with a guy in a rock band who looked cool on stage; sure, I liked that stuff, and it was fun…but I fell in love with a guy who once filled 365 notecards with things he thought were great about me and then sealed them in envelopes so that I could open one every single day for an entire year. And I also didn’t fall in love with him because of grand gestures like that; I fell in love with him because he has a heart that makes such gestures possible.

You know who I feel the most like, these days? Like the person I was in elementary school: the kid who liked writing and reading, and who mostly just wanted to hang out with her family.

Parties are fun and exciting and all that…but the best party, right now, is right here by our Christmas tree.

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