I used to be fun
That subject line pretty much sums it up. In the past, I was a silly, happy go-lucky gal (while still somehow being a raging pessimist), who was game for pretty much anything.
When I was in my early 20s, life was good. Well, there was a horrid, manipulative, gas-lighting piece of shit sexual harasser that I was dealing with at the time, but other than that… life was good.
(I may or may not go in to that someday but it’s just too much work. It was a saga, I tell you. A saga.)
So, pretending that shit didn’t happen, let’s go on with the point of this post.
Fun. I was fun as hell.
My entourage used to consist of my twin (T), our friend A, and frequently a small group of friends which included the harasser whom I shall refer to as POS (piece of shit). In spite of POS’s horrid ways, his friends were amazing, and hanging out with everyone was absolutely delightful, even if we hated POS, himself.
What constitutes, “fun?”
Well, we filmed a couple of extremely amateur movies, including a western where I got to play an Irish bar singer named Belle. My acting was ATROCIOUS, but my outfit was cute! We spent the entire summer filming old school western gun fights, getting tied to railroad tracks, converting our back porch to an old timey bar, and filming a truly hilarious script written by T. It was one of the best summers of my life.
Before that, we filmed a spy movie, which was nearly as fun, and even worse in the acting department. Still, an absolute blast.
What else, besides filming? We had all day dungeons and dragons sessions-like, literally all day. We’d put a massive pot of chili on the stove and have an endless supply of chili dogs, nachos, etc as we gamed for hours. We played hide and seek in the dark in my parents’ house (they were very long suffering folks), and it was simply the best. One of my friends actually pulled the couch out from the wall, squeezed behind it, and pulled it back. When you’re feeling around in the dark, it’s nearly impossible to find someone there. There you go, free hide and go seek tip for ya.
Those were just the things we did with POS’s friends. A, T, and I had just as much fun on our own.
We went on endless hikes and walks through the woods, just laughing and joking and being quite silly. T has a video of us running away from dozens of snakes, coming out of hibernation. It was fucked up. It was just this ball of garter snakes, all tangled together, and dozens more were coming out of the foliage, you could hear the leaves rustling with it. I’m not normally afraid of snakes but that….*shudders*
Another time, our trio went on a long hike in high heat and ended up being out for about 6 hours. We got off trail, got a bit lost, and didn’t bring nearly enough water. T recorded some of it and at one point I asked, “T…are you…frothing?” At my question, the camera whips around to face her so she can look at herself, alarm on her expression. To me, it looked like the corners of her mouth were frothing but it turned out to be some errant pixie dust from her pixie sticks that had gotten stuck there. It’s a longstanding joke now, to randomly ask each other, “are you…frothing?” I love that we have video of that silly moment. We ended up finally finding our way home and buying inhuman amounts of Minute Maid lemonade and water, as one does.
Other things we did? We dressed up in silly costumes all the time. We were superheroes, skaters, a rock band, and, my favorite, old ladies, complete with wigs and garish makeup and clothes.
We made music videos of silly montages of us just having fun and frequented a local diner and ordered fries and chocolate peanut butter shakes while we laughed so hard that T accidentally spit her whipped cream on the window. We’d make mix tapes (yeah, I’m old), and go on car rides in the country in T’s 1970s puke green Chevy Nova that you had to use a popsicle stick to turn the heat up and down. We’d crank up My Chemical Romance while we dyed each other’s hair in my parent’s bathroom. We’d have A stay the night and talk for hours, laughing and being so silly it was hard to believe we were 20.
One of my very favorite things? We’d play, “My Bonnie.” You know the ooooold song? It goes like this:
My Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the sea
My Bonnie lies over the ocean
Now bring back my Bonnie to me!
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me-to me!
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me!
How the fuck is that fun, you’re asking? Every time you sing a word that starts with B you either stand up or sit down, the opposite of what you’re currently doing. Then, at the next B you switch again. Consequently, you’re constantly sitting and standing, sitting and standing as you go through the song. And then you sing it again. Faster. And again. Even faster. See where I’m going with this? It gets rather frantic and silly and…oh dear god you can tell we barely had internet, can’t you? Shut up. It was fun. You don’t even know.
Oh yeah. Lighters. Not everything we did was “square”. My parents had this old rusted charcoal grill that was worthless. For some reason my dad gave us permission to make a small fire in there and throw those cheap little lighters in so we could watch them explode. They really do, too. BOOM! Present me would absolutely hate us. Past me was ignorant and having the time of my life.
I can pretty honestly say, that back then I was rarely bored. We could make a game out of anything. T and I used to work at the same OB/Gyn as receptionists and on our lunch break we’d sit in the hallway and punch each other’s arms and play, “hide the piece of paper on the other person,” for hours. Btw, that game consists of taking a tiny scrap of paper and hiding it in the fold of the other person’s shirt while they closed their eyes. They weren’t allowed to move but they had to guess where it was. God that sounds boring, but trust me, it was hilarious. Again, you don’t even know.
We used to have such adventures. We’d go thrift store shopping, on hikes, to the mall, to dances where we’d play spies instead of dancing, all kinds of shit. My “bachelorette party” consisted of just me, T, and A, hanging out. We went to our usual diner and then played on a playground at 9:00 at night. That was it. And yet, it was one of my favorite memories. Just being silly and going down the slide, knowing my life was about to change dramatically the next day.
And holy shit did it.
Here’s the thing. No one thing makes you less fun. Getting married to S didn’t. We still had fun, he was just often included, now. But, getting married in general changes things. You’re an adult, suddenly. You have bills, responsibilities, jobs to be at and go to bed early for. It was an adjustment, to say the least. And one I wasn’t alone in. 6 months later, T got married too and A was in a serious relationship. We didn’t have as much time together as we used to. We still managed to have fun from time to time…but, it wasn’t the same. It was so hard to get our schedules to coordinate. We didn’t have the carefree income we’d had before, living with our respective parents and not worrying about things like savings or rent.
From there? Things got worse. T eventually had kids. Kids are great but gosh…that signaled the final death knell of our old, hyper ways.
T, being my twin, has stayed a part of my life. I’ve adjusted things to her and her family, her kids, her schedule, her needs. For reasons I won’t get into, we’re honestly not as close as we used to be. I try to still see her but…it’s not the same. I doubt it will ever be, again.
And A? Haven’t seen her in a few years. She’s still local but between her wacky schedule and everything, we’ve drifted considerably. I’m hoping to rekindle that next year but…it will never be the same again either.
But this post isn’t about friendship. It’s about being fun, right? Here’s the thing. I feel left behind. I’ve changed a lot over the years. In a GOOD way. I’m less foolish, less selfish, less ignorant. But, the main part of who I was? She’s still very much there. I could bust out a round of “My Bonnie,” in a heartbeat and have that same frantic silly fun I always could. But…there’s no one to sing it with.
A has drifted. T, has drifted. Even when I was close to her, she’s absolutely bogged down by high maintenance kids, one of whom has type 1 diabetes. She juggles all that and a very stressful job and probably doesn’t give a single fuck about music videos or pixie sticks or long scenic drives. She’s just trying to keep her kids alive and keep from falling apart. And S? I adore S. He’s a wonderful husband. But he works SO hard. So fucking hard. There isn’t much left of him at the end of the day, he’s so exhausted, and I don’t blame him at all. Not one bit.
I’m not the most mature person. Most of the time, that’s a good thing. Losing sight of being silly and child-like is downright tragic. So many people don’t have a choice in the matter, either. I’m lucky. So fucking lucky, because I’m sheltered. I work, but I have flexible hours and only work part time and even that’s all done from home. I have an incredible amount of autonomy, freedom, and safety afforded to me. Does that mean I’m not busy? Of course I get busy! I still do all the errands, cleaning, laundry, yard work, etc. I know what grown up responsibilities are. But that pressure? That knowledge of knowing, everything rests on your shoulders? That you have kids who need you to be a good mom? Or a family that relies on your financial support to keep them fed and sheltered and healthy? I’ve never borne any such heavy burdens as that.
I think that’s why I haven’t changed all that much. Why I’m not as tired, as burned out, as ragged and weary, as the people in my life I love. People who are barely keeping it together, whereas I, who have changed so little, could easily jump back to the zany person I was almost twenty years ago.
Twenty fucking years.
I get lonely. I’ve grown. I’ve improved. I’ve had shit things happen to me and I’ve known all kinds of sorrow. But I haven’t been beaten down by life. I haven’t felt that heavy weight that sucks the soul right out of you until all you can do is fall asleep at 8pm after a subpar frozen dinner, roll out of bed, and return to your dreary drudge of a job the next morning.
That’s S’s doing. He’s not only kept my physical-self safe from the drain of the world, he’s kept my soul safe too. I’m so lucky, to have the freedom to pursue my dreams, the careers of my choosing, the hobbies and friendships I want to, because he makes so many sacrifices for ME. I’m damn lucky and I very much know it.
But…there is something sad, about being the only one left. I’m still stuck in my 20s, mentally. Stuck in a past that I’ll never get back. And guess what? It’s fucking lonely. No one wants to play, anymore. No one has the energy! They’ve all become something else, someone else. Adults. I know, it sounds silly, considering I’m nearly 40, but I really do feel incredibly left behind.
Part of it is that I don’t have kids. I always thought that was something I’d end up doing. Sometimes that didn’t sound appealing when I was young, but as I got older, it was something I really, really wanted. That turned out not to be in the cards for me. And that sucks. I’m so different from T, now. I think she has a hard time relating to me, and probably I with her. Our lives are on such different courses. I’ll never begin to understand her struggles and stresses. Why would she want to worry about being silly and having fun with the hardships she has to juggle? There just isn’t anything left of her to give me, and that’s ok. It has to be. Her energy needs to go to her family, rightly so. I need to accept that normal people lead normal lives and that means moving on from younger years and childish things.
And childish people. Like me.
I feel like, everyone has progressed and I’m still looking around wondering what the hell happened. There’s this part of me, that’s been squashed. I want to be silly, and free, and fun and playful and no one else in my life has any ability to join me in that. So…I don’t. I got to bed early. I lay about on the couch. I make plans with T, only to have her cancel them again and again and again. I feel the grips of a life that is passing me by while I only half live it.
Last spring, I had this conversation with S. It struck me, at the time, (like a bag of bricks to the face), that my relationships with my family and friends were not what I thought them. I had fooled myself into believing I was still close with people, that I meant as much to them as I ever did. And finally, god, finally after years, DECADES, I was able to see that it wasn’t so. They still loved me, sure. I was still important. But I’m down the list of importance. Way down. I just don’t mean as much to them, now. It was like I’d been playing on the playground and all my friends and loved ones had quietly drifted away to go live their lives and it had taken me absolute fucking years to turn around and realize that I’d been playing alone for a very long time.
And it breaks my fucking heart.
I feel stupid. Left behind. Immature. Alone. And like such a fucking parasite while people like S have to take on such burdens for me. Who don’t have the luxury of being silly and never growing up.
I told S all this, as I cried on the couch. And he listened, like the amazing person he is. He said, “You’re finally realizing that everyone has moved on but you. That you’re the only one stuck in the past.” Then he paused and said, “But that’s why I fell in love with you.” He went on to say that my immaturity and silliness and whimsy gave him hope that he could get some vicariously through me. Because he’d forgotten how. Naturally I ugly cried at that. Fuck, I’m crying as I write this, because he’s just so freaking kind.
I’ve got to work on this. I’m trying. I need to grow up a little bit more. Just a little bit. I’m working on establishing a career, so I can take some of the burden off S. So he has more time to remember how to be a kid again, himself. But I’m not going to grow up too much. He’s right. There’s power in whimsy. Power in being silly and immature and child-like. This world is the worst. The absolute worst. It rips the joy and innocence right out of you. If you can cling to any part of that, do it as long as humanly possible. I don’t care if you’re fifty and still playing hide and go seek in the dark, for fuck’s sake do it! We need so much more of that. Be passionate, be fun, be playful. Spread that to the people in your life who don’t get to experience that anymore. Bring a little bit of it back to them. Even just a speck. Because damn, life will swallow you whole until you forget every inch of who you used to be. So fight. Fight for your happiness, for their happiness. The people who have lost themselves. Fight to be ridiculous and random and take pure delight in the simplest things. Because, trust me, those simple things are everything.