Our alumni office is brilliant for many reasons, one of which is that when people register to attend an alumni event, they publish the names on an online attendee list. Back in February I was scanning the list and was shocked, horrified, and somewhat thrilled to see my freshman and sophomore year roommate's name on the list.
Let me give you a little background on this woman. She's a fucking blonde bombshell with huge (real) boobs, an hourglass figure, and perfect teeth. Do you all hate her already? She and I were actually good friends for the first year of our living together until she met her boyfriend, a senior hunky baseball player (now her husband), at a jungle-themed frat party and decided he'd be our third roommate. How fun for me, right? Things deteriorated, and we rarely spent time together after we both studied abroad in Florence our junior year. Despite this fact, I thought that after all the crap I put up with those two, I should have at least been invited to their grandiose wedding the summer after we graduated. Seriously, it was the least they could do after a year and a half of Three's Company in our tiny dorm room. I wasn't invited, and even though we weren't really friends anymore, I felt totally dissed and my feelings were hurt.
So a few weeks ago when I saw that she was coming to this event, I thought, "This is a great time to see her. I've really got my shit together now. I've got my ivy league degree, my awesome consultant job, and my beautiful boyfriend." I don't know why I even care about her--or that I thought she would give a rat's ass about what I was doing now. But for some reason she serves as a source of self-doubt and lack of confidence for me even to this day. I think it's because she at least has the appearance of having her life together. She married the first man she slept with, has a flawless face and figure, has lots of money, a wonderful family, and a great job as a lobbyist. Even in college, when the rest of us were packing on the pounds from pizza and beer, she maintained her svelte figure by eating broccoli in the cafeteria and doing leg lifts before going to bed. (She had seriously disordered eating, and I was one of the few people she told about it.) The college boys drooled over her and pursued her. Our first week we had a mixer with a guys' freshman hall, and one of them, whose father owned part of a professional baseball team, hired a magician for her because it was her birthday and hoped to woo her. Meanwhile I was crushing on a dorky sophomore who after I confessed I liked him told me "I'm not ready for a relationship right now" and then two weeks later started dating my friend. Seriously, FML.
Yesterday before I had to leave to go to the event, I was crying. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to see her and her fucking perfect self. But I put myself together as best I could, struggling over the perfect outside to impress her with, and went. I ran into her on the way in. She gave me a big hug. And y'all, she looked EXACTLY the same (except for a few deep wrinkles around her eyes which secretly gave me great joy. Should've stayed away from those tanning beds, babe!). "How's DC?" she asked. I told her all about my new job and how fab it is to work from home, trying to play up how great life is. "Where are you living?" I told her and then she asked, "By yourself?"
Now let's just stop here. Why in the HELL couldn't I have just said "Yes, by myself"? Because I'm a big doof, that's way. Instead of using that filter of mine that usually accompanies me in social settings, I say, "Well, I used to live with my boyfriend, but we just broke up." "Oh, I'm so sorry, " she said. And I think she really was. But I felt like an idiot. Why would I tell someone I'm not even friends with about the biggest pain of my life right now? I don't know why I did it. I felt like an idiot afterward. We chatted for a few minutes and said "see you inside", but we never said good-bye to each other. She, not surprisingly, didn't stay for the whole thing. I'm sure she had some fucking fantastic gala or other A-list event to get to. Secretly, I was relieved not to have to interact with her again.
This morning I'm still thinking about it, still beating myself up over it. Why did I have to open my mouth? Because I'm human, that's why. Because I'm not perfect. Because right now I'm an emotional mess and hurting. And even though I see her as perfect, I know that she's just a person like me. She might be better at concealing her humanness, but that doesn't change the fact that she is still a human being. And what I do know about her is that in order to maintain that image of perfection, she never takes risks. I remember how she used to back out of things, not put herself in a situation where she might fail. She did what was easy, comfortable, and least embarrassing, and frankly, that's not the kind of life I want to live.
I'm not blonde. I don't have big boobs or blue eyes. I don't have the perfect man by my side. But I take risks. I put myself out there all the time, and I get hurt. I'm hurting like hell right now. But I know that I am really living my life, not standing by as opportunities go by, too scared to take chance. And deep down I know that I'm pretty awesome all on my own.