“You need to go to Disneyland.”
“What?” he asked half-asleep and clearly confused as to why this was being brought up shortly after dawn.
“You haven’t been to Disneyland. We need to go,” I replied as I stared up at the ceiling.
“Can Disneyland wait until after noon?” he asked as I rolled over to face him lying to my left.
At 7:00 in the morning there were a number of other things that were cause for concern – like my mild hangover or the fact that only one fake eyelash was still hanging on – but for some reason the idea that he had never been photographed with Mickey Mouse was the first thing that came to mind.
This premature, presumptuous invitation was one of many red flags I flashed before my crush in the prior 12 hours – like, Crazy Cat Lady status. And there were still more to come before driving him to his car around noon.
Mickey Mantle Baseball
My best friend’s father-in-law gifted her and her husband a signed Mickey Mantle baseball. Though neither are necessarily baseball fans, at one time it proudly sat on a shelf in their perfectly manicured mid-century modern home office next to framed wedding photos and other keepsakes.
However, I never really noticed this baseball until playing with her one-year old in the living room. Jack’s sweet little arm could only launch the ball a few inches. I crawled over to retrieve it and noticed the faded signature.
“Yeah, it’s Jack’s new play toy,” Amanda nonchalantly replied. Though most baseball enthusiasts would’ve momentarily freaked and promptly put it back on the shelf, it was handed back to Jack who put in his mouth.
Putting Him on a Shelf
If someone were to spot me on my pink beach cruiser as I rode home from the coffee shop the evening that we met, they would have surely thought I was drunk as I giggled to myself and repeated under my breath: “He’s so cute.” The excitement was synonymous with being assigned a seat next to the cutest boy in your 4th grade class. Yes, I said it.
Returning home, I drank a beer to calm down as I opened Evernote and annotated my thoughts from the evening. It is embarrassing to admit, and raises all sorts of questions, but this is how I’ve learned to adore someone from afar to avoid attachment. By writing about the kind things he said and the way that I felt and how I wished I could stop smiling, I could put the memory on a shelf. There it would be available for me to admire whenever needed – similar to the Mickey Mantle baseball – or I could neatly pack it in my suitcase to take to L.A.
The Evernote artifact barely had time to collect dust by the time the texting started. Witty banter soon had me giggling past bedtime. Someone understood and engaged in my humor. I’m probably just prude to semi-flirty male interaction, but it felt like one of those rare times I catch a Sex and the City scene I’ve somehow never seen: unexpected and DVR-worthy.
However, as it continued, that memory on the shelf began to elevate in value, from Minors to Majors. A part of me appreciated it that much more, and a part of me thought, “Damn you.” I knew it was a matter of time before I accidentally knocked it off and shattered the glass case, thereby effing it up. And after a day’s worth of poolside drinks turned happy hour turned night out, that’s exactly what seemed to happen.
My drunk texts to him to come over included:
- Him: “Are you still alive?” Me: “Yes love. Alive and lezzing.” (While Facetiming with my girl friend)
- “Ummm you should come to my apartment because I just got home, dear” (What’s with the pet names?)
- “Welllll get your shit together”
- “Your friends will be here, I won’t”
Which ultimately led to the 4 a.m. Disneyland conversation. And early morning complaints about the lack of cuddling. And weirdly holding onto his arm with one hand, as if holding him hostage alongside my teddy bear.
When I didn’t hear from him that next week to exchange going away gifts, I felt like I had handed Jack the baseball. I had tainted the initial memory, making it feel unworthy of a glass case or being placed in my suitcase. The regret was made worse only by the rest of the belongings I still needed to pack.
Being on a Shelf Myself
The day before I moved I received a text from a male friend who I hadn’t seen or heard from in 6 months but who has a regular presence in SOML posts. It said, “The underlined quote made me think of you.”
With him, I am fine being on the shelf. In fact, I view it as necessary for the nature of our relationship which I call “mutual muses.” In the same way that Dante relied on only a couple chance encounters with Beatrice to inspire great poetry, my friend and I keep a safe distance which allows room for the imagination and opportunity to be creative influences. For us, it works.
But with the Disney Virgin, though our friendship was based on creative conversations too, I didn’t want metaphysical. I wanted physical. And screw theological. I wanted illogical. I wanted to backtrack to the excitement of riding my bike that first night and leave a seemingly perfect memory untouched by my messiness.
It’s Okay to Get Sloppy Sometimes
To pick up the pieces of what felt like shattered glass, I mailed off his going away gift: The Alchemist with a Post-It note on top saying, “I’m sorry for the rapey texts, creepy cuddling advances and general craziness.” At least he would have the book.
A few days later, I received a text.
Just got your package, that was really sweet of you Annie. Although, I still don’t understand what you are apologizing for?!
To which I responded, “The drunk texts were pretty annoying”
Nah, you just expect perfection of yourself. It’s okay to get sloppy at times, especially if it’s authentic. Also, I need your mailing address to send what I never had a chance to give you, please.
Sure, the baseball could’ve remained in pristine condition sitting in my best friend’s home office, preserving a piece of history. Yes, it seems crazy to allow a baby to play with a prized collectible. But I’m glad that Amanda took it off the shelf because, while the baseball had previously escaped my memory, playing catch with Jack will remain a favorite moment for a long time.
In a similar way, I’ve realized that lying in bed together and laughing loudly for hours the next morning about my ridiculous behavior was worth the drunk texts. Though it didn’t end exactly how I anticipated, it was just as noteworthy nonetheless. Maybe it is alright that my feelings escaped Evernote and perhaps he’s right: It’s okay to get sloppy sometimes, especially if it’s authentic.