Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Life Lessons Through Frozen Yogurt
My girlfriends and I have this funny story we like to bring up whenever we find ourselves eating frozen yogurt together. This used to be a common occurrence when we were roommates during and after college, but as we grew up and moved away from each other it became a rarity. Still though, whenever we find ourselves scraping the bottom of a frozen yogurt cup, one of us always has to chime in with "God, do you have to eat the whole thing?" eyes narrowing towards the finished dessert while feigning disgust.
The story goes like this: back in college I dated this guy. It was one of those times in my life that seemed like such a good idea while in the midst of it, but looking back now, I'm almost shocked I ever spent so much time with anyone like that. It's weird, isn't it? Hindsight is so clear but when you're in it, really really in it, you could swear you're seeing clearly too. And I definitely thought I was.
So this now-regretful-then-dreamy guy picks me up for our first date. I'd met him at the place we both worked and after a month or so of relentless flirting and seeing each other at parties and pretending to be breezy he finally asked me out on this highly-anticipated evening out. When he picked me up there was a rose waiting on the front seat of his car, which kind of threw me for a loop. I was used to dating football players, skateboarders, or frat guys (the scope of my dating world during this time of my life), and none of these groups had ever made seemingly romantic gestures such as that one.
He had planned the "perfect" date, and at 20 years old taking me out for sushi then dessert was enough to woo my often cynical self. I can still remember random details from the end of our night too- I was perched, cross-legged on a chair in the back corner of our college town's TCBY, slowly eating my strawberry with rainbow sprinkles. I'm sure I was joking or laughing or telling a story- I can remember having fun and wondering if he would kiss me when he dropped me off. I can also remember the look on his face as I finished up the rest of my almost-melted yogurt with one quick bite. If I think about it now it was almost disgust, although later on describing it I would use the word "surprise," but he stared at me for a moment with that weird look on his face and said "God, do you have to eat the whole thing?" I remember half-laughing, feeling a little awkward, thinking that this guy had to be kidding.
But he wasn't.
Weird thing to remember right? How strange for me to see all of those details so clearly still, to recall the way it made me felt. But the reason I remember this now, is because however small or silly that one night is in the larger picture of my life, it was a defining moment. Right then and there I should have known that this guy was no good. Who even says that? And who means something like that? But I ignored it, choosing instead to focus on the "perfect" night, the corny/sweet rose, the walk up to my door, the goodbye. And over the next few months I chose to ignore a lot more too.
It wasn't a good relationship at all, and the only one I've ever had in my life where I feel like I lost myself. I'm still shocked that I could have ever been the type of person who bends to someone else, who allows another person to change them into what that person thought was ideal, but I was. Before him I wasn't, and after him I never would be again, but this guy had some sort of weird pull that looking back, still surprises me. My current self would have laughed (hard) at someone seriously getting weirded out by me finishing my dessert. Nowadays I would have thought he was ridiculous and really rude, I would have probably ordered a second cup of yogurt just to spite him, then gone home and made fun of him with my girlfriends. But my young, naive, wanting so badly to be loved self decided to just smile down into her yogurt cup and ignore it, letting that guy know it was okay to talk to me like that. It sounds so silly now, but this path I found myself on, losing myself then finding myself again, started right there, and because of that this entire scenario will always be memorable to me.
I think a lot about those paths and how they've all led certain ways, and to certain people. I think about all of the various choices in my life that brought me right to where I am today, and when I turn around and look back, there's a whole lot of ups and downs, and so, so many stories. I'm thankful that I was able to have these weird experiences and have these stories to tell. I'm happy I ignored all of the terrible things about the aforementioned guy, and then realized my mistake, so when I met the right one I would know that you should never, ever have to change yourself to fit into someone else's idea of how you should be. It helped me recognize what I should be looking for, and helped me to see that I was pretty awesome being exactly who I already was. But most of all, I thankfully learned that no one should ever make you feel bad about finishing the last bite of a delicious dessert. Never! ;) So now, every time I scrape the bottom of my frozen yogurt cup, every time I finish up that last bite, I think about how far I've come and how much I've learned over the past ten years. And then I clink my empty yogurt cup against my girlfriends' and we say "Why yes! We did eat the whole thing!" and laugh and smile at how silly we once were.