Sex and the Ivy

The Last Entry For A While

Filed under: All About Elle — Elle January 5, 2008 @ 6:56 am

(Got back from Vegas last night. I started this entry a few days ago and I’m finally posting it. It’s a monster of an explanation and VERY stream of consciousness, but basically, it’s going to be quiet around here for the next few weeks.)

I’m finally making good on a promise I made myself.

I’m currently in my third night in Vegas and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the future. I take these trips with my friends from home twice a year, once during late summer and once during the holidays. Right now, it’s just me and ten of my high school friends getting drunk and high, having a surprising number of intense conversations, and taking long, hard looks at each other and ourselves. We don’t really look the same as we did at 17, and this is the first time I’ve noticed. These are the friends I count on to stay the same, to freeze frame while I run off to my East Coast life, but the wheels keep moving when I’m not watching and sometime in between, things changed. We got older.

Whenever I doubt myself, coming home always brings me back. It was like that last Christmas, when I flew back after a season of discontent and confusion. I had just started therapy in October for the blog I began writing in September and I was convinced that I was bipolar. Two weeks prior to boarding my flight for the holidays, I landed in Stillman Infirmary after drinking myself half to death, puking within the first hour of the Tri-House Formal, and passing out on a random couch in the Faculty Club. After that, I moved to the Quad to live with Kennedy because I couldn’t handle seeing Aidan in Mather after he broke my heart and I couldn’t shake the constant feeling of being watched by strangers who read my blog. And even after I relocated to Cabot and ditched partying in final clubs, my classmates would still report on BoredatLamont that they saw me on the shuttles and in Quad dining halls and they would speculate about who I was with and what I was like in bed. I was paranoid and crying all the time and just so far from okay.

Being home for the holidays in 2006 was the first time I felt normal for months. When I recounted to my California friends the unlikely events of the school year thus far, I was given no reaction whatsoever. All people did at Harvard was meet me with gaping mouths and questions and fascination. I expected shock or disbelief or something from the friends who had known me since adolescence, but to them, I hadn’t changed even if the circumstances of my life had. And that was when things started to get better.

California is the one thing that consistently keeps me grounded, and I have always felt that my trips here are deeply important because they remind me of where I came from. This is the first time I’ve come home since leaving for Harvard that I feel like things are in flux, that people and feelings and relationships are evolving. Maybe this is change for the better, maybe this is growth, but I whatever it is, I know I didn’t expect anything like this when I returned. Most of my high school friends stayed here for college and live at home when they’re not in school, so there is a world we have built around each other that has stayed still and stable for years. But now half of them are graduating in June and the rest in a year and a half and suddenly even the trips I’ve come to take granted as sure things are going to be harder to plan as we get jobs and real lives. My best friend Joanna is leaving for a semester in Shanghai in February. It’ll be the longest time she’s been apart from her boyfriend of 5+ years. There is a lot I have always counted on to stay the same here, but I can’t depend on sameness anymore.

I am sure that everyone goes through this, that there is always a jarring moment of realization that childhood is over and your friends stopped being kids a long time ago. But for me, this clarity is all the scarier because their changing means that I’m changing, except I don’t know what I’m changing into or who I want to be. I don’t even know who I am right now. Kennedy told me last spring that she was terrified of me losing track of my own identity. She could feel me slipping away. I don’t remember what I told her, but I’m sure it was defensive. No one wants to admit that they’re not in control who of they’re turning into and that they can’t even decipher for themselves who they are anymore. Every now and then, I blink and I can no longer differentiate between my public persona and my private self. Everything I write is the truth but taken together, it rings perfectly false. This sounds ridiculous but I’ll write an entry that is completely honest and by morning, I won’t be able to recognize the girl who chose those words so carefully the night before. Depending on my mood, my blog is at times entirely too truthful and simultaneously not frank enough. It’s a piece of me, a very imperfect piece that has recently only displayed the frivolous and flighty and sexually flamboyant part of myself. And it is far, far from enough, but I just don’t remember how to voice anything else anymore. That’s why this is all very troubling. Being home is the only time I really feel like I’m just “me” with no footnotes or explanations but if my friends aren’t “them” anymore, well then who the hell am I?

Right now, I am not only removed from Harvard but also removed from everyone I’m involved with. It brings a lot of clarity to the table. I’m beginning to get sick of how one-dimensional I seem online. I was much more honest when I first began writing this thing. I reveal a hell of a lot less about my personal life nowadays and when I do address relationships, I talk about guys I couldn’t give a damn about. It is a world’s difference from last fall when I blogged my heartache and panic practically in real time. But I got sick fast of letting everyone witness the shit show that was my life and when I’m honest, everyone looks ugly, most of all myself, so I stopped painting such thorough portraits. Lorna, my friend from California, told me that the ugly parts of my blog are what keeps it real. “This isn’t a fairy tale,” she said. But how can I help it? I didn’t like the weak, teary, helpless mess I was when I started this blog so when I stopped caring about the criticism or Aidan and grew stronger and prouder, I moved on. I don’t cry anymore. And the rare times when I do, I don’t write about it.

The tears came at a price I don’t want to pay ever again and right now, I’m doing so well that I don’t want to fuck it up. By “so well” I don’t even really mean that well; I’m fine, just fine but it is a state that was formerly unimaginable. So I’m sorry that I no longer take risks, because breaking down scares me and I don’t want to think hard about the things that hurt. I’m sorry to my readers, even more sorry to myself, because despite the divisive attitudes about my blog, what everyone seems to agree with is that it does take a high degree of vulnerability to do this well. I don’t think I’m doing this well anymore. I can barely admit nowadays that someone’s hurt me and I am too scared of screwing up other people’s lives to write honestly about mine.It’s easy to judge people based on filtered information so trust me when I say that this is not the whole story. The truth? This is part of it: I spent my Christmas night telling Mark’s girlfriend what happened between us in July. He met me my freshman spring and we’ve hooked up sporadically since, except she’s been around for over a year and I didn’t have any idea she existed.

Here’s another part: the only person in my family who knows about my blog is my little sister and I’m terrified that she hates me for the reputation I left behind in high school. It kills me when people ask whether she looks up to me, her big sister who goes to Harvard, and I know that she is probably more embarrassed than anything else.

More truth: My friends have known for months how uncomfortable I am about Sam, the ex who posted naked photographs on me online. He spent the past eight months leaving harassing comments on my blogs and trying to contact me through email, IMs, text messages, and phone calls. I realized at the end of our relationship that he was a compulsive liar and emotional manipulator, but I never wrote about that part of him because I wanted to forget as quickly as possible that he existed. Sam left such a bad taste in my mouth that it was only recently that I stopped changing the subject whenever my friends mentioned him.

But not even that experience fucked me up as much as Riley, the guy I went out with briefly last April only to discover he had been dating an old friend of mine for almost three months. Riley was my year at Harvard and as well-adjusted as you could get for the Ivy League.A mutual pal introduced him to me as the nicest guy he knew. He was refreshingly laidback and had a great sense of humor. He made my heart race before he kissed me even though I had stopped getting excited about this sort of thing a long time ago. When I found out that he was screwing around another girl’s back with me and when I found out just who she was, that was when things really changed, when I really changed. I started to think that there was something wrong with me.

It’s not that I don’t believe in love anymore. I just don’t believe in love for myself. I’ve started to think of it as something for other people, for my best friend Joanna who’s probably marrying her boyfriend someday, for CeCe who found it in Hanover, New Hampshire of all places, for my beautiful blockmates, for Jason, for Kennedy. Actually, all of my best friends — the pair in college and the pair back home — are in love at this moment. And the fact that I’m not even close to it, that I have such bad luck that I have ended more relationships this year as the other woman than I’ve started in all of college … well, it’s a little hard to believe that there isn’t a curse over my head.

And then there is this ridiculous perfectionism that has me thinking what I’ve written is not good enough or honest enough, that I can do better and all in all, life is just peachy in the sense that I am still standing but it is not quite what it should be, not yet. 2007 has been pretty incredible, but at the end of it all, I’m not sure I like who I’ve become and I’m not sure that I can be the writer I want to be if I keep plowing on ignorantly and without focus or introspection. Things have changed so much in 12 months and I have accomplished a lot but I am not happy with myself and I’m terrified something is going to go wrong. I can’t help but wonder what will happen if I ever fall in love, if my mom finds out about this blog, if one day I fuck up in even greater proportions than I already have multiple times over the past year. There is a lot about my life that is not normal and not okay and simply not healthy; and no matter how much I insist that it’s not because I write this blog, some portion of the blame — probably the larger portion — does fall on it. I am scared that I am changing for the worse, that I am losing my focus when it comes to writing, and most of all, that the incredible progress I’ve made in terms of my mental and emotional health has its costs. A year’s time. And what’s the difference? I don’t cry over guys, I don’t waste my time, and I don’t give a damn about what people think. I really don’t. Harder, better, faster, stronger just like Kanye says. Criticism doesn’t affect me; nothing hurts anymore. I’m unapologetic about my actions and I consider all men taken until proven single.

So there you have it. My truly fucked up relationships? My fear of never being loved? My overwhelming cynicism and dissatisfaction with myself? That’s the truth. And there’s more. The whole story is a lot sadder, a lot angrier, and a lot more surprising than you might expect. But I can’t tell it all, not yet at least, because as much as people say that they admire me for my honesty, the truth is that there are plenty of things even I am too scared to acknowledge with words.

I’ll be in San Francisco by Saturday morning. I’ll want to write something on my blog about the places I go or the people I meet. I’ll want to treat this trip as an adventure. But I’m going to resist the urge and save my words rather than waste them on something unworthy. I’m going to take a break, figure out if what I want to write and who I want to be are reconcilable goals. I’m going to live life blogless for a little while, indefinitely. I’ll keep on writing but not here, not publicly. Maybe I’ll resurrect this thing after Switzerland at the end of January. Maybe I’ll wait for an appropriate occasion (Valentine’s?) for a dramatic comeback. I don’t know. I really don’t want to do this, but what I want to do even less is to keep writing and living without consequence. I’ve changed a lot in a year, for the better, for the worse. I’m no longer afraid of being hated and I don’t even think I’m scared of never being loved, but if someone is going to hate me or love me, then they might as well do so for who I really am. If I’m going to defend this thing to death, then I better damn well know what I’m defending. I owe myself that much.

Good luck on your resolutions (I’ll be working on mine),

Lena

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