John Hughes Did Not Direct My Life Or, A Girl And Her Desire To Recapture The Maybe

I had this bad habit.

Heroin.

Kidding.

Two cups of Cuban coffee will send me to rehab….as it rightfully should because if you make it right, that shit is rocket fuel (I love you, Havana. Never change).

Anyway.

You know how some people wear their hearts on their sleeves? Well, I’m the girl who took it a step further. Sleeves are for rookies. I basically slapped a bow on mine and handed it off with nothing more than a, “Dude, seriously. Be careful…”

Needless to say, this doesn’t always work out as well as anticipated and as a result, I’ve done a little masonry and put up a bit of a wall.

Made of Supermax concrete with barbed wire lacing across the top.

Little girl
Little girl
Let me in?
Not by the hair on my chinny-chinny-chin (I’m ethnic. We’re hirsute. What do you want?)

I didn’t even realize just how high these walls were until a couple of months ago.

I was watching Sliding Doors – an innocuous bit of late 90s fluff starring Gwyneth Paltrow – and charmingly cheeky Scotsman James (John Hannah) gets into a misunderstanding with Helen (Paltrow with her sterling English accent).

So, he heads over to her place, bangs on the door and starts howling for her.

I managed to both roll and cut my eyes simultaneously (a fancy bit of ocular yoga if there ever was one) and huffed, “Please. That would never happen.”

Because it wouldn’t. No-one would show up at your door and bang away as if seeking any port in a storm.

People don’t do that.

They send text messages. They leave voicemails. They email.

No-one shows up at your door with a boombox or flowers or even an apology. It just isn’t done.

Seeing this on-screen irked me and I reacted to it in a way I never have before – weary disbelief.

I never used to be like this.

I was the girl who believed in silly little love songs and movie endings. If your life wasn’t cinematic, well – that just meant you weren’t trying hard enough and I tried really damn hard to bring that sense of magic into my life.

I was the proto-Taylor Swift…without that obnoxious “Ohmygod! Really?!” face she does every five minutes….and the millions of dollars…and the annoying penchant for writing contrived, shitty songs about her exes.

Then, adulthood smashed into me and totally disabused me of that belief.

I know movie endings don’t happen in real life. That’s why they’re the movies, right? They’re escapist. I mean, I’m a smart girl. I minored in cinema studies. I get it.

I know that my one true love will never lead me safely through the Fire Swamp or engage in a battle of wits with a Sicilian when death is on the line.
He will never race through the streets on New Year’s Eve to find me, kiss me and tell me that he loves that I get cold when it’s 62 72 degrees out or that he loves that after spending the day with me, he can smell my perfume on his clothes.
He will never get off the train in a completely different country just to keep talking to me.

This doesn’t happen. I know this, but in the back of my head – I always kinda sorta believed it might.

Then, I stopped believing in the might. The maybe. The hope and the promise and the sheer, dumb serendipity of it all.

It got lost and idiot that I am, I didn’t put a tracking chip in it so I have no idea how find it.

I don’t want to be like this.
I want to be the girl who understands that it probably won’t but maybe, just maybe…

So, how does one recapture hope?

Maybe I have approach it A Clockwork Orange style – forcing my eyelids open while marathon-watching Love Actually, The Notebook, Dirty Dancing and Sleepless in Seattle? But, I get the feeling that would just result in dry eyes and a desire to listen to the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack (Look, if Hungry Eyes doesn’t do it for you, your soul is dead).

Maybe I have to stop mocking those shitty romance novels and actually read one….but no. Yeah. No. That’s just not gonna happen. If I’m looking for love stories – I skew towards Bukowski writing about Jane or Bourdain writing about pork.

Maybe I have to ixnay the Jay and ‘Ye and incorporate a little more John Legend into my life. This might actually work because the new John Legend? Kinda legit.

Or maybe there is no answer. Maybe it’s just something I have to figure out by living, man. L-I-V-I-N’….which is a real sonofabitch because let’s face it, a rom-com movie marathon takes a weekend but that whole living thing? Takes pretty much your whole life.

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Born To Run Or, Whither Goest Thou, America, In Thy Shiny Car in the Night?

When I was eighteen, I conjured up this dream and it’s been rattling away in the recesses of my mind ever since.

You grow up listening to Springsteen and it messes you up. Especially if you’ve got wild horses thrashing around in your blood.

Those ponies make it tough for a girl to sit still and stay in one place for too long.

My dream is simple – I want to climb into an old pick-up truck (faded red, answers to the name ‘Charlie’), drive across the country and document a musical history of the United States.

I would stop in all 48 mainland states, take pictures, talk to people, visit landmarks, eat the food and write about all the music enriching the soil of this great land of ours.

In Mississippi, I go down to the Crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil and I’d spend the night in some smoky bar listening to grizzled old bluesmen leaving bloodstains on their fretboards.

I’d visit Lake Bird Lake in Austin and leave some real fat Ernie Ball strings and a pack of Fender picks for Stevie Ray – the entire excursion fueled by dirty, gritty blues, Tex-Mex food and big-ass margaritas on the rocks.

I fell in love with New York City the first time I visited and part of my heart will always belong to the place where punk and hip hop crash and rumble like runaway subway trains.

I’d spend a couple of weeks in Memphis just wandering around trying to inhale as much as I could because my God, this is the holy land. The Damascus of music where both the blues and rock ‘n roll were born. The home of Sun Studios and Stax Records and Graceland and the Gibson guitar factory. Oh and I would eat the hell out of some barbecue. Sorry, Mom but I can’t be in Memphis writing about music and not house some barbecue – sweet, spicy, sticky fingers, a cold beer and a warm biscuit to mop it all up.

It’s kinda cliched, right? Any teenager who’s read On The Road by Jack Kerouac longs to feel like a million dollars and go adventuring into that crazy American night.

Only, I’ve never read On The Road.

I just got into my car one day and discovered I’d rather be driving in the sunshine than doing anything else.

Logically, it is a terrible idea.

I have an awful sense of direction, I’m entirely too trusting and I know nothing about car maintenance.

For example, last weekend I went to get an oil change. I noticed they were running a special for a fuel injection cleaning, so I inquired about it:

Me: I don’t know if I need an fuel injection cleaning.
Lady at Counter: When was the last time you had one?
Me: I don’t know.
Lady at Counter: How old’s your car?
Me: A 2004? A 2005?
Lady at Counter: Honey, do you know what a fuel injector is?
Me: No…
Lady at Counter (thinking): Dear God, where is your adult? Why are you here unsupervised? Where is the grown-up responsible for you, you idiotic little halfling baby child?
Me (thinking): I might not know what a fuel injector is but I know what a split goddamn infinitive is, so how about you cut me some slack, lady? Just make the Maintenance Required light go away!

Obviously, I am the last girl that should go on a solo cross-country road trip.

But every now and then, I’ll be driving down a straight and lonely road on a warm day – breeze tangling my hair, music turned up entirely loud – and I think how it would be so easy to just keep going.

I even outlined a plan for it:

Reason #4677 it’s a terrible idea for me to embark on this endeavor – who develops a plan with magic markers, photographs from Rolling Stone and glitter? What, kid? You’ve never heard of a map? You can get them for free!

Prince and The Replacements in Minnesota, Stevie Ray and ZZ Top in Texas, Elvis and BB King in Memphis, Motown and Iggy in Detroit, Bruce in Jersey — Anywhere the music I loved happened, I would go…and I love a lot of music so this is going to be a long trip.

I haven’t done it yet (obviously) but I’m always tracing around the periphery of this dream. Every time I get into my car, there’s this tiny splinter of hope. This barely perceptible shiver of a sliver that maybe today is the day I get in, turn up the music, roll down the windows and just keep going.

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road

Baby, We Were Born To Run Or, Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Your mom probably has a nickname for you, right? Something endearing like Munchkin, Pumpkin or Boo Boo.

Yeah, my mom’s nicknames for me aren’t so much adorable as they are uncomfortably honest.

For the most part, she calls me Jemmy — a simple derivation of my given name — but every now and then, she’ll refer to me by one of the following:

– Whoori Gheli
– Rabari

Ah, the joys of having an ethnic mother that can enunciate the shit out of guttural languages.

I’ve been hearing the former for the majority of my life and had no idea what the hell it actually meant until about five years ago when my aunt informed me that it’s basically slang for ‘Escaped Mental Patient with Unkempt Hair.’

Right then.

The latter refers to Indian nomads who were essentially considered outsiders by the rest of society. Wanderers who drifted from pasture to pasture, never really settling down roots or calling any one place home (also, I’m pretty sure Mom considers them to be filthy because they associate with animals. Woe betide you if you bring a mangy cur into that lady’s house).

Obviously, the former is straight-up slander, but Rabari? That’s pretty accurate.

No, not the ‘Jemmy is filth-encrusted’ part, but the wandering bit.

I wandered up the I-95 Corridor because I fell in love with a guy I met on the internet when I was fifteen and I’m hoping to wander clear across the country to Los Angeles — a city I’ve wanted to live in since I was a little kid because that’s the city where movies and television shows are made. The city where stories become real life and real life becomes a story worth telling.

Los Angelenos — I know, I know. Your traffic is atrocious as is your smog. You have no NFL team and your pizza apparently sucks, but I don’t care. Your city is essentially the epitome of manifest destiny and the American Dream.

You go west, young man. You hitch your wagon to the brightest damn star you can find and you go searching for your own personal American Dream. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to your ancestors — brave souls who forged ahead in search of a better life, Their blood flows through your veins and if they could do it, so can you.

And damn it, I’m going to. No retreat, baby. No surrender.

P.S. – Seriously, Mom? Seriously? Why do you think I’m like Pigpen from Peanuts? Because I’m not! I smell like roses, lemon and blackcurrant! I have an almost crippling dependence on my flat-iron! I can assure you with resolute certainty that I am not the filth-encrusted street urchin you envision me to be.

Show Me Your Friends and I Tell You Who You Are Or, Put Me On A Plane, Fly Me To Anywhere…

D: I want to go to Paris and eat my weight in bread and creme brulee
J: And this is why you’re one of my best friends. Because you understand what’s truly important in life. Have you seen Amelie? If not, you have to. It’s so cute and will make you lust for Paris even more.
D: I’m afraid if I see that movie, I might go apeshit and buy a ticket.

Life Goal #4678421: Go apeshit and travel with D.