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Skimming my personal email inbox, I absentmindedly clicked the boxes next to “Sunglass Hut Perks!” and “North Face’s Guide to Winter” ready to trash them before I gave in to my crippling online shopping addiction solely out of a lull in the office. I rolled my eyes at the snide MyFitnessPal subject line about how deceiving diet microwave meals are. This is not news, we been knowin that those 3 minute, 300 calorie dinners are chock full of sodium and super processed – but whatever it’s the lesser of two evils when my co-worker constantly treks in promptly at noon with a greasy bag of McDonalds. I scowl at my computer briefly when I remember the “White Cheddar Mac & Cheese” clocking in at a 280 calories, waiting for me later.
Suddenly out of junk mail to clean out, I eye the time at the bottom of my computer screen with annoyance. I had finished my sub-par article about the latest nonsense that won’t come to fruition for probably another 5 years that the city council bullshitted last week. I had eaten entirely too much trail mix to avoid the Halloween candy bowl, though in retrospect the amount of raisins I mindlessly deep throated probably was equivalent to a pumpkin shaped Reece’s. I had blown up my boyfriend’s phone with random anecdotes to which there was no reply because unlike me, he was productive at work – I even played my last “pay attention to me” card with a ‘finally off my period!’ (he replied within two minutes, smh, the male sex is so predictable). Now I had completed my work checklist, ate back the same calories I woke up at 5 a.m. to burn and had to resort to bringing up my menstrual cycle to fulfill my neediness.
So I take this time to do what I mastered in college – and no it’s not doing some investigative journalism for a new story to cover for the week – I neglect my responsibilities and drift off into some unhealthy overthinking. My boyfriend, my better half, my sweet dumpling – we had been dating for only two months and I had been introduced to his family and his friends. I try not to dwell (I mean I actively try, but to no avail), but I sat at my desk and really marinated over my interactions with his friends. My own friends were dispersed across the country, in that post college limbo where I hadn’t quite found my footing making friends outside of my inner circle who I communicated with on the daily via group chat. I missed our constant yo-yoing banter and that golden nugget of ultimate friendship where all of us shared the same sense of humor, our laughter synchronized.
And well, as I walked into the lions den meeting his friends, who were five years my senior, I couldn’t help but feel not only intimidated but out of sync.
My missed connection with his friends could stem from the age gap, the personality clash or a cultural difference – I’m from the deep South and these boys grew up nestled in Washington mountains with an affinity for snow sports. But regardless, I didn’t click, merely soft smiled and bumbled fucked my way through painful small talk about our only shared interest – my boyfriend. They all eyed me, licking their chops, eager to critique me. Which I don’t blame them, doesn’t everyone when a friend starts bringing around a new flame? But for the first time, I didn’t have a shared circle with a boy I was into and I was the outsider, the new 22 year old that he skipped the bars to stay home and make dinner with before passing out at 9 p.m., wine drunk.
As I stared up at his assorted pack of pals, I realized I was more nervous to be sitting across from them than when I got the invite to meet grammy and gramps and Cousin Bill. Why? Because your friends know you a little more intricately than your parents. Sure, parents know about your fat stage in the 4th-6th grade and those sweet details of your childhood that even you’ve forgotten from time passing and brain cell destruction due to substance abuse. But friends know about your lazy, pothead stage where you owned a tapestry and spent too much money on an odd shaped bong for solely flex purposes. Your friends remember the sweet details of your 21st that you can’t recall. Your friends know all of your layers, whereas most of us, keep at least somewhat of our life harbored away from our parents.
And even I’m not vain enough to believe I’m good enough to be with someone like him. I could ramble on about his greatest qualities, how good of a lay he is and why none of the mediocre boys with god complexes I’d let filter in and out of my life in the past could compare to him. But you don’t care and I’m in too bad of a mood to be soft right now anyways.
The point is as I stared at his friends, I realized they too realized how much he deserved and they were sizing me up to see if I could rival that – which I was self aware enough to know I couldn’t..