The Tao of the Undateable 24 Year Old Me

I was probably twenty four years old and a class-A directionless goof. I had gone to some sort of reception with my dad at a local museum and saw her serving hot dogs, if my meaningless detail cortex is firing. She was taller than me and strikingly beautiful and probably out of my league. I decided I needed a hot dog. I watched her retreat from the room with an empty tray and return replenished. And as she walked back toward the crowd, I seized my opportunity and walked away with tubed meat and her phone number. I still think it’s funny that I hit on the hot dog girl.

A couple of days later I picked her up at what seemed like a nicer apartment than I would have expected a dog slinger to have, but my aged and rusty Honda and I didn’t think twice about it. I remember being giddy about the possibilities. This was a beginning, I was sure of it. We hadn’t spoken for more than twenty minutes prior to that night, but in my naivety, idiocy and (probably) paisley shirt (not kidding), I had grand plans for the two of us. That always works out well, right?

We went to some Italian place and then some other place with a view. I was funny. And deep. And sensitive. And then funny again. I dropped her off late and we kissed at her door. It was the most staggeringly inspired date in the history of awkward goofs in their twenties with weenie cars and no style. I think I Fred Astaired it back to the ol’ Honda and belted out whatever was in the tape deck on the glorious drive home. Possibly Sublime. Or Marcy Playground. There may have been some fist pumping involved.

A couple of days passed (there are rules, of course) and my expectations never found limits. I wrote poems (which I still have) and told friends about her and thought of little else. Finally, I called her. Then I called her again. And again. And maybe one more time. And never heard from her again.

I was pulverized. I couldn’t imagine what had happened and couldn’t find the bottom of the pit it dropped me in. I wrote poems (which I still have) and moped around and drank a bunch. I was sure that the real thing – perfection, as I had painted it in my mind – had just slipped past me.

And I honestly loved every second of it.

As ridiculous and adolescent and not entirely sane as my reactions to it all seem looking back, I walked out of that week absolutely assured that I was alive. What a gift. I remember talking to a friend about how grateful I was to have experienced it. I was actually happy that I had been so completely un-call-back-able because through that I was given the opportunity to really feel. To feel elation, to feel loss, to feel it all. Granted, it happened in a smaller time frame than it might have for a well adjusted and romantically capable person, but I got to feel it all, nonetheless. Hell, I even eventually capitulated that I might have imagined the whole thing (not her, just the emotion part of it – I had at least a couple of toes still in reality) and I didn’t care because that didn’t make it any less real in terms of how I vibrated as a result of the experience.

—-

It seems like a long time ago now, and in many ways it was.

Life was different then, and much simpler. Responsibilities were few and time was infinite and I ate hot dogs. I remember being sad and frustrated a lot at that time in my life, struggling to find myself though I’m not sure I even knew that I was looking. But I also remember being very happy and laughing hard, probably much more than I do now.

The thing that sticks out to me, though, is that I remember an ability to accept all of the emotions just as they were without tethering them to the weight of my world. They weren’t met with labels or consequences – they just were, whether they were rooted in reality or some hot dog girl related fantasy.

Those feelings were all beautiful in some way then, the joy and the pain, the sunshine and the rain (keep it goin’, now). They were nothing more than evidence that I was alive and I was grateful for the reminders.

I seem to be taking things much heavier now, attaching weight to them that maybe doesn’t need to be there. And with that I seem to have lost that ability to see past the gravity of moment, whatever it may be, and just remember that being here in that moment is the gift.

Life itself is heavier now in the sense that I have kids and responsibilities are many and time is limited, but maybe all of the much deeper emotions that come along can just be a greater reminder of the wonder of it all. Maybe all of these moments now that seem so hard can lead me back to the time when I just marveled at the miracle that I am even here.

Besides, my wife is way hotter than the hot dog girl was and she calls me back every time.

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About Mitchell Brown

I am a stay at home dad with my two daughters who are a lot stronger than they look. When I'm not cooking, cleaning, dancing, reading, teaching, playing or protecting my eyes and groin, I am writing about this whole experience in all of its ridiculousness.
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19 Responses to The Tao of the Undateable 24 Year Old Me

  1. Maggie Batt says:

    Pump it up, pump it up! Love flashbacks….

  2. HA! To this day I can’t even think either the word “joy” or “pain” without finishing that chorus.

    • Jenny says:

      And apparently you only have to hear it once! It came in last weekend when we were all in the car so if course mommy and daddy were jammin’ and 2 days later my 7 year old son was standing in the kitchen singing it. 🙂

      • I’m pretty sure that song has some hypnotic power that is unleashed when the chorus kicks in. Hopefully, Mr. Base will keep the secret to himself as world domination would be a piece o’ cake if it got out.

        Thanks for reading, Jenny – good to hear from you!

  3. “I seem to be taking things much heavier now, attaching weight to them that maybe doesn’t need to be there. And with that I seem to have lost that ability to see past the gravity of moment, whatever it may be, and just remember that being here in that moment is the gift.”

    One of the best, most profound thoughts I have read in a long time! Me too… And although things with hot dog girl didn’t work out for you it’s clear, reading about your family, that fate had a much greater plan for you! 🙂

  4. J i m says:

    As much as I love my life now, I would be a blast to travel back and enjoy a night out (Treehouse party? Gaslamp?) with 24-year old Mitch. Ah, good memories. And a good reminder to appreciate the lessons — even the tough ones. Plus, kudos to you for asking out the hot dog girl!

    • Amen, brother! Those were some GREAT moments in time. I love my life now, too, but would be open to a weekend time travel option. By the way, did you know that you were the friend I mentioned that I talked to about being grateful for being shot down by said hot dog girl?

      • J i m says:

        Haha! That’s awesome. It sounds familiar — but I’m sure I was too busy being impressed by the fact that you asked out a girl handling hot dogs to remember the fine points of our discussion. I’m honored to be a part of the story! Big hugs to you and the family.

  5. Anne Katherine says:

    Meditation is the answer – remembering that the “moment is the gift” – so true. But it does become more difficult as we have more and more things pulling at us from all directions.
    You have some really hilarious details: the museum reception, the hot dog beauty, the paisley shirt, the rusty Honda, the poetry, the endless ringing of the phone…. you could come up with a killer funny poem with all that! (though it was all funny here as well!)
    I’m glad you asked her out. Otherwise you might still be pining away for what could have been, as some people do. And might not have been open to all the perfection you have before you right now!

  6. Brother David says:

    Brother Father,
    I am glad to see more from you. It has been some time. I find you very brave with this; and wonderfully comfortable with yourself and your life now. There is a plan for us that we rarely acknowledge, and even more rarely let happen. I think the lesson for us all is to Live, Love, and Let Happen. Unfortunately, so many of us don’t do so, and for some reason, try to fight it, redirect it, or control it, to the frustration of all concerned. Live, Love, and Let Happen; my current mantra. Peace. Love and Happiness to you and yours.

  7. Holly h. says:

    Awesome!

  8. Wolf Pascoe says:

    I guess we all have these stories. Much better to do what you did–allow all the feelings in their extremes. I would go straight to my head with self-judgment and recrimination, asking the useless question, “Why? Why?” There are still a few I wonder about.

  9. talleygilly says:

    Loved all the details of your memory, the poems you wrote (and still have), and especially that you can be gentle with your 24-year old self, and enjoy what you enjoyed at the time. So often we look back harshly on our own youth, and bemoan what we could have/should have done. I’m glad things turned out just as they should!

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