Me? Obsessive? Is the pope Catholic? Is Edward Cullen a vampire? Is red wine the nectar of the gods? Is Tiger Woods seriously cheating on his supermodel wife? Well, just a little bit then, yes. Having spent the morning trying to get the measurements on photo sizes on my latest Blurb book (why yes, I just caught up with my 2008 photos, and my Alaska vacation!), but not so perfectly aligned that it looked too boxy, as well as neurotically reading consumer reports on stroller reviews, I decided that a little reflection on some of my old obsessions seemed curiously fitting.
Missing a day of running in high school and college was like telling me I couldn’t breathe. OH. MY. GOD. Meltdown. It was like I couldn’t function without my daily dose of endorphins. I had a schedule and a tempo and neurotically kept time with my stopwatch, and that could not be altered. Christmas fell on a Tuesday? That was a track workout; I needed to find a track. We were going skiing over the weekend? I couldn’t leave until I finished my long run on Saturday. And I literally mean timing my running – freezing the watch for any shoelace tying or red light waiting I had to endure. Seriously, if I tripped and fell over a curb (a regular occurrence with my two left feet) I would be sure to press stop on my way down.
It all started with this old poster my Mom had hung in the laundry room of the Kings & Queens. Then it was the Beatles. Then fish and chips with vinegar and tea and Prince William and Jane Austen and – for reasons I have yet to fathom – cricket. I longed to go to England, specifically to live in London: wear a uniform, go to Maths, take A- levels, and hang out at my local. I had an opportunity to study abroad in Dublin in college, which was my first time being so close (barring a 9 hour layover in Heathrow a few years prior) and I adapted to the Irish culture in an instant. I even took to calling strangers “Love,” watching Coronation Street and inhaling massive quantities of Cadbury chocolate and digestives. I ended up in England nearly half a dozen times during that 8-month stint, and every single time was perfect. Even now, years later from my last visit, I can still hear “Mind the Gap,” and see the pub near the Shakespeare Globe where we drank pint after pint of Guinness with the smell of curry lingering on the streets. I have to say, I’ve been disappointed by many things in my life, but emerging from Heathrow Airport and seeing the red double-decker buses has not been one of them.
I have no idea what it was about this musical, and why I discovered my passion for it in 1997, but for some reason I memorized all the lyrics to every song. Maybe it’s because John Travolta was so dreamy.
Sweet Valley High
When I was in junior high, I fell madly, passionately, irretrievably in love with Elizabeth & Jessica Wakefield and the whole Sweet Valley crowd. (What do you mean they’re not real people?) Even now, some 18 years later, I sometimes pull the book out at my parents’ house and read the back covers of worn books. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so obsessed with anything since. I really had it bad. In fact, I wanted to be a writer because Elizabeth Wakefield was, and I loved the color purple because it was the official color of “The Unicorn Club.” I used to read the books over and over again. Really, Francine Pascal should really be thanking my parents for putting her kids through college.
Poor guy, he was the object of my affection from 1992 until 1994. Yes, Internet I was in junior high when I fell in love with Gary Farrell, who was tall, handsome and the played percussion in the Travis Ranch Junior High Band. I was painfully shy (you would be too with a mouth full of metal and coke-bottle eye glasses). We had a few classes together (band being one of them – nerd alert!) and I would pretend to find reasons to talk to him, but I would merely turn bright red the minute I came within a 10-foot radius. He asked me how I was feeling the first day back to school after I fractured my elbow, which gave me the confidence to ask him to sign my 8th grade yearbook two months later. Honestly, that was the highlight of my year. (Don’t judge, junior high was what I consider my “awkward years.”) I even drew a heart around it. He’s married to an acquaintance now, and living in Las Vegas, and should he ever stumble upon this post would probably have a chuckle.
I just can’t touch them. I avoid them at all costs. I still get a mild panic attack every time I am going to open an Advil or Tylenol Bottle for fear there may be a cotton ball stuffed inside. I’m actually fairly certain I’m going to hyperventilate just writing about it now. I’m going to stop now. And possibly have some chocolate in order to recover.
New Kids On The Block
Oh, please. Like you weren’t.
So, what about you – any obsessions you want to own up to? Do you avoid touching cotton? Do you know all the words to “Summer Nights?” Were you secretly digging Gary Farrell too? (Uh, wait, were you really? Are you still in touch with him? Can you tell him I’m happily married with a kid on the way and I hope he/she is as cute as his little guy? Not that I occasionally look at the pictures his wife posts on facebook.)