I don't want to be totally revelatory on Facebook; I try not to post anything online that I wouldn't be comfortable seeing in the front page of the New York Times -- that's a rule I made when I first got online in 1992, and it has served me pretty well over the last twenty-one years. But at the same time, I fret that the version of me that comes across is way more polished and together than my actual life. A couple of times recently someone has said something about not wanting to spend too much time with me because my life seems too perfect, and it makes them feel bad. Which just weirds me out, because I am often such a mess.
You know how in a real friendship, there's usually a moment of vulnerability, when you let your guard down and let the other person see your messy, insecure, etc. side? It's hard to get to intimacy without that letting-guard-down moment, I think; I have friends I've known for years, people I like a lot, but we're not close, and I think that's at least in part because there was never a reason to become close, to take that extra step into real affection.
And I think for a lot of people in their twenties, the easiest way to that kind of intimacy is through alcohol, which helps you lower your inhibitions, your defenses. If used judiciously, it can be a good thing. And yes, obviously, alcohol can be used to excess, but that's not really what I'm talking about here.
Most of my friends don't drink as heavily in their thirties and forties as they might have in their twenties. Especially the ones who've had kids are often 'on duty' in one way or another and so there isn't as much room to get completely smashed and embarrassingly climb up on a table and sing something raunchy or weepingly confess that you're still not over your ex. Although for new parents, the haze of sheer exhaustion and on-the-verge-of-completely-losing-it serves something of the same bonding experience, I think, at least with other parents.
I wonder how all of this intersects with Facebook, with the pleasant face that so many of us present to the world. When I post my holiday photos, I only put up the pretty ones. And mostly that's okay, I think, because I don't know that anyone particularly wants to see the disaster that is my laundry room right now, or the big mess of cardboard boxes waiting to be broken down and recycled. That's not really worth photographing -- we've all been there, and it doesn't add any beauty to the world to show it to you again.
But if I only put up the pretty photos -- the perfectly sugared cranberries and sprig of rosemary sitting in the gleaming jello shot glass, then I wonder what people feel, looking at those photos. My life is not a Martha Stewart photo shoot; I don't live in the pages of a magazine. There's an occasional perfect moment, here or there, but mostly, I'm just muddling along. And some of the moments are downright embarrassing.
Here's one. Those jello shots -- you know I completely failed to make them twice that night? I was tired, and a little annoyed with Kevin because someone had to stay up and wait for the pumpkin flan to finish baking, and I'd sort of assumed he'd do it, but he wanted to go to bed. It turned out later that he'd assumed I'd be up doing other things anyway, and he would've stayed up and let me go to bed if he'd realized, but I didn't know that then. Anyway, that's not the point of the story. So I was tired, and annoyed. But I wanted to be productive while I waited, so I started making the jello shots. Easy, right? I'd even sugared the cranberries earlier in the day, so basically, it was just making jello. Except.
I boiled the water in a glass measuring cup, and I had put in a little too much, but I figured that some might steam off while boiling (in the microwave), and that I could just pour off the excess once it came to a boil. But then when I pulled it out of the microwave, I opened the cranberry jello packet and dumped it in, and only then realized that I hadn't poured off the excess water. Damn it. Dumped the whole mess in the sink.
Then I patted myself on the back for having cleverly purchased an extra packet of cranberry jello just in case (did I mention that I got the last two in the store?), and started the whole process again. Boil water in the microwave. Pour it off, correctly this time. Dump in the jello packet and stir it up. Add orange vodka. Pour it all carefully into a dozen little shot glasses. Put them on a silver tray. Carefully put the entire tray in the fridge. Close the door. And then�stare at the big jar of cranberry juice cocktail sitting RIGHT in front of me on the counter. Oh hell.
Indeed, when I checked the recipe, there was no water involved at all. I was supposed to boil juice, and proceed from there. I was ready to cry. Over jello.
I might've given up on the whole endeavor, but the damned pumpkin flan was still baking. So I eventually managed to pull myself together, go in my pantry and find some orange jello, and then I dumped out all the little glasses and washed them and started over. And when I'd finished, the orange and red mixed together to make a sort of muddy pumpkin color, which was disappointing, but I figured I could pass it off as Thanksgiving-y. Good enough.
I know, this isn't the same as me passing out drunken on your couch, or vomiting in the bushes, or making a slobbery pass at you at three in the morning. Ah, good times. But maybe this is the best I can do right now -- try to expose the muddy pumpkin-colored middle as well as the apparently perfect ending. At least once in a while! :-)