Yes, the rumors are true. I, Kent Matthew McDonald, unofficial Daily Tar Heel relationship columnist and aspiring Real Housewife of New York City, can confirm that I do, indeed, NOT have a crush anymore!
It all started while watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (Season 9, Episode 3 for the fans), which is something I regularly do when needing to induce a catharsis but lack the funds to bleach my hair. In this particular episode, Dr. Miranda Bailey’s son, Tuck, starts first grade. Bailey describes Tuck eagerly running to class on his first day, letting go of his mother’s hand with perfect ease. It breaks her heart.
Bailey compensates by redirecting her maternal energies toward her former interns, only to find they are fully grown and have interns of their own. Frustrated and hurt, Bailey resorts to furiously cleaning a dirty microwave. But no amount of vigorous scrubbing will fix the aging appliance. Eventually, Dr. Richard Webber, the kind hospital patriarch, intervenes and tells Bailey: “You know what happens when someone lets go of your hand? You get it back.”
I’d been holding on to the same crush since October because I didn’t want my hand back. I didn’t know who I was if I wasn’t holding on to someone else. It’s much easier to let go when there’s something new to hold on to. What’s hard is letting go and discovering all that’s there is you.
I’ve spent the better part of the past year madly applying to jobs, fellowships and internships, feverishly waiting for some golden ticket to the perfect life to waltz in and whisk me away like a knight in shining armor. I kept thinking: If I get this, win that or date him, I’ll be whole. Once I have “it,” I’ll finally be able to let go.
It can take a while to find that golden ticket. Even then, sometimes it doesn’t give you what you thought it would. Waiting around for a knight in shining armor is a luxury we can’t all afford. Sometimes knights have their own dragons to conquer.
I’ve never wanted to be a knight. I didn’t grow up playing with toy soldiers and staging epic battles. Perfectly content on the sidelines, I cheered for the heroes while combing my doll’s hair. When I was eleven I saw “Iron Man” with my older brother. My brother left the theater in awe of Tony Stark. I, on the other hand, left idolizing Pepper Potts. She was my superhero.
Ten years later, the sight of a red-headed Gwyneth Paltrow still fascinates me. As perfectly-coiffed as my hair may be, I’ve never really seen myself as the hero. I always assumed “the one” would come along and fill that role. I cast myself in the supporting role, thinking my job was to support Tony Stark. To hold his hand.
Today I finally let go of my crush. I gave him one last hug, smiled and nodded farewell. After he left, a new sensation arrived. Equally as crushing as before, but without the erratic oscillations between ecstatic joys and infuriating lows. Just a crushingly static sobriety. The moment I didn’t have someone to think about, I missed the feeling of having someone to think about.
I suspect, like most things, it will take some time before I’m ready to be my own hero. Writing this column now, a mere twelve minutes post-goodbye hug, is a start. Here, in the creepy side hallway of my beloved Open Eye Cafe, I have accepted my search for “it” — that elusive golden ticket — must end. As I finish my double-shot espresso, I decide it’s time for a new drink. It’s time to let go and use my newly-freed hand to make a golden ticket of my own.
So, thank you.
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