Two years ago around this time, my roommate, my best friend, my boyfriend and I all made one of the gayest pilgrimages of all: We went to see Cher’s “Farewell Tour.” We continued the evening by attending a holiday party, aptly named “All I Want for Christmas is BOOZE,” wearing only jeans, scarves and Santa hats. After we made our grand entrance into the house, filled our cups from the keg and mounted the coffee table at the front of the room, we demanded that the DJ play Mariah Carey’s smash hit of the season from which the party begat its name.
Now, 730 days later, I find myself singing the same tune. Though this time I’m not singing it to a soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, nor my friends I was about to leave for four months. I’m singing it to myself.
When we were young the winter holidays were quite literally the culmination of our year. A year’s worth of homework, chores and good behavior all added up to unwrapping our bounty of presents on that special day or nights. We couldn’t be any happier; the holidays defined what it meant to be a kid. We were rewarded just for sticking around and then given about two weeks to enjoy it.
In college the presents and time off don’t feel like any less of a reward, but as each year passes we begin to feel like the holidays bring us further and further from who we thought we were to who we have become. Each stay at home recalls the independent life we’ve formed here, each present a somewhat guilt-inducing reminder of our parents’ constant sacrifice and our impending financial independence. Our friends have become as close as family and the campus is our backyard; yet we gleefully leave it behind for about a month without looking back. Only later do we realize home is getting harder to define.
Last week recognized the ever-growing AIDS crisis, and like many AU students I sat patiently in the Health Center to be tested and hear my results. Those 20 minutes passed slowly, allowing me just enough time to contemplate this year and work myself up into near cardiac arrest. Perhaps the angst of senioritis intensifies as the second-to-last semester draws to a close; the call to chart the course of our lives and define ourselves rings ever louder. Who is that person who once fretted over footnotes and filling up blue books and will now be writing a thesis, finishing a capstone, or applying to grad schools and big-people jobs? Who is that person who could once fill a notebook with toys he wanted from the J.C. Penney catalog, who now lists suits as his number-one Christmas wish?
My friend told me last week that she thought I was one of the most misunderstood people she knew. The narcissist in me would love to agree and hide behind the armor of misconception, but it only strengthened my desire to evaluate how well I knew myself. Was I really misunderstood, or merely half-concealed? If actions speak louder than words, then nothing I did last week offered any insight into the kind of person I hoped, or thought, I was.
Pursuing a friend in true Regina George fashion, dating a co-worker I know won’t follow through, all while dutifully contacting exes I missed and wished were back in my life - why did I repeatedly put myself on the Naughty list, when the pre-college me was nothing but Nice? Had a bad boy always been latent inside me, or had I simply let my morals, along with my pants, down too easily in the District?
Well, if there are lumps of coal given for your love life, I have certainly been an annual recipient the last three years. But I remain hopeful that with enough concentration I can sometime receive a diamond relationship, with perhaps even a couple of flaws. Right now I think we need these years to be naughty, to be selfish and experimental, so that when we toss our mortar boards in the sky, we just might be able to re-anchor our values, or at least tighten our belts. And if we can’t, the coal may come in handy to heat our tiny studio apartments.
So, this holiday season, go home and do yourself a favor. Put on a festive hat, something cute and naughty, and blast Ms. Carey as loud you can. But you don’t need a coffee table, a party, or even friends. Grab a brush as a microphone and stare right into the mirror as you belt, “All I want for Christmas is you,” whomever that may be.
Have a wonderful break, and remember to celebrate safely - wrap any present you intend to give or receive!