The Joy of X

note: The following is an adaptation of something I’ve performed or delivered recently. I’ve heard a bunch of requests to hear or see it again, but I’m choosing not to give this energy anymore which means it will only ever live on as text

I’ve spent most of 2019 following an artful discipline crafted by a tiny little Japanese Master.

The Art? The KonMari Method
The Master? Marie Kondo

This 100-pound powerhouse taught me many things this year. From how to properly fold my undergarments to how to organize my closet, I trained hard in the art of tidying up.

When someone confessed to having the feels for me this spring, I also realized I could apply her method to people too.

The feels for those not hip to the lingo, is code for feelings. All the younger folks seem to be using it these days. And I mean, c’mon….. What grown woman doesn’t want to be on the receiving end of some ‘feels’

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not cold and callous. I didn’t think I could fold a guy into a perfect container nor did I think his feelings didn’t matter.

For me, it was all about joy.

That Which Brings Me Joy

Marie’s method was pretty simple: get rid of things that didn’t bring you joy.

Her instructions required holding each item you owned next to your chest and asking it: Does this spark joy?

While others were eyeballs deep in snow removal this past winter, I was up to my eyeballs in closet clutter. For days on end, I held each and every item of clothing or shoe I owned and asked it if it gave me joy.

One particularly mind-blowing experience involved a pair of red stilettos.

When I asked the shoes if they brought me joy, it was if they’d grown a personality and responded to me in a plea to keep them

Dearest cherry red stilettos, do you bring me joy?
(Responding in a southern voice because why wouldn’t red stilettos not have a southern voice: )  Erin, My sweet summer child. Don’t you remember? Sure, we brought you blisters and shin splints. We also brought you that fella who bought us those drinks and gave us his phone number. Now bless your sweet heart and fetch us our box.

Shoes talking back to you was a sure indication I’d lost my ever. loving. mind…. right?

The Boys & the Bar

After I got divorced 6 years ago and lost the heap of man-child weight, I gained a closet full of single lady clothes.

I spent my first few years parading Victoria’s not so secret secrets around the suburbs of Chicago, which eventually brought a mess of boys to my yard.

The most notorious boy of them all was Josh

He was 10 years younger than I was and with enough alcohol and a good imagination, he looked like he could have doubled for Prince Harry.  The night we met, I shamelessly threw down the most god-awful pick-up line.

So, I’m thinking of picking up a bartending gig on the side.
Can you tell me the ratio of hard work to tail that you put into this job? 

Maybe he took pity on me or maybe he liked my moxie, but this ginger bearded cutie gave me his answer in the form of his phone number.

Over the years we stayed in contact with each other. During those times we were both single, our chemistry was on fire; at least that’s what everyone from the outside looking in told us. After years of hanging out, meeting each other’s friends, and even after we both admitted we kinda-sorta-liked each other, nothing ever changed and I realized I would forever be parked in the wasteland known as the friend-zone.

I wish I could say he was the only one who kept me in the friend-zone, but this happened more than once. I spent so many years being the cool and friendly girl, I had acquired a collection of almost relationships.

Much like Victoria’s little secrets right after my divorce, those situationships had served their purpose and I started to question if they really brought me joy.

KonMari My Love Life

This summer, I decided to KonMari my love life.

I took an inventory of every guy I’d kept in my phone, clutched it to my chest and asked each name: do you bring me joy?

Some of the guys were easy to purge:

  • Mutual lack of admiration for of one another? #ThankYouNext
  • Can’t remember your last name? DAAAHHHLETE
  • Emojis as a reference? Why Mr. Eggplant, while I’m intrigued, I don’t think you’ll be needed anymore

After the joyful quick deletes came the harder part. Confronting those who I’d had slightly more invested in and asking them why we’d never dated.

With a lot of awkward discomfort on my part, I asked the question:

So, Mr. Friend-zone, why is it we’ve never dated?

They all basically said the same thing:

“Erin, I think you’re awesome.”
“You’re amazing.”
“You’re a freaking catch.”

One of them called me a really ambitious baller at one point, which felt like such a compliment that I wanted to put it on a business card.

By the end of the summer, I had completed my mission. I had talked to, texted, asked, and queried all of the what-if’s and I got my answer.

Falling into fall

Today, on the first day of fall, you’re probably wondering…. Did I get my guy? Did anyone upgrade from the friend-zone to the boyfriend-zone?

Unlike the stilettos, none of them pleaded to stay.

My ego was a little bruised, but as summer has transitioned into fall and the heat of summer has started to turn into the chill of autumn, I did what Marie Kondo had taught me during those cold and snowy weekends: I recognized the lack of joy, and I removed Josh and the friend-zone gang from my phone.

It took a summer of me decluttering the friend-zone to realize how much I had accumulated over the years and how much it was weighing me down. Being the cool and friendly one is nice and it works well when you first meet men, but at some point, and without even noticing it, friendly becomes friend-zone. You watch as your friend puts his moves on another woman and you’re suddenly asking yourself: what could I have done differently?

The answer to that is: Nothing

Boys will be boys. Some may never grow up and they’ll rebel against the notion that they have to settle down.

Guys will be guys. These are the ones who enjoy the single life they’ve created and don’t want to interrupt their friendships for possible romantic failures.

Men will be men. These are the valiant victors who have cast aside the idea that they’re settling or that romance can ruin things.

I used to think it was something I did (or didn’t do) that put me in the friend-zone. What this summer taught me is that the feels are nice, but I’m a grown woman. I need the whole word. And I need a man, much like my stilettos, who wants to stay and actually tells me as much.


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