How to Love, Lose, and Everything in Between

When it comes down to it, most great literature is about two things: love and loss. And in some cases, the loss of love. This human emotion, raw and tender, drives pen to page day-in and day-out. I’ve tried to deny it. I’ve looked back at old work, searching for a different category, a different meaning; I was unwilling to admit that my work, all that I’ve ever felt the urge to express, the hastily loopy words that flowed from my BIC, could in fact be so simple.

There is a sense of release when I write something down. I occupy a space where my thoughts are five-steps ahead of my words, and language is a daily ropes course I try desperately to traverse without slipping. That hamster wheel, round and round. Just when I think I know where I’ll end up, I emerge in unfamiliar terrain, bumpy with questions.

I’ve never been to Denver, but to me it is like a Fairyland. “It’s fine,” I say to my husband in frustration, “when we’re in Denver it’ll be better.” I imagine it to be lush and green, rolling hills and changing temperatures. Not like Florida: where it’s just plain hot on the best days, and unbearable on the worst. The weight of sweat-soaked skin is a heavy burden.

Like most days, I’m not sure where I’ll end up, what I’ll write. Maybe it will be Denver, or the next listicle on BuzzFeed, or smeared scrawling in a Snoopy Moleskine. The only thing I’m sure of, the only loss of love I’ll never have: composing snapshots of moments, easily forgotten and sometimes painfully remembered. Do we have to lose to know how to love?

Scents and Sensuality

When people think of sexuality, often the mind goes to the overt: provocative clothing, heavily made-up faces, aggressive behavior—I tend to think more of the subtleties. Maybe it’s a sly wink, the feel of silk against skin, or an aroma that is completely intoxicating. Yes, I am talking about scent.

Scent is perhaps one of the most underrated senses, but one that I feel plays most into sensuality. Scent can recall memories, like how the smell of cinnamon reminds me of Sunday brunch as a kid. It can announce your presence in a room (hopefully, again, in a subtle and pleasing way). It can set a tone, give confidence, and make memories-like the summer before college and the best high school friend a girl could ask for, evoked on the rare occasion when I wear Rosewood by Banana Republic.

I bought my first fragrance when I was ten years old. Emboldened by a newly increased allowance and the few inches that I had grown over summer, I started to think of myself as a new woman—one who should smell like one. I still remember the Tommy Girl bottle, a name I recognized among the overwhelming, higher-end eau de parfumes. I bought it partly because of the name, and partly because I could afford the thirty-dollar price tag. I brought it home, proud of my newfound sense of womanhood. But like when I tried on my first training bra, or when the first brackets were glued to my teeth, I felt uncomfortable from the first spritz. It was a grown-up perfume for a little girl. I can count the number of times I used it on one hand, often so overpowered by the scent that I was embarrassed to leave the house without taking a shower first. I had that bottle until recently, still mostly unused, tucked away at my parents’ house along with other mementos of my childhood that I didn’t want, yet couldn’t seem to part with completely.

My next foray into the world of fragrance came at fourteen. My father, who worked in sales before what he now refers to as his “six Saturdays and a Sunday” retirement, brought home some samples from a product expo he had been to. My mother, a devoted user of CK One for as long as I can remember, gave the tiny bottles to me. Most were small vials of the latest celebrity endorsed scents, but one box had three mini spray bottles that caught my eye—a sampling of the Victoria’s Secret line of scents. Gone were the training bras, but unfortunately not the braces. I was stuck in this in-between of childhood and womanhood, so I chose the girlishly named Pink as my new perfume. A potent concoction meant to allure men overpowered my schoolgirl crushes where I blushed at the mention of a boy’s name. Again I was a little girl in an adult world, and the bottle soon began to collect dust among my stuffed animals and softball trophies.

Even though I clearly wasn’t ready for a signature scent at fourteen, I loved (and still do) walking the aisles of the local drugstore, carefully picking out shampoo that smelled like jasmine and soaps that left a hint of rose and peony on my skin. To me, it’s these choices that represent the ultimate sensuality.  The power of allure, and mystery, and innocence that can leave your mark on a situation; to this day, one of the greatest compliments I receive is “You smell great.” (which, coincidentally, happened the day I sat down to write this piece, while standing outside of a doctor’s office waiting with a perfect stranger).

Today, I do have a signature scent. I found it by accident, a gift from a high school friend whom I assume it didn’t suit. It’s classic and chic and makes me feel empowered. If asked, I am happy to share my secret, yet encourage everyone to find their own; it’s a part of finding yourself.

Failing the Mean Girls

When I was in middle school, this group of girls bullied me. They would call my house and hang up, say things to me in the hallways and then finally wrote a terrible letter to me outlining all of these things that were “wrong” with me.

But the funny thing was, no matter how I was upset by the letter (and I read and re-read it many times) I couldn’t get over one thing: the horrible grammar. So, I took out a red pen and did what I do best…I edited their note. The next day at school I handed it back to them and said “I gave this a C. When you’re ready to turn in your next draft, I’ll be happy to take a look at it.” They never bothered me again.

This is what I would say to my younger self: No matter what anyone says, you have unique talents. Believe in them, embrace them, and display them proudly. No one can bring you down unless you allow them to. Your talents, no matter what they may be, are your greatest defense-one that can be handled peacefully and with grace. No matter how hard it may get, continue on with dignity. In the end their names will fade, the pain will dull, but your integrity will get you through. I promise.

Glenna Lynne Schubert

**This essay was written as part of the MTV Voices campaign to speak out about bullying. The article, and their website can be accessed here: http://voices.mtv.co.uk/2012/01/failing-the-mean-girls/

Why

I want to know why:

1) I love avocados
2) I always instinctively go the wrong direction when there are two or more options
3) I like vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, but hate chocolate ice cream
4) I get uncomfortable watching TV shows like American Idol, where people humiliate themselves, yet other people find it entertaining
5) I order sandwiches/wraps/salads with tomatoes, but always wind up picking them out
6) I am normally confident and outgoing, but am shy in class
7) I always have a class that runs during the same time as the office hours of the professor/TA from whom I need the most help 8) I have coordination when it comes to dance, but not when it comes to sports
9) I’m tired all the time, even after I have just slept
10) I crack my neck when I’m nervous or anxious

I always always go in the wrong direction. No matter how much time I spend planning out my travels, I somehow manage to head in the opposite direction of where I originally intended to go. Getting off the Metro is the worst. By the time I make my way to the street level and stare at my two choices, my mind is flustered trying to quickly decide which path to take. I wouldn’t want to be perceived as a tourist, now would I? My brain does a little dance with itself, timed to the rhythm of my heart, which beats faster as the uncertainty grows. It’s a quick-step rather than a waltz, fast-paced and all over the place. Sometimes I’ll embark on the route that I genuinely believe is correct. Other times, I’ll go the opposite way of what I instinctively choose, hoping that I can essentially trick myself into ultimately going the right way. Still, no matter which method of misguided reasoning I use, I always wind up 3 blocks and 20 minutes late (this is including the times that I leave extremely early to avoid the inevitable lateness.) I guess I can’t really complain; the extra walking allows for my love of avocados and vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup to continue unashamedly.