“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Or something like that. Maybe? Where did this aphorism come from anyway? Who thought lemonade was a good idea? I know, I know; your lemon life is sour, so be productive and turn it into a sweet lemonade situation.
Here’s the thing; I’ve never even really liked lemonade. Who decided that life always has to be so sickly sweet? Is there anything wrong with taking that lemon, adding vodka and giving zero fucks for just a little while? Who’s to say that we can’t live with just a little edge?
It only took me twenty-five years to realize this. Being the proverbial ‘good girl’ takes a toll. I hit 25 and realized I wasn’t happy. This wasn’t the life I dreamed of living, the life I wanted to live. I was married by twenty-two, to a man I had been with since my senior year. He had shown interest me and I had foolishly thought he was the only one who would ever show interest. So I said, “yes.” I gave him my vow, even though I struggled to keep up with all he was taking. Don’t get me wrong, there was and still is, a genuine love for him. But I struggled to decide if I was in love with him.
And so I rebelled. I bought a motorcycle, got a half-sleeve tattoo, and went back to school. I took time off from him, spending weekends in the city with my friends, pretending for just a moment that I was the single woman I craved to be. I pushed past the gnawing guilt I couldn’t help feeling in the back of my mind because this is what I thought I wanted, what I had missed out on marrying so young.
Wouldn’t you know it, that man stayed with me through it all. He let me go, just for a little while, because he knew what I needed more than I did. He waited for me to settle, to let the wild-fire slowly burn out to mere glowing embers. And then, as I sat before him apologizing profusely, he stoked those smoldering embers. Keep the bike, he said, take it out when you need to breathe; finish school and chase those stars; go into the city, get drunk and dance when you feel blocked in by the expectations of life. Be you, because I’ve never loved you more than I do right now.
And just like that, I found myself in him. He saw in me what I couldn’t see in myself. I realized I was the one putting all of the crushing expectations on our relationship, on myself. For so long I believed that people expected me to lead a certain life, to succeed at certain things because that’s who I was supposed to be. In reality, no one expected anything from me other than to be happy. So I did keep the bike. I graduated top of my class and became a bad-ass ER nurse and I still head into the city every once in a while to escape the stresses of life for just a little bit.
But I always come home to that man who gave me the time I needed to decide what I wanted. He embraced my wild side, learning to love it just as I learned to love it. There’s nothing wrong with taking those juicy lemons and adding some vodka, so long as you throw some lemonade into the mix every once in a while. Because there’s nothing better than living the sweet life with just a little edge.