The Last Laugh

September 26, 2016

Lillian Gish, 1920s

Lately, I’ve been forced to grapple with the fact that getting what you want can be terrifying. For years, I called it a fear of failure. Only recently did I discover it’s very much the opposite.

What if it all works out?

Before you can get what you want, it helps to know what you want. This is a challenge all its own. But I’ve found the world has a way of leading you there just the same.

Case in point: here are eight very short, entirely true stories illustrating how I’ve been wrong about pretty much everything…


“Can you stay for a moment after class?”
For once, I haven’t been overly chatty, nor was I writing a note to, from, or about a boy. What is this about?
“I want to ask you something,” says my eighth grade English teacher, appraising me with a tenderness not rivaled by any human before or since. “Have you ever thought about becoming a writer?”
“That’s not a job,” I say.

My boyfriend is tall and blond and vaguely resembles Jared Leto. We have nothing in common. In the universe I inhabit (a place where “sparkles” is a color and “fructose” is a food group) we will be together forever, and his college applications are of the utmost importance.
“I want to go to school in New York City,” he announces (mere months before he’ll end up in a pasture).
“That’s FINE if you want to go there,” I spit. “But I HATE New York. I mean, I probably won’t even come visit you. That’s how much I hate it.”

My college history paper is bleeding. The word count is rivaled by the number of red-penned comments cluttering the margins.
“Too journalistic!”
“Very funny, but not appropriate.”
“Highly entertaining! Not sufficiently academic.”
It is the worst grade I’ve ever gotten.
Moments later, it meets its fate in a shredded heap at the bottom of my wastebasket. “Why am I so droll?” I wonder, for longer than is useful. “I should really tone that down.”

“You guys, I think this could be the one.”

“No, but really, this time I mean it.”

“I KNOW I’ve said it before, but this is actually different than anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s like, I’ve never felt so seen. You know?”

I am in need of a dress, to wear to everyone else’s weddings. I find one, track it down at a small boutique, ask for the style by name.
They’re currently sold out in black, I am told, but they do have one in white. Would I like to try it on for size?
The dress and I are left alone in a changing room. It is, for all intents and purposes, a wedding dress — a much different beast than a dress for weddings. Against my better judgment, I put it on my body. I want to burn it immediately. I want to never take it off.
A head bursts through the dressing room curtains.
“Oh my god!” exclaims the sales clerk, clapping his hands. “Are you getting married?!”
“No,” I say, a little louder than necessary.

Last month 
“You should try dating again,” says every friend always, but one more emphatically than the others.
“It will be fun!”
“You always say that, but then you’re glad when you do!”
“No. I’m tired. And I never like anyone.”
“I’m willing to make a bet. In one month, you’ll be madly in love with someone wonderful, and we’ll look back at this moment and marvel at how you almost didn’t let that happen.”
I cross my arms. “That is utterly impossible.”



Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ha.

(Photo of Lillian Gish, early 1920s)

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  • Is this your way of letting us know you’ve met someone?!

    • Officially, this is an exploratory piece of writing that needed a conclusion.
      Unofficially… yes, I’ve met someone. 🙂

  • Congrats on being wrong. I can’t speak to your relationship success but I can say I’m grateful for your writing success.

  • So glad to see a new post from you! I’ve been keeping a journal since I’ve started dating in my 20’s and it’s been amazing how these little moments stick out to you once you gain hindsight. “If only I had known!” is said quite often in my house.

  • Buy the dress, buy the dress, buy the dress! (Just sayin’)

  • “The course of true love never did run smooth, and it would be super boring and make a terrible story if it did.”
    –Shakespeare, edited by me

  • If ever we doubt we made a wrong turn, your post shows us we are being cared for and divinely guided no matter how murky the waters (so I write as I am navigating through my own fog right now). A great depth of trust is necessary to believe where we are is right where we are supposed to be, right? That being said, what IF we embraced that completely? We might truly make the very best of all the days of our lives. Your voice is a beacon shining the universe knows each of us and our desires. Wishing you much happiness on your journey.

  • I just love your writing. Makes me happy every time you have something new up!

  • Love this! And I found this format really captivating. Thanks for sharing and trying new things on your blog! Look forward to each post.

  • Everything you write is so relatable and always perfectly conveyed. I’m always happy when you post something.

  • The thing about decisions is that most of the time, we don’t know till later if they’re majors or the kind that dissolve into our days — right?

    Thanks for reminding me to write it all down. Cheering you on from Auckland!

  • This might be my favorite post, ever. Xo

  • As someone who is very much in need of letting go and letting life happen to me, I really appreciate this.

  • This is truly great. Your writing makes me remember what it feels like to get a truth out and to write it…and write it good.
    You write it good, lady.

  • Love your writing! I’ve benn missing you since i firts read your posts on A Cup of Jo. Cheers for the wrong things in life! xoxo

  • Love this. The end really resonates with me and it’s the push I need to get back into dating. I’m so happy for you!!

  • Oh Caroline, You’re writing is so good! I only wish you posted more, so I would have more to read. Selfish, I know. You seem so relatable, as though you are able to say all the things that run through my head, but with much better grammar. Thank you for choosing to be a writer. You are a gift!

    And congrats on the new guy! While it may seem like its so much work starting over with someone new, I find I’ve always looked back and realized how each person had a reason for being with me during that time in my life. They taught me things about myself, and helped me prepare for the next step. I hope this guy I have is The One, but even then, it’s a long journey (if we are lucky!) and full of so many twists and turns. But then, that’s what makes for a satisfying life I guess.
    Oh! one more random thing,Thank you for sharing when you are having down days! Because you are adorable, and seem like such a fun and mature person, but then it’s nice to know that you too have days where you just want to go “blah” to the world.

  • Caroline, I love your writing, and your honesty 🙂 This is my new favourite blog.

  • I love your voice! More please

  • Caroline, I’m so so in love with your writing. I always end up here when I’m looking for a bit of joy / camaraderie / hope / help or ”a friend.” Thank you for continuing to share.

  • Emily Blume,

    Hi Caroline!
    I love you writing- and congrats.
    On a separate note, I remember reading on Cup of Jo a while back that you use a day planner/agenda. I do also. With 2017 approaching, I am on the hunt for a new one and was hoping you could share the brand of the one you’ve used. There was a link on the Cup of Jo post to it on Amazon but I can not, for the life of me, find it!