02/20/2015 02:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

My Weird Reminder to Never Say Never

I wrote recently about how, in an effort to meet my new 30-something standards, I need to step up and write when I feel like it, without tearing everything up afterwards. To that end, this is my first surviving piece of writing. No paper was torn in the creation of this piece. There were some scratch-outs, though, which my 30-something standards deem acceptable.

I am a believer in the "never say never" philosophy. I think it is important to stay open to possibility, and avoiding absolutes often saves a lot of "I told you so's." I have managed to refrain, therefore, from dealing in that particular absolute most of the time. I have come to realize, however, that while I have avoided the "I'll never" utterances in my speech and writing, they have not exactly stayed out of my mind. Indeed, in recent months I have been (mostly pleasantly) surprised by things that I find myself doing/thinking/liking/etc. that once seemed so far outside my realm of interest that I barely acknowledged their existence.

I like gin. The drink, not the game, though I might like that too, if I ever learn to play it. Until about the last year or so, my drinking life consisted of "Anything as long as it's not gin or Chardonnay." Then Chicago became populated with incredible craft cocktail bars (Scofflaw!), most of which are heavily gin-based, I developed a palate and, well now I like gin. I don't recall ever saying I would never like it, perhaps only because it seemed like such an impossibility that it simply it didn't occur to me that such a statement was in anyway necessary.

I grew up in a family that included, at any given time, at least one large dog. Small dogs were yappy, high-strung creatures who were impossible to train and too fragile to play with. Our family was not a small dog family, so I grew up to be not a small dog person. Then a few years ago a stray shih tzu mix with almost no teeth wandered into my life, and I fell in love. Here was an Endorian creature who joined me on bike rides, understood commands (even if he stubbornly chose when to obey them) and didn't yap. When he died suddenly last year, I did not immediately adopt a pit bull or old English sheep dog. I found a younger, blonder (because apparently I can rock a cliche) shih tzu mix, complete with amusing under-bite. So now I love shih tzus. I used to make fun of their name and think they were too small to count as actual dogs. Now, a 20 pound shaggy mop with legs gets to take over half my bed and I refer to myself as a dog mom. I still love the big breeds too, and look forward to the day I get to adopt a pit bull. Now, though, short, stout little fuzzball and all his Ewok-ian kind have claimed a huge and lasting portion of my heart.


This, though, this is the big one. This is what made me truly understand that we are always capable of evolving in unexpected ways, we are always capable of surprising ourselves, that saying "never" is surely an invitation for the universe to start messing with you. Carlo, if you're reading this, sit down. A couple of months ago, I started writing poetry. Voluntarily. "So?" You may ask. Well, I hate writing poetry. I mean hate with the power of a thousand burning suns; the sort of hate that leads a Jedi master to turn to the Dark Side. The torturous semesters of poetry assignments were the black holes of my creative writing classes, and my very vocal hatred of those assignments were probably some of Carlo's (who, by the way, may have passed out from shock, someone may want to check on him). Every line was torture, every prompt a painful inconvenience. Most of the time, the poems I wrote barely counted as such -- they were more grammatically questionable, poorly-constructed prose. Once those semesters ended, I ran from poetry writing with intentions to never, ever look back.

I should have known. Never say never.

I don't mind my new fondness for gin or dogs that look like Ewoks. I don't even mind the inexplicable motivation to write really bad poems -- aside from the small concern about being mind-controlled by aliens. It's refreshing, discovering that I am capable of evolving in ways once unimaginable. I like that, as I am surrounded by my fellow 30-somethings, many griping about being old or feeling stagnant (or maybe frozen, thank you, Chicago Arctic), I still feel somewhat new. In the moments immediately following my first spontaneously scribbled poem, I sat in a dazed sort of shock, confused, suspicious of my own mind. Then I shrugged my shoulders, realized that in the midst of my tried and true routine, I had not only just created something new, but become something new, and found some small hope for my ability to become something more than I am. This little surprise reminder to never say never had reinvigorated my mind and reaffirmed the need to remain open to possibility, and weird as it was, I am grateful for it.

But I will never, ever, like Chardonnay.