Thursday, January 13, 2011

happy girl.

ironically, i still laugh like this: squinty eyes, open mouth, moving hand

It was 1999, and I was about to experience one of the biggest milestones of my young life: the day my parents let me get my own e-mail account. 

For years, I had watched as my friends got their own telephone lines and televisions in their bedrooms. In high school, I would sit back in silence as classmates got cars for their 16th birthdays and cell phones for more than just emergencies. 

E-mail, though... E-mail I could have. 

My parents did what all parents of the late 1990s did. They let me have an AOL account. Ah, AOL. My favorite movie had made me a believer, had turned three little words into music to my ears. Finally, I would hear those three words. Finally, I could instant message my friends and check my own mail (and if Tom was on the other end, all the better). It was a dream come true. 

And picking a screen name? Well, that was the equivalent of naming a child. 

It had to be something unique. Something perfectly "me." I brainstormed every combination of words and numbers under the sun. I polled friends and family, made pro and con lists. After hours of contemplation, it came to me, in the words of my then-favorite song (I'd be 18 before I discovered any song outside the country music hall of fame):

Oh, watch me go
I'm a happy girl
Everybody knows
That the sweetest thing that you'll ever see
In the whole wide world 
Is a happy girl

Exactly! I had it! Martina had whispered to me the words that would mark my beginnings on this thing we now call internet. 

And they were already taken. 

It is typical, I think, that the attributes we find in ourselves to be the most unique are sometimes nothing more than -- dare I say it? -- downright mundane, even normal. 

Happy Girl (even happygirl, happygurl, happygrl) was taken. Apparently Martina had whispered in the ears of other 13 year old girls around the globe. 

So I sulked, and then remembered that online, there are no rules. So I threw mine out the window. 

Forget grammar! Forget English honors society! Forget 2nd place in the school spelling bee!

I will be hapygirl! Hapygirl04!

Omitting one "p," I thought, would not be some colossal blunder. It was clever, really. More importantly, I had finally created a name that no one else had. I was golden. In. I had my screenname. My own NY152. 

And I was teased mercilessly. Friends purposely mispronounced it, as if I'd ever want to be known as "hapygirl" (long a). To this day, my brother claims I do not know how to spell "happy," that my misspelling was accidental, a rare faux pas in my otherwise exemplary grammatical career. 

Taunts aside, I miss that moniker. A lot has happened since my 13th year. I no longer have that e-mail account, for one. Country music doesn't dominate my CD collection (or iTunes playlists). We've all grown up and now use our "real" names online, taking all the excitement out of the internet.

Plus, I am sad to report, I've left the attitudes and ideals behind poor "hapygirl04" in the dust. I complain far too easily, let others influence and dictate how I feel and what I say. Depending on the day and the hours I've slept, I can be rather grumpy. My contentment is often dependent on what I have and who I am with.

I don't want to go back to the me I was at 13. There are lots of ways in which I have grown and matured that I'm pleased with, lots of things I've done that I wouldn't dare take back. 

But this is the year I start rediscovering that happy girl. This is the year I remember

Oh, watch me go
I'm a happy girl
And I've come to know
That the world won't change
Just 'cause I complain
Let the axis twirl
I'm a happy girl

Yep, it's time to get back to my roots. It's time to let go of the stresses holding me back, time to keep my mouth shut when others blather on about what's wrong with the world today. It's time to find the Pollyanna hiding inside of me and to let her out with a vengeance. It's time to dance in the grocery store and jump in the rain puddles and laugh at the days to come.

Let the axis twirl. I'm a happy girl.


Bec said...

My first email was swimfan007. Swimfan because my brother was a swimmer and I spent most of my free time being dragged along to his meets. 007 because that just seemed like the coolest number. Then Swimfan the movie came out. And people told me I was a creeper.

This morning I found a hole burned into our carpet because my husband had set a car battery on the table. I was very unhappy about it. But, I've learned sometimes you just have to choose to be happy. I've been sick lately and dealing with that mess tipped me over the edge for taking a day off and recharging. It's the small things :)

Sugar Mama said...

Growing up in Oklahoma I listened to a LOT of country music. Now I listen to none. But I do have the Martina cd with that song on it and my daughter loves that song!

And it's nice to find your blog. Your writing is refreshing.

Sabrina said...

hahaha I LOVE this b/c I too spent quite a lot of time thinking of a unique email address:) My mom was SO nervous though, I knew it could not come out and say I was a girl or anything about my age. That's how girls got trapped into illicit relationships with 45 year old men;) So after much thought I came up with silverose543......
OH I loved it (is it it it both:) and still use it today:) The numbers were the letter counts in my 3 HS crushes first names....sigh!

Brooke Bailey said...

i think this story is so funny! It hits home with anyone who grew up in our generation. You crack me up.

Cindy P said...

I got my first e-mail address when I was either 12 or 13, as well. And I've been through only 3 different screen names now. My first one though was because of my friends. We each had nicknames for each other and I was Hyper Weird Girl. Or hwg for short. And I don't even remember what the actual e-mail address was but it had hwg in it. I switched probably after about 2 years or so, once that nickname died and I had piano_angel04 for many years until I graduated college and wanted something more sophisticated. Now it's boring, But even though that's my maiden name I didn't feel like going through the whole e-mail changing process, again!

Katelyn said...

how funny! if it makes you feel any better, my screen name on AOL was girlgochat.. how i came up with that back in the day, i have no idea haha :)

Elizabeth Dean said...

My first AOL account was Vienna351. I had just seen Amadeus and found it to be very intersting.

All that aside- anyone else find it ironic to see 'Pollyanna' and 'vengeance' in the same sentence.

PS- read my blog, it's getting better.