Though I have a soft spot for my Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Gullion, I can get behind the sentiment that life is our greatest instructor. Life has taught me things like “caffeine after 4 p.m. is a bad idea,” and “never watch Silence of the Lambs alone in your apartment,” and “you will get a UTI if you don’t take cranberry pills every single day, young lass!” However, some of my most important life lessons revolve around a very specific category: things I foolishly abandoned and subsequently realized I couldn’t–or didn’t want to–live without. Below is a rundown of things that fall under this umbrella; a list that will likely keep growing until the day I croak (and I mean that in the most heartwarming way possible).
When I reflect on my flirtation with natural deodorant, I can’t help but chuckle like a wizened matriarch. Such an innocent time! Such a bold and beautiful attempt! My naive impression that I had successfully hacked the aluminum-free game was promptly shattered when I was lying next to my mom on a sofa one day, and she turned to me unceremoniously and said, “You smell really stinky. Are you wearing deodorant?” I’m pretty sure my jaw literally gaped. Stinky? Me? Right now!? Or… oh no… THIS WHOLE TIME!?!?! Because, yes, I technically was wearing (natural) deodorant, but the fact that she had to ask was a haunting revelation on par with spectral activity. I saw my life flash before my eyes, or rather I saw every social interaction from the last few months, all the moments I had leaned into hug someone, all the instances in which I’d sat next to a colleague in a meeting or a friend at dinner, reeling with the implication that my body odor had likely been detectable. I went to CVS and bought a 6-pack of Dove Invisible Solid Antiperspirant that afternoon.
The most important milestone of my pubescence was not growing boobs or getting my period, it was a much more hallowed benchmark: getting my first Hanky Panky thong. Finally, I was joining the ranks of all the cool girls in my high school class. Finally, I could discard the granny panties of my youth and step into my feminine power. They’re soooo comfy, I remember cooing to one of my friends. And I fully believed this statement to be true. It wasn’t until just last year, as I peered into an underwear drawer that was 95% thongs and lamented the fact that my three pairs of legitimately comfortable cotton briefs were in my laundry hamper, that I realized I had been brainwashed by my own brain for almost half of my existence. I returned to the full-coverage underwear lifestyle immediately thereafter. Now the mere thought of wearing a thong sends a chill down my spine, which might sound like hyperbole but such is the price of a decade’s worth of synthetic lace-inflicted wedgies.
I dabbled in sleeping on a silk pillowcase a couple years ago when I received one in a press mailer. This is quite nice, I thought to myself as I fell asleep with my cheek caressed by the fabric equivalent of a butterfly wing and woke up with unprecedentedly tangle-free hair. I stopped at some point though, partially because the pattern of the pillowcase didn’t match the rest of my bedding and partially because I was getting lazy about hand-washing it in my sink. I slipped back into my old cotton pillowcase ways as easily as a fish into a glass tank, and I didn’t realize what I was missing (i.e. silk pillowcases, my equivalent of the ocean, if we’re sticking with this metaphor), until I received another silk pillowcase as a gift from a friend and–just for fun–slept on it that night. And then the next night. And the next. And suddenly a week had passed and the gargantuan knots that would have typically formed in my curls at this point were mysteriously MIA. It took this matter of pure happenstance to demonstrate just how integral silk pillowcases are to my hair routine. Now, when I fall asleep at night, I still think this is nice–but I also think this is absolutely life-changing and I will never return to my old ways.
4. My High School Boyfriend
I randomly broke up with my high school boyfriend at the end of freshman year because “I wanted to spend more time with my friends.” It was the kind of rash, relatively whim-like decision that only a 15-year-old navigating significant otherness for the first time would make, because the possibility that I could spend time with my friends and stay in the relationship somehow didn’t occur to me. It also didn’t occur to me that he wouldn’t want to talk to me anymore after I dumped him, or that I liked him way more than I initially realized, or that his sudden absence from my life would feel like a tender hole left by an extracted tooth. TLDR: We got back together seven months later, and we’re getting married in June.
I first tried May Lindstrom’s “The Blue Cocoon” balm while conducting research for a story about redness-reducing products. I loved it immediately, enchanted by the witchy-in-a-good-way scent and the way it calmed my pink undertones. I applied a pea-sized dab every night for months after that, until summertime rolled around and its intensely moisturizing, balm-like texture started to feel too heavy in conjunction with warm weather. By the time the following winter rolled around, I had completely forgotten I still had half a jar left. At that point I had moved on to another evening skincare routine and a rotation of various heavy-duty moisturizers that seemed to do the job just fine. Then, on one particularly cold night, I spotted my beloved Blue Cocoon inside my bureau. I metaphorically shrugged my shoulders. Why not try it again? As soon as I’d spread it on my face, I cursed my idiot self for letting it languish at the back of a drawer for so long. It’s hands-down the best nighttime moisturizer I’ve ever used, and even though I’m dreading the moment when I have to re-purchase (it’s not cheap), I’m so glad our relationship is thriving anew.
6. Salad Dressing
I was a religious patron of Sweetgreen in college, fueled in part by my affection for their delicious dressings (I would have willingly imbibed them straight from a glass with a straw, milkshake-style, if someone had dared me). But at some point I was lured in by a persuasive online article about the “unhealthiness” of most salad dressings, and boom it was as if some demon had reached into my impressionable young mind and convinced me that my preferred way to dress a salad was a squeeze of lemon juice–and that’s it!!!!! I don’t know what’s more horrifying–that I spent months eating virtually dry salads, or that I let myself be suckered in by food fear-mongering, but fortunately this story ends happily. Logic eventually kicked in: Not only am I now a regular consumer of perfectly moist salads, but my appreciation for dressing has tripled in passion ever since my misguided hiatus. I could write an actual poem about my love for balsamic vinaigrette.
I temporarily lost my one pair of Girlfriend leggings for a few months (turns out I’d left them at my parents’ apartment), and my subsequent devastation forced me to come to terms with how superior they are to all my other leggings. I missed their super high waist that was somehow also super comfortable. I missed how quickly they dried after a sweaty workout. I missed wearing them in conjunction with their matching crop top–one of the few coordinated workout sets I actually felt like myself in. Eventually my moping reached a fever pitch even I had to admit was bordering on the absurd, especially since there was an easy solution. I broke down and bought a replacement, only to ironically find the missing pair just a few days later. Yet another gorgeous lesson from my friend life.
What are some things you didn’t know you loved until they were gone? Submit your own list in the comments.