Dolly Alderton’s everything I know about
parties, dates, friends, jobs, life, love is the memoir that every twenty-something, thirty-something needs. Dolly documents the years leading up to her 30th birthday – the relationships, the friendships, the moments she’ll never forget and the nights she wishes she could. I laughed, I cried, and I found myself thinking about love and the many ways she defined it over the years, the many ways I’ve defined it over the years, and everything I knew about it then and know about it now.
Everything I Knew About Love as a Teenager
I’m 15 and love is the sound of me racing my brother up the driveway to log on to our shared family desktop, an e-machine my dad gifted us for Christmas, it’s the sound of AOL dialing up and me clearing my away message so that all my friends and potential suitors can see that school’s out and I’m online. I’m waiting on one of two boys with the same first name to message me, but they never do, so I talk to my friends for hours and we LOL at sending random messages to random classmates and then saying “OPPS WRONG BOX!” Then we sign off for dinner and call each other to catch up. When I see my crush in class the next day I stare at him from afar and doodle hearts in my notebook, he has no idea that I’m reading his statuses and away messages like forbidden love letters to me, obviously his heart aches for mine.
I decide to take wood shop as my elective my sophomore year, knowing I’ll be the only girl in the class and basically guaranteeing that I’ll land a boyfriend, building stuff – major cool points with the boys. Except, all the boys make drug paraphernalia in wood shop using the lathe and I make an advent calendar, losing major cool points with the boys. Still no boyfriend.
At 16 I’ve basically decided that I’ll never be kissed and will almost certainly die alone.
But all the sudden, I’m a junior and I know for a fact that love smells exactly like Ralph Lauren Blue. Love also wears ironic t-shirts from Hot Topic and has a less than ironic hair cut. Love is on the cross country team with me and runs at a snail’s pace to ask me about my favorite band: Vampire Weekend. He calls me “hallway babe” via text message and I am in love. I know that love happens on a school bus being shuttled to and from cross country meets in October, sharing headphones. Love is a cafeteria kiss that’s lit by a novelty ice cream machine and it’s putting yourself “in a relationship” on Facebook. It’s holding hands and making out so hard core on the lockers that the art teacher actually has to tell you to stop.
Love smells exactly like Ralph Lauren Blue, but love also calls me crazy and makes me feel small and insignificant and insecure. Sometimes love walks out of Spanish class flirting with another girl and sometimes love tells me things that aren’t true, but love is all-consuming, and I can’t get enough.
Everything I Knew About Love at Twenty
I’m 20, working at Starbucks when a tall cup of new boyfriend walks in. He’s wearing a varsity jacket and orders a caramel macchiato – I write on his cup “Thanks a latte” and 10 days later we are in love. On our first date love goes to the bathroom when the check comes, but love drives a Jaguar and is handsome and makes me forget about my high school boyfriend. Love gifts me a pair of diamond earrings for my twentieth birthday – we’ve known each other 8 days.
For three months, love is staying out late, it’s driving down to New York City to see French Montana, and love smells a little bit like weed, even though I’ve never smoked it. Love tastes like peach Moscato and cigarettes and love also makes me wish that I met his best friend first because he seems like such a nice, responsible guy.
Love loses his job and forgets to tell me and then love eventually stops answering my texts. The diamond earrings turn out to be cubic zirconia and so was love at twenty.
Everything I Knew About Love at Twenty-One
I’m 21 and I’ve sworn off boys – there’s no such thing as love.
Everything I Know About Love at Twenty-Seven
At 27, I know that love is the sound of him rinsing his hair out of the shower as I’m waking up, it’s a cup of coffee on my nightstand before I open my eyes. It’s him opening the blinds on a sunny morning as I yell “Make it like a cruise ship in here!” Love is drying the dishes he washes. It’s a home cooked meal and stories about our days. It’s new cocktail recipes and falling asleep on the couch watching our shows on a Friday night. It’s asking for help, asking for a hug, communicating all the things we need with each other. Love tucks me in at night and hangs curtain rods. He rubs suntan lotion on my back and asks me what I ate today. He loves my mom and wishes I didn’t have to miss my dad.