Many things have changed over the past year. We entered into a global catastrophe, otherwise known as the COVID-19 Pandemic, we got a new president, and copyright on The Great Gatsby expired. We have dealt with loss, we have adapted, and we have persevered. One thing that has not changed, though? I’m still single.
That’s right; single as a Pringle, party of one, independently owned and operated. Don’t get me wrong, though, I have no complaints. I like to think of myself as a modern Jane Austen. Keep an eye out for the book I’ve been writing… all ten pages of it. It’s a real page turner. You’ll burn right through it. I am married to my art, after all.
With that being said, I still feel the same single-pain that many other singles feel around the time of the holidays, but especially from that last, back-handed slap to the face of the season – Valentine’s Day. I love what I do and I love that I’m chasing my dreams, but Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year I fall prey to Hallmark and almost feel sorry for myself.
That is, until I grab two bottles of wine (one Côtes du Rhône and one Whispering Angel… I have a system, ok?), I put on my favorite pajamas, and I grab my cats. Then I pour a glass that I’ll sip on while putting in a hair mask and globbing on a face mask to match. Last but not least, I grab ole reliable Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.
With Valentine’s Day only ten days away, what better time to dedicate a Throwback Thursday to the novel that changed the game of romance for me? Want to know the best part, though? I was fourteen when Fifty Shades of Grey was first published. I was nervous my mom would take it away and so I concocted an entire scheme to be able to read it.
I realized that I could not bring a physical copy of it into the house. I am too indiscreet to hide it and she is too nosey that I knew she would find it. The thought of that was too mortifying. Instead, I got a Visa gift card from the drugstore in town that I then used to purchase Fifty Shades via Apple Books (which might have been called iBooks at the time if I remember correctly). Totally untraceable and totally genius for fourteen-year-old Lisa.
I read the entire book in less than a week, but I only read it in bed and at night when I was supposed to be sleeping. I had found out about dark mode for the first time and I utilized it to my advantage, making it so the background was black and the words were white. I have very sensitive eyes, as I would find out years after this that I have pretty bad astigmatism. Therefore, this was the only way I could stare at my phone to read those tiny words through tired eyes for hours.
As I said earlier, I was only fourteen when I read this book. In retrospect maybe I was a bit young, but reading it was the scandalous thing all of the girls my age were doing. Never mind Twilight – could you believe the things Christian Grey was doing? I’m pretty sure most of us had never even heard of dominants or submissives before reading Fifty Shades. I know I hadn’t.
I have always been a fan of romance, already having read a good collection of Nicholas Sparks and Judy Bloom books in addition to all of the Twilight and Hunger Games series. Fifty Shades of Grey gave me a real rush while reading though. Sure, I felt like a bit of a rebel reading the sex scenes, but it was the passion exploding off of the page that wowed me.
I will admit that Fifty Shades of Grey is probably equal to Twilight in terms of how realistic it is. However, it was the first grown-up book I read about love and sex. This is still in my pre- Sex and the City days, so it gave me a relationship to blindly idolize until I would finally be introduced to Carrie Bradshaw and the Big/Aidan love triangle.
Each year, I read Fifty Shades of Grey when I begin to feel a hint of pity for myself because it reminds me of my experience reading it for the first time in secret. It reminds me of the heart-pumping, face-blushing thrill it gave me. It reminds me that if the only thing giving me those feelings right now is my work, then work is what I am meant to be focusing on.
If I have gone twenty-three years without a real relationship, I am not going to settle now for some shmuck with a box of chocolates that I don’t even like.
FEATURED IMAGE VIA BFI