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the heathers
four shades of me
by heather m. millen
6.26.06
writing

When I was younger, my favorite movie was "Heathers." Maybe it's because I secretly needed my Brenda Walsh fix long before there was a Brenda Walsh. Or maybe, somewhere underneath my JV cheerleading uniform and newspaper editor cap, I was a bit high-school-dark-comedy-evil myself. Teenage suicide? Don't do it.

But truth be known, I think I mainly liked it because the title was my name... plural. And despite the fact that half of the American females born between 1977-1980 were named Heather, I whole-heartedly believe it's the best name in the world. My mother once said to me, "I named you Heather because I knew you'd grow as the flower does... beautiful and wild." Hands down the best compliment ever.

And just like the flower, no two Heathers are alike. Or maybe that's snowflakes, but you get my drift. In fact, I look at my life and I would venture to say that there are four Heathers all wrapped up in me. They've lived different places, they've each experienced things uniquely, they all have different dreams and desires. Just like in the movie, some are meek and some are bold. Some sweet and others spicy. The only thing that binds these disparate personalities together is that they're all SMOKING HOT! And humble.

The first Heather is five years old... she's running through strawberry patches, picking berries in her favorite red and white polka dot dress. Her first "boyfriend" got it for her as a birthday present. She will wear it long after it actually fits and then she will insist her mother pack it away in a box for her to keep. When she finally runs back to her grandmother's house with the basket, few berries remain. Instead, there's an immense amount of sweet, thick syrupy juices dripping from her proud, dimpled grin.

I have seen pictures of this little Heather. And the one thought I always have as I stare into her face is, "I wonder what this girl is thinking. What is she feeling?" I CANNOT, for the life of me, identify with this girl. I do not see her as a version of my former self. She is her own person. She seems independent, is probably stubborn at times, and looks at the world with wide eyes. She idolizes her grandmother and she's in awe of her father.

The second Heather is fourteen years old. She's still a bit of that child but she's growing into her own. She's a dreamer. A poet. On hot summer nights, she walks out onto her front porch and writes in her journal while looking out over the countryside that surrounds her home. She loves sappy love songs and "Dedication Hour" on the radio. She has a wooden swing that her father has built her on the edge of the porch. The porch is built onto a hill, so it stands eight feet from the ground. As she pushes off from the edge, she arcs her back and points her toes to the stars… she's soaring, yet only 10-11 feet from the ground! She has her entire life ahead of her and she can't wait for it to begin. She's ready to shed her small town and she knows that anything is possible.

For regular Intrepid readers, the third Heather is well-known and, I would imagine, either adored or despised. She's grown up just a tad bit more with you all by her side. She's graduated college, crossed the country and come back. She's basked in the SoCal sunshine and has had more adventures than any one girl from Pennsy has a right to. She sees herself as more of a California girl than anything else, despite her travels, yet she felt out of place there in so many ways.

She's entered the working world and established herself in a capacity she could be proud of. She's ambitious, career-oriented, driven for success and downright determined to have the most fabulous time imaginable on the road there. This Heather has no time for love but she has plenty of time for play. She never refers to boyfriends by their first name, but by cute nicknames like "the Hawaiian," "Boy," "the Freshman" and "the Nineteen-Year-old." But no midget.

Our final Heather is alive, well, and, as she's finally been FORCED to admit, in love. Sometimes to the point of preoccupation. She's been known to "moon" over her boyfriend, whom she always refers to by his full name (Paul Rudd). She lives in Boston, which is in itself VERITABLE EVIDENCE that she is crazy in love because all it does is rain and snow there. And she feels just a little less fabulous without a tan. She's still driven but she's not quite as sure where she's going as she once was. And now she's starting to contemplate "pit stops" along the way that have a lot more to do with wedding vows and picket fences than Trailer Trash Drag Nights and Foam Parties. She figures there will be a balance in there somewhere.

After all, she’s just a strawberry loving daddy’s girl, with a penchant for Chicago songs, a star tattoo on her back that she got impulsively one rowdy night on the Sunset Strip and a boyfriend that loves her for all of this... for who she is rather than in spite of any of it. And maybe, just maybe, she wants to drag him along on her every adventure. Four Heathers... and a lot of time to create many, many more.


ABOUT HEATHER M. MILLEN

Heather has a penchant for drama, both personally and professionally. She secretly wishes people spoke in song and wholeheartedly believes that everyone deserves a standing ovation now and again. She finds it appalling that people reserve champagne only for special occasions, when champagne is clearly best on a Tuesday, while riding the subway, accompanying a slice of kick-ass pizza.

more about heather m. millen

IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...

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published: 12.26.03





COMMENTS

sandra thompson
6.26.06 @ 8:42a

That was just delightful, Heather. I've always felt there were four of me in here, not attached to any particular time: the nun, the slut, the madonna and the artiste. (Note the "e" on the end of artiste. A synonym might be "diva," except it's not just for singing.) I think we're all a combination of several rather distinct personalities. The madonna in us doesn't develop until after we have children of our own usually, although I have a couple of childless friends who have become madonnas to their nieces and nephews and the children of their friends. Madonna can also develop in relation to a childish husband or SO. The nun is that person who becomes morally outraged at various injustices and is the guardian of all that super-ego stuff. The slut is the sensual, pleasure-seeking, party girl. The artiste is more of an aspiration than a reality, but is firmly grounded on the notion that life is art, or at least should be. Regrettably, rather than leading the life of a great novel, mine has mostly alternated between soap opera and sitcom. Mostly sitcom. Puccini would never consider my life worth his efforts to dramatize. Sigh! But it works for me, and I guess that's the important part.

Plesae note that I have no clue what the bunch of people inside an American male might be. Little boy, bigger boy, grown-up boy? Or maybe serious boy, funny boy, responsible boy, party boy? Who knows? They're all boys!!! Which is why so many of us love them so much, I suppose.

tracey kelley
6.26.06 @ 1:55p

"I CANNOT, for the life of me, identify with this girl...She is her own person. She seems independent, is probably stubborn at times, and looks at the world with wide eyes."

Oh babe, that is -so- you.

I'm having a hard time adjusting to Sandra as a slut. blink blink

I think it's exciting to explore facets of ourselves. I was explaining to someone this weekend that my "personality" self is just one part of me - the part that can work a crowd, tell the jokes, isn't afraid to speak up and out on anything...

...but that is just one element of me. However, she didn't quite believe me, and thought that it was easy for me to be so extroverted all the time. Those who really know me understand that I ebb and flow.

I don't think of our "selves" as passages in time as much as layers we uncover as needed.

Love for Heather and Mikey! Awwwww....

brian anderson
6.26.06 @ 5:44p

One of the things I find most awe-inspiring about people is that they are not only all these different personalities but all the ones in between. So often we find a role for ourselves in which only one comes to the fore (witness the difference between someone on Intrepid and what they're like in real life), but it's the sheer multitude of never-ending variety that make me love people on my good days. I like my women, I say, the way I like my beer: complex and with a good head.

jael mchenry
6.27.06 @ 2:37p

I don't see why you couldn't have wedding vows AT a foam party. That would be a heck of a receiption.

alex b
6.28.06 @ 8:44a

One of the things I remember most from Heathers is "Que Sera Sera":

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.


Who you are, you are.

katie morris
6.28.06 @ 3:14p

I only remember that song sung by Doris Day in "The Man Who Knew Too Much." Who knew it was in "Heathers"? Maybe I need to put that one in my queue.

heather millen
6.28.06 @ 3:22p

...but that is just one element of me. However, she didn't quite believe me, and thought that it was easy for me to be so extroverted all the time. Those who really know me understand that I ebb and flow.

I can completely relate to this. When I first moved to LA, I lived with a friend of mine who knew me primarily as "extroverted, borderline giddy all the time Heather." He was surprised to see me in any other light. For the first few days, he just kept asking if anything was wrong. I explained that if I was always super-happy-giddy Heather all the time, I'd fall over from exhaustion.

I think there are many aspects of one's personality, some come out at different times of ones life as seen here, but at any given point, there are clearly layers. I think it's those layers that develop at different stages of life... and then they're with you forever. In some capacity.

jason gilmore
6.30.06 @ 10:56a

Funny, I fell asleep watching "Heathers" on the Sundance Channel last night.

mike julianelle
6.30.06 @ 11:36a

I hope you didn't fall asleep reading it!

mike julianelle
6.30.06 @ 11:37a

Best line in the movie? "I do NOT patronize bunny rabbits!"

jael mchenry
6.30.06 @ 3:03p

Eh, I'm partial to "I love my dead gay son!"

brian anderson
6.30.06 @ 4:40p

I like "Our love is God. Let's go get a Slushie."



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