For a moment I contemplated saying, "No" -- telling her that I don't drink tequila, that I'm too old to take shots, that I can't possibly mix hard alcohol with Sauvignon Blanc.
"That's a hangover waiting to happen," said the voice in my head.
"That's a good time waiting to happen," countered a different voice, the voice of the girl I occasionally was in college when I wasn't busy retyping my history notes or hydrating for a cross-country race.
Instead of heeding the preliminary warning, instead of being the boring, grown up version of myself that stays in on Friday nights to do a face mask and make granola, I found myself nodding. I found myself reaching out for the shot glass and studiously following Ashley's lead.
I found myself taking the red pill.
Salt, tequila, lime.
I'd blame it on Ashley and Palm Springs and the craziness that is a bachelorette weekend with seven other girls who have all been wound a little tight as of late, but the truth is I wanted that shot. Just like I wanted to go to see The Hunger Games even though I hadn't read the book yet last month, just like I wanted to order the entire dessert menu a few Saturdays ago, just like I wanted to stay out until after midnight drinking beer with friends a couple weeks ago on a school night.
I was, and I am, tired of coming up with reasons to say, "No."
My mission to make 2012 "the year of yes" was fully realized in Palm Springs two weekends ago. I took the tequila shot. I stayed up past 2 a.m. And then past 3 a.m. the next night. I wore a fedora and a romper without shame. I painted my toenails turquoise. I went swimming in the pool. I got my hair wet. I lounged outside for hours reading and staring into the piercing blue horizon. I told a random guy I wanted to squeeze his oversized beard. And then I did. Twice. I flopped on the bed until my lower legs were bruised beyond recognition. I ate all the hash browns. I played ping pong in my bikini without worrying about whether anyone was looking at my cellulite. I drank sparkling wine out of a pink can -- with a straw. I dove on top of the giant plastic orca whale.
I took the red pill.
Except in my personal, inverse version of the Matrix, Palm Springs was the illusion; LA is reality.
I've been fighting a case of post-Palm Springs depression since leaving the 100 degree poolside cocoon two weeks ago. When I'm not asking Ashley why we aren't presently in Palm Springs, I'm doing what I can to recapture the carefree feeling I experienced there. I'm cooking dinner (carefully) in my bikini. I'm keeping my toenails painted turquoise even though I suspect it makes my toes look like alien bobbleheads. I'm drinking spicy cocktails that have tequila in them instead of my standard glass of Sauv Blanc.
And when I'm ready for a little kernel of reality, a hit of the blue pill to counterbalance all that "craziness," I'm eating this quinoa salad.
Carrots, currants, chickpeas.
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 1/3 cups chicken broth or water
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup currants
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup minced red onion
1 (16-oz) can chickpeas (1 1/2 cups), drained and rinsed well
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3-4 handfuls of arugula
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional, but recommended)
Bring water or chicken broth to a boil. Add the quinoa, ginger and currants and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the white shells have separated from the quinoa kernels. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and set aside to "dry" for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together apple cider vinaigrette, olive oil, honey, and Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper.
Once quinoa has cooled and "dried out" sufficiently, toss with shredded carrots, red onion, chickpeas, and apple cider vinaigrette. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, toss with arugula and almonds. Serve immediately.