When I landed in Dallas to visit my friend at Southern Methodist University, her hair was blonder than I remembered.

In the car we didn’t put the music on, we talked — we hadn’t missed a beat. We were different — she said “y’all” and her hair was bleached, mine was brown and I was still a full-blown Yankee, but that didn’t matter.

“Do you have any brunette friends?” I joked.

“Of course … two.”

“Do a lot of girls have boob jobs?”

I had just come from Houston where everyone had big perky boobs compared to my average uneven ones.

“Yeah … I guess they do sorta.”

“Do you think you’ll get one?” I laughed.

“Of course. Aren’t you going to? I mean, Chloë, your boobs are different sizes.”

I rolled my eyes. I don’t plan on ever getting a boob job. I always thought the lopsidedness gave me character — I guess it’s not the same in the South.

When I got to her sorority house, it seemed that her friends were just like my friends; although they weren’t as accepting of outfits that didn’t match, they still talked about boys and were ready to throw back shots of tequila.

Their dinner conversation was slightly different though. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about marriage over nachos at Box. But in Dallas, it was normal for me to be two seats away from a married 21-year-old whose friends’ ears were pressed against her stomach so they could feel her baby kick.

The girls tried on her wedding ring; one stared at the diamond and told me she felt empowered wearing it.

Empowered? How could being locked up to someone feel empowering? How could picturing yourself going into labor instead of having a career be empowering?

But I guess it is. Not to me, but to some people. For some people, a relationship and a diamond ring is the way they find happiness. My friend will work for four years, maybe more, maybe less, but that’s not where she’ll find her smile. She’d rather raise a child and play tennis. I always thought you had to travel to a different country to get a taste of a new culture. Maybe that was ignorant of me: you can just travel to a different state.

My friend knows her entire wedding party. She knows every cut of diamond and told me she wants a “cushion cut” (I still don’t know what that means). She knows the exact dress she wants (it’s on her Pinterest board) as well as the bouquet she will hold (white and pink peonies).

“Wait, you don’t know what diamond you want, Chloë?”

“No … I thought you had to find a husband first.”

But then again, I am single. She and all her friends have boyfriends. All of them. I have one friend at Yale with a boyfriend, and they’re long-distance. It started making me think — is she right and am I wrong? Should I know what diamond cut I want? Should I be looking for a boyfriend instead of chugging cheap champagne in the basement of Toad’s with the football team?

Not a chance.

Dancing at Zeta late night and making out on rooftops is what makes me smile.

I can’t judge my friend for her blonde hair or her plan to have fake boobs; I love her too much. In two years, or maybe one, I’ll be in her wedding party. I’ll make sure the flowers are perfect and pull everyone onto the dance floor after she cuts the cake. I probably won’t have a plus one to bring, but that’s okay. Happiness is weird like that; there is no true definition, no matter what Webster’s says.

Happiness can’t be defined by words at all. It’s a notion, a secret chant within our hearts; it just takes a little while to discover it. But once we find it, we need to take it and run, never looking back or asking for approval from friends — if they disapprove, they aren’t our friends at all. For me, happiness is dancing until my feet hurt and I need to climb under my covers with a glass of water; for her, happiness is dreaming about her future wedding and cuddling with her boyfriend. That makes her smile, and that makes me happy.


chloe.drimal@yale.edu .