How I Became a One Direction Meme
I’m not sure if this is normal, but if a friend is introducing me to a stranger, the opening line is typically:
“Oh, so-and-so, this is Morgan, she loves One Direction more than she loves herself.”
This years/balls deep relationship I have with one of the most iconic pop culture phenomenons of the 21st century has nearly turned into my most defining characteristic. They have literally infiltrated and occupied my life. They’ve turned me into a walking meme, at least one of them may or may not have a weird impression of me, they don’t even really exist anymore, and honestly, I still have an undying love for them.
Honestly, it’s hard to find a proper beginning for this story. I think the best way to start is to mention that this doesn’t actually start with me.
1. The Beginning of My Fandom
In 2013, I was a junior in high school, loved Bjork and sad indie music, and paid no mind to 1D or their seemingly cult-like hype. Unlike me, one of my best friends, a friend who I’ve known now for nearly a decade, dived headfirst into 1D culture. Obviously, she wasn’t silent about this leap, either. Said friend would frequently pull moves like sending me 1D memes from Tumblr or plugging into my aux cord (MY aux cord) and blasting “What Makes You Beautiful” (or worse, “Stole my Heart”).
2. August 2014
Not that I ever hated One Direction, but eventually these tactics got to me and I grew a soft spot for them; a capacity to learn their names, personalities, and vocal ranges. I didn’t consider myself a fan, but I knew about them, and for my best friend, that was enough. So imagine how I felt on December 14th, 2013, when instead of a cute birthday card and twenty dollars, this friend pulled out a shirt with Harry Styles’ baby face square in the middle and premium tickets to see One Direction live at Nationals Park in Washington D.C., August 11th, 2014. Coincidentally, the date of the show was on her birthday.
Funny enough, I remember just saying “Oh my god. Thank you? Zayn is my favorite, though.”
From then, I decided to step deeper into the wormhole of 1D to prepare for the potentially life-changing event that was the Where We Are tour. About a week before the show, my friend suggested making outfits. Being that 1D concerts are notorious for hosting wild fan outfits and signs that express cute fandom jokes or more direct messages such as “Fuck me *insert band member*,” the pressure was on.
Taking inspiration from this wide array of expression, we figured choosing our favorite member and plastering their face on the ass of some white Wal-Mart brand shorts was a solid way to go.
Needless to say, I had the best fucking time. The experience was like being baptized in the water that is screaming girls, fireworks, and five gorgeous, foreign boys. But after the show, I figured it was over. That was it. A cute moment with my best friend with cute boys singing to us and other cute fans.
3. November 2014
Fast forward to November in my freshman year of university and my phone is blowing up with texts from folks back home saying “have you seen tumblr??” or a simple “bitch!!!!!!!!”
Of course, I had no idea what anyone was referring to but a couple of links, explanations, and 87,674 tumblr notes later I got the picture. I had been turned into a meme. A simple Instagram collage of the front and back of my Zayn look: a giant smile on my face, Birkenstocks, iPhone in one hand, tote bag on the shoulder, Zayn on my ass. Somehow, I became the Directioners’ poster child with nearly every reblog and comment saying “me” or “same.”
I was so into it. Naturally, this look had to have a sequel.
4. Summer 2015
Zayn leaves the band. I. am. floored. My phone is flooded with messages from friends asking if I’m okay and I am left with a broken heart and a ticket to see what I thought would be five brothers being charismatic and charming and doing what they loved. I contemplated not even pulling a look as a symbol of mourning.
This heartbreak, though, influenced my second look. The front of my body: Harry’s face on each breast and both legs. The back: the classic move of Zayn’s face on each butt-cheek and on my back with the text, “RISE.”
Reflecting on this look, I would say that it could have been read as a bit divisive. But I do feel that it symbolized the feelings of many other concert-goers who lived for Zayn’s falsetto. We loved the boys, but we couldn’t wait to see Zayn take the world for all it had.
This love and appreciation and outfit making didn’t prepare me for actually meeting Harry Styles, though. I actually have no idea what the hell would have prepared me for that.
5. Summer 2016
One Direction is on indefinite hiatus. I haven’t listened to their music since “Made in the A.M.” was released.
A friend of mine who I work for asks if I’m available to FaceTime the next day. In a foggy, maybe hungover, maybe just sleepy haze I respond with an enthusiastic yes. Totally assuming it was work related, I figured I could lay low the whole morning and just wait for the presumably casual call. That being said, my idea of laying low is staying in bed all day, chilling in my bra, and binge-watching Bates Motel from 9 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon.
6. The FaceTime
Now I want you to picture how shook you would be if you answered a FaceTime call from your friend and they handed the phone to Harry Styles. Sis… I was beyond shook. I was shook straight.
My initial reaction was to turn my mouth into the largest “O” ever and just repeat “Holy shit, how are you?” Fortunately for my awe-struck ass, he was really patient and as “Harry Styles” as you could imagine. Sweet, British, gorgeous, good at small talk. The sun was in his eyes and he couldn’t find a bad angle if he tried.
I mentioned that I had seen him with the boys twice and he responded with an “aw thanks” and asked where. At one point, I think I mentioned that the fireworks at the shows were great, to which he responded with, “Yeah, they were pretty great. I liked them too.” Why not mention the other boys and ask how they were? Why did I not ask about Zayn? Why did I mention the fireworks and not his beautiful, fresh haircut? I don’t fucking know.
Essentially, I am forever indebted to my friend and I haven’t been able to comfortably “lay low” since.
Everyone I know has and still keeps me on my toes about my love for 1D. I appreciate this. It’s been a while since I’ve had a night where I’ve gotten wine-drunk with friends singing all of “Take Me Home” and fighting back tears of joy and love. Of course, with all of the 1D related news this week, this crazy nostalgia has been haunting me and pressuring me to have another one of those nights. Even though they’re absent from my everyday, they’re forever in my heart and I, forever in their clusterfuck of a history.