Friday, January 30, 2009

Not Alone

It snowed two days prior to this chilly New York morning. The snow had started to melt and I thought it time to put my snow boots away for a day. On went my sexy ankle boots that coordinated perfectly with my black tights and pencil skirt; fashioned for my last day of work before heading home for a Christmas break. Walking down my upper West Side, tree lined block the smell of breakfast was in the air. Turning the corner from the brownstones to the projects I rushed by moms and kids, students on their way to school and lots of busy people hurrying for their daily subway commute to work. Rushing down the subway station stairs, as I do everyday, I slipped. A patch of melted ice hidden from my unfocused sight snuck beneath my foot. One foot slipped off the stair, one heal caught, first hit my knees and then my shins hit another step and then another step, before I landed face down on the cold, concrete, subway station, floor. Body frozen, legs twisted, mulberry bag squashed beneath me, my mind was spinning. As I began to regain consciousness of my surroundings, I realized I was surrounded by a crowd of concerned neighbors. The C train they were all rushing for had come and gone as they stood around me trying to lift me. I tried to convince them to get on the train, that I would be fine, but they wouldn’t leave. More people came and tried to move me to a bench, but I insisted on staying put, perched on the step that bruised my ribs. As I insisted they get on the next train, most of them did…. But as more people came, more people stopped with concern. One man asked if I was alright, leaning down to look me in the face; I told him I was fine but just needed to sit there for a minute. He ignored me completely and ran to tell an MTA employee. He came back down, asked how I was again and sternly proclaimed, “You say you are alright, but your eyes tell me you are not alright. I am gonna stay right here.” Once I finally regained my breath and was able to assess the situation, I figured I was fine to limp back home. This friendly stranger stayed not too far off until I retreated back up the stairs, proving to him I would make it home. His kindness along with all the others filled my heart with a gregarious feeling of belonging. In that moment, my neighborhood claimed and cared for me. The rich diversity that encompasses my block wrapped their arms around me and called me their own. I am thankful for this city I call home.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Forgiving and Forgetting…sometimes it just takes you by surprise

I am one who neither forgives nor forgets easily. I mull, I stew, I create fantastically elaborate scenarios in my head. What if this happened, what if that happened? What if I said this at the beginning, didn’t say anything at all? Perhaps I could prevent things that eventually become that annoying buzzing around and in and throughout my head, unwanted and even dreaded for the flare-ups of frustration and anger that they produce in me at the most random of moments.

This inability taints what it touches and especially has a significant effect on how I view people in my life. When someone acts in a way that tarnishes my opinion of them, it is difficult for me to see past the cloudy build up of my bewilderment and disgust and even judgment and realize that sometimes one incident does not sum up the worth of the whole person. Even while struggling through this, trying to force myself out of this hateful trap, I feel a twinge of disbelief, mistrust, or wariness when I am with those who had acted in such an unforgettable, unforgivable manner.

However, recently, I was utterly knocked over the head with the fact that somehow, at some unknown instant in time, I have completely gotten over certain misdeeds of the past. I have forgiven the perpetrators and have forgotten the old feelings that reflecting upon their actions used to arise in me. More than a nothingness, I feel almost an amusement now when I think about them. A curiosity. A desire to know what in the hell where they thinking or weren’t thinking. The judgment call. The cost-benefit analysis. A stratagem? What what what? I now see the hilarity where there was none before. How human it is. A delightful mystery. And this makes me happy. It makes me happy to have the ability to once again look upon these people without a shade over my eyes. To place value upon our relationships based on a larger spectrum of interactions. To not distress and have once again have a carefree-ness in our words and actions toward each other. A joke, a laugh of mirth, and it is over.

Who would have thought that forgiving and forgetting would be so easy.

"It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends." - Joan Didion

Boy and Girl meet for the third time in a group of mutual friends. Palpable chemistry. He's tall. She loves that. He's a little sarcastic. She fires right back.

"So," she asks, "What are you doing for the Super Bowl?"
"I'll probably get a lot of food and eat it at my place," he answers, new and lonely in the city. "Want to come over?" She should've said yes. But she was lame instead.
"Dude! Come out with us!"
"Well, I don't have any of your contact info."
"I don't have yours." Pregnant pause.
Well, ask for it, you dummy. "Why don't you ask for it?" Whoops. She should've been nicer.
"Because I don't do that."
"Well, maybe you should make a little effort."
"I should, huh?"

Maybe it was supposed to be a joke, but she'd been burned in the beginning way too many times to waste breath on a Boy and not a Man. He left the bar that night, still without any of her info.

Cut to the next night... Girl lazing on Friend's couch. Late. Sans makeup. Text message... unknown number.
"What up sunshine, this is Boy. What are you up to tonight?" Blood rushes to her cheeks.
"Hi! I'm actually being super lame and going home soon."
"That is lame. So when can I see you? This is me making that effort that you talked about."

This is the story of how one tiny word creeps into Girl's psyche, curls up in her brain, and hibernates for all eternity...

Effort. And it made all the difference.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Textimony, Part Two

two days later...

Him: Aww. You didn't have to erase me from facebook. Erase me from your life. Before when I called you all I wanted to do was talk. How are you how am I. I wasn't ...
H: asking you for anything. Just you in my life though not much just a hello. Now I don't even have facebook and you won't answer. It's ok but why do you want me to ...
H: disappear? I guess that's what you want. For me to disappear. You want to know nothing about me? About what is going on in my life?
H: And you were the one who said that you check my facebook and myspace everyday. I don't. I just don't want to lose contact. Especially if something important ...
H: happens to me that I wish to share with you. You even put that feature where I can't find you! Ha. It's really ok I understand I just didn't want to lose you all ...
H: together! Ok sorry. I will leave you alonesies. Really. Adios. Good luck!!

Technology, a blessing and a curse.


Me: Do you have work tomorrow?
Him: No. I've called you.
H: What's going on?
M: I want to talk to you about it, but if you don't want to it's understandable.
H: Well talk about what first off?
H: Please tell me?
M: Nevermind, just let it be as it is.
H: You can't do that. That's mean. Please? I've tried to call. Just tell me. It's important.
H: I don't even know what's going on.
M: It's been two years since you destroyed me in front of the cafe, and that's just too long.
H: Destroyed is a horrible word. It hurt me so much too you don't even know.
H: What's going on?
M: There's no one new. I'm just done.
H: Ok. I'm sorry. Good luck. I deserve it. I know I do.
H: I deserve to have lost such a wonderful thing in my life. I love you and always always will. I think about you everyday. This is sad.
H: I'm at a loss for words. Or just at a loss. Hope you enjoyed your trip to NYC.
H: I wish the best for you really.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The kindness of strangers

Today I will once again walk out into the below freezing temperatures of this city. My eyes, stung by the icy breeze, will tear up and I will hastily wipe the tears away before they congeal into salty little icicles on my lashes. Inevitably someone I know will be walking by and will stop to ask – everything okay?

This is not New York.

There was another time when I walked through city streets with tears streaming down my face. These tears were real, not just some weather inspired phenomenon. Someone very dear to me was in the hospital – on his deathbed actually. I walked along holding my cell phone so tightly that my fingers were later white from the strain. I ended the call not even knowing that I was already crying from the terrible news. I cried my heart out, not caring to even put up a fight for presentability and appearances. The streets were full of strangers, all moving on without a second glance, protecting me from questions and feelings I did not have the strength to face, allowing me my moment by the very lack of interest that might make them appear heartless.

If that happened here I would stifle my sobs and postpone my fear and sadness just to avoid the concerned questions. I would risk slipping on the ice and walk quickly to avoid a look of sympathy that would make me break down completely.

I crave the warmth and comfort of anonymity that New York offers.

Sometimes when waiting to cross a street I remember a story JKL told me. She had been standing, waiting to cross the street, and there was a little boy and a dog also waiting to cross. As she watched them engage in a staring contest, the boy barked at the dog! Mrphrhaha. Even now I chortle out loud to think of it. I don’t even know if the story is funny, but JKL’s expressions and the mirth of the moment still bring a chuckle, sometimes even a guffaw, to my lips.

I strain to change my chuckles into sneezes here. I wouldn’t want an acquaintance to think of me as “that girl who laughs for no reason as she walks.” A friend would ask what was so funny. I think explanations kind of kill the joke. New York would let me double up with laughter over seemingly nothing at all if I so pleased.

Well, out I go now. I must remember to school my features into not-my-walking-face. Apparently I look angry or upset when I’m just walking about. I have been asked “what’s wrong?” or been told “smile a little!” even when in a perfectly good mood. Apparently I am supposed to go around like a nutjob grinning at the world all day long. Who knows. I prefer not to invite questions of “what’s wrong” when nothing, in fact, is wrong. So even if my new walking-face invites the flyer-people to think they have found a friend and even if it’s difficult to keep from frowning at the inhumanely cold conditions here I shall de-furrow my brow.

Perhaps when I leave this place I’ll miss the friendly hellos and smiles that I encounter here as I’m walking out to get some milk. Or, of course, I’ll be able to stumble out in pajamas looking an absolute horror to get milk for my cereal and not give a damn.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Cheating Heart

When I met New York City at age 18, it was pretty much love at first sight.

Sure I'd met her before. On field trips, weekend excursions with my family, for Broadway shows at the holidays, and for shopping trips with my friends as teenagers. After all, I grew up a mere 1 hour and 15 minutes away on NJ transit. And when I decided to move to NYC for college for all of the cliché reasons (to leave behind those boring suburbs, to venture into a world of unknowns where no one knew my name and where adventure was peeking out from behind each street corner, to soak in the culture and the arts, to have opportunities knocking at my life would, of course, be very chic and sophisticated and my wardrobe would bare a striking resemblance to that of Carrie Bradshaw), I imagined I would love it. But once I really soaked it all in and accepted that most of my delusions about city life were in fact delusions, I surprisingly loved it even more than I had imagined. I thought it was true love. And I did indeed think New York loved me back.

That is until I met Paris...

I had different delusions about Paris than I had when I was moving to New York. But those cliches about Paris are really just true. Everything is just painfully adorable, the women are strikingly chic and enviably thin, the wine practically does flow down the Seine and the bread is really that damn good. Life was simple and wonderful and refreshingly slower and I had forgotten my old girl New York in a flash.

Now I may be a bit biased in my undying love for the City of Light. After all, it was there that I fell in love. You may be thinking that I fall in love an awful lot and that I'm throwing that word around a little loosely. But this time it was for real. And with a human being. The best human being I've met yet.

So after successfully fulfilling the ultimate Parisian cliché of falling in love and kissing below the Tour Eiffel, and skipping along the Seine, etc. I returned tearfully to NY for my last year of school. We, of course, quickly made up. I remembered why I'd loved her so much in the first place and she forgave me for the affair with the European. But NY was lacking one very important thing (besides the baguettes). My new love.

Now this wonderful specimen of human who came into my life like a whirlwind and changed everything in a week (talk about Tourbillon de la Vie), he is from neither Paris nor New York. Nope, he's from that other east coast ville known not for it's bright lights and big culture but rather for it's...clam chowder...beans... and over zealous sports fans--none of which are exactly my cup of tea. After about a year of traveling back and forth between NY and Boston, I slowly convinced myself that I could love Boston, too...maybe. It was cute and there were a lot of bricks and pubs and, of course, my boy who had a whole other year of school left to complete. With my diploma in the mail and no real plans for the future except being with him forever, I decided I'd pack up my life and leave my first love behind. It was just a year, I told myself, and besides it'll be a new adventure, a change of scenery. I'm going to love it, aren't I?

It's 5 months in. There's snow everywhere. I need about 10 layers on before I venture into the tundra that is this poorly planned city and get on the slowest moving subway in the world. I miss New York. I miss my friends. (I work from home and thus have made no new ones here.) And I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the NY subway. It's not that I have anything in particular against Boston except, of course, the snow. Oh, and that it's neither Paris nor New York. But it's just not the place for me. And I can't help but ask myself sometimes if this was a big mistake. Love does make people do crazy things. So I'm counting the days until the lease is up on our apartment, looking on Craig's List occasionally at Brooklyn abodes (I know- it's way too soon, but it's a compulsion), and most of all I'm hoping that when I come crawling back this fall, that NY will take me back once again.

Now, the other side of the coin is that I love waking up each morning next to the guy I have every intention of waking up next to everyday for the rest of my life. I love cooking dinner with him in our little apartment's littler kitchen. I love tucking my cold feet in the nook behind his knees every night when we're falling asleep in our drafty bedroom. I love how we coach each other to be better writers and put our work out there. I love everything about living with him. But I don't really love anything about where we live. But I guess the thing is that in real relationships with real human beings, you have to sacrifice sometimes and compromise all the time. And truth be told, as much as I whine about Boston, as long as he's here, there's nowhere else I'd rather be.


“Once he gets his placement we’ll know where, we will be sure of things. You know, where we’ll be living and all that” AG nonchalantly tossed out while telling us about how she had introduced her boyfriend to her parents and how things had already become serious to the point of marriage. It’s only a matter of time, the whats whens and wheres to be decided, but the whos already confirmed. AG’s boyfriend is a year ahead of her in school, so once he gets his job placement they will be sure of where they will be living. She will look for a job in the same location.


Sure? How? I mean, of course, okay, fine, sure of where you will be living. I’m pretty sure I want to be living in New York City once I graduate. But maybe I’d like to live in Paris. But if an opportunity came up in Bombay . . . But she is already sure of the person she would be living with – the person with whom she would be spending her life. A location is something you can change, but a person? Not so easy to move away from that. Sure. How? Did she realize that we’re still just barely sure of our own personalities, our own lives, forget about joining them permanently with someone else’s? I can’t even say for sure where I’ll be in five years. Here she was talking about a lifetime.

Another friend, AM, chipped in and said “Oh ya, R and I, we’ll be getting engaged sometime next year once I finish my Masters.” V and her boyfriend too, meanwhile, are about to broach the topic with their parents. I felt like the only ignoramus at the table. Was I the only one who hadn’t been told that the marriage train was taking off? Why wasn’t there anyone else asking my questions? Then I caught M’s glance and relief flooded over me. I wasn’t the only one. Although the majority of the table found AG’s statement disconcertingly normal, at least there were two of us who felt bewildered and confounded.

I mulled this over in the rickshaw as I went home that night. I mulled it over in the taxi to the airport. I mulled it over in the 16 hour flight back to New York. And I mulled over something else AG said to me – “You know, don’t you think it’s funny, the trend of our conversations? Every year you come and visit and we all get together, and every year one of our topics of conversation is relationships. Earlier it was about thinking boys were cute, then it was about dating, then relationships. And now we are talking about marriage. It gets more real every year no?” Yes. It gets more real, more grown up every year. It isn’t really that bizarre that my friends whom I have known since kindergarten and even before, are talking about marriage. We’re all almost 24. None of us is getting married immediately, but the talk has started. Soon it will be about getting engaged. Wedding invitations. I don’t even want to think about the time when we start discussing babies.

But what about M and me? How come we seemed to be the only ones not waiting for that marriage train to pull into the station? How come we were still hedging our bets with refundable round-trips when everyone else seemed to be investing in non-refundable one-way tickets? As we chatted together later we kept coming back to the same question – how could you be SURE? I’ve met someone I care about deeply, someone who makes me happy, someone who interests me, someone who gives me butterflies in my tummy. But am I ready to say “I’m sure”? Am I ready to say that regardless of where life takes me, regardless of whom I meet and what I do, regardless of how the world changes and what I become, I would be with him no matter what? Am I sure that he’s “the one”? And am I sure that I’m “the one” for him? How can I promise to build a life with him when I don’t even know what I want my own life to be? Perhaps it takes a leap of faith. Perhaps it takes imagination. Perhaps it takes a lack of imagination. I see so many possibilities that I cannot honestly say to someone “this is me, I promise to be with you forever.”

Every day I know myself a little bit more. I grow. I change. Only over the past few years have I learnt how to love myself thoroughly and completely for who I am. And I’ve known me for the past 23 ½ years. How long does it take to be “sure”? Well, judging from my friends, anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. I suppose that gives me some time. Then again, I know of relationships that made it through 5 years and then crumbled after a diamond ring made an appearance.

I suppose in the end it is a leap of faith. It’s one I’m not ready to make just yet, but I’m starting to understand how it might be possible. I still have a lot more growing up to do before I make the kinds of decisions that AG, AM and V seem ready to make. But then I suppose that’s what friends like these are for – to clue you in on when bigger steps are possible and to make you analyze and understand yourself by juxtaposing your life with the lives of your friends.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Ex Factor

The Divine Mrs. V

I am always confused by how I'm supposed to feel about the past... nostalgia? To quote Diana Vreeland:

"I loathe nostalgia."

Who wants to look back on the past fondly? Not I. I got a text message the other day from The X: "Just drove by the dance studio and thought of you. I'll be in NY in a few weeks. Will you be around?" The sight of his phone number on my cell phone makes my stomach turn a little and a statement like that makes the bile rise in my throat. Of course I'll be around. I live here. Do I want to see you? No. Not even a little. Okay... maybe a little.

Maybe it isn't the past that gets me. It's the feelings that the people in my past dredge up. There is a need to impress, a desire to achieve a reaction. I'm doing better than you thought I'd be doing, right? I'm better off without you. Is that what life is? Of course we hope we're happy but what we really want is to prove to all the nay-sayers that we could make it. Look at me now!

Sometimes I think I'm not trying to prove it to The X. I'm trying to prove it to myself. Sure, I was happy with you, but now I'm happier. You didn't break me. I'm better now than I've ever been... better than I was with you.

"Hey -- I'll be in Dublin from the 10 to the 17 [LOOK AT ME! GOING ON VACATION! LIAISING WITH ATTRACTIVE EUROPEAN MEN!] but after that I'll be here." Part of me prays hard. The same part of a woman that prays she won't find cheesecake on the menu because she knows she'll cave in and order it.

"Great! I'll give you a call when I'm in town. Have fun on the green isle!" And because I was angry at him for visiting, for breaking my heart a hundred years ago, and for getting the name of my beloved home wrong, I shouted out loud in my empty little stark apartment.

"The EMERALD isle, you idiot! EMERALD."

Maybe I'll pretend I'm out of town that day anyway. Because I might not be Diana Vreeland, but I loathe nostalgia, too.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Well well...

what do we have here?


Give credit where it's due, NYT.

(only kidding, of course, but still neat to note the similarity of the above series to this humble blog)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Trials of Parenthood

I live two-thousand eight hundred ninety-seven miles away from my childhood home in California. I am five and a half years away from that life I lived. I have grown into the person I am today surrounded by recklessly driven taxis and hovering buildings and the boisterous noise of New York City. I have let my curiosity and my will lead me through new experiences—awkward, ridiculous, creepy at times, but nevertheless my own. I’ve lived the ‘New York experience’ without preconceptions to steer me down a clear cut path and, instead, have floated from one opportunity to the next.

As a sensible vagabond, leading her life in rational ridiculousness and optimism, I have not sought support and even have rejected it. Whether this rejection stems from a lack of need or a more ingrained desire to prove to myself that I can be my own person, I don’t know. But no matter my almost forceful disinterest in this comfort, I know that it is always there, silently enveloping me. Its effects are invisible and unfelt on an everyday, casual basis, but arises full-force at the most uncouth times to remind me that it will always haunt me in the nicest of possible ways.

I do not know what to make of the subject of love, of love on any level and in any semblance of the word. It is a foreign, curious object, a cipher without a key. And perhaps in this city, which we all call home, love and its effects are even more intense, disastrous, welcomed, cherished; love is also a bigger mystery, elusive and uncertain. However, wherever I go, whatever I choose to do with my life, and whatever happens to me, there is one constant upon which I can always rely, and that is the support of my dad.

My dad has only wished one thing for me: my complete and utter happiness. He wants me to fulfill my dreams, whatever they may be, and he demands that I am my own person, inhibiting nothing that I desire to accomplish. He puts no constrains on my life and my choices and refuses to criticize my being, doing perhaps the hardest thing a parent can do; he has let me go to be free and vulnerable to the dangers that plague society. His trust in my sound judgment resonates in every encouraging word and every happy exclamation over my travels and undertakings.

Through his sacrifice, he has given me a better life for which he could never hope or have himself. Constant reassurances that I need only to focus on my studies or to enjoy my time in New York and abroad because he can always work twelve instead of ten hours a day are a fixture in my mind. Unvoiced worries and concerns kept inside to assure that I lead a life of my own chosen are transformed into newspaper article clippings sent through the mail, giving helpful hints about jobs, home maintenance, and finances.

Is he a perfect parent? Far from it. But I don’t demand perfection from my dad. Instead, I will always be thankful for what he has done for me and as it may be more thankful for what he has not done for me. No, I do not need support to be successful nor to determine my own path in life, but I know my dad’s support for me is unconditional, and for that I will always appreciate, respect, and never abuse it. Perhaps, here in New York, I am not so far from California than I had initially thought I was.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Resolution.

I completely forgot about the mass emails. Epic in length, heavy on the details, and now, when I look back, admiringly hopeful. What a difference two years makes.

Or maybe not.

When I was rifling through my old sentbox, I didn't expect to see his name. But there it was staring back at me. In one exchange, sent when there was an ocean between us, tips (sit under tree! try a new flavor of ice cream!) to help jog his creativity. In another, anguish over not hearing from him for days, his silence casting a pall over the City of Lights. How did I get to that point?

We should have been over. We were over. Weren't we?
the --- and i are done.
chalk it up to ... i don't really know.
it's so freaking complicated/confusing/convoluted and prob some other twisty co- words.
i was in the city, saw him on tuesday and it was great.
then, i was supposed to spend the night at his place on wednesday and i get to --- round the time he gets off and he basically ignored me and then flipped out in his emo way and told me i should find another place to stay.
and blah blah blah.
he's kind of selfish. and a coward.
ah, i should be so relieved since things were getting so crazy serious, but i am just so so sad.
i cried and cried on wednesday and on the bus home yesterday.
i'm totally fine with people, but when i'm alone i feel the aloneness to my core.

gosh, i'm a huge downer. sorry y'all. but you guys are my support, and the action of writing this is making me feel a bit better.
Sent days before my departure, January 9th, 2007.

In the two years that followed: months of the silent treatment, frustration, persistent phone calls, loneliness, attempts at friendship, manipulative behavior, longing, a second chance, tears. Both parties guilty of all of the above.

We are still talking. Unsurprisingly.

But I'm tired and stuck. I'm done. And I'm resolved.

Appropriate, no?