Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Girl in the Iron Mask

As I walked toward the picnic table, lit up from underneath by patio lights at the Beer Garden, I saw him chatting with B. The roommate. J.’s roommate. The sweetest, most genuine guy in the world, R. is like a big teddy bear. He insists on a hug when he sees you and another when he says goodbye. So when I approached the table and put a hand on his shoulder, he turned with a huge smile and called out, “Give me a real hug!” I was genuinely happy to see him. “How are you?” he asked, and not in that sympathetic, ‘I know you must be hurting’ way. But I felt compelled to answer his unintentional, unspoken question anyway. “I’m great!”

R. stayed to have a beer with B. and I and then came back to B.’s house with us after and hung out until 3 in the morning. We had a blast and only one inappropriate comment slipped out of my mouth. As we played Rock Band, I made a comment about how “smokin’ hot” the animated guitar player was. “Wow,” R. laughed, “You have really low standards.” I grinned and replied, “Aw, you already knew that.” I suddenly felt like Carrie Bradshaw in the Post-It note episode…

Carrie: And just so you know, Alan...
Andrew: Andrew.
Carrie: Uh huh. Most women aren't angry, irrational psychos. We just want an ending to a relationship that is thoughtful and decent and honors what we had together. So my point, Billy, is this. There is a good way to break-up with someone and it doesn't include a post-it!

I made a mental note to keep it together, laugh it off, change the subject. Don’t want to be the crazy girl. No one mentioned J. again until R. walked me home. I kept trying to leap over the awkward silences but he seemed to be inserting them on purpose. Finally he said it. “I’m sorry all that shit went down.” Don’t be the crazy girl, don’t be the crazy girl.

“Me, too.”
“I was really confused by it. He came home one night and… I was like, ‘What?’”
“Yeah, well… you can’t make someone want to be in a relationship.”
He laughed. “Yeah, what’s that song? I Can’t Make You Love Me?”
I laughed. We both laughed. “I wouldn’t go that far.”

But when I got upstairs, I listened to it anyway.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One Fine Day

Yesterday I decided that from here on out, things are going to be different. I will stop putting a negative spin on everything, I will stop expecting the worst from everyone I meet, and I will try not to protect my heart with an iron wall. But in looking to the future, I have to bring a few bits of the past with me. Only the best parts, of course. And one of the very best parts happened in one of the very best places… Dublin. Of course.

“What would you do if I asked you to run away with me?” Julie and I looked at him, then at each other, and then at him. My height, bright green eyes and black hair, an amused smile playing on his lips. Because we were in Dublin, I chose an answer I’d never used before.
“We’d probably run away with you.” We started chatting and he introduced himself as Graham, from Dublin, born and raised. He told me he played the bass and I told him I was an aspiring journalist. During our walk to the next bar, he pulled a book out of his bag: A. A. Gill is Away. I took it as a sign that this stranger off the street that I found so charming would happen to have a book of travel journalism with him in his backpack. He told me I could have it (three years later and I still pull the book out every once in awhile to smell the paper and reread his signature on the front page).

Late that night I got a text: “If you’re not busy tomorrow, I’d like to take you to the dead zoo.”
“The dead zoo?”
“It’s actually the museum of natural history but we call it the dead zoo. You’ll find out why tomorrow.”

He picked me up around one o’clock, grinning and upbeat as ever, and he took me to the dead zoo. He wasn’t kidding. It should’ve been called The Museum of Taxidermy, complete with a polar bear with a visible (and shoddily covered) bullet hole in its head. From there he took me to get coffee and meet up with his lovely friends. He suggested we go to an outdoor movie that night, so we bought tickets for the 9:00 show. I expected that I’d go home, change my clothes, have some dinner and meet him for the movie. Instead he turned to me with that bright smile and asked, “So, what should we do til then?”

For the next six hours we talked, we looked at books, we ate sandwiches outside and people-watched at Temple Bar. We toured the city, we went in search of ancient bog people, and we listened to live music over pints in a dark, dusty bar. And all the while we laughed and talked as if we’d known each other for years. It was so easy.

That night we went to the movie (Shakespeare in Love… crazy, I know) but it wasn’t flirty or romantic. We rolled our eyes at the same cheesy moments and I shivered against the cold and against the anticipation of what might come next. The movie ended in the dark square of Temple Bar and he asked if I wanted to grab a pint. I was low on cash and I was exhausted but to this day I have no idea why I said no. I was afraid to ruin the perfectness of the day or something equally ridiculous but I did, in fact, say no. He hugged me goodbye at the front gates of Trinity College and we parted there. We keep in touch via Facebook but I haven't seen him since that one untouchable day in Dublin.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nonstop

For five weeks now I have been waking up at 7 and getting to bed at midnight at the earliest. Trying to make up for the past two years, I packed my days to the hilt. Eating, drinking, shows, friends, museums, D, sporting events, and even a polo match and a circus. Walking till I could almost feel the pavement through my shoes. And then walking some more. Working, going out, collapsing into bed, and picking up a book because I could keep my eyes open just a wee bit longer, just to finish one more chapter, because I was reading books for fun again. Besides, with all that activity, my brain was still whirring by the time I got to bed. There was nothing I didn't have time for, nothing for which I couldn't muster up the energy.

"You're a regular gadabout aren't you!" my colleague exclaimed once.
"I'm just making up for lost time" I responded.

For two years I had felt like a hermit, a recluse on a self-imposed retreat from the world. I woke up without wanting to get out of bed. I lived vicariously through my friends. My life seemed to revolve around classes and reading and the library and exams and searching for a job. And now that I was back in a city that made me come alive...no way was I going to waste a moment of it. I was like an addict, slavering for more, faced with a stockpile of my favorite drug, taking more than I could consume, greedily trying to do it all at once.

And then I crashed.

A fever burning me up, my bones a mess of aches, my mind a jumble of groans, I woke up with heavy limbs. I knew instinctively I didn't have any infection, no germs were responsible for this. I had done this to myself. In appreciating everything around me, and being careful to check everything off my to-do list, I had forgotten one of the most important things: my health. Or rather, my physical health. I was definitely more sane now than I was when the sun would set at 4:30, than when I spent all day stressed and tired. More happy. More comfortable. More me. But my feet had blisters every day, my shoulders and neck were cramped and tired, my eyes were unhappy from staring at a computer screen all day and the tiny cramped letters of a book all night. I recognized the tell-tale signs; my body has a habit of letting me know when I'm pushing myself too much.

So now I rein myself in. Time to put a check on some of the excesses. After greedily savoring anything and everything in my path, perhaps a moment, now, to sit.

It'll probably be easier on my wallet too =) at least the parks in New York are free!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Da's Day


I think a lot about why I'm single and I come up with everything from my inability to make a good first impression to my loud laugh to my sarcastic and cynical demeanor. But one reason I come back to again and again is my father. I think the reason I am single is my father.

Today as I sat in the backseat of my parents' sedan, I watched them; not as my parents, but as a couple. They have been married for thirty years and while they've had their ups and downs (to put it lightly... to put it bluntly, their peaks and valleys), they are still together and they are still in love. My father crooned to his new Ricky Nelson CD, reached across the console to take my mother's hand, and warbled, "There'll never be anyone else but you for me. Never ever be, just couldn't be, anyone else but you." My mother rolled her eyes and wanted to be annoyed but instead she laughed and let him hold her hand. The reason I am single is because I wait for the man who will treat me as selflessly, as whole-heartedly, and as genuinely as my father has treated my mother for over thirty years. He still sends her flowers for no reason. He chooses a vegan restaurant over a steak house to satisfy her diet of choice. He takes her harsh words in stride and tries to put his own positive spin on everything. He is selfless to a fault.

And so I wait. And after awhile, the single-girl-waiting-game doesn't seem so bad. Because I hope that in passing up the frogs, I am holding out for a prince.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

One Boring Morning


It is no surprise to those close to me that my mind wanders aimlessly and far, especially when I'm bored.  During my commute to work everyday, I typically anticipate my work day (I work in a pretty unpredictable environment so this is pretty much impossible), people-watch (I ride the 1 train so there is usually lots to see) or think about current events that are present in my life (there is almost always something going on).  

Alas, none of those kept my attention this past Friday morning.  So while on the train to work yesterday, my thoughts arbitrarily led me to this boy that I met three years ago.  THREE YEARS.  Approximately 1,095 days had passed before he had entered my mental phenomena.  I can barely remember what I ate the night before so you could imagine my bewilderment (... or not).  He kept my attention well.  Maybe too well.  I say that because I got so distracted that I almost missed my stop.

His name is Cedrick.  I am not even sure if that is how his name is spelled.  I didn't think about that on the train though.  Instead, I thought about how we met in Paris (so cliché) and didn't exactly fall in love but fell in complete lust.  He's French and studied at some prestigious school in Paris, where I traveled to visit my friend after my abroad program in Madrid ended.  He lived in the same dorm-ish building as my Friend and thus, they all hung out.  I entered the courtyard of the building to meet my Friend.  As I sat down, I notice this cute, different looking boy staring at me uncontrollably.  I am properly introduced to everyone around us.  When we get to him, he nods "bonjour" (haha) but doesn't say a word.  Oh, and he's still staring.  Flattering and frightening at the same time.  Throughout some conversation, I try to stare back but can't hold his gaze long enough.  

Friend then butchers language to French native, asking about a bottle opener (for the wine, of course) to which Cedrick responds with, "Oui, elle est belle."  (Yes, she is pretty... obvisouly not the answer to his question).  Omg!  He speaks!  But it is followed by speechlessness in everyone around us.  The silence is broken by Friend who awkwardly reprimands Cedrick for his unanswered questioned and repeats his query ("No!  I said, '[insert bottle opener question here]') and we all move past that moment.  Somehow, I am left with the trying task of opening the bottle.  Cedrick sees me struggling and gets up to help me.  He puts his hands over my hands and together we open the bottle.  We smile at each other and it was amazing.

That was the first of my short four-day stay so what followed is kind of a blur.  What we did exactly, I cannot recall for the life of me.  We had lots of fun, that I remember fondly.  When we said bye, we didn't exchange any contact information.  I forget why and how that was but my hypothesis is that we agreed our mutual friend has our contacts for the both of us.  I didn't reach out to Friend about Cedrick, so I'm going to assume that he didn't either.

What I am supposed to do with this?  I do not know.  I guess I can cross off "European love affair" off my list.  

I wondered if he had thought of me at all in these past three years.  I think I told my roomie (sashaaa) and my sister that week, but beyond that, I didn't think of him until now.  I recovered from my thoughts quickly enough to realize that the train was at 66th Street and the doors were about to close.  I immediately dash for the door and barely make it out of the train.  Just in time for work.  End of morning thoughts.

P.S. I feel like I broke the unspoken rule of using first letter abbreviations instead of spelling out names.  Oops.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Overreaction?

My heart was thudding, threatening to jump right out of its bony cage and into my throat. My cheeks grew warm and for the umpteenth time, somewhere in the back of my mind I was glad of my dark brown skin that prevented anyone from noticing by a tell-tale blush how upset I am. I struggled to control my voice as it almost slipped out of control. My eyes burned from the tears of anger and frustration that threatened to spill out. I caught B's eyes as I spoke into the phone. Disbelief and anger in mine. Questions in hers.

Me: Hey, so I'm calling from B's phone right now. The movie was super fun! Such a good time! I didn't realize the MoMA showed films! And it's such a beautiful evening!
D: Yea, what's up.
Me: Well, since I forgot my phone at your place when I stayed over last night, I wanted to ask you where you are so maybe I can come meet you and get it. If you guys are out maybe B and I can come join you.
D: Yea, I'm in Park Slope.
Me: Oh. I'm uptown.
D: Yea.
Me: Well, do you think you might come up? Do you want to stay over? Or maybe do you think you guys might leave and we can meet somewhere half-way or something?
D: No. Why don't you just come down and stay over here?
Me: I have all of my stuff, my clothes, everything. I've been lugging it around all day. Plus my mom is coming tomorrow morning.
D: Oh yea.
Me: Well...so...what? Do you want to meet me in the morning somewhere halfway?
D: I don't know what I'm doing during the day...maybe going for a bike ride. I don't know. I'll just give it to you later.
Me: Can I come down to Brooklyn then at like 8:30am? I have to go pick up my mom at the station. I need my phone.
D: Well why can't she just get to your apartment by herself?
Me: Are you serious? Can I just come down to your place and get my phone in the morning?
D: I don't know what I'm doing during the day. I'll just give it to you when I see you in the afternoon or evening or whatever for dinner.
Me: Fine. Whatever. I guess she'll take a cab. I'll see you tomorrow.
D: Why are you getting mad?
Me: It's fine. I'll see you tomorrow.

"What was all that about? He's not meeting you to give you your phone back?" B asked. Such a silly question. Such a silly THING. Why was she even asking? Isn't it just obvious - of course he would meet me to give me my phone back. Such a silly little thing.

Except of course he wasn't going to.

"I don't know, whatever" I rolled my eyes.

We parted in a few minutes then. It was late, I had to take my stuff home. Plus I didn't trust myself to keep my voice from shaking or my eyes from brimming over. She knows me pretty well. I'm a pretty good actress when it comes to keeping my emotions to myself, but she would know. I couldn't have her know. I couldn't have her questions.

In the 30 minutes it took me to get home my mind was like a broken record: Am I a fool? What the fuck. Am I a fool? What the fuck. The track changed: What the fuck. Am I overreacting? I'm a fool. What the fuck. Am I overreacting? I'm a fool.

I woke up this morning with my heart still heavy. I fought so hard to keep the tears from spilling out that they started spilling in instead. I smooth my features. I shake my head. I take a shower. My mom is coming to visit today. We'll go out and about during the day. We're meeting D for dinner. I paste a smile on my face.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Sweetest Thing

One of the most difficult things about being newly single is the feeling of being alone again. Just when you get used to having someone to walk you home at night, to think about when you’re idly clicking around the internet at work, to text when you see something hilarious on the street you know he’d love… that person is suddenly absent. It feels like a death – someone you grew to depend on but just can’t (or shouldn’t) reach out to anymore.

Enter the crush. He is an island on my way to a continent. A lifeboat that will carry me to a yacht. A bodega around the corner from a Whole Foods.

The mutual attraction is there: it has been explicitly, albeit drunkenly, confessed on so many occasions and in so many ways. He is so lovely because he is so far away. None of the evils of real life can seep into this relationship and sour it because we are not a part of each other’s real lives. He tells me about work, I tell him about vacation. He teases me about being a New Yorker, I tease him right back for saying “hella.” Our communication is limited to the phone and Facebook, and our physical relationship has peaked at a hug, but somehow, after a bleak breakup, this tiny, insignificant crush gives me a little something to reach out to. And a little butterfly in the stomach never broke anyone.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

My stomach dropped to my shoes as I stared at his name flashing across the screen of my phone. He was calling after I specifically said I wanted to talk in person. But clearly that was not how this was going to go.

I drew my breath in deep and pushed "Accept."

"Hey, whats up?" - Me
"Is now a good time?" - B
"I said I wanted to talk in person." I felt my face grow hot with tears and my hand started trembling causing the pens in the jar on my desk to rattle. They seemed just as nervous as I was.

I couldn't tell you when B and I broke up officially. Technically we had been in decline since September. But there was no clear breaking point. We unzipped a 2 and a half year relationship slowly until we reached the point of "friends." I never had a chance to erase him from my mind. So how can you be just friends with someone whom you still love so much? With someone whose voice is the only one that can really calm you down? With someone who knows you to a fault and doesn't even need to hear all the details before he knows exactly what the problem is? I'm not that old or wise but I think it's fair to say that at this point B was the love of my life. And now here we were on this phone call that I had been dreading for a month. I was about to tell him that I met someone new.

There was no point pretending to be calm. My eyes erupted as tears raced down my cheeks. I could barely get the words out between sharp, punctuated breaths. All he could do was be the placid guy that he always was and tell me to take deep breaths or else I'd make myself sick. He wished me happiness. He told me he cared about me. But despite my desperate attempt to tell him I wasn't over him and that I still loved him, he made no reciprocation. This was the point of no return. I looked at the picture I still have of us framed on my mantle. I didn't recognize those two people anymore. They existed somewhere else. It was over. Official break up date? May 31, I guess. I wanted it cut and dry and I sure as hell got it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I run away


He came up to the group I was standing in, threw his arms around the people across from me and squeezed in. "WHATSSSS UPPPPP!!!!! HEEEEY!" I didn't know what to do.. so I turned around and started talking to somone else. Finally, I had to turn back around, His focus was immediately on me.. "OH MY GOD! I CAN'T believe your out! You never come out!!" His words shallow and small, his meaning meant more. His focus was too much. His eyes piercing mine.. looking deep.. with that wide grin... then I ran away.. I said, with my face peering over my shoulder, "Yes I do! I come out" .. then waved goodbye with my hand above my head and my back to the group... "Gotta go!"

Don't know how to do this.. just wanted to run away.. so I did.

We are supposed to "talk." We haven't yet. I've caught wind that he loves me. It makes me squirm. I should be flattered but I am not. A fabulous man has a massive infatuation, of which I am the central focal point. But, I just don't feel the same way. I don't share the infatuation or even want to go on one date. I am crushed by the burden brought by recent knowledge that he's smitten. I hate to loose a friend and I hate to hurt someone I care about. Now I am potentially forced to do both, due to his immaturity and my pure awkwardness. How do I do this?

Monday, June 8, 2009

worthy of our time


Monday, June 1, 2009

Blast from the Past

"You look absolutely gorgeous in all of your shots from S's graduation. I can't wait to take you places come fall so that others will think I did something admirable to have you next to me."
Meet B.

We held hands through middle school hallways and fought when high school came around. I asked him to Sadie Hawkins my junior year. He invited me to his school play. B- the last boy I kissed before I packed up my bags for New York.

Flash forward four years, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, senior year of college. Our eyes locked across the bar, and the room disappeared. We separated from the crowd and grinned over a drink. What followed was a delirious bit of youthful indiscretion better known as a serious make-out session in the parking lot. I still laugh at the thought of it. And I kick myself.

I call him Flaky B to his face, because he is both impossibly charming and unbelievably frustrating. He distances himself when you take interest, making plans but never following through. He reasons it's one part selfishness, one part insecurity, one part unconcern, one part genuine forgetfulness. It's beyond inexcusable but... we have history, on top of the little fact that I actually like the kid, and so I forgive him each and every time, even when I put up a fight.

Two sentences from him (sent from continents away, I should add) make me giddy, and I love and hate him for it. It just might be masochism, knowingly setting myself up for disappointment, but after ten years, ruefully, I don't know any other way.

Something Real


“The weekend was hard for both of us. It put us in a place we weren’t ready to be in yet. You scared the crap out of me when you called me your girlfriend a couple weeks ago.”
“Yeah, well… this weekend made me realize I’m not ready for anything serious. I’m not ready to be in a relationship.”

All I could think about in that moment was how lovely he looked. I wanted to hate him and see all the wicked things I’d been stewing over all week long, waiting for him to talk to me. But I couldn’t see them. He looked like he’d just taken a shower; his skin was glowing and the patch of curls at his temple that he kept tugging at was shiny. I wanted to see his ugliness. All I could see was this person who had turned into someone I cared about.

“I should’ve known. It’s my fault, really. I should’ve known.” I spit it out with as much bitterness as I could muster. I stood up and told him to leave. He didn’t move. I went on about how he was the instigator. He had pushed me into a relationship, he had called me his girlfriend, he had forced me into going away for the weekend and meeting his mom and now he was bailing as soon as I was invested. I was trembling. “Get out of my apartment.” Stillness.

After a second, he rubbed at his eyes. “I’m sorry. I thought it was what I wanted… but I haven’t known what I’ve wanted for a really long time and I’m trying to figure it out. I want to say, ‘You’re right, I’m wrong. Let’s go back to the way things were before the weekend.’ But I’d just be doing it to make you happy. And that’s not fair to you. You’re… incredible. I’m sorry.”

I felt ridiculous. Before he came over I’d brushed my teeth, put on blush, sprayed myself with perfume. I was like a little girl dressed up for the carnival that had already left town. He couldn’t even look at me. Tugged his hair, rubbed his eyes. Rubbed his eyes, tugged his hair.

Tears formed in my eyes, threatening to spill past the lids and embarrass me further, so I ordered him to get out of my apartment, out of my life. I held the door open for him in the hallway and he paused as he walked past. His head was lowered and for a second he reached his hand out to brush my fingers. I jerked back, pressing myself against the wall and asked him once more to just go.

In my haste, I caught his heel as I slammed the door shut. I hope he felt it.