Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Across the seven seas

I give the rickshaw-wallah directions with confidence. "Turn left." "A right after that building." I count out the change.
I bargain with the fruit seller. "That's too expensive. Every other day a papaya is ten rupees, how come today it's fifteen? Nothing doing. Here's your ten, and I'm taking that papaya."
I walk down the street nonchalantly.
I speak the language.
I have the same hair, the same skin, the same eyes, the same height.
This is home.

Is it at this corner? "Turn..." No. Next one. Next one. "Turn left." Was that correct? Yes. There's that building. Okay.
My heart flutters in my throat as I ask him the price. He has never seen me before, he knows I am new. I summon up brash arrogance. I swagger my way through buying a papaya. Did I under-pay? No. Okay. Okay.
I keep my pace quick and efficient. I feel their eyes on me. I am afraid of tripping on this road without a sidewalk. Rickshaws and two-wheelers hurtle past me. Too slow and I'll look like a tourist. Too fast and I'll look like a scampering rabbit.
I don't know the slang. I feel my accent as I utter the syllables. I keep the conversation at surface level; my vocabulary doesn't go that far.
I dress differently without knowing it. Even in a traditional salwar-khameez I look out of place. I walk differently. My jeans are too tight, my shirts are too long. My umbrella has polka dots on it.
This is home


Monday, July 27, 2009


Waiting in the dark outside the bar. A hand on my shoulder, a smile lit up, a hug hello. My head fits perfectly below his collar bone.

Walk into the bar, far too crowded. Hand on my back, shivers down my spine. The first date.

New bar, dark table against the wall, a conversation that ebbs and flows like the tide across the table. It comes in waves but never ends.

Three hours later. Lean across the table, close the space between knees and faces. Drawn together by drink and summer.

Short walk home, a hug goodbye. My head fits perfectly below his collar bone.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Le Sigh

He invited me to a party this weekend, telling me I would fit right in with his friends.

This past month, I have: traveled to three European countries and two major US cities; hosted dear friends at home; spent more money than intended; and struggled with a pesky cough on top of general exhaustion.

The party is in Boston, and despite all of the above, I looked up ticket prices.

We met in Berlin, he, about to end an internship in our office and me, passing through for work. On my last night, hours before my early morning flight to Paris, he took me back to my hostel aboard his bike. Laughing and laughing, we wound through deserted streets. When we got to my door, I hopped off and gave him a bear hug. He would be visiting his sister in The City of Lights just two days later, and I squeezed hoping I would see him again.

He called me when he got in, asking me to dinner with him, his sister, and one of her friends. After a lovely meal, this time, I led him (albeit on foot) through my city. In a crowded, touristy stretch, we fumbled for each others' hands. We grabbed a drink at my favorite bar and called it a night, but before going our separate ways on the metro, we shared a kiss.

The day after the next, we stuck our feet in the fountain by the Louvre and laid on the grass in the Tuileries gardens. He told me he wanted to visit a couple of bike shops, which happened to be nestled in my old neighborhood. At his urging, I typed in the code for my building, and we stood in the foyer for a minute or two, shaking our fists at those who now live in my former haven. Later, I met up with him and his sister for a Warhol exhibit before joining others for drinks. Abandoning the rest, arms around each other, we made our way to our favorite bar with minutes before closing. Somehow, I managed to convince the doorman to let us in for two glasses of white.

Kicked out of the bar, on the street on my last night in Paris, we gazed at each other and went in for the kiss. My right hand on his cheek, his right hand cradling my head. And then we parted, him thanking me for a fantastic couple of days and me commenting on how cliche it all was.

In the best possible way.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


“Happy birthday boo. I can’t make the party tonight but I want to take you out for birthday drinks.”

Even better, she thought. Instead of having to fight for her attention amidst a crowd, they could focus on each other. Really flesh this thing out.

The following night: her exhaustion mixed with his late schedule put an end to the drinks date. She thought he might be upset. He wrote terse answers to her well-meant questions. “Are you free tomorrow?” she asked.

“Ish,” he answered.
“You want to just let me know?”
“I’ll call you tomorrow.”

The subtleties of language are completely lost in text messages. She felt a tiny stab in her gut.

The following night: she checked her phone at 9:30 to no avail. I blew it, she thought. Around 11 her phone beeped.

“Tonight’s not looking good. I’m the worst. This weekend?”
“This weekend sounds great. Saturday or Sunday. Your call.”
“Saturday night. Beer garden. You and me.”

She felt a tiny stab in her gut for entirely different reasons.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

To write your own life...

I woke up at dawn today. I lay there, listening to the hum of the air conditioner. I pulled the covers close around me. The words flowed into my mind. Everything I've been meaning to say, everything I should have said. Entire conversations the way I wanted them to flow. A brief hello that should have been an hour-long tete a tete. A discussion that went awry set right. A smile that turned into a friendship. A fight that melted away. I articulated all of my thoughts. Expressed myself so that what I said wasn't just a jumble of thoughts and feelings, but logically flowing analysis and explication of what my heart and mind were experiencing. An entire summer's worth of conversation, the ones that slipped out of control: carefully held within bounds; the ones that were wonderful: expanded into an everlong stream of exchanges.

This re-writing of my life could only stay in my head. No matter how much time I spent reliving and re-enacting and re-making these interactions, they were what they were. They were in the already-occurred. Always changing with the changing colors of memory, but still, in some way, etched into the stone of the past.

I sighed and pushed the covers aside. The words I had actually meant to say fell off the corners of my bed, useless. The words I wished had never been said curled up in the pillow. The imaginarily extended witty repartee got lost in the creases of my sheets.

With certainty I can say this: the edits never make it into the final product. One chapter, already written, flows into the next.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When It Rains...

I've never been on a blind date before but I have been set up by friends. It never goes well. "Really?! You didn't like him? Why not?!" I'd stare back in awe and think, Don't you know me at all?

I've been set up. He lives in my neighborhood, works at the gym with a friend, and apparently we'll be perfect together because we have the same sense of humor. I was open to meeting him (I am a single girl, I should be open to meeting new people) until I got the Facebook message. "Hey Lauren, I heard J mentioned me to you and I thought I'd introduce myself. So tell me about you."

Hmm... really? When I responded with a "Maybe not on Facebook" message (in the nicest possible way) he followed it up with a, "Hey you -- when are you free?" Is it me, or is it maybe too soon for the "Hey you" greeting? In true Lauren style, he is too into me. So I am not into him. And I took that opportunity to take stock of the men in my life.

R., the roommate: a drunk text over July 4th weekend sent butterflies fluttering in my stomach. So wow... I like him. And I haven't heard from him in over a week. So of course, my interest grows.

The Crush: his imminent visit (3 weeks and counting) has caused the texts, Facebook messages, and phone calls to increase. I can not wait for him to come to New York but if actually dating him was a possibility, how interested would I really be? The thousands of miles of country between us somehow draw me into him even more. Who knows what will come of it, if anything, but the mystery of it keeps me giddy.

I guess I should resign myself to the fact that as much as I plot and plan, agonize and devise, these are things I just can't help. Frustrating and thrilling at the exact same time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The other way

“It hurts that you have so little faith in me. How could you think I – ”
“No, I didn’t mean it like that, I just . . .”

He was right. I had actually had that little faith in him. I don’t know why. I had no reason to doubt his feelings, his commitment, how into me and this relationship he is. But then why had I assumed the worst of him? Why do I default to a “he doesn’t care” standard rather than the other way around? Why do I expect him not to fulfill expectations?

Because it’s easier.

It’s easier than building up my hopes. It’s easier than having my expectations left unmet. It’s easier to assume the worst and then be all the happier when what actually happens is the best. It’s just easier. Easier not being the one who cares more, the one who tries more, the one who hopes and dreams more.

But easy hurts. Easy makes his twinkling eyes sad. Easy brings that broken tone to his voice. Easy creates a gulf. Easy turns to bitter ashes in my mouth.

I can’t keep doing easy any more.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Glories of a Rocking Chair

Mornings outside on the porch, sun pouring in.
The breeze that cools in the afternoon.
Into the night, rocking.

O’ the glories of a rocking chair.
How it glides and slides, relieving plagues of worry.
Strong arms that hold me in, a movement that keeps my heart still.
Rocking that distracts fear.
Rest it brings and peace it provides.

Sitting in a chair and rocking next to him.
Time seems to slow and slip by unannounced.
Defenses down, hearts open.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Someone New

Funny how many men have come in and out of my realm of maybe. Funny the ones I remember and the ones I forget. In the moment I think, “this could have potential” and with one bat of my lashes I am dreaming of the life we might one day share; all the nuances of love and lust and forever. Then the man in question just doesn’t seem to ever make a move or I get bored and sneak away. Sometimes he’ll catch my gaze instantly and begin to dream of me as his one and only, looking at me with that romantic, needy, puppy dog stare. This inevitably freaks me out and I run away. There have been so many brief encounters, so many crushes, so many men pursuing my attention. They come in and they go out. The residue sometimes lingers and they become someone I remember, sometimes painfully remember and sometimes fondly reminisce over. But, all in all they have all gone away or have never begun.

Someone new, the next link in my chain of fools, he has floated in, he has become my friend, he has become someone that makes my heart beat fast and someone that might be worth fighting to keep around. Alas, he may even be someone that finds me worth fighting for. Hm. And now I wait patiently to see if this friendship is worth risking, for he and for I.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Onwards, always

The only poem I know by heart is one I learned in fourth grade. I recited it to myself over and over again, learning it for class as I had to learn others. Snatches of those other poems float in and out of my head, visions of daffodils and clouds, wine and lovers, gazelles loping through the wood...but only one stays long enough for me to reach out and pick up the words again. My mind drifts to it every now and then. The words rise to my tongue. I am still not sure why, of all the poems that have crossed my path only this one should linger. I am sure other words have had a larger impact on me, but somehow when I am sad or angry or frustrated or dissatisfied, when I am in need of comfort or encouragement, when I cannot see the path ahead, only these words seem to appear, threading their way through my fourth-grader memories and into my mind.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.