Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions, oh let's go back to the start...

From hundreds of texts a month (or so my cell phone bill says) to maybe three per week.
“Benson is on fire today.”
“You’ll win fantasy if Moss starts catching some passes.”
“Ugh Hasselbeck sucks.”
All football. Something was up.

“You should just ask him,” M. said. “Ask him why you haven’t heard from him.”

I sat at my work computer, heart beating like a bass drum against my ribs. We were talking football. Again. Finally he noticed I was barely responding.
“I know you love all this football chatter.”
“Well… sometimes I do.”
Long silence. Internet pause.
“So what’s new?” I finally ventured. “Feel like I haven’t heard from you much lately.”
“Hmm really? Nothing much. Work. Gym. Chilling.”
I don’t know what I expected. Well, Lauren, I’m seeing someone. And while I wanted to tell you, it was just too hard.

“You have to ask him,” L. said. “Bite the bullet. You’ll feel better if you just put it out there.”
I typed it into the Gchat box. If I type it out, it’ll make it easier to just hit send. See how it looks, then send it out there.

“So this might sound totally random, but are you seeing someone?” My hands poised over the keys. Enter. Fingers trembling.
“Haha not that I know of. How bout you?”
I wanted to type “not really,” leave him guessing, make him wonder. Instead I just said, “No. We just never really talk about that stuff so I wondered if you were would you tell me.” It was my honesty bleeding in the little box.
“Yeah, I would. Most likely.”

“Sorry for the weirdness,” I apologized lamely.
“No worries. Not weird.”

Another five minutes of internet silence. And then my screen blinked with another message from him.
“Can’t decide who to start this Sunday, so many great choices for WRs.”

I had my answer, and at the same time, I had no answers at all.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tortoise Boy

Our gaze met from across the room. It was embarrassingly obvious that I kept looking back at him. My mind was reeling. Perhaps it was his tortoiseshell glasses, his impeccable style. His face was familiar. It seemed as if we’d met, yet I knew we never had. This type of cosmic attraction is so rare for me, it was instant. Our words later on were few and rather witty. I’ve been thinking about him.

I don’t believe in crushes or make believe infatuations that are built upon imaginary information. Yet, I can’t stop wondering about him. Our second encounter came with a Facebook friend request... This only proved to exasperate my feelings. How did he find me? I was soo flattered. However, our communication seemed to end with that. After all, he doesn’t live in NYC and the words we shared could not exactly be considered a conversation.

A couple weeks ago, I had challenged a friend to make effort with a man she had been admiring from afar. Swiftly after, she challenged me to reach out to Tortoise Boy. I took her up on this challenge even though it was against my better (or rather prideful) judgment. I ended up sending him a quipy fb message referring to one of the comments he made during our incredibly brief encounter. I kept it short and sweet and didn’t hear back from him for some time.

Until today... I opened my e-mail and saw that I had an fb message from none other than TORTOISE BOY! My heart leapt. He replied with kind and tender greetings, commenting on my note and innocently informing me that he will be moving to the city! Hallelujah! Although, this tidbit of information made my heart soar, I am doing my darnedest to manage my expectations and to control my active imagination. This type of response to a man is so rare for me... I finally feel like I might be a real girl after all!

Who knows if anything will come after the response I sent, or the move he is making to the city... but at least there is someone who met my gaze and lit a fire within me. That much I am thankful for. There is hope for me yet!

Monday, October 26, 2009

On Being First

I am big on The Letting Go. I delete phone numbers and de-friend on Facebook faster than you can say “We should just be friends.” I am quick to cut ties because in my experience, it is the fastest way to get over a guy. But sometimes they just don’t let you go, no matter how quick and forceful the blow that severed the tie.

I knew The Boy would be at B.’s party Saturday. We’d randomly spoken a couple times after he stopped calling me last winter and although I want to claim that I have no feelings toward him either way, there is a tiny bit of me that wants him to want me. To see what he missed out on. The last time I saw him I was dating J. and I thought that was “in your face” enough. Then he sent me a message on my birthday. “Let me know if maybe you want to grab a drink soon.” Huh? I replied ambiguously. I guess we could be friends?

Saturday night he showed up at the party and I said hello but made no valiant effort at talking to him. If anything, I put my energies into avoiding him. But later on at the bar he found me. We talked football. (When did I become the girl guys can only talk to about football?) He announced he was going to get another drink. He looked down at my empty glass, then back at me, at my glass. And never offered to get me one.

I danced with my friends, I had another drink, and then I went home. I noticed he was grinding with some girl in a tiny skirt when I left and I found myself disgusted. In the cab I noticed a text from an hour before. The Boy: Save me a dance for later? I ignored it. I felt strange and disconnected. What the hell was going on here? A dance for later? Was that metaphoric? Was I supposed to be the girl in the tiny skirt? I deleted it and sank back in the cab. Another text. The Boy: Did you leave? I will be slightly disappointed if you left without saying goodbye. Or saving me that dance.

That night I got home and cried. It wasn’t because The Boy was lame and ambiguous and confusing and attracted to me but not really. It wasn’t because I haven’t heard from the LDC in three days, and before then only about football. It wasn’t because I’ve been single for a really long time. It was because I felt second best. I felt good but not good enough. And even though The Boy was only important in my life for a short amount of time and remains some distant pin prick in my night sky of old flames, he managed to make me feel second best for the second time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


It's grey and wet outside. The leaves are drooping under the lightest drizzle. Everything is damp and moist. The sky is just one all consuming cloud. I lean out of the window to gaze at the brilliant red ivy climbing up the grey-brown stone wall. I shiver. Close the window against the creeping wind that tries to wrap itself around my neck. I pull my sweater around myself, cuddle up on my sofa. My living room is warm and cheerful. The yellow light from the lamp bounces off the orangey yellow walls, reaching every corner. The luminous tones of the wooden floor beam up at me as I tuck my toes under the sofa pillows. Steaming honeyed tea in my hand, cheerful characters racing across the cup.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I stepped into the train and sat down with relief on an empty seat. I had experimented with heels for the first time after many weeks of nursing my sprained ankle, and I wasn't about to get up for anyone. Unless of course some woman was almost about to give birth or some old gentleman was tottering away on his stick. The compartment seemed to be full of healthy young adults, though, and so I scrounged about for my ipod, selected a playlist, and raised my hand to my ear to pop on the headphones.

"Excusez-moi, vous allez ecouter de la musique?"

She had a plain but kindly face. Her hair pulled back into a curly bun a bit frizzy because of the drizzling rain. She had a little caddy with her and a backpack hoisted on one shoulder. A long khaki skirt, a non-descript jacket.

Yes, I answered her. I am going to listen to music.

My hand instinctively clasped over my purse, my New York gut caused me to raise a skeptical eyebrow. One of the first lessons New York teaches you: be wary of strangers on the subway.

"I don't want to disturb you, but I just wanted to request you to think about _______"
"Pardon?" I had not heard. Was she asking for my seat? Did she want to sell me something? Maybe she just wanted to know the time?

I don't want to disturb you, she said. But would I think about Christ before I listened to my music?
Ah. I understood.
"En fait, je n'ai pas bien compris." I'm sorry, I didn't understand you. I don't speak French very well. One headphone in.

"Vous parlez quelle langue?"
"Le Marathi" I spoke the truth. But there was no need to tell this proseleytizer that I spoke a couple of more accessible languages which she might potentially know. Other headphone in. Perhaps this was rude. Perhaps this was a way to end an undesirable conversation with a stranger.

Her lips kept moving. Headphone out. "Oui?"
You're here to study French? Good luck, she said. Headphone in.

She stepped back. The encounter was over. A haunting tune came through my headphones and suddenly dripped into my soul.

She wanted to talk about Christ. God spoke to her and she wanted to spread the message. She wanted to save my soul. She wanted me to contemplate Christ. And I wasn't having any of it. Merely being in the same compartment as her gave me the creeps. As I saw her turn to another woman after a few moments, a shiver ran through me. At the next stop I got off on my aching foot and changed compartments.

Perhaps it is because I have an automatic revulsion to people who want to convince me that my own faith is somehow misplaced. Perhaps it is that I grew up in a more and more apathetic world. Perhaps it is that I think it is an excess of faith. Perhaps it is that I don't think proselytizing is a productive way of life. Whatever it is, I find it scary. I don't find it admirable. I don't find it beautiful. I don't find it dedicated. I find it scary and weird. I find it to be the first step towards religious fanaticism. I find it to be at the bottom of many a "religious" war. I find it to be a more compelling reason than a pregnant woman or an old man to give up my seat and hobble over to the next compartment.

The tune slowly faded out. An upbeat song came on and I shook off the disconcerted feeling with the raindrops that I shook off my umbrella. The goosebumps I hadn't even noticed slowly faded away. And I continued on my way, contemplating a macaron.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Progress Report

I went on one pseudo-date with the middle school boyfriend, who then told me via email a few days later that we probably shouldn't be romantic. Now that he is home, he needs me to be his only indie music listening, philosophizing "adult" friend in a sea of comforting albeit regressive personalities. Fine, the ego is bruised, but I understand.

I went on two actual dates with the guy who picked me up at a cafe, who has made a conscious effort to woo me. He is smart and interesting, and we have great conversation. Alas, he doesn't make me giddy.

And I have spent time with P, my former European bike boy now coworker. I found him the most perfect housewarming gift, and so I asked him if I could invite myself over to give it to him. "Of course. You are always welcome, especially if you come bearing gifts." I presented him with a Velveeta cookbook, and we assembled an IKEA dresser. Towards the end of the evening, he playfully tugged at the bow on my skirt and we kissed. Our first since August. We kissed again a week later, in the dark of his hallway, after an evening of party-hopping. His room now fully furnished, I laughed at him for categorizing and alphabetizing his books. Just a few days ago, he proposed soup for lunch. At a cute little restaurant down the way, sitting with our bowls of lentils in front of us, he traded me a Nepal story for one of my Moroccan ones. The next day he set off to Berlin for 10 days, but before leaving the staff lunch, he found me. We touched each other's arms goodbye.

And that night, I felt it.

A pang.

I will miss him.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Feeding the Soul

This is for me, I thought. In this moment, this blissful Saturday moment, I’m aware of how unaware I am of my romantic and social dramas. I’m suddenly conscious that I’ve been made happy by something outside the realm of personal relationships.

Knives. Perfect Mercer knives, sharp straight from the factory, made sharper still by a carefully crafted whet stone. I slice through onions, chop even little cubes of carrot. I julienne, I emincer. I ignore the faint foreshadowing of a blister in my right index finger and push through. Boiling, peeling, seeding tomatoes. Lemon supremes. Peeled pearl onions. The smell of wilting onions hangs heavy in the air as our soon-to-be French onion soup lunch melts in the pot.

My hat is too tight. The fabric of my white chef’s coat and checkered pants is too stiff, unforgiving. I should’ve worn socks. I feel these things but I don’t care. I am learning and creating and loving every single second of being in this massive kitchen with a cutting board in front of me, a bowl of fresh vegetables and fruits to my left, and gleaming knives to my right.

“You seem uncomfortable at your board,” the chef tells me. “Try it like this.” I try it like that. “Good, that’s good. And these are good here.” I beam at my tiny cubed carrots, all uniform and ready to be tossed in a salad.

“Thank you, chef.” My sweaty hand slips and my next batch of carrots is a mess. Alright, I’m still learning.

I got home from class that day beaming. I had just spent five hours in front of a cutting board and now I had an aching blood blister on my index finger from gripping the knife against my fragile skin. But instead of covering it with a Band Aid, I admired it. In a week’s time, a month’s time, a year’s time I’ll have a callous there. It’ll be a lovely reminder of the day I began a journey that was entirely for me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Je parle francais

He enters the room and I freeze. Suddenly I stutter, I pause, I slip into English. I introduce him to the person I was talking to. He continues the conversation in French. I smile and nod. A word. And then I slip away to strike up another conversation. In English this time. When he joins me, we carry on in English. I rediscover my wit, my humour, my sarcasm. My punch line is greeted with laughs. And the rest of the evening is fun. In English.

I pour out my soul to him - if not all of it, at least more so than to most other people. I laugh with him. I cry with him - sometimes at least. I open myself up and let him into the corners of my heart. I talk with him in my different accents. I am myself with him. And then he walks into the room and the French just dries up on the tip of my tongue. Self-conscious doesn't begin to describe it. Pour a little wine into me and my tongue might loosen a bit, but still.Nothing like a dose of D to sober me up when I'm speaking French.

Why, when in all other ways I can be myself with him, can't I do this? "You're fine" he says. "You'll get better and better if you practice with me - why can't we just talk like we would?"

Because. Because I cringe when I hear my faults next to his. Because I stutter. Because I can't find the words. Because I make mistakes a four-year-old would be ashamed of. Because that's just one part of myself that I can't seem to open up. Because I can't bear to see him being patient. Because I can't bear to transform our easy conversation into a series of halts and stumbles.

Because I still hold on to the comforting yet probably misplaced notion that he thinks I am perfect. And because opening my mouth would destroy the illusion. Not, perhaps, for him. But definitely for me.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Words of Wisdom

On the phone with Grandma:

Her: "Darling, you had better marry a rich man!"
Me: "Grandma, we've gone over this before; I plan to be independently wealthy."
Her: "oh.. hmmm.. OOO I know.. You should have an affair with DAVID LETTERMAN!"
Me: "Love, you are a ridiculous human being.. in the best way possible."


It was a chilly evening a few years back. It was fall. Or winter. I can’t remember which.
Sash and I sat huddled over hot tea and cupcakes at Cake Shop and talked about men. Or boys. I can’t remember which.
“Where do I meet guys?” I moaned. And I have never forgotten her answer.
“You have to do what you like to do. You have to go and sit at Dean and Deluca with your copy of Adirondack Life and someone will walk in and he will fall in love with you.”

Sometimes I get caught up in expectations, obligations, comparisons.
I should be smarter, I could be taller, I shouldn’t be so scared to fail, I should open up more, I should wear vintage, I should cut my hair, I should be blonde, I could stand to lose a few pounds, I should call Chrissy, I have to visit my parents.

I lose myself.

I am 5’4”. Too short to be tall, too tall to be short. But I can always reach the top cupboard and still wear the tallest heels.
I make a terrible first impression. Occasionally dubbed snotty, I grow on you after awhile.
I love to eat. I will never give up burgers, fries, cheese, and cake to lose my saddle bags.
I love spike heels, skin tight skirts, and straightened hair. But I live for the one week a year I spend in the mountains with none of that.

I’m trying to embrace it all. And someday, Mr. Dean and Deluca Adirondack Magazine will, too.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A crowded inbox, and nothing to read

I open up a new email. As I begin to compose it, suddenly my fingers won't go anymore. My stories, about to trip out of my head and onto the screen, suddenly pause with my breath.

I think about my inbox that is perenially full. Emails from the financial aid office, emails from the dean of students, emails over the student listserve asking for rides here and there, emails about classes that are cancelled, emails about homework assignments posted online, emails from various job search engines, emails about job fairs, emails from linked in about people I may know.

I start my email: Hi all! I know it's been a while since my last update, but let me make up for it now with one of my epics!

I pause. Ctrl A. Delete. Discard email. I could blather on about myself for a few paragraphs. Recounting the stupid incidents that make life funny and fun. Tell them about how classes are, the people here. Tell them I eat baguettes like that's my goal in life. I could tell them my ankle is much better now. How living with D is going. How life is so quintessentially and stereotypically Parisian some days when I pick up a baguette from the boulangerie after a class has been cancelled yet again and step in some dog poo on my way home to call the internet company about why my connection still isn't working. And then what?

I could wait.

I could wait for a response. One or two of them are usually pretty good about responses. It takes a day or two, but they'll get back to me. I'm glad about your ankle, glad things are going well with D, glad you're having fun, oh yea, drat that dog poo! Hugs, bye.

And then I wonder if it isn't better to get no response at all? At least then I don't find myself searching for a hint of life in the emails. At least when there isn't any response at all, I don't try to read between the lines to figure out what is happening in that friend's day to day. She used an exclamation mark - could that mean she's happy? She commented on everything except the baguette - does that mean she's been eating out a lot? Cooking at home? I'm sure if she'd baked some bread she'd have mentioned it.

And then a couple of weeks go by, and again I start: Hi! Sorry I'm such an awful so-and-so at writing emails! But just in brief, this is what has been happening with me...BLAH BLAH are you all? I miss you guys, hope everything is well.

And then I wait. And I get one or two responses. And a vast all-consuming silence.

I flip through pictures on facebook. Oh I guess he got a new apartment, look, he had a housewarming party. Oh wow, that haircut looks super cute on her. He's missing from a bunch of pictures, must be studying for the GMAT. I wonder if that's the cute new neighbor? Hm, when did she go to California?

I get whiney and grumpy and I munch on a few grapes. I say "screw them" and discard my latest draft. I contemplate rolling up into a ball and moaning in a corner. I float about in yogic calm, letting my whines and grumps fly away.

And I check my inbox one more time. Even if it's just a response, and nothing more, something at least to show me that an ocean doesn't drown out friendships that used to be a 24/7 live wire of communication.