Monday, November 30, 2009


Dear Mr. Grennan taught me how to smoke. He moved my fingers to grip the cigar, clipped the tip, he told me to breathe in to help the fire catch, “Don’t inhale!...well, just enough, then release the smoke.” Gorm, the Norwegian Lumberjack, was there too, and my friend Mary. She and I spent the weekend in LA with these two friends. They introduced us to Guinness and gave us our first puff. Plumes of musk rose from Cuban cigars and a Norwegian pipe, we sat on the roof of Angeles Temple with the Foursquare cross glowing behind us. We had a view of the city in the warm summer air and a reminder of a great female preacher that fed the poor and saw the lame walk. She started a movement in the building I now sat atop learning to smoke and drink, respectably, with the boys.. and Mary.

Following that night I’d meet back up with Mr. Grennan and smoke cigars on the beach, or along cobble stone walks whenever he’d come to town. It was a ritual, a tradition, I enjoyed it. I haven’t smoked much since I moved to the east coast, but the guys always find it sexy, cool, their eyes get wide then small as they grin and nod their heads in approval. I don’t care much what they think, but I find it interesting. Is it really still considered cool to smoke? This weekend I shared a cigar on a roof top, over looking the city with friends, and then again the next night, I shared a minty French cigarette, as I took a stroll along the Brooklyn promenade, I enjoyed each one, each flavoring my memories.

I was raised to hate the smell of smoke. My grandparents smoked, my uncles and aunts smoked. The addiction ripped through my family and clings to them still. My papa died a horribly, slow and painful death caused by his beloved “cancer sticks.” Cigarettes clouded my childhood. Although, I remember about a year or two after he died, someone close to me on the street lit up right behind me. They practically blew the smoke in my face, a disgusting gesture. However, instead of my normal rage induced response, I was instantly taken back to my papa.. my grandfather that loved me and called me his favorite. The memory was so fresh, it felt real and present. I do not enjoy when people blow their hazardous debris in my face, but I do enjoy that familiar smell, the taste, it reminds me and strangely comforts me. I do not promote the habit, but I do enjoy making the decision, on occasion, to enjoy a smoke, perhaps on a damp night or a memorable evening.

Don't give away the end, the one thing that stays mine

I bought my ticket to Seattle. I leave January 28th and fly back on the 31st. It’s short and it had better be sweet. I’ve run over every possible scenario in my head, including one that involves the LDC chasing after me in the airport, begging me not to end it this way. The entire weekend will probably be much less dramatic than that but I can’t help but devise these ridiculous situations. Nothing about our relationship has been conventional so why should the end be?

The end. I’m already looking at this trip as the period on the much-too-long run-on sentence. I want to end it while I can still control the ending. If it doesn’t end here, with a romantic dinner and a sweet kiss goodbye at the airport, it will end in furious tears six months from now in a phone call across the miles of country that involves “I met someone” and “I really like you but…” And I can’t handle that. I don’t want to handle that. I don’t want to build myself up for the inevitable epic fall. It’s gone much too far already.

Thanksgiving: a feast, a celebration, a step

Multiple trips to the grocery store, hunting for the perfect squash in the farmer's market, discussions with the apple lady about which apples are good for cooking, a day spent chopping and dicing and cooking and baking, a turkey made to order from the local butcher, friends arriving with wine and salads and dessert, warmth, humor, conversation, laughter, stories, discussions, satiation.

The candles finally burned low, the dishes were put away into the washer, everything was saran wrapped and bundled into the fridge. Friends helping out with the crumbs on the table. Stubborn pots soaking in the sink. Shoes on, scarves on, coats on. Kiss on the cheek goodbyes.

We clicked off the lights one by one. Exhausted, satiated, full of food and happiness and wine, together in the cozy darkness. "It feels like we're playing house." "Yea. Yea it does."

And the unvoiced question: is that all?
And the unvoiced answer: maybe more.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Middle

Let's get to part two of the Hungarian story.

Monday morning in New York, two and a half weeks after saying goodbye, I waited in the hotel lobby for the group. He was the first to come down. Big grins and kisses on the cheek. For the most part, the day passed like any other, and yet we had our moments. Walking up Fifth Avenue, he told me how he went to an experimental concert in Chinatown the night before, and I pointed out the Paris Theatre where I'd seen A Very Long Engagement twice. At a bar that night, he and I played foosball against my colleague and his fellow Hungarian. We may have won two of three games, though I can't be sure. Another coworker, aware of my crush and now slightly inebriated, sing-songed at me. One of his groupmates asked if I thought he, the Hungarian, was cute. I'd like to think we were more subtle than that, but perhaps we were just that obvious.

After our tour of the O'Keeffe exhibit the next day, he asked me to lunch. We ended up eating with the larger group but no matter. I was then off to an old standby cafe to do some work, and he tagged along, despite his reluctance to hop on the subway downtown. On that rainy afternoon, over two cups, we talked and talked for hours until he asked me to dinner. We made the 40 block trek back to the hotel arm in arm, stopping for a compost cookie along the way. Changed and refreshed, we made our way back downtown (let's be real, I don't know of anything above 14th). And at the counter of a trendy cafe, about to order, he kissed me. We shared our meals in couple fashion and then got a drink on Ludlow before calling it a night close to midnight. Though I've never been one for public displays of affection, I admit, I was completely swept up in us. There are worse sights.

He hadn't been to New York in almost 15 years, and we still spent all of Wednesday together. Me, writing down math formulas, him, answering emails in a different language on my laptop. Beside each other on a bench, splitting a grilled cheese and tomato soup, I played with his hair, and he stroked my knee. Hours later, it was time to meet Lauren E., but he still had work to do. Without thinking, I offered to let him use my computer while he stayed with a friend that night. He protested, but I countered with: "why rely on that person when you can rely on this person?" Suffice it to say, my dear friend was startled to see me walk into Le Pain (late) hand in hand with him.
"I didn't know you were bringing someone."
"He's just leaving; he's borrowing my computer."
"I could stay for a coffee..."
So he did. Call me presumptuous, but I think she found him charming. And he is. After all, I did spend 36 hours with him.

Thursday night, he and his friend joined me and mine for a reading/anniversary celebration of a friend's wonderful literary culture blog. We kissed hello, locked eyes often, reached out for each other whenever that happened (also often), and kissed goodbye. Waiting for the subway, an old high school friend, whom I hadn't seen in years until that night, asked about him.
"Is that K guy your boyfriend?"
"No, I met him three weeks ago."

Friday, November 27, 2009


So much work. SO MUCH WORK! Weeks of preparation, waking at the crack of dawn to tress a turkey, invites, invites, invites.. too many invites.. too many people to host. The day is always so much work. But, I do it. I do it every year. I plan and prepare, I assemble a team, I secure a location, I write lists and lists and lists, I delegate and I count, count, count and recount. There are always too many people, there is always over spending, there is always something that goes wrong, terribly wrong. There is ALWAYS so much joy.

It is strange how the task seems to get bigger with each passing year, the group always seems to grow! Alas, I cannot have anyone left unfed, unloved, uncared for on this day; this special day. It is about giving, it is about giving thanks. I realize, living in the city, there are many without families, there are many without a home; there are many that feel they have nothing to give thanks for. Those are the ones I want at my table. Those are the ones I want to serve and slave for, those are the ones I want to bring into the folds, to love on, on this day. And we did. My roommates and I, my closest friends, we worked and we slaved and we laughed and we danced around the house, around the kitchen as turkey juice went flying, as hams took three hours to warm. We danced, we sang along to great music, we shared stories and laughed at each others expense, we drank and we ate and we shared tears. It was a good day. It was a blessed day full to the brim. I find it hard to come down off the high, the high of excitement even in the midst of utter exhaustion.

I roast a pretty good turkey, I have a talent for root vegetables, for setting tables, for beautiful things; but no one noticed the food, they didn’t notice the décor, they didn’t notice the special touches, because the love was so thick in the room. We played football after dinner and dessert after that. Hours later our home was still full. People stuck around, they didn’t want to leave. The music got louder, the dancing began, the naps took place and the laughter never subsided. When the fun began to slow down and the comas set in for the third time, we couldn’t let people leave, we couldn’t push them out yet.. we had to stretch the celebration another hour.. the clock had almost struck midnight and one of our close friends turned 34. We opened another bottle of wine, got out the sparklers and raised our glasses in a toast to his life. It was the perfect end to the evening, celebrating one of our own and coming together as family, on this very special day.

Today I am tired, today I am half dead, but I will do it again, and again and again, because people were loved, they were cared for and they were given family, even if only for the day or perhaps, this is just the beginning.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Just one smile? Just one little hop?

I really wanted to smile, but as soon as the corners of my mouth turned up, something inside me made them turn down again. A straight line. Best not to show too much excitement. Best not to show any excitement. This has happened before. The tantalizing OPPORTUNITY. And again and again it has ended the same way. A bitter blow of rejection that turns the smile on my lips to ashes in my heart.

But my heart wants to leap. Just at the sight of the apple I can already savor it sweetness. My heart doesn't want to look at the path to see if something lurks that can keep me away from my apple. All it sees is the apple. Brilliant, juicy, bright, plump, red, shining. Always shining.

Stop being superstitious I say to myself. Stop thinking of all the things that could go wrong. Stop being so negative. Yet even as the corners of my mouth rise again, my mind immediately whips it back into shape. I must reign in my heart, my mind says. But my heart, it won't listen to anything, it has worked itself into such a state of excitement.

Maybe I'll allow it a tiny little smile of excitement today. Just a little tiny one. Despite that ever present possibility - my sarcastic mind would call it probability - of rejection, could I allow my heart just one tiny little smile? Just before pulling the corners of my mouth into a straight line again? Then not to show any excitement for things that are yet so uncertain.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is there a shortage?

"I find it hard to believe there's a shortage of good men in the world, even if it is one per customer." -Justin Cleavland

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Someday, an ode, perhaps

Do you ever have those days when you just want to run away? When all you really truly want to do is to find a comfy, cozy, little ditch somewhere, curl up in it, cover yourself with the autumn leaves (a wild and flaming mix of red and gold) and just die? A day when you feel like nothing ever has gone right, is going right, or possibly could go right? When you expect the skies to open up and empty buckets of water all over you, when you want the earth to open up and swallow you whole. When your thoughts can't stop running in circles all around inside your skull, where your heart feels like a ball of lead, and where your gut keeps welling into sobs that you fight to keep down.

But even though the world was coming apart at the seams, some self-saving little voice at the back of my head reminded me to pop my book into my purse before I rushed out in a furious distraught rage. And that was my savior.

The walk did nothing to clear my head; my eyes couldn't see past my anger. The museum did nothing to stop my crazy infuriated thoughts; my mind couldn't go past my hurt. And then I stepped into a cafe/bar that had its walls lined with books and cozy leather seating. A glass of wine, and I opened my book.

And got lost.

Lost in the beauty, the sadness, the humor. As the words flowed around me and into me, reality receded. It was just me, then, in the little circle of light that the table lamp cast. Everything else was in shadows. My hand absently lifted my glass to my lips. My eyes hungrily devoured each line. My heart welled with love, my soul drowned in the characters' sorrows, a bubble of mirth rose and spilled over.

It has ever been thus. No matter what realities may crowd in upon my mind, there is one sure fire escape, one certain way of regaining my calm, my peace. One, and only one definite path to bring solace to the turmoil that might besiege my heart or my mind. I descended slowly into the depths and rose up on the other side. The intimate caress of words filled my ears with the soft voices of the characters. I smelled the breeze that the author described, I felt the silk under my fingertips. And the world was within me again.

Finally I looked up. Dusk had deepened into darkness. I slipped in my bookmark, and closed my book with a little sigh. My little escape would wait for me. For now, I had to deal with some devils.


Lauren E., meet your soulmate.

You can thank me later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm Not Sorry I Met You, I'm Not Sorry It's Over, I'm Not Sorry There's Nothing To Say

E. called me. On Halloween. I just haven’t been able to find a way to write about it until now. He calls every 12 or 18 months. We broke up five and a half years ago, but he never let the wound close. And even now he hangs around to make sure that just as the scar begins to fade, he’ll make another jab to make sure it lasts. To make sure he lasts. To make sure he’s not forgotten.

E. hurt me in ways I can’t describe. I fell so far in love with him and then he lied to me and hurt me and never really seemed to care. But he could never let me go. He’d promise to meet me so we could talk and then stand me up. He’d call and provoke me, hang up, let me leave a hysterical message, and then play it on speakerphone for his friends. He’d buy a ticket to a show I was in and then not attend. And he’s been calling ever since to tell me that he misses me and that he wishes we could talk more. I don’t know why I answer. But I always do.

I heard this song on Tuesday and it hit me like a cannonball to the gut. It describes this situation so much better than I can.

day turns to night

It had been a long day. Classes all day long, meeting with a project partner who hadn't done anything at all, preparing and executing a presentation, frustrating telephone calls, awkward conversations, unsuccessful attempts at using the internet to accomplish tasks that have been pending for a long time. All the restaurants and bars with televisions were packed for the game. We walked into one, then another, then another. They all had empty seats - hidden behind a wall, where of course the television wasn't visible. Somehow we found seats which were cramped but still allowed a view. D followed every move with interest. All I wanted was my bed.

And then it arrived. Succulent, glistening with fat, the delicious fragrance wafting towards me before it was even placed on the table. In a bed of lightly dressed salad, accompanied with real potato chips: the Confit de Canard. The meat fell off the bones, the skin was fatty and melted in my mouth. The chips were crunchy but still thick enough to give you a bite. The salad provided a cool and refreshing break. I settled back into my little chair. Suddenly it was so comfortable and warm. The "oooooohs" and "putains" and "allez allez allez" were the calls of camaraderie. I even looked up a few times to see a goal or maybe a foul. I sipped my wine, and felt the tension ease out of my limbs. My eyes grew heavy as I grew sated with the delicate yet hearty confit. I remembered that I had a novel full of beautiful words and a gripping story waiting for me at home. And the day just fell away. And I was left with just this lovely evening.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Little Bit

I haven't heard from the Hungarian in four days.

I'm a touch sad.

Stuck between the depths of my fears and peaks of my pride... --A.L.

“I hung out with M. last weekend. Actually, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.”
I couldn’t believe it. What was this? It was honesty. The LDC was going to tell me about the girl he brought out to the bar.
“Oh yeah, M. told me. It’s fine.”
“No, it’s not fine. Because she has no idea. Every time I bring a girl out, she glares at me and she brings you up like I’m some kind of ass hole. I brought out my old friend S. from high school a couple weeks ago and M. stared daggers at me all night.”
Truthfully, I didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted to settle comfortably into my little bit of pain and write him off as another guy who didn’t care. But he wasn’t letting me settle.

He called the next night.
Heeeeey.” His voice was warm and fuzzy.
“You’re drunk. You sure you want to talk right now?”
“I’m not drunk. I’ve had two beers, I’m just in a good mood.”
“Okay, so… Did you want to talk about something?”
“Did you want to talk about something?”
“The M. thing.”
“I guess I just want you to know that her feelings are not my feelings. I’m not asking her to be my spy or anything.”
“I know you well enough to know that you would never do that.”
“Okay, good.”
“And honestly, I did bring someone out on Saturday. It was just this girl that I thought was cool and that I was semi-interested in, and it didn’t work out. That’s it. I feel like I don’t have to hide things from you. I’m comfortable enough with you that I feel like I don’t have to lie.” I took a deep breath. I wasn’t used to this. We were both so aware of our situation and its pit falls, and we were carefully stepping around them. These giant chasms that could break us as friends, as more-than-friends, as whatever we had turned ourselves into. I had never worked with someone the way I was working with him.

I wanted to say more but I didn’t know how to put it. He pushed me into it. “I guess I’m also afraid of being the fool,” I said. “I don’t want you to be texting me while you’re hanging out with some other girl.”
“I would never do that to you. I’ve had people say stuff about me… I wouldn't do that. I wouldn’t continue to flirt with you like this if I was with someone else. I really like you. And it just really sucks that you live across the country. But you have to know that I am always honest with you.”
We chatted for a little while longer and eventually the mood lightened. I heard his friends in the background as they got ready to go out for the night and an old friend of his walked into the room laughing. “I’ll be there in a second,” he called out to her.
“Who are you talking to?” she asked.
“It’s Lauren.”
“Hi, Lauren!” she yelled out. “I’ve never met you, but I like you already!”

And for the millionth time, I cursed the 2,408 miles between us.


I am ready. I am ready to move on from here; from this place of pain and anger; from this place so thick with the past that it smells of decay. I am ready to live new and fresh, letting yesterday stay behind me. I am ready, Emerson, to take your advice and rejoice in the sticky, messy, newness that is today. I forge ahead with strength and dignity, humbly accepting the greatness that is to come… and it will come.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Tears were never allowed. They were kept inside, until they welled to the top and blew like Mt. Vesuvius. The explosion was always kept under wraps and in complete darkness never to be shared with a single living soul. No one knew my pain…until Judy. I appeared to be the perfect little child, alive with laughter and obedient in my behavior. Negative emotions didn’t have a place in this perfect little image I’d adorned for myself. I fooled them all. But, not Judy, no one else looked long enough to see what her eyes saw.

My emotional savior, she taught me to cry. She is my Natcha, my nursemaid, the arms that held me in when I needed holding more than anything else. She’s taught me tears and helped make room in my little boxed in life for emotion. When the first twinges of despair would rise up, Judy would catch them like butterflies in a net. She would hold them out to admire before I’d snatch them back in. Judy knew pain and Judy knew sorrow; like well worn shoes, she’d broken in for dancing. Never turning away her pain like a beggar in the street, she’d nourish her wounds and leave room for them to heal. Taking it all in she used it for the strengthening of her soul.

Visiting her mother’s house, one summer afternoon, all the stories I’d heard of her life came together. Puzzle pieces scattered across the floor.. they began to creep up, forming a perfectly elaborate picture. It all started to make sense. Taking me from room to eccentric room my memory rehearsed the tales as if they were being played out in front of me. Viewing a rare Diego Rivera painting, found by her parents on a trip to Mexico, she began to tell me new stories; stories of a woman that helped her live through tragedy.

Judy taught me of Frida Kahlo. She told me of this woman who was crippled with pain and sorrow; but was not marked for her pain, but known for her stunning talent to beautifully express that which plagued her. Through her roses and rods Frida expressed what many others could never comprehend. I sat in awe of her displays, page after page, story after story of rejection, of passion, of frustration and anger. Frida lived fully with colorful rage and exuberance, continually conscious of grief and torment. Her bones were broken and re-broken through thirty surgeries. Chronic pain knew no other. But, she lived; she thrived and became one of the most celebrated modern artists.

My festering sores of sorrow were not brought on by a bone crushing accident or a ravaging disease, but crippling none the less; stress and despair deteriorating me from the inside out. Wounds so deep, some still remain untouched, hidden unable to be healed; old gashes still surfacing to cause me grief. I suppose Frida’s rage wouldn’t allow her torment to be hidden. Judy’s lament made room for other’s pain to be expressed and has taught mine to become my song. Judy said, “Like a bird with broken wings learning to fly... your distress will teach you how to sing.”

Today I am without the will to fly and my song seems to seep out only in screams. I need Frida and Judy to be my strength; to guide me through this heart ache. I see myself as an eight year old girl again, walking hand in hand with my Judy to lead me, through Frida’s greatest exhibit, to wander in silence with tear filled eyes to let Frida in to express my pain in ways I never knew how. Perhaps their stories will continue to teach me and moment by moment, I will let my butterflies fly and heal my broken wings.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

“To dance is to be yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power on earth and it is yours for the taking. --Agnes de Mille

I hadn’t felt that way in a long time. The last time I could recall, it was 2003 and I was on a bus with 30 other show choir kids, all equally obsessed with musical theater. I stared up at the bright lights of Times Square, all of my 18 years of dance, theater, and music behind me, and I told myself, “I’m going to make it here.” I was naïve. I hailed from the booming metropolis of Webster, New York and I knew nothing about life in Manhattan.

But last night I remembered. The air was warm enough to leave my coat unbuttoned, revealing the faded pink straps of full body tights hanging over my khaki pants. I wanted everyone to see. I wanted anyone who wondered to know that I was going to ballet class. An eagerness hummed inside of me that hadn’t been there in five years.

“The class is in Studio 4, down the hall to your right.” I followed the girl’s directions and lost myself in the sound of tap shoes and “Hot Honey Rag,” the smell of stale sweat, the murmur of conversation highlighted with the occasional battement and echappe. I peeled off my office persona and slipped into ballet shoes crisp with years of use. My limbs ached as I stretched over, my bones cracked, and I winced at my inflexible hamstrings.

The class was ballet at its most basic, but I answered every question, raised my hand with questions of my own, and volunteered first in every exercise. I breathed through every movement, extending every gesture as if my famished body wanted to soak in every last morsel. It had been five years. I didn’t want to wait another five to feel this way again.

It’s hard to explain why I stopped dancing when I came to New York. It should’ve been the opposite. But last night, still damp with sweat from my hour and a half long return to ballet, I called my mother beneath the bright, blinking lights of Broadway. I remembered the passion and the drive and the beauty I felt before I ever lived here. “Will you send my leotards and tights?” I asked. “I’m going to need more than one.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tonight, tell me something true

Today has called herself melancholy. She told me so. I knew what she meant as soon as I saw the falling leaves. They have turned dull and dry and mark the ending of another season. She hates to see the trees shedding their vibrance and wishes for new life again. Today’s sadness is bringing me down. My knees are cold from the wind and it is evident the end of fall is soon at hand.

Today you want to talk. She must have been trying to warn me. I wasn’t expecting to hear from you, or to be so startled by your e-mail. You said you’re sorry for being stand-offish, but you want to share what's on your mind. I freeze at your words; they make my knees shiver as if the wind were blowing inside. Your kindness softens me and brings out all of my vulnerability, this scares me. I am a decision maker in life; but in love, you have me confused. I am anxious to hear your heart, but uncertain as to how I will respond. Is this the end of another season or the beginning of something new?
I wish today would be clear, she frustrates me with her clouds. I wish I knew what I wanted and I wish I wanted you. Today will soon end and tonight will tell me something true.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't Hate

JRenee likes to say "when it rains it pours," but the fact of the matter is...

Monday, November 9, 2009


It happens.. it really happens. And when it does.. all this waiting and frustration and turmoil.. might be worth it.

No longer us

My invitation came late… really late. They called to tell me I was invited to their wedding and that my invitation was on its way. You received one, on time, addressed to the two of us. We both went, separately. I was nervous to show up without you. I wanted to walk in on your arm. The dress I had chosen was not one that should walk in alone. But, I did. I walked in alone wearing that dress. I asked the usher to sit me with people I knew, it wasn’t the same. You sat towards the back. You tell people you are fine. You tell them you are over me and just want to be friends again. As I approached, your eyes and your actions did not confirm the words of your mouth. You hugged me, and then moved on. At the reception, all I wanted was to dance with you, but you don’t dance. Once you told me you wanted to learn. You said holding me in your arms inspired you to dance. I danced all night.. in that dress and not with you. The night was young and you left early. I didn’t even see you leave. What will become of us? I suppose we are no longer us, but sometimes it feels like we should be.
Don't surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deeply.
Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
-Hafez, poet (1315-1390)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Back Burner

"So, I guess I should tell you this... I feel like I'm obligated." Every ounce of blood in my body rushed to my face and I was hot. Sick nerves crawled through my stomach. "We went out last night and [LDC] was there and he brought this... girl. This Laura girl. This blonde, idiot... I just don't understand his choices. She was ridiculous and she was talking about how much she could drink. He was... well, I mean, I guess he was talking to her but he wasn't really that interested but the night went on and you know, she was trying to make her move. She put her hand on his thigh and then he took her back to his parents' house but apparently they only played pool. So. I don't know."

He had sent me multiple texts that same night, one specifically at 4AM my time that said he was crashing. I knew (or guessed...) that this girl did not spend the night but who cares? Her hand on his thigh. Her name was Laura. I felt so sick.

The kicker is that I was with someone that night, too. I met a guy who was nice, but young, haughty, native New Yorker, a little schmoozy. I was not in love with this guy but I let him buy me a drink, I let him hold my hand, I let him kiss me. So while LDC was letting a girl put her hand on his thigh I was letting some guy do the same to me.

When anyone asks me why I continue this I tell them it's because I like talking to him. "At the very least, we're great friends." "He's lonely, of course he'll hang out with other girls." I say it and I hear it and I don't believe it. So why, why, why do I let it continue when it has no future? Because sometimes being on someone's back burner is better than being on no burner at all.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Like, today type of now

Mr. Right, I am in love. I am missing you and seeking for you and wish I knew your name.
This morning, I woke with such romance in the air. Walking out of the house my warm coat hugged me as the crisp air brushed my face. Receiving two kisses from kind neighbors on the way to the subway, I knew today was special.
I wish you were in it, there to love me in the morning as I awoke in my plush bed. Beside me as I greeted my neighbors on the way to work. In my thoughts and in my blackberry messages.. all day long.
Where are you? Do you dream of me as I dream of you? Remember when I loved you before I even knew you. I believe you exist, you are out there, perhaps you are waiting for me, looking around every corner, every bend.. moving past all those that just aren’t right. I am.
I am tired today and want nothing more than I want intimacy, kindness and a couple of laughs..with you.
One day we will share, one day we will lie in bed all day and watch old movies with our very own comedic commentary. I’ll bring in berries and champagne, for breakfast, you will insist on beer and burritos for lunch. I want you now. Like, today type of now. Is it possible? I suppose it isn’t time. We will wait.
One day you will see my knees and my hips and my lips. I will know your heart and your love like no other. I can’t wait. I will wait.
I understand it won’t always be easy and it most certainly won’t be a dream. But, I do think it will be right, there will be fuel for the road, there will be commitment, a joined spirit to fight the good fight. I know you will be forever.. or til death do us part. That will be a good day. It will be. Today is just a tease.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Start

I had read all of their bios, seen all of their photos, and he didn't stand out. But there he was across the room, leaning on the counter, one foot in front of the other, head down, smiling. I want to meet him, I said to myself.

We talked of things I can't remember, and yet it was enough to keep my interest. So much so that after a couple of days of chatting (read: innocent flirting) in between meetings, I arranged it so we sat next to each other at the closing dinner. This time, we talked and talked about everything: his requisite rebellious phase as the son of a career diplomat, my multicultural upbringing, Paris, my grad school aspirations, his crisis of confidence at work. He ordered one last glass of white as they were kicking us out of the restaurant, and I turned to see he had had mine refilled. It's Hungarian custom never to leave a place without finishing your glass, he said, eyes twinkling.

The group of us spilled out into the street. I was charged with choosing the next venue, but how to please 10 wildly different, European personalities? At the helm, he accompanied me, darting into one place and then another, finally deciding on a lively if slightly unhip piano bar. Don't want to disturb the couple, the loud one said.

The next day was their last in Washington before embarking on their whirlwind trips through the States. Kisses on the cheek. Until New York, two weeks from now, we said.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


It was a few weeks into my freshman year at college. My roommate and I were getting pretty close, knocking on our neighbor's door had led to friendships that were already tightening into firm bonds, and while the world was still scary, what with this new independence and all, at least that first panic of being no longer a little fledgling, safe in the nest, had started receding. We had started building a new home in each others friendship.

Did you hear?
Someone committed suicide yesterday.

What? Where? Here? A student?

Yeah, in the library! Kid threw himself off the top floor or something.

What?! Oh man that's horrible! Do we know who it was?

No, they're not saying yet, but this girl I know said he lived on her floor.

Oh that's just so awful!

And then a few days passed and it happened again.

And then a few weeks and it happened again.

Somehow it turned out that my freshman year of college was to be christened with a string of suicides. At first there was surprise and astonishment, a feeling of horror, then relief that it wasn't a friend, then wonder at the reasons, analysis of the logistics, and then, sickeningly, humor.

"Oh man, I'm so stressed out about this exam"
"Uh-oh, watch out, she's gonna head over to the library!"

"This paper is awful"

"You gonna jump?"

And when we had stopped trying to push it under the rug with our jokes and our abstract analysis, finally, the realization. That suicide is real. That all of these people were people we might have known. They went to our school, they lived in our dorms, they were in our classes, they were at our parties. They weren't known to us, but they weren't abstract unknowns. They were us.

We are all this close to falling off an edge into an abyss that might close over before we even realized we had fallen in. We are all holding on by delicate ropes, holding on to each other. If we didn't tend to the frays in them we might just slip right off. But some of these ropes made of iron, and it needs only a discerning eye to recognize which ones are sturdy, which ones to hold on to. But once you get a grip on those relationships, those realities, those grounding rocks, you can walk along that edge safely.

But what if you cannot recognize them?
What if everything starts unraveling around you?

Could you pull yourself off that edge?

Or would you just have to let yourself fall?

Monday, November 2, 2009

On Not Playing the Game

Friday night. A drunk dial from E., whom I have not heard from in a year and a half. I was feeling strange again. I texted the LDC. One last shot to see if he’d respond. He didn’t. Fine, I thought. If he doesn’t want to talk to me, then I don’t want him coaching my Fantasy Football team. It was the most passive aggressive way I could’ve gone about it but I didn’t care. I had tried to be honest and something was still missing. I wanted to take back control.

Sunday afternoon.
A text. “Did you change your fantasy password?”
I was embarrassed. Why was I being such a child? I replayed the 5 second scene in my head of him looking at my text and ignoring it and I felt justified. Ignore.
Ten minutes later, a phone call. Ignore.
Voicemail. “Hey, what’s up. Just wanted to see how your weekend was, if you survived Halloween. So… yeah. I guess… give me a call back when you get this.”
He had never left me a voicemail before. Ever. I caved, and texted.
“Hey, I’ll give you a call later.”
“Is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine. Just would rather talk than text.”
“I know, that’s why I called you.”

I felt shaky and nervous for the rest of the day. I was tearing myself up for something that was so unreal. It wasn’t flesh and blood and yet it was so solidly in my life.

I called later that night, prepared to be completely honest and lay it all out there. I was tired of game playing and wondering.
“You sound weird,” he said, his voice thick with exhaustion.
“Yeah, well… I guess I should probably tell you… I did change my password. I was being completely passive aggressive because I was mad at you. I feel like something is different. We used to talk a lot. I mean… a lot. And now I feel like I don’t hear from you at all. I feel ignored. And I thought maybe you were dating someone, which would make sense, but I asked you about that and you said you weren’t. So I thought maybe you just didn’t want to talk as much, and that’s fine… but I think I deserve to hear that. So I got mad at you.”
It was like dropping a fifty pound sack of flour from my arms. It was everything I wanted to say and no matter what his answer was, I was honest without being crazy. A minor accomplishment.

He laughed. “I’m not ignoring you. And if I haven’t been talking to you as much it’s not a conscious decision. I’m just… having a hard time.” He went on in a meek little voice that I had never heard before. “I feel really alone here. All my friends are in relationships, I’m living with my parents again and I guess I’m… lonely. And it’s really hard liking someone and getting close to someone who lives across the country. So I’m not ignoring you. But maybe I’m just being realistic.” He laughed again. “But I really like coaching your fantasy team. And I know I can get a little competitive, so I’m sorry about that.”

"This has nothing to do with Fantasy Football," I promised. And then I laughed, too. Because while he was trying to explain why I hadn’t heard from him, it wasn’t about me at all. He went on to talk about how he felt restless and confused about what he was doing and where he was and who he was spending his time with. He wanted his friends back, he wanted to be with someone, he wanted his own space again. By the end of our conversation I felt at ease. I knew we wouldn’t go back to texting every ten minutes or talking about how we’d live in San Francisco next year, but I did feel the shift to a more normal friendship.

“I should go to bed,” I yawned. “But I’ll talk to you soon.”
“Yeah, I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow night but I’ll call you.”

“You don’t have to. I don’t want you thinking I’m the crazy girl who needs a phone call every day.”

“No, I want to. I want to talk to you for longer. I like talking to you… it’s refreshing.”