Saturday, February 27, 2010

"And it's easy for me, and it's better for the soul..."

It's been a rough couple of weeks.

Work is hectic; my family continually teeters on the edge of a breakdown; and rapidly approaching grad school decisions scare the crap out of me. It's as if all of these major life components met and conspired against my mental health.

This crippling anxiety then infiltrates its way into other aspects of my life. Remember when a smiley-face email from the Hungarian was enough to keep me content? Not so anymore. Now when I try to talk to him I feel like a little girl tugging on his sleeve.

I don't mean to be melodramatic but it seems as if (for the moment at least) my life isn't mine, as if I've lost control. Even though it's tempting to indulge in such broodiness, to bitterly retreat into myself, I know better than to get caught up in this whirlpool of emotion. I try to do little things, do my laundry or finish my book, to regain my footing.

More substantially, I will leave the Hungarian alone for a bit. The decision is my own, and that, in and of itself, is a confidence booster. Listening to (and watching) Jack Peñate helps, too...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Just A Taste

Me and my lady have been together for a year now. And it is because of this past year that I can say with confidence that love exists. Gross I know, but you can benifit!

Behind every great love story; is even greater music.

So here is my love playlist for the last year: my LOVELIST if you will.

Facebook bombarded me with this piece of information today. My first love has now been with his current girlfriend for a year now and he has displayed his love for her through a beautiful mix that I must say, touches me in all those deep parts and places that he once awakened in me. I probably should not have downloaded this mix. I probably shouldn't be listening to it right now or letting my mind go to all the weepy sad places it is going. But, I did love this man. I loved all the little intricate details that I knew of him in the short time we were together. I was sad to loose him, circumstances changed and our young love was not strong enough to survive a distant move. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever feel the same intensity of love and desire again. I like to think my mom was right when she said to me, "Honey, he was just an appetizer. Just a taste of the real thing."


mornings - frank o'hara

I've got to tell you
how I love you always
I think of it on grey
mornings with death

in my mouth the tea
is never hot enough
then and the cigarette
dry the maroon robe

chills me I need you
and look out the window
at the noiseless snow

At night on the dock
the buses glow like
clouds and I am lonely
thinking of flutes

I miss you always
when I go to the beach
the sand is wet with
tears that seem mine

although I never weep
and hold you in my
heart with a very real
humor you'd be proud of

the parking lot is
crowded and I stand
rattling my keys the car
is empty as a bicycle

what are you doing now
where did you eat your
lunch and were there
lots of anchovies it

is difficult to think
of you without me in
the sentence you depress
me when you are alone

Last night the stars
were numerous and today
snow is their calling
card I'll not be cordial

there is nothing that
distracts me music is
only a crossword puzzle
do you know how it is

when you are the only
passenger if there is a
place further from me
I beg you do not go

Hopping on the train

She gets married on November 30th.

I don't know how I met her. Just like I don't know how I met my sister or my parents. She has just always been in my life. I was born just two months after her, and came to inhabit the apartment two floor above hers. I think her mother gave me my first vaccines. At least I remember being 4 and being told "come let's go out and see the rainbow" and then finding myself down in her apartment screaming bloody murder as I realized I'd been tricked into entering my best friend's home under false pretenses. I remember getting scared of thunder and lightening and, for some odd five-year-old reason, running up four flights of stairs with her so we could cower in my house, instead of taking the sensible route and climbing up four stairs to cower in hers. When I visit I tell her mother to cook x, y or z. I have that right. I call her older male cousins "bhai". I tease her younger brother about whether he has a girlfriend. He calls me "tai". Her parents are "aunty" and "uncle". As are mine to her. She remembers my sister's birthday. I can still talk about everything from boys to politics to homosexuality with her. Our views are sometimes extremely different, but that tradition of respect and agreeing to disagree and the knowledge that there is no judgment allow us to have an honest exchange of ideas. The things I do, she would never imagine. The things she does, I would never imagine. And yet we can sit on the sofa, toes curled under the pillows, once every year, immersed in conversation.

She gets married on Nov. 30th.

He sounds great. She's so happy. Her family loves him. I want to hug her and scream excitedly and help her plan her wedding and hang out with him and get to know the future Mr. A, to make sure he is as kind and wonderful as she says. To confirm that he'll understand her incredible independence and that he won't take advantage of her extreme loyalty and love. To set my mind at ease that he'll appreciate the beautiful sparkling imaginative creative intelligent loyal independent amazing honest darling woman she is. To meet the person I expect to have in my life for the rest of my life because of his connection with A.

A part of me is jittery, selfishly so.

Because this is how it starts.
Sure I have other friends who are married.
But this is real now.


I showered away merrily. I had just returned from a long weekend of traveling with a friend and I couldn't wait to wash that plane smell off me. I shampooed my hair, conditioning it with care. No matter how good the hotel, they just never get their shampoos right. I let the hot steaming water run over my back, luxuriating in the comfort of being back in my own home. The joy of my own soap lathering in my hands. I know the earth is dying and we should conserve water, but, I thought, I usually am pretty good about taking quick showers. I'm tired and the water is warm and comforting, and there's not much wrong with that.

I stepped out, my hair wrapped in a towel. A little out of breath. I'd stayed in long enough to make the bathroom a sauna. There was very little light from the side of the living room and kitchen. It made sense - maybe D was using garlic or sauteing onions and we usually don't like to leave the door open to save ourselves from smelling the stale cooking smells for days on end.

I padded into the bedroom and collapsed onto the bed in a sauna-steam-warmth-exhaustion. I pulled on something. I shook my hair out and tried ineffectively to rub it dry. Okay, dinner time. It was our two-year anniversary. I knew D was cooking, I had picked up dessert. I looked forward to catching up with him. It seemed like so much had happened over the weekend. I'd help him lay the table. I'd prop my feet on his knees as I pulled the plate into my lap and tucked into my meal. I'd get up and go get some water to drink.

I padded out towards the living room and stopped. Through the glass door I saw candles. Flowers. A soft glow. D stepped out of the kitchen just then carrying plates loaded with something absolutely delicious smelling. There was wine in our glasses. Music too.

I smiled.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chapter Two

Three weeks we were separated. In the beginning it was so hard. We’d had the DTR (Define the Relationship) discussion. We had decided we wanted to take a swing at this thing and thus it began. Only, Christmas arrived and with it, the two of us traveling apart for three weeks. I could tell he didn’t want to start this relationship off with endless text messages; phone calls every night, and incessant communication. So we shared sparse communication and watched our anticipation rise.

Finally he returned to the city. My heart beat rapidly at the thought of our reunion. He asked if I could meet him up for dinner, he had a plan. I arrived at his house and we exchanged an awkward hug, the presence of our two bodies finally meeting again was filled with electric intensity. He stiffened up and barely could bring himself to touch me. We went out to dinner. He’d chosen a Venezuelan restaurant with blood orange walls and bobble head shrines adding to the décor. I loved it. I felt as if the atmosphere was so very us... whatever “us” might be. We chatted rapidly about the screen play he is writing and about the places I’d visited. We laughed out loud at the inside jokes that had already begun to form. We ventured back to his place for Manhattans and a couple folk songs played on his guitar. I decided that there was something to this, something special and unique about this man. The anticipation and excitement of something so brand new, it filled me with awe.

Three months now, spent with him, quickly approaches. We have now shoved off, unmoored in this relationship; to use his terminology. It is a strange place to be. No longer any need for frivolous flirtations. The immediate mystery is gone, but overshadowed by the ever increasing understanding that there is just so much more to know and learn about one another. He has taken me on so many dates that we now cherish the moments spent just doing life in the comfort of our homes. We are learning to rest together; a whole new phase. Friday night we plan to tuck away in a coffee shop and write. I still get nervous with each new chapter. Just beginning to get used to the last. But I have decided not to fret, not to fear the unknown, but to embrace the change and see where it might take us. I actually think I might like this chapter better than the last. Only time will tell the length of this novel. For now, I sit pretty just beginning Chapter two.

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's been three years since I'm knockin' on your door, and I still can knock some more...

I did it. I mustered up all of my courage and I instigated “the talk.” When I told him I needed to define this thing that we’re doing here, he got defensive. I told him I was invested and he cut me off and said, “So then you’re going to tell me that it’s my fault you’re not dating anyone! I’m keeping you from seeing other people.” I groaned in frustration, my heart pounding away in my chest. This was exactly what I was afraid of. “So we’re just friends?” I asked. “Well, no,” he said slowly, “I mean… we’re not just friends. But I consider you my friend.” I felt woozy. But I didn’t lose my courage.

“If you think that we are nothing more than friends, then things have to change.” He didn’t like this answer but it was the catalyst for a less dramatic, more honest discussion.

He told me how it was hard to have me in Seattle and not be hyper aware that I was leaving in three days. I told him I felt the same way. “You did?” he asked. “See,” I answered. “This is why we have to talk about this stuff.”

“I think we both knew this conversation was coming,” he said, a far cry from the ‘friends’ proclamation he had made earlier. “I think neither of us wanted to bring it up.” It was true. Neither of us wanted to bring it up. But there was something I was after here… even if I didn’t know exactly what it was. I wanted him to tell me he saw me in his future. I needed to hear that this wasn’t all in vain. I posed it delicately, using the unassuming words ‘potential’ and ‘eventually.’

“I don’t really have an answer for you,” he said. “I don’t know what you want me to say. I can’t predict the future and you and I are in very different places in our lives right now. Who knows where either of us is gonna end up.” I didn’t quite know what else to say. There were long stretches of quiet where I squeezed my eyes shut and focused on the breath passing in and out of my lips.

“I don’t want you to be upset with me,” he said. “I’m not upset. I just… I ultimately want to hear that I’m not just your buddy. I want to know that what we have is different, and that you don’t have this same relationship with all your other girl friends.” “I don’t,” he answered. “And you should know that.”

I was tired. I didn’t want to talk anymore. Nothing was being answered, and as much as he’d given me part of what I wanted, I knew I wasn’t getting anything else. “Okay,” I sighed. “Well, you’re packing so I’ll let you go.”

“No,” he answered. “I don’t want you to let me go.”

It was the most to-the-point thing he’d said all night, and he didn’t even mean to.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Little Things

Valentine’s Day got me thinking about gestures. My friend M. is incredibly anti-relationship and is smack in the middle of her first real go at it. Her boyfriend is the personal assistant to a famous photographer and he works a lot, so in honor of VD she told me they were doing “meatballs and sex” on the following Tuesday. I thought this was hilarious and perfect. Good, hearty food and a fun activity to burn off those calories. But most importantly it was something that is so very them, and so very not cliché and laden with red hearts and chocolates.

The LDC made a gesture. A small one. But it meant everything to me. It had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day (he called me on Sunday but the word “Valentine” never even crossed his lips), but it was sweet and perfect. I’m starting a food blog and when I asked him if he knew anything about how to create web banners using Photoshop, he answered, “Is that your not-so-subtle way of asking me to help you?” It really wasn’t, though. I just thought he might have some tips. The conversation went no further because I had to go but when I checked my e-mail late that same night he had sent me something. An attachment.

“I'm waiting for IT to fix this file I'm working on so I threw this together... I dunno, it's ok, maybe we should do something different.” Attached to the e-mail was a logo. It was good… it was so good. I loved it. But most of all I loved the fact that he designed something for me. He thought about it, he wanted to help, and even though he prefaced with “I had time to kill,” he spent his time on it. And he kept spending time on it until it was exactly what I wanted.

The last and final version arrived in my e-mail two days ago. I was out when he sent it so he texted: Check your e-mail! When I finally got home I let him know and he replied completely out of character: I hope you like the logo. Sometimes it takes flowers and chocolates for women to know men care. For me, all it took was a little expended hope.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


For some odd reason, Valentine's Day always reminds me of this one place...

(MP, I'll have to tell you the story)

Friday, February 12, 2010

On Giving Up

This song just makes me smile. And I think I'll dance to it at my wedding.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

But for now...

It's been two weeks since I boarded a flight from Budapest back to Paris. In these two weeks, I have talked to the Hungarian all of two times (maybe three).

To be fair, I haven't attempted much more than that. When I see him online, I know full well that he is sitting at his dining table desk, brow furrowed, guzzling green tea, typing up a Roma integration policy paper or working on the blog for his political campaign. Mr. Candidate, I call him.

Do I wish that he think of me as much as I think of him? Of course. That he drop what he's doing and give me his full attention? Obviously. Yet, admittedly, part of what makes him so attractive is his intelligence, his determination, his need to constantly challenge himself.

He was still up at 2:00 am his time last night. I know he likes to get to bed around midnight, and so I sent him a "you shall overcome!" message. The phrase is a little inside joke of ours - one that I said during some crisis that stuck.

This morning I woke up to a smiley face from him. For now, that's all I need.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." --M.W.

One of my parents’ favorite stories to tell about me is from when I was five years old. We were at Disney World and while I wasn’t tall enough to ride anything but the Dumbo ride and the teacups, I was big enough to go into the Haunted House. Timid at first, I waited in line holding my mother’s hand, and admiring the size of what was sure to be a castle. Tall, pointed spires, flags waving… castle, right?

When we finally arrived at the giant black door, the guard greeted us with a simple, but ghoulish, hello. I froze, screamed in terror, and burst into tears. The actor playing the guard apparently knelt down to try and comfort me and convince me he wasn’t that scary after all, but I was scarred. No amount of prodding after that moment could convince me to go into that haunted house. My mother was forced to wait on the bench outside the ride with me until my brother and father were through. It was the moment I became afraid of everything.

A few months later I had to drop out of gymnastics because I was afraid to flip over the uneven bars. One night the babysitter had to run upstairs to check on me because I let out a shriek of terror in the middle of the night: I had used a flashlight to guide my way to the bathroom, and when the globular, human-head-shaped shadow of the banister projected onto the wall, I thought I was a goner. I was terrified of waves in the ocean, and famous in my pediatrician’s office for earth-shattering screams when approached with the finger prick blood test. I couldn’t catch even a glimpse of a scary movie without being traumatized for weeks with nightmares. I fainted at the slightest hint of my own blood and once passed out cold in summer camp because I thought I had cut my finger on a piano, but in fact had not.

My fears were crippling. In the bigger picture, I have always been afraid of the unknown and in a way, I still am. I find myself crippled with the fear of getting hurt in a different way. My heart has been broken before. It’s a pain I know well. But somehow I’m afraid that the next time someone breaks it, it’ll be a pain like nothing I could’ve ever anticipated. It’s as if I’m staring down the castle door all over again.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Nicest Thing, Hungarian Version*

*Even though you could basically substitute the Hungarian for the LDC in Lauren E's last post and get the gist of my three days in Budapest...

He looked at me, smiled, shook his head, and kissed me. "You just bumped into my life again." Within minutes of entering his apartment, I was hanging his damp laundry on a drying rack. I separated his striped sweaters and socks and laughed to myself: So this is how it could be.

I laid on the couch and read my book, while he sat at his dining table work desk answering incessant emails and phone calls: So this is how it could be.

He gave me some radishes and peppers to wash while he sliced fresh bread. We ate our dinner of toast and brie from high stools at the kitchen counter, drank red wine with his friend that dropped by, and then watched a movie in bed: So this is how it could be.

As we parted for the day, he worried that I would not find my way back to the apartment, making me repeat the name of the square where all the buses and trams met. Later on, confusing me for a local, an elderly woman asked me for directions: So this is how it could be.

We split an apple tart and a chocolate cake. With a squinty smile, he ordered another slice of chocolate cake from the waitress: So this is how it could be.

He fell asleep in my lap:
So this is how it could be.

His grandmother made us a traditional Hungarian lunch. Even though she didn't eat, the two of us drank coffee in her living room. He stole my cup twice for a sip:
So this is how it could be.

I bought pastries from one of the fancier bakeries in the city. We made a mess of ourselves gobbling them up on the metro: So this is how it could be.

We ran our fastest, holding hands, to catch the last bus of the night: So this is how it could be.

At the train station, we kissed each other goodbye. I sat in my seat and looked out at him looking at me. As the train pulled away, he kissed his hand and I kissed mine: So this is how it's going to be.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Nicest Thing

It was easy. The entire weekend felt so seamless and simple. I was a ball of nerves when I arrived in Seattle on Thursday night, as if frayed wires were trying to send out signals inside my limbs. When the LDC walked into the bar where M. and I were drinking I wanted to leap across the room at him. He’s more attractive every time I see him.

The next three days were a barrage of knee squeezing, hand holding, and cuddling. We didn’t spend every minute together but at times it felt like this is what it would be like to live here and be with him. He’d pick me up and take me out, his friends would hug me hello, we’d automatically be each other’s beer pong partners. I found myself falling in love with the little things I wanted from him. I was so tired of maintaining feelings based on texts and phone calls. This real life was so much happier.

Sunday night came faster than I could’ve ever imagined, and we said goodbye outside M.’s house in the dark. I didn’t get to say any of the things I wanted to say, all the things I had prepared. I want to know what you think of us, what you think of this thing we’re doing here. Does it worry you? Does it stress you out? What do we do about it? Instead I let his fingers find my belt loops and focused on the feeling of skin on skin.

“I hope you had a good weekend,” he said. I assured him that I did.
“It’s nice spending time with you like a real person,” I answered.
“Yeah, we should do it again sometime.” What if I moved here? Or even to San Francisco? Would we be together then? He kissed me. Twice. And then he got in his car and drove away.

I kept feeling the tears threaten, the pressure on my face, all the way to the airport and the entire flight home. I held it together through my shower and makeup. And then Kate Nash came on Pandora and her sweet little voice spoke the words in my head.

I wish that without me your heart would break
I wish that without me you’d be spending the rest of your nights awake
I wish that without me you couldn't eat
I wish I was the last thing on your mind before you went to sleep

Look, all I know is that you’re the nicest thing I’ve ever seen
And I wish that we could see if we could be something