Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I used to treasure those moments of peace, shutting the bedroom door, losing myself in my own aloneness, my solitude. I'd wish for more. I'd wish for hours upon hours of just me myself and I, hugging a book, watching whatever I wanted, lying on the bed staring at the ceiling if I pleased. I would wish that I could just be, without someone asking me where I was, or what I was doing, or what I was watching, or what I was reading, or what I was listening to.

Today, a minute after they left, my face crumpled in on itself. They'd been here for merely 24 hours. A short visit, not quite free of arguments either. And yet I had formed a habit already. I grew used to hugging and talking and eating together. I got used to having someone around again.

I stood in the elevator, riding all alone to the top. Step by step, down the hallway, turning the key in the lock, I enter. I shut the door. I lock it. I pause. Suddenly this one-bedroom apartment is vast, stretching out in front of me empty and bewildering. I sit on the sofa, occupying one little corner. There are three extra chairs and an extra sofa. 2/3 of this sofa is empty as well. I stretch out, trying to fill in the space.

Music, I think to myself. Something to challenge this deafening silence, this lack of voices, this lack of conversation.

My phone winks at me silently. I suppose I could call someone. I reach for it, but then my hand falls, slack, next to my leg. I reach for my book and curl up into a little ball again. Just 1/3 of this sofa.

I shouldn't complain. And actually, I'm not complaining, not really. I like my space. I like my privacy. In fact, I love them. I love being able to do whatever I want whenever I want, without anyone to question me.

The thing is, there's just nobody to do all that whatever and whenever with. Nobody to turn to and say - hey, how about a cup of tea? Nobody to idly ask, whatchu readin'? Just...nobody.

And I'm not saying I don't like stretching out on the sofa or reading my book in peace. I'm not saying I mind that nobody can look askance as I leave a dirty dish in the sink. I'm not saying I dislike having my own little world. I'm just saying...perhaps someone in the next room might be nice.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Waking Up

It was late. I was disappointed. He was embarrassed. I tried my best to keep from crying as I stared out the passenger side window out into the drizzly, sparkling night. I had seen a side of him I never thought I'd see. He let me see a side that he never intended to show. He was fighting back tears himself.

Say something. I couldn't.
I don't know what to say.
He needed my approval.
You want to leave me?
It hurt my heart to even hear him say it.
No. I love you so much. I did. I do. I will.

He looked out over the road, gripped the steering wheel, looked at me quickly, then back at the road. 29 years of shame slid down his cheeks.

I never want to lose you.
You won't.

I come to life when I'm with you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A space in the picture

No no no, I still have to get a photo with him! We don't have a photo together!

It was time to leave for the plane but we had to wait for the photographer. It was my sister's wedding after all. I couldn't understand how the photographer had left without taking this picture. How ridiculous - I know he'd been told at the very beginning who was part of the family and should be in the pictures. Besides, we'd taken group pictures with absolutely everyone, except him. What an idiotic photographer, what a silly mishap.
The bus arrived, but no sign of the photographer yet. Our bags were packed, everyone was ready to leave.
But I don't have a picture with him! I insist. I don't have a picture with you - we can't just leave like this. They're wedding photos!
He hugs me.
What kind of crazy world was this? How were we just going to leave without a single wedding photo of me and him together? A single photo with him in it at all? I hugged him, not really believing it. The photographer would be here soon, wouldn't he? I wouldn't let go - he'll be here, I know it.

I open my eyes. The light from the streetlight filters in through the shades. My blanket is still tucked in around me. I pull the pillow over my head. No. No. No. NO. We're supposed to have our pictures together. He's supposed to be there. He's supposed to hug me and smile as my sister cuts her wedding cake. He's supposed to make a speech. He's supposed to be in not just one, but in all the pictures. He's supposed to be right there. No No NO NO. No.

This is the part that's not real, I tell myself. This is the dream. This, lying here, thinking he's gone. Knowing. No. The blankets, the bed, the pillow. The streetlight. Here. This. This is the dream. I just need to wake up and go through the album. This is the dream.

But I kissed his paper thin skin didn't I? I felt his cool hand, didn't I? I saw his body lying stretched out there didn't I? I said my goodbyes didn't I?
This is the dream, I tell myself. This is the part that's not real.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wolverine sex?

No, thank you.

The fact that this guy's book is bestseller makes me cringe.

Oh god it's wonderful


How funny you are today New York
like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
and St. Bridget's steeple leaning a little to the left

here I have just jumped out of a bed full of V-days
(I got tired of D-days) and blue you there still
accepts me foolish and free
all I want is a room up there
and you in it
and even the traffic halt so thick is a way
for people to rub up against each other
and when their surgical appliances lock
they stay together
for the rest of the day (what a day)
I go by to check a slide and I say
that painting's not so blue

where's Lana Turner
she's out eating
and Garbo's backstage at the Met
everyone's taking their coat off
so they can show a rib-cage to the rib-watchers
and the park's full of dancers with their tights and shoes
in little bags
who are often mistaken for worker-outers at the West Side Y
why not
the Pittsburgh Pirates shout because they won
and in a sense we're all winning
we're alive

the apartment was vacated by a gay couple
who moved to the country for fun
they moved a day too soon
even the stabbings are helping the population explosion
though in the wrong country
and all those liars have left the UN
the Seagram Building's no longer rivalled in interest
not that we need liquor (we just like it)

and the little box is out on the sidewalk
next to the delicatessen
so the old man can sit on it and drink beer
and get knocked off it by his wife later in the day
while the sun is still shining

oh god it's wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much

Frank O'Hara

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Returning "home" to nobody

For the past two weeks I can't remember a single breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a cup of tea when I didn't have company. Always an aunt or a grandma, a couple of cousins or an uncle around. And always, but always, D. Always conversation, always a joke.

I have never seen a whirlwind, but I think it looks like the past couple of weeks. I don't even know what we did. The whole memory is a mess of color and conversation, laughter - and yes, a couple of tears and raised voices too. A bright warm shot of espresso in the middle of a cold, grey winter.

Late nights, early mornings. Spicy food and ginger tea. Hugs from a great-uncle, my grandma drawing her fingers through my hair as I rest my head on her lap. Adjusting my sari, holding my hands out for hours on end waiting for the henna to dry. Frantically looking for a blowdryer because you can't be in pictures looking like that! Curling up in a warm bed, tucking my toes under D's knees. Watching my mom run around like a hare. Sitting with my dad waiting for everyone to get ready. Greeting great-aunts I haven't seen in years. Admiring my little niece's hairpins and my nephew's shoes. Pulling a cousin close for a photo despite her efforts to get away. Holding back tears as I imagine my grandfather in the photograph. Clutching my baby nephew awkwardly as he wonders whether to scare me off with a wail or reward me with a dimpled smile. Trying to keep my eyes open for just one more minute. Living it, living it all.

Crouching awkwardly in my seat, trying to get comfortable. Filing a lost baggage claim. Pausing for a moment before I open the door. Entering. Nothing.

I couldn't bring myself to eat dinner last night. Isn't it scary how quickly you get used to not being alone and lonely? And worse...coming back to nobody.

Monday, January 3, 2011

About a Girl

There’s this girl. I didn’t expect her, didn’t anticipate her, never thought anyone like this would ever be a presence in my life. But there she is. She makes a living posting almost-nude pictures and videos of herself on a blog and keeping up a Twitter profile where she flirts and chats with anonymous users. I shouldn’t care about her. And I don’t.

But I do.

When I first met TC, I noticed that he’d occasionally mention her on his Twitter profile. I saw her name pop up in a text on his phone once. He told me she made a cameo in the short film he was working on. When I asked months later if he had a crush on her, he said, in his no-holds-barred way, “No. She’s married. We’re friends.” I ventured further. “She’s really hot.” He shrugged. “Yeah, she’s nice and sexy.” He has never been secretive or uncomfortable talking about her. She's just some girl.

All my life I’ve had women in my life telling me what I was worth. I am more than the package I’ve been put in. I am more than blond hair, and I might have to work hard to make people see the intellect in me. I should be as smart as I want to be without repercussion. I should be as pretty as I want to be without worrying about the judgment. It’s hard as a woman to prove you can be both, and I think I’ve spent time and energy proving to myself before others that I can be. And then there’s this girl. This girl who makes me question myself, and then brings me right back to who I know I can be.

“She’s following me on Twitter!” I announced one day. He laughed. 15,000 people follow her. She follows 97. I felt flattered, as if I’d been chosen. Her career, her identity, her public person is a semi-nude model. She is physically flawless and when I look at her and then I look at me… look at her… look at me… I feel like a little girl. And then I read her blog. Spelling errors, run on sentences, endless emoticons, diatribes about her morning workouts and her “yummy!!!!” lunches followed by ridiculous webcam videos of her in the bathtub. I look at her… look at me… I feel better. Substance. I remind myself that I have substance.

I don’t want a curvy girl in lingerie to make me question myself. Am I striking the balance? Do I care enough about how I look? Too much? It has nothing to do with TC anymore. He’s disinterested in this girl and sees her for exactly what she is. “What if I was a stripper?” I asked him once. “Then we wouldn’t be together.” “Why not?” “Are you serious?” I didn’t really even need him to say it.

There’s this girl. She shouldn’t make me feel so uncertain. But she does.