Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One is the loneliest number

I recently went through a breakup.

Not my own. But a breakup still.

Both parties are my friends and so I heard both sides. “I think M. would see me every day if she could!” he griped.

I’m smack in the middle of my first real adult relationship. We’re 9 months in. We’re happy as clams… most of the time. We spend a few weeknights and every minute of the weekends together, sometimes taking hours upon hours to lie in our own filth and do nothing and then tell each other that these are our favorite moments. There is no one I am happier with. No one I would rather spend my time with. Dave Matthews was right: it’s not where but who you’re with that really matters.

“Let’s play Wii tonight! We haven’t played in so long.”
“I’m gonna try and get some work done tonight.” Work tonight. Work tomorrow.
Crushed. Silence. “Are you mad?”
I wanted to text back that of course I was mad. I knew he wouldn’t end up doing work. I knew he’d come home from his day job, peruse Facebook for two hours, watch bad TV, eat takeout, and watch more bad TV until 4am. The following night he would come home from his day job, nap, go to his show, drink with his friends until 4am, and come home and crash. I’d see him Friday and our weekend cycle of filth and nothing would ensue.

So why was I mad? Why did it hurt? Everyone is allowed time on their own. I was even thinking myself earlier in the week, “I can’t wait to come home and read my magazines and have nothing to do and be alone.” But when he says it… rejection. TV and the internet are more desirable than me.

Is this a girl thing? Was M.’s ex-boyfriend right to break up with someone who wanted to spend every minute with him? I thought back on M.’s relationship, as I had been privy to almost every moment of it, and I knew the schedule she kept with her boyfriend: they’d see each other a few times a week, and more often than not he liked to be alone or with his friends. I even said to TC once, “I think M. wishes she had the kind of boyfriend that I have: one who wants to be together all the time.” If I ever complain about not seeing him enough, TC will come back with, “I’m going to spend my life with you! We’re going to live together. For the next 5 months until that happens, I think it’s alright if we spend a few nights a week apart.”

And it is fine. My rational brain says, “Are you a lunatic? Give the guy some space. He wants to do guy things.” My emotional brain will probably cry myself to sleep tonight because I’ll imagine how much fun he’s having without me.

I know this isn’t normal. I know this smacks of insecurity.

… right?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Even these Americans, they also do have some family commitment and all that, ah?
Yes you know some of them have very close family bonds! Look at this boy - such a close family he looks like he has. Very sweet looks like. How he was telling me about his mother and all you know - and he also calls his grandparents and all that, ah.
Ya - and how we seem to think, that only Indian people really have very close knit families - we don't even think that of these white people no? We only think divorce and all that.
And that way these people are quite loving and friendly, ah. And nowadays what, even Indian people are getting divorced all the time - things are not the same, these Americans are not the only ones getting divorced. How we used to think when we were their age - but nowadays see, our boys and girls are also finding their own American husbands and wives and how they are also doing okay. You know that one's children speak so sweetly - born and brought up there!
And so nicely they eat our food, they take interest in our customs, see now we have quite a few Americans in the family, and how nicely they also learn to become a part of us. Even our own children don't touch our feet anymore, but if you tell these Americans they will do it happily.
Oh touch our feet! No now no more of that. But even our children are not bad, ah, even though now it is all AmericaAmerica see, they still cook our food, still they call and they will light some lights for Diwali and all that.
Oh now no more touching feet to show respect, but now we get hugs - my granddaughters, always hugs, hugs and kisses.

He doesn't speak my languages, he didn't grow up celebrating Diwali with firecrackers and lanterns, visiting family at Ganesh Chaturthi, playing with colors at Holi. His skin isn't brown, and his eyes are blue-green. My grandparents don't know his, and unlike the rest of my family, my great-grandfather's cousin's mother-in-law's nephew's daughter-in-law didn't live on the same street as my family fifty years ago. He still sometimes eats his chappati with two hands instead of neatly tearing it into bite sized pieces with only one.

But he loves his parents and looks out for a gift for his sister. He speaks to his grandparents regularly and visits them on his own. He celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas with much gusto. He loves Indian food and likes experimenting with spices. He cajoles my mother into making his favorite Indian snacks when he's around. He doesn't mind camping out on a mattress if the house is too full of guests. He speaks to my grandma's friends even though some of them don't speak English. He takes the sugar my grandma offers before we leave the house. He usually tears his chappati neatly with one hand.

Such a sweet boy no? See how he has picked up how we do it.
Yes, he is quite a good boy - and I hope she is also acting nicely with his family like he is being with us!

Friday, March 18, 2011

What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me?

“I know you don’t realize it now, but background becomes very important in a relationship. It could really come between you.”
I shrugged off the advice. What did my mother know anyway? She’d lived in Rochester her whole life, married a man from Rochester, raised kids in Rochester. All in an era when it was expected for women to really make something of herself; create an equal partnership with someone from their class, their upbringing, their morals and values. I grew up knowing I’d marry someone just like she did. My husband’s parents and my parents would be great friends. Our moms would meet for coffee in our hometown. Our dads would go golfing.

And then I met TC. And he broke every expectation I had for a partner. Certain things became important that I never knew I needed. He turned into my best friend. The best advice giver. My protector. My clown. My head-over-heels love affair. He grew up in the antithesis of my household. His parents were both addicts in different ways. His mom would fall asleep on the couch in the afternoon when he was 3 and 4 years old, and leave him to make dinner for himself. His dad would drink too much and hit his mother. His mother disappeared for a few years, and then came back. All this was happening while I sat at a clean kitchen table in suburbia and was made to drink my milk before homework and an early bedtime.

Yesterday I met his mother. He loves her. Of course he does. But I can not help but listen to her talk and judge her based on the stories that I know. “When TC was little, he got scarlet fever. And when I took him to the emergency room, they said, ‘Why did you wait so long to bring him in?! Why didn’t you bring him in at the first signs?!’ As if I would wait to bring my sick son to the emergency room!” But I knew that she probably had. I hated her for it. I smiled at all of her stories, her non stop stories, and acted interested when she went on and on about horror movies. She pestered the waitress for Coors Lite. No Coors? Michelob Ultra. And make sure it’s VERY cold! Is this cold? Did you pull it from the bottom?

Suddenly I pictured myself years from now. At a small, dirty house in Colorado with this woman at Christmas time. Heavy drinking. Smiling along with her stories. “You seen the Exorcist? I own it.” My holidays. My holidays that are usually so bright and cheerful and involve omelets and stockings and my mother apologizing for always giving me something corny like a Yo Yo because, “I just can’t help it.” These things are important to me. How can I give this up?

I know you don’t realize it now, but background becomes very important in a relationship. I haven’t talked to him about it. I don’t know that I will. Somewhere along the line, background became important. I just can’t force myself to look at it yet.