Don't be mad that he looked at your prison and called it home.
Last weekend, I made the pilgrimage back to Maine for my friend's wedding. It was quite the journey getting there. I boarded the bus at 8, was supposed to arrive in Boston at 12, and was slated to meet up with friends and continue the schlep to Maine at 2. Well, the tire of my Megabus blew out and we were stranded on the side of the highway for two hours. My friends graciously waited for me and we continued on to Waterville. By the time we arrived, we were extremely late for the welcome event.
Our late start gave us no time to eat on the road and we missed the event's dinner so we decided to fill our bellies with wine. Booze plus an empty stomach is never a good idea. But we suspended our knowledge and raised several glasses to the happy couple. I was being greeted warmly by old friends, the bride, and the bride's family when I noticed a group of men staring at us. I turned back to continue socializing but I was curious as I didn't recognize any of them as old college pals. I looked over my shoulder, curls bouncing and red wine swaying with the movement and made a mental note of the giant in the corner.
Within the hour, my crisp white crop top was stained with red wine. I changed into a sleek white dress before heading to a local mainstay for drinks with the wedding party. I bought at least 7 rounds of shots for an assortment of friends, strangers, and townies. In no time, I was on stage, heels in hand, dancing to "Cotton Eyed Joe" (I was a cheerleader in high school and still remember the moves). A cute townie asked me to dance and held me close. He said all the things Ryan Gosling or Henry Cavill would say in romantic comedy written by Nicholas Sparks. But when he went in for the kiss, I went in for the high five and wink. Back to the dorms we went and I was locked out. Did I give the townie my key? Nah, that doesn't sound like me.
I snapchatted my struggle and the giant was upon me. "Hey. You look like you're having a rough night..." "Yeah. Pure struggle." I quipped. Other bits of small talk were made but at this point it's very hazy.
The next morning, we prepped for the wedding. And I did my best not to let my brain ooze out of my ears. I never get hungover but I also never drink without eating so... you know, first time for everything. The wedding went off without a hitch, my friend was stunning and happy and I was happy for her. During the reception, I was pulled on stage twice much to my chagrin. But divas must perform when called to.
After the reception, some kids I went to school with hit on me (largely for nostalgia sake I'm sure) while the giant stood directly behind me. I was holding a 2010 bottle of red from my favorite French winery and offered him a glass. He told me not to "waste it" on him, I said "it's not a waste. Drink up". We chatted about our work, the origin of my name, our heights (he was 6'7 and I was drooling), and we soon decided to order pizza. After a hearty debate about the merits of banana peppers as a topping, we went outside of the dorm to pick it up and took the elevator back to a be pizza heroes to a slew of drunk twenty somethings. I was surprised he didn't kiss me in the elevator but my interest was piqued enough to keep the interaction going.
Two hours later we were playing Frisbee in the grass with his friends. We laughed, played lots of Rihanna, and smoked cigars. I tarnished my good girl image as I blew smoke rings. We exchanged numbers and he walked me back to my dorm. I told him it was 4:30 a.m and I was sleepy. I turned around to leave and he called back to me but it was not enough for me to let go of the door knob and continue the night with him.
The light of day left me with so many regrets. I should've asked him to kiss me. Hell, I should've ridden him like a motor bike. 10 hours later I was back in New York and still adding "should'ves" to that long list. On Wednesday, I was still kicking myself so I sent him a text. I vaguely remembered him saying something about travelling. So maybe the ocean will keep him from responding or maybe he took my sexy walk away as ugly rejection.
By Thursday I still had no response. But by Friday, by Friday I had a surprise in my inbox. And the adventure begins.
I believe in second chances. Many of my friends do not. "Why give a second chance to fuck up?" they spit at me. And I say "Who doesn't like a do-over?"
The truth is, nothing is permanent. Except death. Every wrong decision, every missed opportunity can be reversed with candid words or selfless deeds.
I believe in fourth chances because we all have off days where we are reacting to our environment not our loved ones.
I believe in sixth chances because we all have wounds that we forget about. Abscesses that have festered but live beneath our connective tissue and changed how we move. Yet they've lived there so long, we forget they're still there.
Relationships may change. But you don't stop loving someone for being unsure, or rude, or being human. Crushes become friends. Enemies become buddies. Exes become bridesmaids. Friends become husbands (obligatory Baggage Claim reference. I saw it this weekend with my mom... It was awful and I can't recommend it but the reference still stands).
Sure, some things are unforgivable. But there's always another chance for compassion. Always a little room for love or dessert. You can make some new space for an old love.
If the relationship is strong enough, a second chance is worth a shot.
I love my body.
In the summer, my body is an iridescent golden bronze oasis. In the winter, the bronze turns into a sallow ochre as though God himself was doing arts and crafts when he made me. A deep brown cellophane over a sheet of yellow construction paper. Year long, I am the sun's painting.
My face lacks symmetry with only one dimple as deep as the Euphrates. My lips unapologetically large and juicy like tangerine segments. Beneath them my tongue is sharp yet dexterous, equally capable of kindness and insult. My eyes feminine and feline, the deepest of darkest browns as if they're suppressing childhood traumas.
Clavicle high and prominent to showcase the fragility in my thinness. Breasts are ultraviolet brush strokes.
My back is seamless and smooth like a high quality piece of satin from the garment district. If you follow the ream of satin to my sacrum, you'll find dimples of Venus. Thumbprints left from the caress of a lover.
A small bit of pudge on my tummy, the result of gelato in Paris, nasi goreng in Bali, prawns in Bermuda, rum in Martinique, and pollo guisado in the Bronx.
My hips have the faint tiger stripes of stretched skin in preparation for child bearing.
I have a scar nestled above my belly button from many rejected piercings and one sports accident. My vulva is small like my patience.
My feet are flat to mark the strides I have yet to make. My toes look like jellybeans simply along for the ride.
My body is the hiding place of squid ink, treble clefs, music notes, and phrases of triumph.
If our deeds are for the inhabitants of this earth, and the soul belongs to a higher power, then the only thing we ever really have is our bodies. These mobile large scale art installations that are always on exhibit.
In this world, loving one's body is an act of resistance. And so, I resist.
Sometimes I fantasize about winning an Oscar and in my acceptance speech I always thank "the women who have loved me". I name a lifetime long list of teachers, friends, strangers, coworkers, etc. When I awake both refreshed and inspired, I always think about my relationships with women and how they drastically differ from my relationships with men.
My relationships with women have been pure and honest. Women have offered me emotional shelter and support even when I never asked for it. My relationships with men (friendships and otherwise) have been confusing, draining, and sometimes one-sided. I don't think I am a hard person to date or to love (I want to make a joke here about how lovable my grandma says I am but I'll do that later or maybe on Twitter) but I think there is something larger that stands in our way.
Once I had a conversation where my best friend was updating me with her tales of dating savagery when I said "how could you treat him like that? You would never treat me that way..." First we laughed together, then I told her to seriously rethink how she treats the men in her life. And since then, I have done the same. In the 6 years since that conversation, my relationships have transformed.
Six years ago, I was looking for my prince, someone who knew what I wanted before I did, someone who could peer into my soul and see my desires, someone who loved me on sight, someone who was perfect. This notion is crazy.
How dare I want something so unfair to my partner? How dare I expect to be treated like a person, beautifully complicated, flaws and all when I refused to treat my partner the same way? How dare I drink the Disney kool-aid?
We often hold our lovers to a much higher standard than we could hold our friends. We forget that a lover is just a friend that regularly touches you inappropriately. We see a light in our love that is so bright that we forget that a human is the source of the light. Yes, love has many depths, but it starts with friendship.
So drink with me during the day and hold me at night. Send me memes in the morning and love letters in the afternoon. Laugh with me and look at me with like I am the holder of the brightest stars. I am your bro and your lady.
Anyway, I haven't figured it all out yet but I can say that we'd all get a little closer if we treat our lovers like friends.
My friend Mia always is worried about me because I never worry about myself. We met for drinks last week and I told her about my long commute to my new job. I told her to offset the time lost to my commute, I have taken to napping on the subway. She tried to scare me with the possibility of robbery or a subway slashing. I told her I wasn't worried about it and sure enough Monday morning I had an amazing nap on the 4 train.
The thing is I do worry about things all the time.
I worry that I am going to get sick. Not sick with a inconvenient common cold, a stomach virus that causes me to miss bagel fridays at work or even the fad viruses like Ebola or Zika. I am afraid that I will get sick just like my mother got sick.
When I was in the 3rd grade, I got dressed in my special birthday outfit, excited to celebrate with my friends. Before I could walk out of the door, I needed to change my mother as she had soiled herself. Eight year old me, removed her pajamas, cleaned her of fecal matter, and got her into a fresh pair of pajama pants. With the cleanup, I ruined my nearby gloves. And sweated through my perfect little birthday outfit. I remember asking God "Cant I just have a nice regular kid birthday?"
To this day I hate my birthday, because it reminds me of a time when I needed someone and felt like I had absolutely no one, Past the age of 19, no one really care about birthdays but I do. Because I have to. As an adult, I try to make up for all of the birthdays I would beg for my mother to talk to me, unable to understand that she never would again. I make up for the birthdays that I spent lying and crying on the bathroom floor because it was the only room with a lock. I make up for the birthdays that lacked a party because we just couldn't afford a cake, clown, or decorations. I make up for that one birthday where I was robbed.
I am afraid that her disease is hereditary. I am afraid that I will get sick and leave my kid to the same pain that I had as a kid. I'm afraid that my kid will cry every time a permission slip needs to be signed by mom. I'm afraid I will eventually be trapped in my own body unable to get up and go as I please. I am afraid that my kids will hate me for being sick. I'm afraid to have kids. I'm afraid that my search for love, friendship and support isn't about the beauty of life but about my fear of being alone in my sick. I am afraid for every day that isn't today.
But I do my best to live everyday as though I'm fearless.
I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary today and I was shocked by the inaction of her loved ones for YEARS.
The first time she mentioned going to rehab, it was her father who suggested she didn't. The love of her life introduced her to crack cocaine. Her management pushed her to do shows when she wanted to recover. She took a hiatus to St.Lucia to get away from London's media feeding frenzy and asked her father along to be her support system and in turn, he bought a camera crew along.
She needed help. Why didn't anyone help her?
Every Sunday, I have the same bedtime routine. I do a little meal prep, put on my pajama set, blow out my candle, watch an episode of The Closer, and smooth a Biore pore strip over my nose. Eight minutes after the strip dries, I pull it off slowly and look at the gook stuck to the strip. I marvel at the remainder of my makeup, mixed with dead skin and sebum. But this time, after a quick Google of "sebaceous filaments" I got to thinking about all the things that come out of us.
Humans release pheromones, an assortment of excrement, salted water, shed hairs, and milk.
Hell, we even excrete other humans after a 9 month gestational period.
With all the things we let out, shouldn't we be more careful about what we let in?
Sometimes I want to do just that. Let nothing in and everything out.
Advice and life hacks:
- It's okay to say "No" and nothing else. "No" is a complete sentence
- Be brave. You can live a safe life but it'll also be a life full of regrets
- You may not be the prettiest girl or guy in the room but you can always be the most stunning
- Tease out complex emotions. Being upset or mad usually just cloaks fear or uncertainty. Don't give in to those emotions. They are in your head and have been built to sabotage everything
- If you are meeting someone's parents for the first time, bring a baked good
- Appreciate your parents
- If someone's energy seems wrong, trust your instincts
- Clever > Pretty
- Love hard
- Love without fear
- It's okay to get hurt. You will survive
- If you fall in love with a writer, you will be immortalized in their words
- Trust shouldn't be earned. Neither should love. Give them freely
- Travel. See the world. Watch who you become
- Accept the late night calls (they're usually the most exciting)
- Ask someone to dinner (if you're in New York...and it's a date, go to http://www.theboweryhotel.com/dining.php)
- Don't just work hard, work smart
- It's never too late to make things right
- Always keep a good bottle of wine or rum in your home
- Tell them you miss them
- Let people in. Let them stay
My generation has yielded a new form of dating. Instead of active courting we’ll send a DM or facebook message. We’re afraid of “catching feelings” but we’ll subtweet intimate details about our ex. We’ve replaced our boyfriends with Instagram “man crush Mondays”. We’ll “talk” for months, no label, no claims, and try to survive heart in hand, wearing our pride on our sleeves. After all, if you’re never someone’s girlfriend, you can never be someone’s ex-girlfriend. Right?
Meeting a guy who doesn't track his followers is refreshing, moving, possibly poignant.
And so I met a man who fit the bill. After a mutual friend's barbecue, we danced, chatted, and sparked. He was hazel eyed and kind. And I was interested. Even though we went to college together, it was like I was meeting him for the first time. He was smart, kind, funny, muscular, and mostly importantly, new to New York. Later that week I invited him (via facebook message, of course) to explore the city with me as a part of my duties as a native New Yorker. We attended the feast of San Gennaro then headed to a bar where we laughed, flirted, and drank. Usually, trouble finds me in my relationships, but here I felt safe after all I was in control, I asked him out, I was courting him, I chose him.
We attended fabulous parties together, had witty text banter, dined at dives, and ordered an assortment of meals on Seamless. One night after ice skating in Bryant Park, we headed to a club, then a bar, and there I felt the my first stomach flip since college. He looked at me and told me I was perfect, as is, no exceptions. I kissed him and thought “I could really do this with him”. The kind of thought that is so easy to float in your head when you're just a few months in or you're under 23. I kissed him harder and we drunkenly looked each other in the eyes for a few minutes. Romantic for us. Painful and disgusting for the other bar goers, I’m sure.
We were perfect. With exceptions. We were both writers. But we never shared our work. You never showed me yours. So I couldn’t show you mine. On my end, I was trying to be all in. There I was, trying to finagle a plus one for several summer weddings not realizing he didn’t even see me fit to make it through the winter.
Eventually, our easy breezy situationship began to come apart at the seams. It’s not that there was no zsa zsa zhu but every time we would get close he would shut it all down. We were a theme park, giddy at the click clack of the rollercoaster, high off of heading up the big hill, we put our hands up, and before the ride could begin, he bailed.
When he was open to me it felt like daybreak, I could feel the warmth of his light on my skin and I couldn't wait for summer. But in no time the light dimmed and everything felt cold and dank. Not even wearing his hoodies could sustain the heat between us. The uncertainty of us left him anxious while I was just trying to hold on to the light.
One December night, I was having a birthday party and after some waffling, he was a no show. Later I found out he was afraid of what it would mean if he was indeed the guy by my side at my party. A week or two later, like every New Yorker he scrambled to make fun, non pretentious New Year’s Eve plans and when I said “I don’t care. All I want is to kiss you when the ball drops.” He responded, “Woah kissing at midnight? That means too much.” We would send each other funny memes and he would stroke my face in the rain, under the moonlight, or in Chelsea and I lived in those moments. The good was sweet enough that I did even notice the bitter. Soon, millennial rules were thrown out of the window (possibly just saved to the cloud) and I did not want to be facebook official. I just wanted him to be present with me. Needy? Maybe. Real? Certainly. I’d bet my Twitter handle on it.
Quick stints to Florida, Martinique, and Virginia separated us and he never once texted me he missed me. I never got angry. I began to expect the rejection. Still the roses, teddy bears, and cute text messages kept coming. I smiled my dimpled smile believing that I would soon see the sun again. By most standards I am beautiful but his anxieties left me feeling ugly. I thought the relationship was beautiful in its unbalance, humor, and grittiness. I thought it was worth the work. You would get mad at me for not getting mad at you. When guy’s night out was no threat to me, you thought I didn’t care to spend time with you. When I said no problem to your desires to stay in you felt as though you were stifling me.
The passionate stares became brief glances with his feet always facing the door while mine were firmly planted, staking my ground to get that tickle in my stomach again. You asked me if I wanted to be in a relationship and I said no. And it was true. I didn’t want a relationship. I wanted you. I wanted to matter. Now, I wanted you to choose me.
I wined and dined him. I wooed and wowed him. I liked him and got left. Maybe you weren’t that in to me. Maybe you needed to get yourself together first. Maybe we never gave it a real chance. Maybe you just beat me to the punch.
I knew our end was only a matter of time so I mourned our relationship for an entire hour (millennials even need instant gratification in breakup recovery). An hour and 10 minutes in a hot guy I know called (his sabotage-y senses must've been tingling) and I was feeling sad (and chatty) so I gave him the rundown. He told me how much of a catch I am or was. I’m not sure. The context feels blurry now. But he kept asking how could I expect to be a catch, if I refuse to be caught?
My generation gags at defining the relationship. So we were together, we connected, and if we spent more time together, we could have even loved. But maybe we should have tried really dating before breaking up.