Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sleep in the Middle

Being that I am a single, attractive woman in her mid-20's, I have the same issues that every other woman has; men.

It is my goal to spend as much of my 20s as possible well travelled, well paid and well laid.

It is the pursuit of that last bullet point that makes me roll my eyes.

I am texting my QQ simultaneously while texting the Jump Off, relaying his shenanigans and synchronizing my eye rolls with hers. I'll spare you the details but here is what I've learned from JO:

You know how every men's magazine would have you believe that all men LOVE the FWB situation?
Don't believe the hype.

Every man LOVES to hear you say you don't want a relationship... That is until they realize that you ACTUALLY MEAN IT.

*le sigh*

Because, I mean, he's single, childless, attractive, and with a job. He's a fucking stellar candidate. His bullet points are spectacular. I'm a WOMAN. I MUST fall for the charm and try to manipulate him into a relationship, yes?

I have a choice here. I know how to get what I want. I could make this easy on myself. I could do and say the things I'm expected to say, pretend to be the person I'm not to fit more comfortably in this situation. I could get what I want. And he could think he was getting what he wanted, his ego sufficiently stroked. I could be That Girl if I so chose.

But that's just not me.

Even if what I choose isn't always fun or without the lonely side effects...
It's still my choice.

Instead I do what I always do; I roll my eyes at the predictable phone call that follows the text I ignored. I shake my head at the fact that he doesn't realize he's the only person jockeying for position or power; my power isn't anyone's to take. I climb my short ass up in my sleigh bed. I wiggle around in the covers until I find a spot that suits me. I proceed to fling my appendages outward, limbs akimbo like the old school Cingulair ads.

I am a girl who chooses to sleep in the middle.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Because You Asked...

It's kinda like that scene in Definitely, Maybe.

We are on opposite ends of the couch, both our laptops in our laps, our legs intertwined, him working on lesson plans and me looking at hotels in foreign countries that have alabaster beaches and cobalt water. Every once in awhile we pass our computers back and forth accompanied by shorthand grunts and mumbles, so he can look at pictures and I can proofread his words.

Outside the sky has turned from peacock to flamingo, and is now sliding through shades of Clementine on its way to plum. The music that was playing has long since stopped, leaving us in silence punctuated by keyboard clicks and unintentional sighs. After a little while, I notice that my nails are tapping a solo now that his have been tucked behind his head. I look up and he is staring at me.

“You know this isn’t gonna work, right?” he asks, not accusing, not emotional, but rather matter of fact as though he just told me I am short or that hoes are having the best year ever.
“Yes. I know.”

We both sigh in unison, smiling at each other across our ivy vine legs.

“It’s ok, you know.”
“What is?”
“To not be ready.”
“I think so too,” I reply before pausing, “most of the time.”
“It is.” He untangles his long legs from mine. “Some things linger longer than we think they should. But even lingering isn’t forever.”
“It seems like it is. It feels like forever. And then sometimes not nearly long enough.”
“It just means you’re human. You’re not a hurt person hurting people. You are just a hurt person.”

In all honesty, part of me wants to get angry, and I can feel a bit of my defensive nature start to bubble, way down low in my gut. But beneath that is the truth, solid and weighted, extinguishing the fires of combativeness before they even spark.

I am hurt. And isn’t that what I have been afraid of admitting all this time?

“You’ll be fine,” he tells me and he says it so calmly, so incredibly sure that I believe him. “Better than fine actually. You’ll be beautiful.” He pauses. “You’re not used to it being you that’s wrong with a relationship, are you?”
“NO!!!” I yell, and we both burst out laughing.

Before our laughter subsides, the door bell rings signaling that our Chinese food has been delivered.

“I’ll get that,” he says grabbing his wallet and heading towards the door. “The Daily Show is about to come on,” he tells me, pointing at the TV over his shoulder. He grabs the food and spreads it out to where we have decamped on the floor as I flip channels. We pray, holding hands as we do before we eat. He interrupts before I finish, and without letting go of my hand, he holds his chopsticks up in front of his face.

“To better,” he says, his smile so brilliant and beautiful and bittersweet that I could burst into tears right there over my steamed dumplings.

“To better,” I intone and we tap our chopsticks together.


Monday, October 11, 2010

My So Called Life

There are fresh tears on my waterproof lashes. I am doing that thing where you blink really really fast because, despite all evidence to the contrary, in the moment it seems like that actually works.

It does not.

But I am a black girl recently left sitting alone at a crowded bar and I DO NOT need the predatory instincts of the throngs of men around me to start beeping like a smoke detector.

Slyly, I use my black fingernails to move the tears away, hoping it’s looking like I’m scratching my eyelid. I am like the fucking Le Femme Nikita of emotion hiding.

“I would have come sooner if I’d known you were gonna get all misty at my arrival.”

I know it is Peter Parker before I turn around, his cadence and his cologne tattooed on my sense memory. I take a deep breath, determined to be better than I was the last time the Universe unceremoniously threw him at me.

“I am not crying.”
“You are a very bad liar,” he replies, as he wipes a tear I missed from my lower lash line.
“Hi, Peter,” I say on a sharp exhale, probably an instinctive response to the butterflies in my stomach.
“Hi Freckles.”
“I don’t have freckles. I’m-“
“A black girl. I know.”

We give each other mirror images of the same wry smile in the silence that follows, lingering a bit longer than it should. We both try to break it at the same time.

“How have you-“
“What’s new?”

We laugh at ourselves, at how absolutely foolish we are being, and the air in our little bubble starts to thaw.

“So,” he says as he claims the empty stool next to me that my girl vacated a few moments before. “What makes pretty girls cry in bars?”

I want so badly to make fun of him for being so corny, but I just don’t have it in me.

“I have a friend. Well, had a friend. Well, I dunno if I could call him my friend. But my friend- she just left,” I say, pointing at the door, “He was her boyfriend. We met him in May. At Mansion. You know they do the Sunday thing? It’s really nice out on the patio and-”

I notice he has raised one eyebrow at me curiously. I am babbling. Like a monkey. But not nearly as cute.

“My friend, well, her boyfriend. Well, he was her boyfriend. He died. A couple months ago.”

His hand is on mine before I even have time to realize that I stopped nervously stirring the remnants of my margarita.

“He was shot. Out of the blue. And the thing is,” I tell him, gesturing to my Black.berry like its poison, “he left me a message. He called me. Like, that day. And I can’t listen to the message. But I can’t erase it. And I keep forgetting that I have it. And when I finally check all the tons of messages I have, I hear the message and I forget that I have it and it just catches me off guard and I just let my friend hear them before she left and then she got all teary eyed and I got all teary eyed and I dunno why I am even crying because he wasn’t my boyfriend and I dunno if I should even call him a friend so I shouldn’t even be upset. I just, forget.”

I look up from what has to be the world’s worst My So Called Life moment this side of 1994 and to my surprise he is not looking at me like my emotional smuttiness is contagious. He has the same kind eyes he’s always had, his beautiful mouth now turned down at the corners. He takes that deep breath you take after something heavy has been laid on you and you want to say the right thing.

“I’m sorry, La.”

Of course he said the right thing.

“And I know it is killing you to have to watch a friend be hurt and you can’t fix it.”

*sigh* He is so fucking good at this.

“It is. She’s a mess. And I can’t fix it. So I just try to be here.” I half shrug while he wraps his fingers tighter around mine. We sit in companionable silence for awhile just long enough to it to sidle close to uncomfortable.

“Who but us has this conversation in a crowded bar in front of a guy in a lilac ass bowtie?” He asks with a self depreciating smile and I burst out laughing.

Ugh. I do love a man with good timing.

We talk a little while, hitting all the casual highlights you are supposed to hit when you haven’t seen someone you have a rather bittersweet history with: job (both of us feeling restless), friends (his are doing great, mine he’s never met), relationships (his, not mine, obviously).

“That’s why I’m here.”
“She’s meeting me here after work but she’s running a bit late.”

I am suddenly consumed with the need to flee. I can’t see this beautiful bitch when I am all puffy fish faced and teary and half drunk on happy hour margaritas. My ego simply can’t take it. I start to gather my things, blurting out a hasty goodbye, and simultaneously trying to dislocate my ankle while unhooking my boots from the bar stool. He grabs my arm and swings me around.

“I keep wondering why we keep running into each other.”

I open and close my mouth with no words, like a fish, trying to figure out something to say. Something clever. And smart. And funny. And then this can be like a TV show where I am all graceful and witty and leave him missing me rather than, you know, being the drunk bitch who stumbles to the door after mumbling something about feeding the dog.

I’ve got nothing.

“I just wonder, is all.” He pulls me a bit closer to him, not as close as he wants but as close as I will allow him knowing better than to be in his personal space. “It’s like, you’re kinda like these freckles,” he says, rubbing the makeup off the bridge of my nose. “If you rub the surface just a little, they’re still there.” I refuse to say anything that might betray me. I just can’t.

He drops my wrist.

“Have a good night, Peter. Bye.” He pins me to the spot, his eyes on mine, the corners of his mouth sneaking towards his cheekbones.
“I’ll see you soon.”

It’s not until I am in my car that I exhale, and finally let myself wonder why we keep running into each other, too.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

America the Beautiful

Fall is finally coming here in the annals of the devil, which means it is bearable to go outside. This is great for me, as I have a big 50 pound dog that I have to walk twice a day to burn off energy, lest she run around my house tearing up shit, Marley and Me style.

Cute puppy pic for posterity...

To that end, our daily walks have become far more enjoyable now that dog and owner are not melting under the sun's glare. Just this past Sunday, I took her out first thing in the morning, since she was doing her little pee circle dance around my legs at the front door.

Outside, I notice there's a guy walking with his toddler daughter, right around the time the dog notices them. Honey, being the unabashed attention whore that she is, immediately drops her ears and starts wagging her tail, pulling me hard in their direction. I make a concerted effort to keep her on the opposite side of the street since she is NO LESS THAN three times the size of what I am realizing slowly must be the world's cutest kid.

After the dog does her business and I scoop, I see that he has let go of the little girl’s hand and she is making a beeline for Honey. He says hello while trying to catch up, and I have the dog heel while she cautiously makes her way over.

(It should be noted here, that my complex is really dog friendly. And my neighbors are really people friendly. There is a huge black Lab and a Corgi that live downstairs. There’s another black Lab mix downstairs that just moved in, an insanely friendly Pit bull named Bella, who I sometimes have to convince myself not to confiscate. And a tiny little Chihuahua down the way who thinks he is a Mastiff. I have met most of these dogs, and their owners, who have made Honey and I feel quite welcome (and dished some neighborhood tea but that’s another post).

Honey has a bit of a jumping problem, especially around children because she adores them and gets too excited, so I hold her collar firmly and give her the command to sit. She does. By this time, the man and what I assume is his daughter have approached, and despite my own misgivings about having renters in my uterine apartment, I am overwhelmed by how cute she is. She has big brown eyes framed by a lush line of dense lashes, a tiny smiling mouth and cheeks so cute I am pretty sure this man mated with a cherub to make her. As they draw closer to Honey, she squeals with delight in that baby way, but pulls her big sunflower hat down further over her head because I don’t think she quite realized just how big Honey is from a distance.

“Can we pet her?” he asks me with more than a little hesitation.

“Of course you can. She doesn’t bite and she likes children so your daughter is more than welcome to pet her too.”

He reaches down with more than a bit of trepidation, and Honey, in her fashion, reaches her head back to lick his palm which, in short, scares the shit out of him. The dog is on her best behavior and we try unsuccessfully to get the little girl to pet him. While she doesn’t want to move away, she certainly ain’t fooling with this big ass dog either.

We make small talk, introducing ourselves and him thanking me profusely for allowing them to pet the dog. I brush off his thanks with a simple you’re welcome, and continue chatting with him for a few moments before he excuses himself to continue his Sunday morning walk with his daughter. Barely even a foot away from us, where I am still steadfastly holding Honey, lest she get loose and jump on his back, he turns back.

“Thank you for being so kind to us. We don’t-“ he voice fissures noticeably, “get that a lot.”

He smiles, his big hand engulfing his daughter’s tiny one, and walks back towards their apartment.

At this point it dawns on me that while he spoke perfect English, the man had an accent which, judging from it and his appearance is probably Middle Eastern.

And that made me so sad.

Is this who we have become? Is this the identity of our country? We can commune across races, ages, and genders in my little neighborhood over our dogs, but can’t offer a simple kindness to someone who might be from a part of the world we are told we should blindly hate?

If that is who we are, there are scarcely any words for my sadness.

He was just a father, wanting his baby girl to pet a puppy. What does where he might be from have to do with that?