Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Glory Box

I remember everything.
Every. Single. Thing.
All the things I never should have committed to memory.
I remember every touch. Every ripple of laughter unfurling from my open smile. Every lean in that made my breath catch in my throat. All the comfortable silences. The things I instinctively knew before we uttered them. The melodies of every song that made my attention wander to the corner of my mind where you lived. The hours, the days, built on top of each other like playing cards but laid with the permanency of cement. I remember every word I shouldn’t have leant an ear to, the inferences threaded in every syllable the knots of which I never should have taken the effort to unwind.

I remember every small concession. The excuse that went with each. It isn’t much, I’d think. This I can give.
But can I get it back?

I remember the things that I might have imagined, and the things I know I didn’t but wish I had. I remember every compliment and supportive word, every kind criticism and inside joke. In my mind, if I allow it, there is an ever-looping movie of everything and I am sitting in the audience, outside myself, critiquing, quipping, second guessing, shaking my head at myself.
I have seen this movie and predicted its inevitable end.
But still, I remember. Every look that lingered a bit too long. Every seemingly light hearted challenge, spoken like a dare but delivered like a promise, the meaning clear as glass, that I challenged with a demand for action. The simmering, underlying meaning behind the words I pretended to turn a deaf ear to, while I simultaneously tucked it away in my heart. The silences that always followed wherein I soundlessly willed everything to just be apparent. Transparent. Laid bare. Open.
Like I was trying to be.
Instead, there’s this. Shrouds and layers of poker faces and objectivity, of saying the right thing even if my heart knows I’m lying. Of remembering, at inopportune times, the sound of my voice rising to meet the timbre of your own. Of every deep breath I had to take to steady myself from feeling like I have vowed to never feel again.
I remember it all. And I am trying so hard to forget.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Paying for Prostitutes, Flaccid Penises, and War: Your Tax Dollars at Work

I can’t help but wonder sometimes just how stupid people think we are. It seems, to varying degrees, but certainly more intensely during the election cycles that grow longer and longer with each campaign, that people in positions of power and prestige think we will buy whatever it is they polish into a pretty PR package and flash across our TV screens and favorite webpages.
I suppose though, that the fact that it is working with certain subsets of our population proves that maybe some are more stupid than I give them credit for.
There is no premise so wildly ridiculous or as willfully ignorant of reality as the idea that people should get to decide “where their money goes” based on their individual principles.
At its core, ours is a country founded on the idea that we can be a collection of people with different values and beliefs, connected by a shared sense of humanity, with a government able to appropriately govern all those distinct ideals and create laws and legislation to protect these differences all while serving our common interests to the greater good of all.
Every day we prove that is bullshit.
What is probably most ridiculous about this often recycled idea of being able to pick and choose “what your money funds” is that it is in no way grounded in fact or logic. First and foremost, you would have a hard time tracing any money that you contribute through your tax dollars or to your insurance company to an individual’s abortion or birth control costs. But by some gigantic leap of logic, let’s say you could and could elect to no longer pay for it. Are you then comfortable with paying presumably more for premiums that help cover the gestation, delivery, and care of the unintended, unprepared for children that your insurance company will now cover for the next 18-25 years?
And to take it a step farther, does this mean we ALL get to decide what our money gets used for? If I were an employee in Arizona, where they want to make it easier for companies to fire women who use birth control to, you know, control birth, do I get to sue my employer or my insurance company for, say, covering Viagra for men? If God gave them a permanently flaccid penis, who are we to step in and give them a way around this naturally occurring event? If I don’t believe that men should be supplied with medications to supplement their sex lives, just as many people don’t believe women should, do I get to decide that my insurance premiums won’t cover Viagra?
Let’s say, for instance, I shared an insurance company with Rush Limbaugh, who so tastefully repudiated the idea that he might have to “pay for” Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke to have sex, does that mean I get to decide what treatments of his I will not contribute to? Do I get to decide that I won’t pay for any future prescription drug habit he might pick up again or rehabilitation he might require? Does it mean I get to opt out of paying for any cholesterol or heart medications he might need now or in the future because he is grossly overweight? I mean, much like “slut” Sandra Fluke, he has CHOSEN this lifestyle of obesity. Do I have to pay for that? Or, should the cigars he smoked for years, combined with his penchant for obviously overeating cause him some sort of sustained or long term illness, can I elect to not pay for those procedures? Because I don’t want my money going to support or treat such a lifestyle.
Can I decide that none of my tax payer money will go to helping him get divorced if/when he decides to leave his fourth wife or if he is ever again arrested for doctor shopping? I mean, my hard earned tax dollars go to the cops that would have to issue the warrant and the courts that would have to hear the cases. Can I decide that I don’t want to support his lifestyle of failed marriages or skirting the policies of the very institutions he claims to currently be outraged by for providing birth control?
The honest fact of the matter is, that anyone pretending to be outraged about where their money goes when they pay it to a business, an insurance company, or the government is simply looking for a new message to pedal simple minded minions of an establishment bred on inequality and hypocrisy who then carry the torch of faux outrage and foolishness onto airwaves, print and across the most ignorant avenues of the internet. No one believes that you can elect that your money be spent on only the causes and conditions that you believe in or morally support. It’s patently unrealistic and will never really be acceptable if for no other reason than how on EARTH would we pay for the wars we so love to engage in that the majority of Americans don’t support?
If we are going to pretend that we can mandate our dollars not be spent in ways that flagrantly fly in the face of our beliefs, then we have to be able to do it across the board. So, sure, conservative tax payers, religious organizations, and private companies who thrive on traditional values don’t have to “pay for” me or other women “to have sex.” But that means that my money, and the money of others like me, must go where we designate it, also; to Planned Parenthood and gay causes. To abortion clinics around the country and the insurance companies that cover them. To federal agencies and initiatives that protect our environment, hold accountable our financial institutions, and properly educate our students. To some defense interests, sure, but only to the branches of military that have appropriately thrown out Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and ONLY to the wars I agree with fighting.
Let’s see how well that goes.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wait, you CAN Knock the Hustle?

“I am tired of dating dreamers,” my friend sighs over the top of a champagne flute, clearly exasperated and a twinge depressed. In the interest of transparency I will admit I was well on my way to the bottom of a carafe of mimosas, so I wasn’t entirely sure I was hearing her correctly.
“You’re tired of dating beamers?”
“No, drunk ass. Dreamers.”
I get it, I suppose. I mean we are all knocking on the door of 30. We have largely grown out of the wild, tempestuousness of our youth. We are all looking for growth, a small place to carve out of the universe to call our own, whatever that might look like. And my friend, well, apparently her place did not involve people who have dreams.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I am tired of being drawn to these creative types, these people in risky fields, these change-the-worlders, with their really big but not-quite-tangible daydreams of what they wanna be when they grow up. I just wanna grow up already. And I am so tired of trying to support yet another boo through another lofty and infuriatingly vague goal, all the while wondering in the back of my mind, how is this going to help us build? Get married? Buy a house? Have children?
This, I get. In great numbers, my past dating roster holds damn near every creative type you can imagine. Thousands of trees have died to hold pages of prose and poetry in my honor. At last count, there are at least half a dozen songs written, sung, rapped about me, and those are the ones I know about. And somewhere in the world there is a gorgeous black and white photo of my thighs probably being shown in some out-of-the-way art gallery and the only other person that knows they’re mine is the person that took it. And let’s face it; it’s all good when someone is quite literally making a canvas out of your back and painting your skin with acrylics in bed. (This happened.) But as a person who is both wildly creative but also decidedly pragmatic, I get what it’s like when the first couple months of all that passion and all that excitement fades and you wonder, where will all this get me?
Whether we like to admit it or not, there are few of us that can exist on change, on excitement, on dreams alone. We would like to believe that none of us are dream killers, or the bitter, failed talent of a teacher standing over a kid’s shoulders telling them that, sure, they’re talented, but so are millions of other people and don’t you wanna be a real grown up?
And my friend, with her career on track and her life largely  in order, doesn’t quite have the stomach for the unpredictability of dating someone with more dreams than assets.
“You don’t want someone who just doesn’t dream of anything, though. Or, my worse fear, have someone whose entire world is you,” I say, trying to be reasonable about this all.
“I mean, have goals. I am ok with that,” she continued, “but can they be something that will actually take you somewhere? That you can build on? That can propel us somewhere other than where we are right now? I mean, do you know how many thirty-something “rappers” I meet? Or “writers” who have written nothing beyond a blog review of the latest pair of J’s or Lil Wayne CD? Or producers? Or “club owners” who really are just Guy Who Stands Outside the Club and Passes out Fliers? I’m just over it.”
I choke on my mimosa at this because, let’s face it, WE’VE ALL MET THESE GUYS.
“To be fair though, these guys aren’t dreamers in as much as they are dream sellers.” We laugh, rolling our eyes at the tales of men we have collected from our girlfriends (and some guy friends) over the years about people who have waxed poetic about their status and their “hustle” and the “moves” they’re making, only for the reality to be that their idea of “status” is a base model 3-series and some Vist.aprint business cards.
“I just feel like I am getting to the point where dating these people still wrestling their childhood dreams is not getting me anywhere.”
“So, date someone older.”
“I’ve tried that too! So many of the older guys are married or divorced or have kids or they’re looking for someone even younger than me. I mean, how fucking depressing is that?! I’m only 29! What are you doing, trolling graduation ceremonies at your local high school?”
“Well, you can’t have it both ways. Finding someone who wants the things that you want might include dealing with someone divorced or with kids. And neither of those things has to be bad.”
In my mind, I am considering the irony of this entire conversation. Because really, doesn’t wanting all these things, this mythical man who’s young and virile enough to have kids but old enough to want commitment and has a career and some investments but isn’t married or divorced or a parent already, isn’t THAT a dream? One that we are probably too old, and too smart to still be holding on to, even if just a little bit.
I wonder too, if this is what people I date see when they appraise me, someone with effortless talent who is doing something that looks great on paper but is only mildly related to the things they want to do with no clear direction on how to get to the proverbial There. Sure, I have largely steered my life in the direction of responsibility, but I have not altogether given up on the dreams I have. Does having those, desiring those make me less desirable than, say, someone who is very interested in getting married and having babies and houses and minivans?
Much like everything else in my life, it could go both ways.
“I am not some unrealistic woman with some crazy list of expectations-“
“-This is a bit unrealistic, though-” I counter.
“-shut up. But at what point do you grow up and say, hey, I’m 32. Maybe I’M NOT going to be a world renowned photographer of raindrops on window sills. Maybe I should do some grown up shit with my life.” I know this is more the remnants of her last breakup speaking more than anything else, but the core question still rings true; is there some magical age you reach where hustling towards your dreams is no longer as acceptable as being there?

And if so, please someone tell me that it is further into the future than I am, cuz elsewise, I am screwed.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On Friendship and Marriage

“That’s what makes it so easy for me to be 85% happy for Chandler and Monica.”
(Joy will get that joke.)

Over the last few months, and increasingly since the actual wedding last weekend, I have gotten asked some variation of the same question from friends, family, co-workers, random baristas at Starbucks to whom I gushed about my best friend’s impending nuptials. It is usually something along the lines of, “Are you really jealous?” and/or, “Are you ready for things to change?”
I am not sure if the jealousy question is me specific, if I seem like the type of person to be jealous of someone else’s happiness (ouch) or if it is simply the question leveled at all single, childless best friends of women getting married. At first it bothered me. I won’t pretend I didn’t take it rather personally. What kinda person do people think I am?!
But eventually, I realized that more often than not, the people inquiring about the internal level of my jealousy towards my only childhood friend getting prepared to marry the love of her life A. did not know me well. B. did not know our almost two decade long friendship. And C. were generally the type to assume that the overarching goal in every woman’s life is to get married and have babies and buy a house in the ‘burbs and plant a tomato garden or whatever the fuck it is that those women do. So they couldn’t understand my point of view anyway.
But then there is the question of change.
Personally, being a creature of change, I don’t quite understand people’s aversion to it. And the simple fact of the matter is my best friend and I have been friends for more than half our lives; our lives have been nothing BUT change. So it is not entirely out of the prevue of our friendship that things change, we grow and adapt.
And to take it a step further, maybe this situation is unique. Perhaps there is a subset of people whose best friends have met someone in the last few years for whom they have altogether neglected them for, and then shown up wearing a diamond and wanting parties thrown in their honor to be organized by their abandoned friend. But this is not that. Firstly because my best friend’s now husband has been around for ten years; almost as long as we’ve been friends. And she has not ever unceremoniously abandoned me or her own life for his. There's never been any doubt for the larger part of ten years that these two would be married. So, maybe on some level I've already prepared myself for these looming changes and the wedding just made them official. I expect that some of what I tell her about my life will make it to his ears. I expect that she will want to include him in some of the things we do. I expect that there will be some things she will tell him, go through with him, experience with him that she will not share with me. The great news is that my best friend has chosen an amazing man to marry, who can be trusted with the intimacies of our relationship, who is fun to spend time with, and will support her in my stead.

That means, for the most part, our relationship as best friends must take a back seat to their relationship as husband and wife.

And that's how it's supposed to be.

In youth, we might be all ovaries before brovaries (© Kit over at Hello Drunky), but the reality is that when we grow, when we find someone to share our lives with, in the confines of matrimony or out, by the very necessity of nurturing that relationship, our priorities must change. And your real friends, the ones who have grown past the adolescent girl code, will understand this preemptively and respect the necessity of the change.

The fact of the matter is I adore my best friend to the ends of the earth and back. And she has found a man who loves her just as much, if not more. They have pledged their lives to each other and soon, after some time to enjoy being married, will start giving me nieces and nephews I can spoil rotten and dress up in various ensembles bearing adorable monkeys. On Saturday, my best friend’s face lit up in a way I have never seen in 16 years of friendship. She was positively radiant. THAT is the change I’m interested in. I am not particularly concerned with whether or not I will have to start calling and texting her at respectable hours now that they share a home.
I understand, in the most basic way, why people ask the questions. But to do so illustrates a profound misunderstanding of who we have been and continue to be to each other. Just as she bought a plane ticket she likely couldn’t afford to come proudly watch me graduate from Howard without a trace of envy that she herself had not yet graduated, I was honored to stand up with her at her wedding crying like a baby without a binkie, and witness her marry this man she loves so much. We don’t begrudge each other our happiness just because we have not attained it ourselves. Because love is not jealousy encouraged by ego. It is travelling a couple hundred miles to wait on your best friend hand and foot, throwing her a party that may or may not have included straws shaped like penises and celebrating the first day of the rest of her life, that you get to share.