Friday, December 30, 2005
Every part of me has changed. I feel like the twelve months in 2005 were longer, more fruitful than the months in my past.
I was kicked out of love in late 2004, and spent the beginning of this year digging and clawing my way out of it. I took time by myself and worked on who I am. I was single for a long time for the first time in my life. I tended to my relationships with my friends, with my family, and with myself. And, just as I had let the search for love take a backseat to my search for me, love found me, in the form of the man I never thought I'd be lucky enough to have. We met, we sized each other up, we dated, then slowly, surely, I fell face-first into love with him. I fought my insecurity, my fear, my baggage, my doubt, and learned to embrace happiness and joy, loving and being loved. You witnessed the whole thing on your computer screen.
I grew weary of my job. The position I held for four years had become too monotonous and had made me too poor to continue working there, but it was still a huge part of my life, and I was reticent to go. I toiled over my choice to leave, endlessly weighing options that clearly led to the conclusion that leaving was the right decision to make. I ended one long chapter of my life and began a new one. You read it all.
I was lonely, I was surrounded by friends. I was tortured and I did some torturing of my own. I cried and laughed, sometimes at the same time. I evolved. I moved. Twice. I learned how to take care of myself, instead of depending on someone else to do it for me. I went to a wedding by myself. I made new friends, in other people and in myself. I found love and a best friend in one person.
I started this year buried in tears and expectations and worry. I'm ending it feeling the happiest I've ever been. And you've been here every step of the way.
Thank you for sharing in what has proven to be the most difficult, most satisfying, best year of my life so far.
Happy New Year.
Monday, December 26, 2005
"That's What I Want For Christmas"
When you said yesterday that it's nearly Christmas
What did I want and I thought
just love me,
That's what I want for Christmas
When I walk through a room let them see you need me
Walk through a room let them see you love me,
That's what I want for Christmas
Anyone can wish for all the trinkets in the window
Some can even buy the things they see
But the presents that I want
You'll never find in any window
Bring me love and bring it just for me
When you come home at night
Take me in your arms and hold me
and say you love me,
oh love me
That's what I want for Christmas
Anyone can wish for all the trinkets in the window
Some can even buy the things they see
But the presents that I want
You'll never find in any window
Bring me love and bring it just for me
When you come home at night
And you take me in your arms
And you hold me (hold me)
And you kiss me (kiss me)
And say you love me (love me),
love me (love me),
love me (love me, love me)
That's what I want for Christmas
And, along with the trinkets from the window, that's what I got.
My Christmas was fantastic.
Hope yours was the same.
Merry (Belated) Christmas!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
"Oh, some really hot guy got it for me," I responded as I stepped down onto the first floor.
"Oh, really? And why, may I ask, did he get it for you? What was the occasion?" He turned to face the mirror in the hallway, messing with his curls.
"No reason at all. Just because, I guess." I buttoned the coat over my scarf and pulled my gloves out of the pockets.
"He bought you a coat for no reason?" His eyes were wide in feigned shock.
"Yes. Can you believe it?"
"Wow. A guy bought you a coat that beautiful for no reason at all? He must be head over heels for you to do something like that."
I smiled and wrapped my arms around him. A month or so ago, he'd come home from a long day at work, and scurried up to his room. I'd been having a bad day, full of frustration and annoyance. All I wanted was to curl up with him. He was the only person I wanted to see, and he noticed my sad eyes as soon as he walked into the door. He hugged me and asked about my day. After I explained why I was so forlorn, he kissed the top of my head and told me he'd be right back. He backed away from me and ran upstairs. I sat at the computer, absentmindedly clicking away on blogs, not really reading anything, just occupying my time until his return. From the second floor, I heard him call me.
"Babe, come up here."
Slowly, I closed out of my many open windows and made a sluggish trek up the carpeted stairs. He was in the bedroom, an empty shopping bag resting on the floor and a handful of ties spread out on the bed.
"Check out the ties I bought today," he said, spreading them out for me to see. He held each one up to his dress shirt, modeling each bold accessory for me. I smiled, approved, then collapsed back onto the bed. "Oh, there's something else," he said to me, grabbing my hand.
He pulled me upright. "Stay right here, and close your eyes." I did as he instructed, feeling silly standing in the room with my eyes shut tight. I heard him walk through the door, then his voice from the other room: "Are your eyes closed? Keep 'em closed." I giggled.
"They're closed," I said, crossing my arms in front of my chest.
I heard his feet make their way into the room, I felt his body right behind me. "Put your arms out, behind you," he instructed. I obliged.
And he guided my arms through the arms of a coat. He pulled the collar up and rested the jacket on my shoulders. I opened my eyes, even though he hadn't told me to, and looked down at it. It was the pink and black tailored coat I'd casually mentioned that I liked weeks prior.
"Do you like it?"
What do you say when someone does something so wonderful, so unexpected, that you feel like you might burst if you so much as move to thank them? I turned around to face him, looked at him, then down again at the coat, then back at him. "Like it? Baby, I love it. Thank you so much."
"I was going to give it to you later tonight, before bed, but you look like you could use a little pick-me-up."
I threw my arms around him and hugged him. "I love it, Billy," I said into his shoulder.
Every time I put it on, I think of him and that moment. I delight when someone asks me where I got it, because I get to announce that he gave it to me. For no reason. I get to brag that he's thoughtful, that he pays attention. That he loves me. That, apparently, he's head over heels.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Usually, this time of year is my favorite time to be in the mall. I love the decorations, and the Christmas carols pouring from wall-mounted speakers. I love carrying full shopping bags. Seriously. I take as much time as possible to meander through aisles and choose perfect gifts for friends and family. But I've found that, the older I get, the less enjoyable it becomes.
I remember the days when Mom would take care of my shopping for me. Sometimes, I'd accompany her, picking out the items that would go to my family members on Christmas day. Then, somewhere along the line, I grew up. And the obligation to buy fell squarely into my lap. The money I worked so hard for was forked over in store after store as I purchased gifts for Mom, Chase, Dad. Then my grandparents. Then friends came into the equation. Then boyfriends. And the boyfriend's family. Then coworkers. And acquaintances. And on and on. And this evening, instead of finding joy in purchasing a great book, the perfect earrings, the loveliest set of wine glasses, I found only agony. I got frustrated with everything. With the money, with the pressure, with the other shoppers. I caught myself cursing under my breath at the price of accessories and fake jewelry. I dealt out openly exasperated sighs to shoppers who walked too slow, took too long digging their overburdened credit cards from their wallets. I thought I may cry out in horror if I heard even one more screaming child.
Somehow, it all got out of hand.
My favorite part of Christmas has always been the giving. I love to carefully pick out a gift, then see the smile or the laugh or the tears that come with its unveiling. But then life happened. I started to forget to block off the time required to put the thought into my gifts...
Which is why tonight, a scant six days before Christmas Morn, I lugged my coat and credit card through the mall, searching frantically for a gift, any gift, for all eight million people on my list.
And, tonight, for the first time ever, I found myself buying sweaters and bath products, slapping my own credit card onto dirty cash register counters, thinking "This'll do." Is there anything that screams "I ran out of time and ideas and patience, so I got you this," more than sweaters and bath products?
Saturday, December 17, 2005
And you know me. Like telepathy, you reach out lay your hands on me just as I was thinking that I wish you would. The feel of your long fingers over thick winter sweaters and flimsy cotton PJs gives me chills. I love that you can tell when I'm upset by my eyes alone; that you can see what I'm searching for in my pupils. I love that you know I'm angry by my eyebrows, that you can pinpoint the way I feel by looking at my face. I've never felt like an open book around anyone. But, after only four shorts months, I know that you know me.
I love that you're patient with me. That you drag out of me the complaints I'd rather leave unsaid. That you don't fight with me, you talk to me. I love that you reassure me when I need it. When I feel insecure, you coddle me just as I need. And when you've probably said enough to give me back the confidence I was lacking, you go ahead and say just a little bit more, for good measure. You remind me that you love me, that I deserve to be treated well. You tell me I'm beautiful and sexy and good to you. You haven't let my fear and trepidation stop you from loving me. You saw the me who was lost for so long, and you were patient in letting her evolve.
You aren't afraid to show me you love me in little ways. Like going outside in your pajama bottoms, winter coat and unlaced boots to scrape the ice from my car after a storm. Warming it up for me before I leave so I won't have to be cold on my way to work. Like ordering dessert because you know I like something sweet after every meal. Like getting a drink for me without me even asking for it. And that makes me so eager to give back to you, tenfold, what you give to me. I forgot what it was like to want to make someone happy, and you reminded me.
You make me count my blessings. I wasn't even looking and I found you. And I couldn't be happier.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
The time I should be taking to do the Christmas shopping that I still haven't started is spent, instead, hunkering down in the house; making me, for the first time, consider shopping over the internet. Right now, for instance, I know I should be in Middletown buying my Secret Santa gift for one of Billy's many cousins. I know I should be selecting wrapping paper and bows and selecting the perfect gift to rest inside of one of the many boxes I'll wrap this year. But instead, I'm at the computer, glass (and bottle) of wine in front of me, laundry clicking away in both the washer and the dryer and waiting for Billy to get home.
In the midst of my new job, of learning countless new items and procedures, I find my mind drifting back to Christmas seasons long past. Seasons that found me young and happy, seasons that flew by without me even noticing.
I'm thinking of what it was like, at ten years old, traipsing through a Kentucky forest with my family, trying to locate and cut down the perfect tree. My mom and dad and brother and I, all bundled up in our winter garb, hiking boots stomping along pine-needle covered trails. My dad with a cap on his head and his flannel jacket. My mom and brother pulling up the rear, eyes glued to every tree we passed, both of them trying to picture it, lit up and festooned, in our house. Me, somewhere in between the two parties, eager to help but frustrated with the cold; imagining presents and little multi-colored lights perched in the corner of our Hopkinsville home's living room; busy finalizing the list I'd be sending, via my mother, to Santa. I'm thinking of the ride home, our carefully chosen tree tied to the roof of our car, exhausted from being outdoors, my face burning from the warm heater following the cold air. Daddy pulled down box after box of ornaments from the attic, each full of tiny compartments for the ornaments. Pieces of our family's history: Ornaments my parents bought as they traveled the world in the Army - a miniature wooden nutcracker they bought in Germany, a teeny-tiny Christmas tree from Georgia - and pieces the four of us collected together - a mitten made of construction paper stuffed with cotton, its decoration courtesy of Crayola and my kindergarten class, Chase's tiny handprint solidified in Plaster of Paris from preschool. Daddy strung the lights while we went through the boxes, picking our favorites and waiting to hang them on pliable branches. The house smelled of the cedar tree we chose, and Chase and I loaded the bottom half of the tree with our ornaments. "Laurie's first Christmas, 1980," "Chase's first Christmas, 1986." Ornaments we made as gifts for our parents. Old glass ornaments that we carried from box to tree slowly, our eyes moving from floor to tree to gauge the distance, one hand beneath the ornament to catch it should it fall.
The tree my parents erect every year looks as beautiful now as it did back then. No theme, no reason to the placement of ornaments or colors chosen; Just memories hanging on fresh branches, backlit by green, blue, yellow and red lights. But these days, the tree doesn't come from the woods; it comes from a vendor in the middle of Milford. They pick their tree without the aid of their children, working their way through the aisles of pre-cut pine until they find the fattest, fullest one there. They wait until Chase comes home from school to put it in the house, then they call me for the annual decoration.
I'm not the same Laurie I was years ago. I used to be thrilled to decorate, but a few years ago, I found myself waiting impatiently for the ceremony to be over with. I looked at the boxes and boxes of ornaments as tedious work before me, not memories caught in cardboard dividers. I was consumed with my life as it was then, the subtle undertone of displeasure that plagued me back in those days. I hurried through the hanging, not taking the time to recall what each ornament meant, how it reminded me of our house in Kentucky, of the My Child doll with blue eyes and black hair that Santa brought me one year; the one that reminded me of Las Vegas when Santa left me my very own phone line. I didn't take care to recall the look on my parents' faces when they gave Chase and I something we really, really wanted. The way their smiles consumed their faces when the gift they gave us was truly unexpected; a new gaming system for Chase, a sapphire pendant for me. My mom's face, streaked with tears when she saw the Orthodox Icon I found for her. My father's salt and pepper mustache spreading with his smile, his blue eyes wet, when he opened the Army figurine I gave him, with a plaque I'd had engraved that sat on its base reading "Soldier Daddy."
This year, I want to reclaim the undistilled happiness that Christmas always brought me. I want to pause and think of each ornament before I hang it on the tree Mom and Dad chose for us. I want to put thought into my gifts. I want to remember the way it was before, and make new memories to think of later.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
"Hey, Laurie!" they called, wiping sweat from their brows and necks. "Why weren't you in class?"
I removed my headphones. "I had laundry to do, it took too long to make it to class in time."
A chorus of "How's the new job?" followed, with me trying to answer as diplomatically as possible. The week before I'd entertained them with little spoofs of my new profession, telling them how I didn't love it, but didn't hate it yet, though the general feeling I was getting was not good.
Sure that they all remembered this, I did my best to not sound too excited, but not too apathetic.
It's going. It's a long drive. I miss the bank. I'm learning. These were my standard responses.
Then one of my regular classmates made her way to me. "Laurie, how's that job?" She asked, after giving my behind a little slap.
"It's going well."
"I thought you didn't like it," she announced in her loud voice. I was sure the boss had heard. Certain of it, in fact.
"No, I said I didn't like that I have to learn everything new," I reached, hoping to salvage the moment.
She eyed me quizzically. I couldn't tell her that my boss and his wife were flanking me. It would be too obvious. And anyway, my boss had a clear view of me from the mirror. I tried to avoid displaying my panicked reaction. I pumped my feet faster, hoping that my worry would be lost in the sweat and the rhythm of my machine.
"Ooooh," she said, nodding. "That makes sense. Have a good week. I'll see you Wednesday?"
I told her I hoped I'd be able to make it to our Wednesday night Kickboxing class, and we said our goodbyes.
My boss and his wife slipped out the door while I traded details of my weekend with a friend near the free weights, so I was unable to do damage control. I'm just crossing my fingers that my boss doesn't greet me this morning with "So, you don't like it here, huh?"
Friday, December 09, 2005
"Nah," he said. "There's no point in you coming here. It's dead. Enjoy your day off."
The last thing in the world I want to do right now is drive, so I put on one of Billy's sweaters and made myself comfortable here at the computer. I clicked on the Musicmatch Jukebox player on the computer and started hopping around on some of my favorite blogs.
The song selection is an mesh of choices made by both Billy and myself. Over three days, we've added songs here and there to the playlist, and every night I come home, sit at the computer and listen to the same songs. But they're fabulous.
This is my soundtrack:
Hopeless, by Train
Maria (Shut up and kiss me), by Willie Nelson
When You Became King, by Alana Davis
Brick, by Ben Folds Five
Island, by The Ben Taylor Band
Drops of Jupiter, by Train
Maybe, by Toni Braxton
Sexual Healing, by Ben Harper
Brighter than Sunshine, by Aqualung
A Chance with You, by Alana Davis
Whipping Boy, by Train
Kissing a Fool, by George Michael
32 Flavors, by Alana Davis
The Beauty of Who You Are, by Marc Broussard
I Don't Care, by Alana Davis
Hold Me Now, by the Thompson Twins
Army, by Ben Folds Five
Let's Get it On, by Marvin Gaye
King of Sorrow, by Sade
Secret, by Maroon 5
Freedom 90, by George Michael
Folsom Prison Blues, by Johnny Cash
Paper Thin Walls, by Modest Mouse
Into the Mystic, by Van Morrison
Bend and Break, by Keane
No Ordinary Love, by Sade
I can think of no better way to spend my day than to sit here listening and singing along. Each of the songs makes me think of someone or something in particular. Billy's in every line of When You Became King, The Beauty of Who You Are and Brighter than Sunshine. Ghosts of relationships past are hiding in the harmonies of Kissing a Fool, Hopeless and King of Sorrow. I see myself in 32 Flavors, Whipping Boy and I Don't Care. Snow and coffee and the promise of a day spent alone has made me nostalgic, reminiscent, reflective.
The volume is turned up to full blast, and I'm singing along, letting the songs take me to where I was way back when and up the long road to where, and who, I am now.
When we were warned about this snowfall yesterday, my boss was sure it was going to pass us by. "We probably won't get anything," he said, looking out of the window in the office. "Yeah," he sighed, stretched and surveyed the clouds overhead, "it'll probably blow right past us." Then, almost as an afterthought, he said, "But if, you know, it doesn't pass us, don't bother driving in it; if it's that bad, don't come in. Just play it by ear. Give me a call." I was torn: On one hand, I wanted him to be right. I hate driving in the snow, the way major winter storms hamper my ability to go anywhere and do anything. But on the other, I crossed my fingers that he was wrong, and that we would get the furious snowfall predicted by all the local meteorologists. The words don't bother driving in it, don't come in were like music to my ears.
So, this morning, I called his cell phone and the office and left messages saying that I was not about to chance it on the unplowed roads, but that I'd keep an eye on it and go in if it cleared up.
I worried shortly when the clouds parted and sun started to shine. The rapid falling of fine snow had given way to thick, sluggish flakes, and I was concerned that I'd have to shed my morning coat, finish my coffee and jump in the shower to head in to work. Anyone who lives in wintry climates knows that sunshine plus big fat flakes equals the end of the blizzard. But the lull in the whiteout was apparently only Mother Nature taking a breather and rejuvenating. The clouds reunited and the snow has gone back to falling with oomph. The house got dark again as the parted clouds came back together and I smiled, sipping my still hot coffee and relaxing into the pillows.
Today could only be more perfect if Billy hadn't gone to work. He left at seven. Unafraid of the snow, he plodded out to his covered car and dutifully started it, cleaned it off and backed down the driveway. I made his coffee while he showered, thinking of how wonderful it would be to sit inside with him and watch movies all day while snow piled around the house.
But, instead, I'm here alone, coffee and cigarettes close at hand, enjoying my first weekday off since I started my job a week ago. If I still worked at the bank, I'd be there right now, bitching about having to drive in the snow, rather than sitting here watching snow nestle into the crooks of tree branches and the dips and rises of the porch. I much prefer this.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
"Stop looking for it," he said softly, staring back at me.
His question caught me off guard. I broke from his gaze and looked off past him, tucked my hair behind my ear in a self-concious move and shrugged my shoulders with a laugh. "Me? What? What do you mean, 'stop looking for it?'"
"You know." His smile was soft, sweet, but his eyes were investigating me.
"No, I don't, Billy. What do you mean?"
He was quiet for a minute and forced me to look at him. "You know. Just stop." His tone was reassuring, but I didn't know what he meant.
I hounded him for hours to tell me what he'd meant. "Nothing. God. I just said it," he'd reply definsively. I made up my mind to believe that he meant that I needn't gaze into his eyes and beg him to tell me that he loved me; that he did, and I don't have to search for it.
I had forgotten about that moment until Sunday. Sprawled out on top of his bedsheets and trying to figure out which movie we wanted to select from his waiting arsenal, we shared a sweet little moment. I'd missed him so much that I couldn't stop looking at him, tracing his face with my vision, memorizing the curve of his cheek and the slope of his nose. He caught me staring and our eyes locked. We sat, unmoving, for minutes, a faint smile hiding in the corners of each of our mouths.
And, again, he said it. Soft and sweet, with his hand on my face: "Stop looking for it."
"For what?" I plead. "You told me in Florida that you didn't mean anything by that. And, obviously, you did because you've said it again."
He refused to give me an explaination, laughing as he curled up into my collarbone.
"Billy," I persisted, "tell me."
We've come a long way since our vacation to Florida, and I was fairly certain that it was safe to tell me what he'd meant months ago, and now again. I kept badgering until he relented, sighing into my bare skin.
He told me that, when I look at him like that, it seems like I'm looking for something I think he's hiding; like I don't trust him, or believe what he says to me, and I'm looking for the true him, the one that will hurt me. He said it seems like I'm waiting for him to say "Fooled ya;" To stop looking for that.
My lip quivered with the threat of tears. I couldn't believe that he'd seen that in me. I silently thanked God that his face was beneath my own, that he couldn't see my moist eyes.
"Am I right?"
I hesitated, waiting for the quivering in my voice to subside. I answered carefully, measuring my words and cautious of the slightest shake. "Well...sort of. But it doesn't have the negative spin that you put on it."
"I didn't say it was negative."
Tears slipped from my eyes. Who notices that sort of thing? Who cares enough to see that I'm scared, to know that I want it to last but terrified that it won't, to see the fear in me that it is, after all, too good to be true.
"It's not that I'm looking for proof that you're not truthful, I'm looking for the...for...reassurance, I guess. That it is true. God, no one has ever been so god to me."
"But, baby, you deserve to be treated well," he said, like it was a fact, not just his opinion.
"I guess I just kind of feel like it's...you're...too good to be true. And, yeah, I guess I am sort of waiting for the gotcha!"
And it's true. I can't quite believe that it's real. That I've actually found someone who always wants to see me, who takes the time to tell me thank you for putting dishes in the washer and who thinks to tell me, for no reason at all, that he thinks I'm beautiful. I can't really believe that I've found someone who will drive twenty minutes out of his way and into the middle of nowhere to visit me on his day off at my new job, just to bring me coffee and see my new space. I can't believe that I've found a man who listens to me when I'm confused about work and life and love, who doesn't make me feel like I'm whining or wasting his time. I can't believe that I've found a man who is all I've ever wanted and more.
He keeps telling me to stop looking for the catch, but I don't know when that'll happen. I don't know when the awe will finally wear off and I'll understand that he's not too good to be true; that he is true, he is real, and he's mine.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
I remember being nervous, unsure of what to expect. I remember the cotton mouth I had as I followed him in my car through Milford and into his driveway. I remember sitting with him on his couch, fearful that there were sweat stains beneath the arms of my Tshirt because of the midsummer heat outside. I remember wondering what he expected, and hoping he wasn't going to try to bed me that day...And trying to figure out how I'd be able to say no. I remember walking around the house on "the tour," him casually pointing at the mammoth paintings he'd created, and being altogether floored by his talent. I remember him falling asleep on my chest after we'd stretched out to take in a movie on HBO. I remember him telling me stories about his days in the Peace Corps in Africa, little stories about the art classes he taught and the people he met there. I remember liking him more with each passing moment. I remember being surprised when he invited me to stay the night and that I accepted. I was even more surprised that when he said "Maybe you should sleep over," he actually meant only sleep. I remember that, in typical female fashion, I thought it was sweet that he didn't try to go any further than goodnight kisses as I settled into sleep next to him, but wondering, at the same time, why he didn't try. I remember making the conscious decision to not wash my face before bed, in hopes that I'd still be made up when I woke in the morning. I remember looking something like a raccoon when I saw myself in the mirror next morning, and furiously rubbing at the mascara beneath my eyes to make myself somewhat presentable. I remember that he had to work that day. We drove into town together, to buy coffee at Turkey Hill. I remember trying to act casual, but was shocked when he kissed me in the parking lot, right in the middle of Milford. I remember smiling all the way home, and waiting for the call he promised to make to plan our evening. I remember that he called exactly when he said he would.
It's strange to think back on that now...In some ways, it seems likes ages ago, like we became a couple well before August. He's such a huge part of my life now that I can scarcely recall what my days were like before him. But in other ways, it feels like we only just begun. I still wait anxiously for my phone to ring with a call from him. I still get giddy when I see his name. I still can't wait to see him, and I still get butterflies when he walks into the room. I still watch him with the eyes of a thirteen year old with a crush.
I missed him like crazy this week. I wanted nothing more than to come home to him after my first day of work. I wanted his reassurance, the amazing support he so freely offers. I wanted his hands and his arms, his lips and his smile, but all I had was his voice over a cell phone with poor reception.
He's due home in just about an hour, and these last sixty minutes will feel endless. Sleep is nipping at my heels, but I'm too excited for an early evening nap. Because even though I'm exhausted from a Friday night Christmas party that somehow weaved its way into Saturday morning, followed by a half-day of work at the new job, the anticipation of seeing him tonight after so long without him is keeping me eager and awake.
Friday, December 02, 2005
That leaves just me. In a new office that I know nothing about.
A customer just came in, full of questions, and I had nothing to offer her. No information, no knowledge, no help. Just a broken-record response of "I'm not sure," and "I can have someone call you when they return." I heard her moving about the space in the office, asking barely audible questions and answering them herself. "I wonder if this comes in another color...I don't know," I heard her mock. I wanted to sink into the wall.
Other than the fact that I am completely useless as of right now, things are going well. I think I'll really enjoy it, once I get around to getting taught how things work. The field is entirely new to me, as is the job I'll be doing...So I have to get over the idea I had that I could just come right in and pick it up. I have to remind myself that I'll actually have to learn this. I'm trying not to let it frustrate me that I'm a completely clean slate. I'm trying to keep my mind open. I hate not knowing what's going on, I hate that I don't know anything here. I hate that I have to be taught. It seems overwhelming and intimidating one minute, then ridiculously simple the next. I find myself thinking "I'm never going to understand any of this," then "God, this is going to be so freakin' simple. Why can't I just get it?" I have to keep reminding myself that it's new, that I knew nothing about banking seven years ago when I walked in on my first day. That the idea of coming here in the first place was to learn something new for the purpose of making more money.
But it's hard to learn anything new when the only two other people that work with you are gone, won't be back for three hours. I want to know everything NOW. Because that's how I am. Hopelessly impatient.
But don't let my frustrations fool you. I've made the right choice. I just have to remember it's going to take a little while before I become a pro. The intention was never for me to walk in here automatically aware of all that goes on.
But as for right now, I have to end this post and try to figure out Quickbooks on my own.
Friday, November 25, 2005
I'm thankful for my wonderful family. I'm thankful that we always say "I love you" before we part ways or hang up the phone. I'm thankful that we hug and kiss, that we can be emotional and affectionate and not be embarrassed by it.
I love my mom, who gets tipsy on a few glasses of wine and shares stories from her childhood in Serbia. I love that she puts old tapes into the deck of our home stereo and fills the house with a foreign language. I love that she invited her friend, Watson, a soldier she works with, to have dinner with us... I love that she calls him her adopted son. I love that he accepted. I love that my mom loves her kids - the ones she's birthed and the ones she's taken under her wing because they're far from home - so deeply, so fully, that she'd do anything for them. I love the way she looks at my dad, still so smitten after all these years.
I love my father, who sits back and laughs silently when my mom starts slurring her words. I love to hear him cracking jokes as he carves a huge turkey on the kitchen island, his glasses sitting on top of his head, making dents in his thick mane of salt and pepper hair. I love when he starts telling tales of the man he was before the kids were born, the stories of him and my mom traveling the world. I love when he stretches his arm out and puts it around my mom at the table. I love their life together.
I love my little brother, who can make me laugh until tears pour from my eyes. I love that he's not ashamed to tell me he loves me in front of his friends. I love that he sits next to me at the table, and understands exactly what I mean when I give him certain looks. I love that he's so kind, such a good young man.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I have only a half hour left as an employee here. I don't really believe yet that I won't be coming back to this desk. I guess I'll realize it on Monday when I'm organizing the pieces of my life that was the bank. It's bittersweet, really. I'll miss it so much.
But I'm really excited.
So, I'm off to spend my last few minutes as a bank employee, then to spend this Thanksgiving Eve with my wonderful boyfriend.
Goodbye old job.
Hello new life.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Everything is going your way. You will know exactly
what's expected of you and how to make the most of your
current position. Don't worry about professional changes
Monday, November 21, 2005
We sit up and sip from large, condensation-encased glasses. My drink always tastes more like cranberry than the vodka in it – A dangerous misrepresentation of the alcoholic content. But his always smells like green-labeled Jack Daniels, no matter how much or how little of the caramel colored liquor I poured into the glass before I followed it with ginger ale.
Late at night, just before we sleep, his kisses taste like Jack Daniels and Canada Dry. I love when his soft lips, his tongue, taste subtly of cold sweetness and sharp alcohol. And, in the morning, when I carry our used glasses from his bedroom down into the kitchen, the scent of his Jack & Ginger floats up into my face; I love the smell of it, the masculinity mixed with the sugar, the syrupy liquor mixed with the light carbonation. I inhale as I pour the remnants of last nights’ drink down the drain, soaking in the familiarity. It makes me think of the evenings we spend on each other, twisted together and stealing kisses between the movie’s scenes; his kind eyes finding me in the semi-darkness of his room and the smile I can see in them.
This week, we’re living in my house instead of his. He packed last night, tossing dress shirts, wool pants and ties into his suitcase. I surveyed the room for anything I’d been keeping there that I’d need at home. I found my hairdryer, my hairspray, my earrings and tucked them into the bag that accompanies me from my house to his every night. On my way out the door, I grabbed his big bottle of Jack and secured it into my passenger seat. I stopped at Turkey Hill and picked up a liter of Canada Dry. And when he got to my home, we had our nightly drinks.
This morning, his used glass was the first thing I saw when my alarm roused us from sleep. I begrudgingly freed myself from our morning embrace and carried it downstairs on my way to make the coffee. Emptying it into my sink made me smile.
I thought he wouldn’t come with me when I said I’d be staying at my house this week. My roommate would be gone for the week, leaving me with the dog that I would be required to watch. I broke the news to Billy late yesterday and was surprised when he said “Well, I guess I’ll have to pack then.”
I was still sort of expecting him to back out, but there he was, last night, coming through my garage with his bags in hand.
I let the dog out and we smoked on the back porch. “Thanks for coming,” I said. My history was to blame for my certainty that he wouldn’t be there: It was always me expected to make the trip to the boyfriend, very rarely the other way around.
“Did you really think I wouldn’t?” His face told me that he though I was crazy to think anything different.
“Well…sort of.” I looked at the carpet beneath my feet on the sun porch rather than at him. It was embarrassing to still hold him to the low standard set before him, rather than the high standards he was forging.
“So you thought you’d just come back here every night? Sleep here alone while I slept alone at my house?”
“I don’t know.” Like a kid, I kicked at nothing on the floor, a little ashamed of my lack of faith in him.
He smiled at me. “Baby, whose shoulder would I sleep on?”
And it struck me that this is what it feels like to be loved. To be cared for. To have someone who wants to spend his time with me, to have someone who supports me in my tough decisions, who makes me laugh when I’m sad, who makes me feel like everything will be okay. And this is what it’s like to love. To want to care for someone else, to want to spend my time with him. To want to make things better when they’re not going well for him, to want to hear his laugh, to want to touch his face and to let him know everything will be okay, no matter what.
I just feel so lucky.
Friday, November 18, 2005
"Excuse me?" I held the little black stirrer completely still, afraid that I really had heard wrong.
"Your pay," he said again. "It'll be a little higher than we expected."
He went on to detail my salary, and how it'll be calculated on a workweek longer than the one I have now. "You won't always work that many hours, but I figure it all balances out."
My salary increase will be over three times what I expected it to be.
"Oh, Drew," I sang, lifting the stirrer completely out of the coffee and pointing it at the wall in front of me. "You just made my night."
Today, I got an email from him, asking me to pick a color to paint my new office.
These factors, in addition to my blossoming excitement to be entering into a completely new field have added up to an amazing day. Suddenly, the fact that the most of the women in the branch (including the Branch Manager and the Assistant manager) are no longer talking to me doesn't bother me. My feelings were once hurt that the bank didn't try to get me to stay, that a majority of the branch didn't care that I was leaving, but now, I'm just thrilled to go. I'm still sad to leave my boss, but the hesitation, doubt, and trepidation are gone; and in their place is a sense of urgency to get to the new job.
This morning, I drove the long winding road between Milford and Honesdale, PA, to visit Human Resources and complete my Exit Interview.
After sitting for an hour and answering various questions pertaining to my employment, my pay and the bank, I headed back out into the cold air and climbed into the car. I blasted Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life" as I turned into traffic, dancing and singing along, excited to be leaving the main branch's parking lot for the last time.
My last day is the 23rd. The countdown has begun.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
I was cleaning out my computer here at work, trying to weed out all of the personal documents I've hidden in files and folders. I usually write emails in Word first, then copy and paste them into Hotmail. Same with posts. But I tried to title them so that they weren't obviously my own personal documents; Titles like "Analysis Letter 2002" and "Checks and Balances." They were fairly easy to locate, but I found it not only helpful, but also interesting, to open each one and read it.
The paragraph at the top was a portion of a larger email I wrote to Tumbleweed in late 2004. It was written somewhere after Thanksgiving, and before the New Year. It was before I started the blog, and while I was finding myself as a single woman.
When I read it today, it made me want to cry. Because I found that guy. And she found that guy.
I was fucking right.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Tonight, he came home to find me perched at his computer. I was typing a diatribe about how my feelings are hurt that none of my coworkers really care that I'm leaving. He shed his coat and knealt before me, kissing my freshly washed face. "Babe, they don't matter anyway. You're going to do so well. A few months from now, it's not going to matter whether they cared or not." He then proceeded to make me laugh harder than I had since last I saw him. I needed the release that the laughter provided. I love that he knew that.
I hate that I'm so sensitive, that I'm taking a simple change in jobs so hard. I hate that he has to come home every night and do damage control.
But I don't know what I'd do without him.
Monday, November 14, 2005
When I did wear it down, though, I was constantly complimented on my hair. It's so long, so beautiful customers, friends and boyfriends would gush. I'd grab a handful of my thick black hair and frown. "But it's so annoying," I'd reply, tossing the section back over my shoulder. It being so long afforded me very little freedom as far as hairstyles went; it was either down, in The Marge, or pulled tight against my head in a low ponytail. It got on my nerves.
I often contemplated, and incessantly threatened, to just cut it all off. I'd done it before, years ago as a sophomore in high school. I was sitting with my mom as she had her hair cut in a salon, lazily flipping through a magazine. I stopped on an Estee Lauder ad featuring the then-spokesmodel Elizabeth Hurley.
"Isn't she gorgeous?" I sighed, turning the magazine so that my mom, and the stylists behind her, could see Ms. Hurley.
"Honey," the thin and flamboyant beautician sitting in his vacant salon chair interrupted, "you would look just like her with that haircut."
I turned the magazine around, considered the photo. Her hair was shoulder-length and brown. I didn't see much similarity between the two of us beyond our blue eyes and dark hair, but his compliment was all that I needed. "Let's do it," I said. And, an hour later, almost a foot of my hair littered the area around his swiveling chair.
But two years ago, my hair was longer than it had been in high school. The comparisons between me and Liz Hurley were long gone, and anyway, I was used to having my long hair. Every time I built up the nerve to hack it off, I'd check myself. What if I hate it? What if it looks horrible? I'd talk myself out a drastic change in a fraction of the time it took me to find the guts to do it in the first place.
But then I broke up with Tom. And my little brother's then-girlfriend told me her mom was a hairdresser and offered a free cut & style to anyone willing to donate eleven or more inches to Locks of Love. I needed a change. I was sick of the clogs in the drain, The Marge, the heaviness my hair offered. It was time.
I marched into the salon, and the hairdresser braided my long hair, a perfect weave of deep auburn, black and red strands. The scissors she used barely fit around the thickness of the braid. But with a series of snips, she rid me of just over a foot of hair. I looked in the mirror, at the sloppy, jagged edges of my not yet styled hair, and thought it looked okay, but I wasn't sure I was happy with my decision. But it was, obviously, too late to change my indecisive mind. My hair was clutched in her hands, and the change was already well underway.
When she was finished trimming and layering, pulling hair from opposite sides of my head together to check for even length, blow drying and fluffing me, she turned me around to face the mirror. I loved it. I'm so glad I did this, I thought, as I shook my head from side to side. I felt freed. I couldn't believe I'd been hiding behind all that hair for all that time. I made an appointment for a trim in five weeks, and I've kept it the same length - or shorter - ever since.
I have this feeling that my change in jobs will be no different. I'm terrified; frightened that I may not do well, that I won't like it. But I've just been used to working at the bank. Used to walking into same doors every morning, fixing my coffee and sitting down to eight hours of the same thing every day.
This morning, I fixed my coffee like I always do, grabbed a box of tissues, marched into my boss' office and closed the door behind me. The tears started before the door latched shut. "Bill, I'm giving you my two weeks' notice," I managed to blubber, my face crumpled and my voice shaky. I fanned my face like so many of those women on reality TV do, in an effort, I suppose, to dry the tears before they could fall. I hated that I was crying, but I couldn't help it. I love my boss to pieces, and it makes me so sad to think of not seeing him every day.
"What?" He shook his head as though he was clearing his ears. His expression was disbelief, as though he'd misheard me.
"I'm giving you my two weeks' notice," I said, more clearly than I'd been able to seconds before.
He nodded his head like he knew it had been coming. "Where are you going?"
I told him, while I collected tears in my already mascara-stained Kleenex.
"Good for you, Laur." He sat back in his high-backed chair and gave me a fatherly smile. "Frankly, I'm surprised it took you this long." His eyes were sympathetic. "Why are you crying, though?"
"I don't know." It was a half-laughed, half tear-stained statement that came out louder than I'd intended.
It was like the beautician slicing through a chunk of my hair. It was as good as done.
Right now, I'm looking at the rough cut, the unsure edges that present themselves before all the finish work is done. All the trimming and layering and fluffing will be done in the next few months. And I'm pretty sure that I'll sit back then and think, "God, I'm glad I did this."
I thought long and hard all weekend. I bit the insides of my mouth to shreds, as I tend to do when I'm stressed. I smoked about a million cigarettes. I am host to a slew of new pimples, thanks also to stress. My stomach is a mess, and my head hurts.
I hate - I mean really hate - making big decisions like this.
But, about an hour ago, I gave my boss my two weeks' notice.
I start the new job December 1st.
Wish me luck.
Friday, November 11, 2005
It's Friday, November 11th: Veteran's Day. I thought I'd be using this paid holiday to get my hair cut and perhaps do some reading. But, instead, I went on a job interview.
A few weeks ago, a customer of mine called up looking to see if I knew anyone interested in working for him. He owns a successful business and is interested in finding the right person to become one of his three (very well paid) employees.
As it turns out, I am that person.
I interviewed today, and in all honesty, the job sounds perfect for me. I've known this buisnessman since I started at the bank four years ago. His company is successful and everything he does is top quality. He's nice and we've always gotten along well. The job offers good pay (it would take me at least three more years at the bank to make up what he's offering me to start), health benefits, a good working environment, the option of upward mobility, "the sky's the limit" as far as income goes. I wouldn't be locked into any sort of position, I'd get the whole week between Christmas and New Years off (PAID!). I'd have to work every other Saturday, but only from ten to three. The option is there for me to attend classes to learn more about the profession, therefore earning more money. The more the company makes, he said, the more I make. I'd be, technically, in sales, but my primary function would be point of contact between the customers and my employer. There would be bonuses, maybe some trade shows; I'd be involved in marketing and PR. It sounds perfect for me.
But I'm terrified.
I'm terrified that I'll hate it, that I won't be good at it, that I'll be making a mistake. I'm terrified to tell my boss that I'm leaving him after four years of faithful service. I'm terrified that I'll be in over my head, that I'll disappoint them. I'm terrified of change.
EVEN THOUGH I'm really not that happy with my current job. Yes, I love my boss, yes, I love my customers, and yes, I know what I'm doing...But as far as moving up, I'm stuck. And making money? I'm in the wrong business if I'm interested in getting not even rich, but comfortable.
I've stayed where I am for so long because it's safe. Because I didn't go to college, and my job didn't require a degree. It's close to home. I know what I can get away with. It's stable... There's security....
There's just no money.
I've been living paycheck to paycheck since I moved out of my parents' house. I can't do this forever. And staying at the bank will only offer me maybe a $0.50 raise a year, if I'm lucky. You may remember when I got my "raise" this year, I was far from happy with it. I wanted to leave then, but I lacked the motivation.
And now the opportunity has fallen into my lap.
But I just don't know. I'm full of fear...
And I told him I'd have an answer by Monday...
Thursday, November 10, 2005
But surely you must know how much I wanted to be there for you, how much more I would do for you. You must know that my limits aren't even close to being reached - that my capacity to give to or for you is far from maximized. You must know that I want to make you happy, to take care of you. So I made sure we were stocked with cigarettes and booze and food, so that we didn't have to leave the house if we didn't want to. I wanted to keep your mind off of your problems, to keep you happy. Your smile, or a moment when I looked at you and knew that you weren't thinking of work, was my reward.
You came into the bank and told me that what you'd like to do is just pack up and disappear. That you would, if not for me. I felt like you just validated everything I've been feeling. You held my hand over a Manila folder on my desk, traced the curve of my fingers with your own, and said it. I wanted to leap across my desk and kiss you.
You brought me coffee at work the next day, dressed in your suit and tie, ready to hit the road for work. You kissed me on the sidewalk in front of the bank. The kiss was long, full-on and unashamed, as cars crawled by on their way to the stoplight. You tucked a stray hair behind my ear and told me you'd call me when you got there. You wrapped me up in your arms and told me to be good. You were still smiling. We shared another long kiss and you held my hands in yours. "I love you, sexy," you said, just before you turned to leave. I pulled you back for a last kiss, poured "I love you, too" into your mouth. I saw in your face that you were happy, and I felt successful, like I'd had a part in that.
You called me last night, from an hour away, your voice hard with worry and frustration. Your long weekend had lifted your spirits, but a day back at work and reality rears its ugly head and it's as if you've been kicked in the stomach. You explained to me again why your situation upsets you so, and I sat on the other end of the line, plucking my eyebrows; silent. My own frustration nipped at my heels. I didn't know what to say, what to do, so I searched for errant hairs in my handheld mirror. Pluck. Pluck. You had me on speaker phone while you drove, our conversation made awkward by the strange delay your phone forced on us. My jokes weren't funny, fell flat because of the few seconds of silence between the buildup and the punchline. Pluck. I couldn't offer any solace, I couldn't offer any solution. So I let you go on, telling me again why you're in such a mood, why you don't think you'll get out of it anytime soon. I just need to get out of this job, out of this country, you said, dismay seeping through the words you spoke . Oh, was all I could say. Silence. You offered a blanket apology for your gloom. Yeah, I know, I replied, my voice soft. Pluck. I felt the tears behind my eyes, threatening to spill out all over me.
I don't know what to do for you. I don't know what to say. I watch you perseverate and I want so badly to make it stop. I want desperately to make you feel better, to see you happy, but words catch in my throat, my arms fall at my sides and I'm left with nothing. What do you want? I'll do anything for you, give anything to make you happy, but I don't know what to offer. I've listened, I've told you it will be okay, I asked questions, I tried to help. I've been right next to you, I've suggested space. I made you laugh, I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, I tried to indulge you. And when you're facing me, when your skin is barely inches from my own, my tactics are successful and I feel triumphant. But with nothing but my voice to present to you in your time of need, I feel incapable. Powerless.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
“I did,” was my response. And it’s true, I did.
Something about hearing him say it out loud was so satisfying...But at the same time, it seemed superfluous; actually speaking the words was just the icing on the cake. Because I did know, well before the words fell from his lips. And, surely, he knew that I loved him, too. I feel like we’ve been saying it for a while now without words. I know I have. When he sleeps on his side, his back turned to me and my body wrapped around his, I whisper it into his back. I mouth the words into his hair when he rests on my chest. And when he takes my face in his hands, kissing me and backing up enough to look into my eyes, I think it. Loud. I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you over and over, hoping he can read it in my irises. Or my mind shouts I love you, too because I see what I think is I love you in his eyes.
I’ve always been the kind who needed to hear “I love you.” My family says it to one another all the time: Each time we part ways, at the end of each phone conversation. We type it into our emails, we sign it on cards. There’s never a fear that the last thing I say to one of my family members won’t be “I love you.” Maybe that’s what makes me want to hear it all the time from significant others. I’ve never been content to look at actions, to pick up clues along the way and let them lead me to the conclusion that I’m loved. I’ve always craved the sound of “I love you” falling on my ears, the feel of the words as they slid from my mouth. But it was proof I was seeking to find and give. And the proof, for me, was never in the actions. Only in the words.
But the words are woven into Billy’s every kind gesture. They are sewn into the fabric of each tie I’ve purchased for him. They are in the silver of the earrings and the wool of the coat he bought for me, for no reason at all. There were in the humid air of our vacation together. They are in his hands on my skin, my lips on his face. They are the chimes of my ringing phone, in his voice on the other end of the line. They are in the spaces between every word I’ve written about him. They are behind every action, every kiss.
With Billy, I just know. It doesn’t have to be shouted from the rooftops. He doesn’t have to hire a skywriter to spell it out in clouds of exhaust. He doesn’t even have to say it all the time. It’s there, just beneath the surface, in the curve of his smile, in the softness of his eyes, his gentle kiss. It’s nice to be able to say and hear it now…But it’s nicer still to know I don’t have to.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
I hate to quote a television commercial, but I must:
I love this man. I love him. I love him. I love him.
Ahhh. It feels so good to say it, and write it, out loud.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Billy joined me while Brittany Murphy’s Stacey did her detective work on Joyce, the ex the boyfriend, Derek, still carried a torch for. When Stacey finally snagged a meeting with Joyce, she pretended to be someone else entirely and that she had never even heard this Derek guy. While they talked about Joyce’s career, the dirt on her relationship – the one they ended years ago, and the friendship they continued to that very day – with Derek just spilled out.
“Why would she do that?” Billy asked, lighting up a cigarette.
“I don’t know.”
“She’s torturing that girl.” He meant that Stacey was torturing Joyce.
“She’s torturing herself.” I said as Joyce answered her ringing cell phone and mouthed It’s Derek to a shocked Stacey. “That would be awful, sitting next to a girl who didn’t know that you’re dating the ex she’s still madly in love with and watching her get a call from him, and then watching her laugh at something he said…To watch one half of a conversation where your boyfriend is flirting with a woman he used to date that doesn’t know about you and that he never told you about. That would kill me.”
“That’s what I don’t understand, why she would do that in the first place.”
“I don’t either,” I lied. I knew why. I’d done it before. Maybe I didn’t go so far as to pose as someone else and interview the exes, but I’ve rooted around in history before.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I think we women research too much. In an effort to find out something – anything – about our boyfriend’s history, we dig. We peek at his inbox when he checks his email in our presence, we eavesdrop on his phone conversations, we ask leading questions and begin to piece together a horribly askew picture of his past and his present. We Google. In our more shameful moments, we rummage through rooms, foraging through pockets and luggage and notebooks and boxes, seeking something that will tell us what our boyfriends don’t want to tell us themselves. We interrogate friends and family in what we hope is a subtle way, we keep our eyes peeled for clues, we ask about exes and attempt to decode his answer into what he really meant. And for what? Well, we don’t really know. We’ll tell ourselves that it’s to find proof that he’s over his ex, that he’s faithful to us. But really, it’s evidence to the contrary we’re after. We want to weed out his transgression before it gets a chance to make us look foolish. We don’t want to be played, we don’t want our hearts broken. We want to know.
In my past life, I wanted to know, too. I dug and poked and prodded my way around all of his 36 years. I asked about his exes, looked at their pictures and compared myself to them. And when I did that? It only made me feel horrible. It made me sick to my stomach, but I still kept at it. I asked more questions, looked at more pictures, wanted more information. Even though it made me want to throw up to look at him locked in an embrace with someone from his past, even though it made me feel inadequate compared to these older women who were successful and well-traveled, I kept it up. And it made me a jealous beast. I began to think that he would gladly go back with each and every one of his exes – all they had to do was show up. I started to think he was being unfaithful. Whether he was or not, I’ll never know. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. I kept trying to catch him in lies. I searched the house for another woman’s presence. I smelled his shirts for a foreign perfume. I was almost disappointed when I came up with nothing. My stomach was in a perpetual knot. It was awful. I was awful. I didn’t even like myself then.
But we’re always looking for the bad. What’s in his past? What’s he not telling me? We forget that the past is the past for a reason. And we get caught up in wanting to know things we don’t really even want to know. It’s masochism.
Billy’s checked his email right in front of me, and I didn’t even look. He’s left me alone in his house – I’ve even slept there when he’s been out of town – and I’ve never even had to fight the urge to snoop. I don’t ask about ex girlfriends because I don’t really want to know. I don’t need to know what his last girlfriend looked like, what she did that made him happy or what she did that made him sad. I don’t need to know that he loved her smile or the color of her hair. Because, you know what…He loves my smile and my hair now.
But as much as I’d like to believe that my peace with Billy’s past and present has to do with my new-found maturity and confidence, that’s only half of it. The other half is that he’s open. He’ll tell me what I want to know, all I have to do is ask. And I don’t need to dig around to see if he’s unfaithful – He’s with me all the time. And when he’s not with me, he calls to let me know he’s thinking of me and that he wants to be with me.
And what’s worse is that men don’t do this. From what I’ve learned from the men I’ve dated, known, spoken with, men don’t worry themselves over their girlfriends’ past. They don’t overanalyze and wonder and think and ruminate and make themselves sick over who she used to date, how she felt about him, and what she’s doing when he’s not around. Why is this borderline psychosis so much more prevalent in women? Or are women just less afraid to admit that, yes, they want to know more?
“I don’t get it,” Billy said at the climax of the movie, as Brittany Murphy was confronted with all three exes and the boyfriend she’d been researching. “Look, everyone’s miserable now.”
I knew all too well how everyone in that movie felt. But Billy would have dig in my past to find that out.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Yesterday, he had the day off. I went to his house after work to find him in bed, lights off and TV on. He was completely dressed, covered in blankets, his curly hair flared out on the white pillow beneath his head. His smile when he saw me was broad and white. “Hey, sexy,” he said. I put down the overnight bag that I’m always carrying these days, rested my purse beside it, and crawled onto the bed with him. He pried his arms out from beneath the comforter and wrapped me in them.
“How was your day off?” I said into his neck, kissing the smooth skin between his ear and his collarbone.
“Wonderful,” he replied. “I feel like I did nothing, which is perfect.”
“Have you been here all day?” I pointed to the mattress.
“No. I cleaned the shower, I made some calls, I made a new CD to listen to in the shower…”
I wrinkled my nose and interrupted: “It’s not Engelbert Humperdinck and Perry Como is it?” Every morning, our shower is accompanied by a soundtrack. Sometimes it’s Jason Mraz, sometimes it’s John Mayer, sometimes it’s a mix of songs I don’t know at all, sometimes it’s a CD of songs I’ve made. But we’re always listening to something as we lather up and take turns under the spray of hot water.
His face looked almost guilty. “You know me too well.” He lifted his head and sang a little Engelbert for me, Tell me when will you be mine/teeeeellll me, quando, quando, quaaaannnn-dooooo, his rich voice boomed in the dark room.
I laughed. I knew he was serious. “I just hope it’s not all slow stuff. That shit’ll put me to right back to sleep if I listen to it first thing in the morning.”
“You’ll like it. Just wait.”
This morning, he got in the shower before me. I was exhausted, gave in to his insistence that I sleep in until at least the next snooze alarm. After being roused from sleep for probably the sixth time that morning by the alarm, I gave in and got up.
By the time I peeled myself from the sheets, made the coffee and opened the door to the bathroom, Billy was already out of the shower and drying himself off. I started to brush my teeth, noticing the CD was already on track number 4 - Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys singing “Impossible.” My eyes went wide. “I love this song,” I gushed, the toothbrush sticking out of my frothy mouth.
“I know you do.” He leaned in for a kiss on my Colgate encased lips.
He left the bathroom to get ready for work, leaving me with the music. I hopped into the shower, Tom Jones crooning “It’s Not Unusual” from the speaker next to the sink. I giggled while I shampooed my hair.
And just as I finished my shower, the song started.
I’m too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt, so sexy it huuu-rrrts
I laughed out loud. I laughed all the way through the song. Too sexy for your body, the way I’m disco dancing.
I dried off while Right Said Fred talked about being a model and doing his little turn on the catwalk, laughing the whole time.
The next song started as I opened the door. Engelbert started to sing “You’re just too good to be true, Can’t take my eyes off of you.” His voice followed me to the bedroom, where I found Billy adjusting his tie, almost ready to leave for work.
“I can’t believe you put 'Too Sexy' on that CD,” I said, still giggling as I pulled my makeup from my overnight bag.
“I put it on there for you,” he looked up at me from his tie.
“And I bet you put this song on there for me, too, huh?” My tone was sarcastic. He cocked his head to the side to listen for the song. Engelbert crooned I need you baaa-byyy, if it’s quite alright from down the hall.
“I did.” His genuine tone made me smile.
I listened to the rest of the CD while I put on my makeup and drank my coffee. D’angelo sang “Lady,” and I couldn’t help but assume that he’d put that on there for me, too. He may not have, but it felt good to think it.
I’m in such a good mood today.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Last night, when Billy got home from work, he kissed me and asked how my day was. We picked at leftovers from the previous night's dinner, and recounted the high- and low-lights of our workdays. We retired to bed early, him exhausted from a seven-day stretch of non-stop work, me exhausted from a relentless hour and fifteen minute step class and weight training. We sprawled out on top of the pillows and comforters and turned on the TV, too tired to change for bed. He rolled over, threw his long leg over my body and rested his head on my chest. "You smell so good," he said into my sweater. He took and deep breath in, and let it out slowly, his eyes closed. "See, I just need this when I get home from work."
"Do you mean you have to lie on my chest in particular?" I said, lifting my head up so that I could kiss the top of his head.
"Yes." He let out a contented sigh, and I felt his body relax into mine.
We lay like that for a moment or two, not even paying attention to the television. Then he looked up at me, put his hand on my face so that it cradled my jaw, the nape of my neck. He gave me a soft kiss on the mouth, then retreated only an inch or so, looking into my face. I willed myself to look back, to stare into his eyes just as long as he looked into mine. But it was overwhelming. I felt his gaze through my whole body, my stomach dropping out beneath me, my limbs tingling. Neither of us spoke, just looked at each other for a minute, smiling. We do that all the time, just take each other in, a staring contest of the best kind.
And each time we do, I'm overcome. I'm startled by how he makes me feel. And it happens every time. I'll prepare myself for it, I'll know it's coming, but still, it scares me. But it's a good scare, the kind that makes me want to bury myself in him, in us, gloriously weak in the knees and terrified of how I feel, knowing that I'm going to come out alive even if we part ways with my heart no longer intact. It gets my heart beating, my adrenaline rushing. I want to do it again and again.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
I had chosen to skip the long line of people waiting for tables and just eat at the bar. Sitting alone at a table for two or more when there's only one of you tends to elicit stares of contempt from families and couples waiting to dine. So I slid up to the long bar, choosing a spot at the end of the U shape to eat my late lunch and read one of the new books I'd just purchased on my solo shopping excursion.
I denied the bartender's suggestion that I start my afternoon with a glass of their recommended wine and opted instead for a diet coke.
"OK, then," she said, noting my order on her pad. "Would you like to order?" She looked up at me, pen poised just above her black folder, waiting for my instruction.
"I'll just have the soup and salad," I replied, offering her a smile that I hoped demonstrated that I would be far from demanding. "No hurry."
She returned my smile, scribbled down my order and said it'd be out in a minute. I reached over to the vacant spot next to me and slid the ashtray into what I now claimed as my area. I fished the book from my purse and opened it to the first page.
But sitting in a packed restaurant, unexpected sunshine beaming in through the wall of windows around the bar, and countless conversations filling up the air around me, I couldn't concentrate. I kept glancing up at the other patrons around the bar, the ones seated at tables, the ones waiting to eat. I read the same sentence over and over.
Two older ladies chose to sit one barstool away from me, laughing and talking as they shed their coats and tucked their purses at the foot of the bar.
"Oh!" The lady closest to me announced, looking at me and then back to her friend. "We can smoke in here!" The cheer in her voice was evident.
"Oh, yeah. We're in Jersey. Thank God."
"Mind if I share your ashtray while we wait for one of our own?" Her speaking to me gave me permission to look at her. She was in her sixties at least, her eyes and mouth lined with years of laughter. Her haircut, close-cropped on the back of her head with a pile of tight white curls on top, reminded me of my grandmother's.
"Not at all," I said, giving the glass ashtray a nudge in her direction.
"We're from New York. You can't smoke anywhere in New York, you know. So it's such a treat when you walk into a restaurant and see an ashtray."
I giggled. "I know. I try to avoid eating in New York if I can."
We were bonding over our addiction to nicotine.
My bartender showed up to take their order. They were all smiles and laughter, announcing that, yes, they'd be drinking and, yes, they'd be eating and, no, they didn't need a menu. They'd each have chicken parm with extra sauce. They both opted for salad and bread. When their wine was placed before them, they said "Cheers" and clinked their glasses while I read the first line of the first chapter for what must've been the tenth time.
I gave up trying to read my book, abandoning the crutch I carry when dining alone. Although I love to eat alone, I find it a little awkward just staring to space when I eat, or trying to act terribly interested in my cuisine. But, today, I chose instead to look around, to collect an impression of the people in my proximity. Sometimes, when looking around, I'd catch couples looking at me. I wondered if they wondered why I was eating alone.
A man walked up to the section of the bar just across from me. He was large and burly, a plaid button-down shirt clinging to his barrel chest. He was speaking to his friend, his head turned so that I could see his profile. The hair on his head and face was blue-black, so dark I could see the outline of his facial hair, even though he was most likely freshly-shaved. He was sporting a goatee, with a thin line of hair tracing the edge of his jaw from his chin to his hair line. The beard paralleled a bright red scar not two inches above it. When he laughed at something his friend had said, both lines bowed with his cheeks. I couldn't stop looking at it, wondering if he'd fashioned the beard to mimic the scar on purpose. He looked at me, caught me staring. I looked down at my book.
When my food arrived, I unfurled my napkin, releasing the knife and forks tucked within it. I dug the peppers and olives out of my salad, laying them on the plate beneath my bowl of soup. I ate slowly, pausing between bites to look around, surveying the line of waiting people. Each time the glass doors opened, cold air would rush inside with the handful of people coming in or going out. Kids whined that they were hungry. A teenaged couple sat in the corner, choosing to occupy only one seat instead of two, kissing and kissing while the restaurant around them filled with people. The hostess called what was obviously his name, and their kissing ended abruptly. They both wiped their mouths and sheepishly tucked their chins into their chests as they rose to be seated. Their apparent embarrassment made me smile into my soup, made me glad I hadn't been reading my book.