Sunday, March 27, 2005

Home Sweet Home

I've lived in my house for just about two months, and I still have boxes to unpack. Not all of my furniture made it to my room, due to a chronic presence of snow that prevented my gigantic armoire from making it around the house and into my room. Because of this furniture's absence, boxes of clothes and photos sit in my cavernous room, waiting to be emptied. The winter clothes that I have been wearing are arranged in piles in the laundry room, while my summer clothes sit crunched inside cardboard waiting to be placed in their rightful homes.

Tuesday night, Joe, my roommate/landlord, stood in my doorway as I readied myself for bed. We were talking about his new boyfriend in Florida when he looked at me and said:

"Laurie, how would you feel about moving to Florida?"

I felt my heart stop beating for a minute. Move? To Florida? Why?

"Uhhh..." I responded through a nervous giggle. "I'm....not....sure....." I could feel the confusion showing on my face.

"I'm going to move down there." He told me, his toned shoulder resting against my doorframe.

I didn't know what to do. I looked at my room, the beams stretching across my cathedral ceilings, the creme-colored walls, all the space I was allowed to inhabit.

"Oh really?"

"Yeah. I'm going to sell this house and move to Florida. But I'm still going to commute here to work."

As it is now, Joe works Tuesday through Thursday as a successful dentist in our small town. He leaves every Friday morning for Ft. Lauderdale and returns every Monday night. He's always happy to go, and sad to come back. My presence in his house isn't due to a strong friendship between the two of us and a desire to spend an obscene amount of time together; My presence there is an arrangement that suits the two of us famously. I have a place to live, and he has someone to make sure his dog, Venus, is taken care of. I was given a break in rent, and he was given the freedom to split his time between Florida and Pennsylvania.

"You're going to commute?" I asked him, unsure of how that made any financial sense.

"Well, basically I'll be doing the same thing I'm doing now, but if I sell this house I'll have more money to buy a bigger place in Ft. Lauderdale."

I had hardly even been given a chance to enjoy the house: The pool had been covered in a blanket of snow since I moved in, its shape only barely visible in the recent weeks. I hadn't yet enjoyed dinner on the screened-in porch, relaxed in the steam-shower downstairs, or stretched out in the glory of central air conditioning.

"Well....That's an interesting choice to make."

"I know. But you know, I thought to myself: I'm young, I'm not responsible to anybody but myself, and if I don't do it know, when will I? I might as well do it while I can enjoy it, right?"

I nodded. "But where do I come in? I mean, why ask to take me with you?"

"Well, Venus can't be alone for three days while I'm here working. And I don't want to rent a room to some stranger. And, besides, you've gotta get out of here." He pushed himself off of the doorframe and walked into my room. "Really, what's here for you?"

I shrugged my shoulders.

"I know, I know," he continued, "I'm crazy." He looked around my room. "Look at this. You still have boxes packed and I'm talking about moving."

I gave a half-hearted laugh. I was crushed. I love this house, I thought. I don't want to leave it.

"So, what do you think?" He asked.

"Joe, I really don't know."

"Why not? I mean, seriously, Laurie. What on earth is keeping you here? There are banks in Florida, too, you know."

"I know that..."

"And you're never going to meet the kind of guy you want to meet here. Contrary to what Austin may have shown you, not all of Ft. Lauderdale is gay. The men have money and nice cars...And even though you wouldn't be able to go to your parents' house for dinner when you don't want to cook, I'm sure you could have a date every night of the week."

"I know..."

"You won't have to worry about snow, or coats, or scarves or gloves. You could trade in your 4Runner for some hot little sports car."

I giggled, but all I could of was how the Florida weather doesn't agree with me: It gives me sun rash; Oppressive humidity and my skin are not compatible. And Florida bugs would eat me alive. It wasn't even bug season when I was there, and I was covered in bites.

"And it's the perfect situation," he said, sitting next to me on my bed. "Usually, when someone moves to a new city, they have to find a job and house and everything as soon as they get there, if not before they leave. But you'll have a place to live already waiting for you. And you'll have friends there: You'll have me, and Austin, and Ed and Scott. You'll have everything you need."

"Well, I don't know, Joe. I'll have to think about it."

I didn't know how to say that I don't want a sports car, I love my 4Runner. I didn't know how to tell him that I like Milford. Because telling someone that you actually like Milford feels like you may as well be telling them that you like to be peed on. No one understands why, especially when you're an attractive, single, twenty-four-year-old woman.

"Well, I hope you come with me," he said, rising from the bed and walking toward the door. "I think it would be great for you. A girl like you is wasted on Milford."

I thanked him for the compliment as he left my room, leaving the huge decision on my shoulders: Do I go, or do I stay?

I'll admit, the idea of going with him is appealing. I'm sure there's far more money to be made down there than there is here. And I'm sure he's right about the men and the opportunties available to me there. But no part of me really wants to go.

For whatever reason, I like here. Despite the cold weather and the shitty pay, I truly enjoy my life. I feel at home here, and I know some people who search constantly for a place that feels like home. And part of me thinks if I've already found it, why leave? And even though I know I could always go, then come back if I don't like it, the idea of moving at all doesn't fill me with excitement; it fills me with dread.


Because I'm scared.

I'm scared of being a 20 hour drive away from my parents. I'm scared of finding my way around a new city full of one-way streets and long traffic lights. I'm scared of making new friends. I'm scared I won't make any. I'm scared of hating it. I'm scared of putting myself in a city utterly foreign to me and trying to survive completely on my own. I'm scared of not finding a job, or finding one only to find out that it's horrible. I'm scared of being miserable. I'm scared of taking a chance. I'm scared of change.

And so I wonder: What the hell will become of me? If I don't leave this tiny town some day and try to make something work for myself, what in the world will happen?

Friday, March 25, 2005

There's Just No Accounting for Taste

"Those'll kill you, you know," he said as he stepped outside. I turned around as I was lighting my cigarette to see him there: Crisp white chef's blouse, small drink in hand, coy smile on his face.

I grinned. "So will alcohol," I said, nodding at the screwdriver he was lifting to his lips. I inhaled the first drag of my cigarette and blew the smoke into the spring air.

He laughed. "That's true."

"I didn't know you'd be here," I said, eyeing him from my spot on the sidewalk. I had gone to the charity dinner with some friends, and although I knew I would see any number of real estate agents, bankers and lawyers, I didn't know an attractive man would be in our midst.

"Yeah," he responded. "We're doing dessert." He worked for a restaurant in town, one of the many establishments who donated their food and time to the dinner that benefited developmentally disabled children.

"Well, that's my favorite part of any meal."

We laughed, and he told me he'd see me inside.

I silently thanked God I had thought to fix my makeup before heading to the function, and gave myself a pat on the back for electing to wear my favorite black stilettos with sheer black stockings beneath my most flattering gray skirt. My reflection in the window looked tall and slender. I straightened my back, tossed my cigarette into the ashtray and sauntered inside.

I met my friends, Ed and Scott, in the hotel's banquet hall, two gorgeous gay men who stood taller than most in the room. They greeted me with strong hugs and clean-smelling cologne. Ed's coworkers, real estate agents at a successful firm in town, surrounded them. We exchanged pleasantries and "how are you"s over cocktails as the room filled with men in suits and women in business attire.

From the corner of my eye, I saw the chef, lingering by the bar and making small talk with another restaurateur. I felt his gaze in my direction, and I made sure I was smiling.

"Who's the chef?" Scott whispered in my ear.

"I don't know his name, but I know him from the bank. His mom owns one of the restaurants in town. I think he lives in the City."

"He's causing quite a buzz. Melanie already asked me about him." He nodded over to Melanie, an attractive thirty-year-old woman who worked with Ed. I smiled hello to her, and we sized each other up, trying to determine which one of us would walk away with the chef. As she was taking in my haircut and my smoky eyes, I was taking in her off-white polyester shirt, the diamonique brooch resting between her breasts.

"You smoke, right?" She said, leaning into me.


"Thank God. You wanna go have a cigarette with me? I'm dying for one."

"Sure," I said, grateful to have found another smoker in the room. We headed down the hall toward the hotel's second bar. Once inside, she lit up immediately.

"So, how are you doing? I haven't seen you since - when? - last summer?" She blew her smoke at the ceiling.

"Yeah, I guess that's about right," I said. "I think the last time I saw you, we ended up going to the Tom Quick to look for your boyfriend."

"Right...Billy..." She groaned. "We broke up not long after that night."

"Oh, really?"

"Yeah. What about you? Are you still with that guy...Tom? Is that his name?"

"That's his name, but no. We broke up in October."

She nodded. "So I guess we're in the same boat, huh?"

I couldn't figure out if she was sharpening her claws or trying to make friends. "Yeah. I guess so."

"You know," she said, "we should go out sometime. I don't have any single friends."

"Me neither...All my friends are either coupled-off or gay men."

"Same here."

We looked around the room, a dizzying array of camouflage hunting hats, overalls and pot bellies stared back at us.

"Look at what we have to choose from," I said, extinguishing my cigarette in the ashtray.

"I know," she took a last deep drag. "I guess if we do go out, we'll have to get out of this area."

I made up my mind that she was trying to be my friend, not my enemy. We spent the rest of the evening around one another, talking about various women we knew, sharing our opinions on the men in the area.

At dinner, we chose side-by-side seats. I felt like she was genuine, sweet. Like I didn't need to feel threatened by her.

We picked at the pasta, chicken and shrimp set before us, and I located the chef. He was across the room from me, with other employees of his restaurant. I saw him looking my way. I felt giddy, wondering when he'd come over and ask for my number.

"Did you try the raspberry torte? The cute chef made it," Scott said, lifting a forkful of dessert to his mouth.

"No, I haven't tried it yet," I grinned, aware that dessert was self-serve. "But I guess I'm going to have to, if it means I get to ogle the chef."

"Do you think he's gay?" Ed asked.

"I don't know," I replied. "I used to think so, but then he came into the bank with a woman one day and introduced her as his 'girlfriend.'"

"Yeah," Ed interrupted, "but I call you my girlfriend, too. So that doesn't mean anything." He took a bite of pecan pie and spoke as he chewed. "I think...he's gay."

Scott countered, "No. Straight."

I announced I thought he was straight.

Melanie thought he was straight, too.

Ed's coworker Leslie deemed him gay.

A woman I'd never met before concurred. Gay.

"Well," Ed said, putting his fork to rest on his plate. "I guess we'll just have to find out. Laurie, you come with me. We'll walk by and Scott will pay attention to which one he checks out more."

Full of vodka and cranberry juice, I giggled like a schoolgirl at the notion. It's so third-grade to walk by a boy you like. I felt silly. But I went anyway.

Plates in hand, Ed and I made our way to his spray of desserts.

"Which one's the best?" Ed asked, eyeballing the puff pastries, the tortes, the pecan pie.

"All of it. But these pastries are probably the best." The chef pointed to creme-filled puff pastries. "They're filled with coconut creme. I made them myself."

Ed took one from the tray and popped the whole thing in his mouth. I took one too, and tried to daintily eat half of a pastry filled with creme.

"Isn't it good? Eat the rest of it," Ed commanded.

"I can't! My mouth isn't as big as yours." I was worried about creme finding its way to my chin, or my upper lip.

"He was blessed with a big mouth," the chef said.

We made our way to the table.

"Gay." Ed announced. "No doubt about it. Gay, gay, gay. He told me I was blessed with a big mouth."

"So what." Scott said. "It's the truth. And anyway, he checked out Laurie more."

I felt triumphant. "Well it's only fair," I said to Ed. "You can't have all the cute ones."

"Well, I think Scott's wrong. He probably just liked your shoes. I think he's gay."

And so the mystery was left unsolved. Dinner had come to a conclusion and it was time to leave. We gathered our belongings, decided to meet at a local bar and headed out to our cars.

On my way out of the building, I saw the chef. He was loading pans covered with aluminum foil into the trunk of his Audi. I smiled as I strolled past, offering nothing more than that.

To my surprise, I heard my name.

I turned around to face the chef. "Mmm-hmmm?"

"Can you do me a huge favor," he asked, closing the lid of the trunk.

"Of course I can." I smiled. My number? My address? You name it.

"Can you introduce me to your friend?"

So, I guessed, Ed was right. "Which one?" I asked, trying to figure out how I would break it to him that Ed and Scott were a long-time couple.

"The girl with the brown hair you were sitting with at dinner."

My face fell. "Melanie?"

"Is that her name?"

"Yeah." I had already started to walk away.

"Can you introduce me?"

"She's inside." I said dryly. "Go get her."

I walked to my car, feeling like I'd been punched in the stomach. I also felt one hundred pounds heavier. No one had ever asked me to introduce him to a friend of mine. What's worse, she's not even my friend.

And in that instant, I hated her. I listed, in my head, all the bad things about her. She's got horrible skin. She had a small belly; not very noticeable, but I saw it. Her shirt looked cheap. I heard she's trashy.

As I unlocked my door, I realized that I had no reason to hate her. Not everyone I encounter has to fall in love with me. I'm not every guy's type.

Because not every guy has good taste.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

That Girl

I have become that girl.

That girl that I might have secretly wanted to be when I started watching Sex in the City and reading Cosmopolitan.

I was grocery shopping yesterday, one of my favorite living-on-my-own things to do. Traffic jams of carts and families clogged the aisles. My fellow shoppers were clad in sweatpants and comfortable shoes, plowing their way through the crowded store, but I slowly walked through the aisles, my stilettos clicking along the tile floors and I selected four oranges, four apples and a bunch of bananas from the produce section. The spring-like day allowed me to wear a light shirt, revealing the curve of my waist that has been hidden by bulky sweaters all winter. The weather also permitted me to wear a light tailored jacket instead of a heavy one. I felt beautiful and independent and self-assured. I had taken myself out to lunch before I went in to brave the aisles of food, and eating alone always gives me a little boost of confidence. I always wanted to be someone who could be satisfied in my own company. And I am.

I walked through the store, picking out the food I would consume in the next month or so, checking prices and content, weighing the real brand against the Shop Rite brand. Halfway through the store, I smiled to myself: No matter how many times I do it, grocery shopping always makes me feel like an adult.

In my travels up and down the lanes of the store, I kept passing a young girl. She was perhaps fourteen years old, gangly and unsure in her own skin. She stood awkwardly, fidgeted with her hair, and looked exasperated every time her mother asked her to do something. I heard the girl ask her mother if she could run ahead with the cart and pick up a few things. Once granted permission, she strolled off, half-full cart blazing the path before her.

Watching her round the corner, I thought back to my days at fourteen years old. It was always my wish to take my mom's cart and go one or two aisles ahead. It's not that I didn't want to be seen with my mother, I just preferred to be seen alone, hoping that a passerby would mistake me for a young woman instead of a teenager. I'd walk up and down the aisles, pretending to shop for my husband and family. Sometimes I even wore a fake wedding band to further the illusion.

When I was seventeen, during my fiercely independent years, I pretended to be shopping for only myself: The hip young single woman about town. The "Cosmo Girl" Cosmopolitan told me I would want to be.

But now here I am, 24 and every bit the woman Helen Gurley Brown would be proud of: I'm tall, I'm attractive, I always wear heels, I pay my own bills, I carry nice purses, I act aloof when necessary, I know how to play the game, I have high standards, I can eat alone and not be terrified by it...

When I was role-playing in the grocery store throughout my adolescence, I never thought this would be the role that fit.

Slowly but surely, I filled my cart with all the things I wanted to eat, that I would pay for with my money, that I earned. And, despite the fact that I'm shopping for One, not a hubby and a baby, it feels good. Even though I desperately want to be miserable being single, I can't get past the sense of accomplishment I feel. Selecting items and placing them in my cart always makes me feel like an adult, and paying for the groceries via a Debit Card with my name on it feels fulfilling, regardless of the fact that I'm shopping for just myself.

I wondered if the girl I'd passed in the store was role-playing, too; if she was shopping for an imaginary family, or shopping for the twenty-something single chick she planned to be.

Even as I pulled into my garage, lifted the hatch of the 4Runner that I own, and carried bag after bag into my house, I felt good. Al Green's voice echoed through the house as I danced my way through the unloading of groceries, and I realized that it may not be what I planned, but it wasn't as bad as I was making it out to be.

I'm actually, as much as I hate to admit it, happy.

And I don't mind being that girl.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Pink Carnation

I'm worried about me. I think I am in serious danger of never finding the right guy.

I know, it sounds silly. There are plenty of fish in the sea, blah, blah, blah. The problem isn't the selection that's out there.

It's me.

Why is it me, you ask? Here's why: I am too damn picky.

I am the master of finding one flaw and focusing on it until it is all I can see. I'll meet a guy and I'll think he's great, until I notice that the cartilage on his ear is flat, instead of rounded, on the top of his ear. Once I've noticed it, he's a goner. All I can think is look at his ear, look at his ear, look at his ear, and I find myself talking to the minor flaw instead of the great guy I met.

Yesterday, the man who failed to walk me to my car brought a flower to me at work. He strolled through the bank's double doors at five minutes to closing time, carnation in hand, and headed toward me. He was clad in layered winter clothing, complete with a knit cap on his head. Not an unattractive ensemble at all, but as he came closer, I noticed that he looked a little unkempt, as opposed to the more preferable purposely disheveled. I smiled genuinely as he approached me, touched by the sentiment of the flower he presented. I forgave the fact that he didn't call, even though he had my number, and was starting to sort of forgive the Forgetting-To-Walk-Me-To-My-Car debacle of four days prior. Until he spoke.

"Laurie," he said, tilting the single carnation toward me, "would you do me the pleasure of allowing me to take you to dinner tonight?"

It was so proper that it was almost cute. Almost. But, because I am me, I found a way to be disgusted by it.

He swallowed his l's, making "pleasure" come out like "plyeasure," "allowing" became "allyowing." He swallowed all of his consonants, in fact, making his speech sound like that of a small child. And, worse, he asked me out for dinner that night at five minutes till five o'clock.

The picture of me walking to my car alone that night flashed through my head.

"Tonight? I can't," I said, being completely honest. I really couldn't. I had plans with my little brother.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Because I have plans."

"Doing what?" He took a seat on one of the chairs in front of my desk.

I was annoyed that he was pressing, as though he suspected me of lying to him. But I answered him anyway.

"I'll be with my brother."

"Your brother?"


"Why?" He took off his knit cap, to reveal a shocking spray of chestnut hair. Normally I see it styled, but it had taken on the appearance of what would have resulted had he stuck his finger in a light socket. Static electricity and cold, dry weather had ganged up on him and forced his hair to stand at attention. You shouldn't have taken off the hat, I thought. Look at his hair, look at his hair, look at his hair.

"Because he's home this week and I promised to spend time with him."

"Home from where?"


"Where does he go to college?"

I felt like I was being interrogated. I felt the sweat lamps pointed directly at me. His frizzy hair looked at me accusingly.

"Norwich, Vermont."


"Why don't you call me this week and we can make a date for later."

He stood from my desk and placed the cap on his head. Whew, I thought. Thank God. "Well, I got a new phone...So I hope yours will accept a call from my new number...It should...I mean, it might not come up with my name...But it should accept the call..." He trailed off.

"Okay." I smiled. "Thanks for the flower. That was so sweet of you."

He smiled back and nodded, a silent "you're welcome."

"So I'll talk to you later..." I said, hoping he'd pick up the reigns of the conversation.

"Yeah..." He seemed suddenly unsure, like he'd just told me he loves me and I responded with "listen, you're a really great guy, but..."

"Have a good night," I offered, at a complete loss for what to say.

"You, too." He smiled and walked out of the office, just as my coworker was locking the door.

I stared at the carnation on my desk. Hot pink, and perhaps freshly plucked from a larger bouquet, its stem stretched the entire length of the legal file resting on my desktop. I realized that I was not sorry that I was busy. I recalled our Thursday night conversation, in which he told me that he works as bartender part time, and part time as a ski-lift operator at a local resort. He informed me that the resort takes a dollar an hour out of his paycheck in exchange for room and board: A dormitory style setting, with a cafeteria for meals. He's 31 and he's eating in a cafeteria. When I asked him what he wants to do, he said "I don't know...Go to school? Pick up the guitar? Who knows?" The memory of that snippet socked me in the stomach. Suddenly, I didn't want to go out with him at all. The free-spirited "Let's just try it and see" feeling I'd had late last week had vanished, giving way to a "Does this mean I have to go out with him now?" feeling.

My opinion of him morphed, my eyes turned into those of Terminator, scanning his every move and feature and making commentary: Scruffy facial hair...Stain on the shirt...Weird word pronunciation...Odd laugh...

I branched out in my Dating Terminator scan and started to judge him for everything: His failure to walk me to my car, the invitation to dinner two hours before the date was to take place, the absence of phone calls between getting my number and showing up at the bank, and bringing me a carnation.

I know how horribly judgmental I'm about to sound, but I'm going to say it anyway: I hate carnations. My friend and I joke that a carnation is a poor man's rose. And a single carnation is far worse than a full bouquet of them. It screams "I'm cheap! I didn't want to fork over the $1.00 for a rose, so I bought this instead." People who buy into the school of thought that every flower has a meaning will tell you that a carnation means friendship or I don't want you to think I'm too serious about this yet or I don't know what you think, so I don't want to overstep my boundaries. But I don't buy into that. I think that a white or a pink rose could say all of those things. Or if you just think roses are cliché, why not opt for the less obvious tulip or lily? Maybe a daisy or a sunflower. A snapdragon. I don't care. But a carnation? It stinks of unoriginality.

Even as I think these things, I realize how petty and unimportant they are. And that's why I'm worried about myself. I know there's nothing wrong with wanting the best, but what does it mean when nothing is ever good enough?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Oh Brother

My little brother, Chase, is home from college this week, so I thought it fitting to present you with a few random facts about my little brother and me.

1) There is a llama farm down the street from my house. Chase thinks this is hilarious.

2) I think Napoleon Dynamite, Ace Ventura and The Ladies' Man are three of the funniest movies I have ever seen.

3) But I never would've found the aforementioned movies funny were it not for my littler brother's ability to imitate all of the above.

4) My little brother is very protective of me.

5) He's only "little" chronologically - He's far taller and stronger than I am...But because I was born first, I still have the right to call him "little."

6) When my mom was pregnant with my brother, I put in a request for a little sister.

7) Because I really wanted a sister, I decided to make Chase into the sister I never had. When he was three or four years old, I dressed him up in a pink corduroy jumper, striped undershirt, Mary Janes and an old wig of my mother's. I believe I may have put make up on him, too. After his transformation was complete, I paraded him around our neighborhood, introducing him as "Chaserina, my cousin."

8) My little brother calls me Mytrle, and I call him Elmer. They are the two oldest sounding names we could come up with.

9) I call my parents' dog Poopie, even though his name is Sam. Chase was offended that I'd nickname Sam after feces, so he took to calling my cat Mangy, instead of Smokey.

10) I really don't care for the Austin Powers movies, but when Chase imitates Goldmember, I can't help but laugh. ("I love goooooold. De schmell of it. De taschte of it. De texchture. Gold is schexchy.")

11) Chase's alter ego is named Scorpion, a pre-pubescent evil ninja.

12) There is a Saturday Night Live episode in which Will Ferrell plays Alex Trebek on Jeopardy!, and Burt Reynolds changes his name to Turd Ferguson halfway through the round. Chase and I can watch it, recite it and laugh at it over and over and over.

13) This past Christmas, my dad shaved off his goatee well over a month before Chase and I noticed it was missing.

14) When Chase was in high school and playing football, he sometimes ate Power Bars, a brown and sticky concoction of protien and sugar encased in a shiny wrapping. One of these Power Bars had made its way to the bottom of his backback, and Chase found it a few weeks after it had settled there. He brought it into my room on this fateful day, and used his hands to squish the bar into the shape of excrement. It was a perfect rendering: Color, size and shape mirrored exactly what one would find floating in a toilet. Chase and I laughed until tears poured down our faces at the mere sight of the thing, but then decided to put it to even better use. My mother and father were sitting downstairs, watching TV when I ran ahead of Chase to the kitchen. Immediately behind me followed Chase, hunched over and complaining of a stomachache. As he hobbled through the living room, he simultaneously coughed and dropped the model turd out of the leg of his shorts, giving the impression that he had taken a spontaneous shit in the middle of the living room. My mother leaped to her feet "Chase, are you okay? What happened?" I began to crack up as soon as the turd hit the floor, spurred on even further by the reaction of my family. Sam, the family's Golden Retriever, ran to the discarded feces, attemtping to gobble it up. Once he was pried away from it, my mom inched closer. "What is it?" she asked, unsure of whether her son had or hadn't pinched a loaf on her hardwood floors. "It's a Power Bar, Mom" he choked out through peals of laughter. "Are you sure," she inquired suspiciously, as though we were trying to cover up an epidemic of loose bowels. "I'm sure," I managed to squeak out. Apparently choosing to not take our word and to find out for herself, she crouched down, lifted the makeshift turd from the floor and took a whiff. Chase and I will laugh at that moment for the rest of our lives.

15) For as long as I can remember, if Chase and I find ourselves using up the last bit of milk in the fridge, we will leave a millimeter at the bottom of the gallon, since whoever empties the jug must throw it away.

16) When Chase and I drive anywhere, he will entertain me by singing along, horribly and out of tune, with songs on the radio.

17) "Tina! Come get some ham!" "But my lips hurt real bad!" "I don't wanna be an evil ninja!" - Chase can say any of the above in the appropriate voice, and I am certain to laugh, no matter what my mood.

18) Chase and I bonded over Drop Dead Fred many, many years ago. We recently rented it again, and it was just as funny as we'd remembered it.

19) I am very protective of my little brother.

20) I don't think there's anybody in this world who can make me laugh like Chase can.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

At Home

I arrived at precisely 2:00 pm, just as the invitation requested, with a bottle of wine and two gifts in hand. I entered the home to a festooned downstairs, helium balloons skimming along the ceiling, red streamers stretching from one end of the large room to the other. Sesame Street's Elmo smiled at me from every nook and cranny, announcing Happy Birthday in bright primary colors.

I balanced the gifts I'd purchased for my Godson as I climbed the stairs to an empty kitchen. "Hello?" I called, unsure of where everyone was hiding.

"Oh God, the guests are here!" My friend Chuck joked, darting into and out of my line of sight as he sprinted across the hallway of his parents' house, still buckling his belt. His mother and father came out of another room, the baby trailing behind them.

"Hello, Chimi," Chuck's parents said, welcoming me with hugs and pecks on the cheek. "It's good to see you."

"Good to see you, too," I smiled, hugging them back with my free hand.

"Let me take your coat," Chuck's father said. I put down the gifts and the wine, stripped off my coat and gave it to him. "Make yourself at home," he said. I smiled and uneasily shoved my hands into the pockets of my too tight jeans.

It always makes me anxious when someone tells me to make myself at home; I am incapable of feeling "at home" in anyone's residence unless I've spent at least a year's time in that house. I never know where to go or what to do, or even where anything is. My friend Pollo's mom emerged from yet another room, and scooped up the baby. We smiled at one another, but said nothing. I don't speak Spanish, and she doesn't speak English, so we were stuck in the absence of conversation. The birthday boy Adrian looked at me with his big brown eyes, and I made a move to kiss him. He gave a shy smile and turned away, burying his face in his Grandma's shoulder.

So far, I was not feeling at home.

Shortly thereafter, guests began to arrive. Family and friends of Pollo and Chuck's, along with friends of Chuck's parents. Spanish words bounced off of the walls around me, rendering my huge vocabulary completely useless. I accepted a glass of Shiraz offered to me, hoping I would loosen up and be my normal, sociable self soon enough.

Then the families began pouring in: Couples around my age with toddlers trotting in front of them, strollers and toys and collapsible playpens in hand, wedding bands gleaming. They carried presents that they were able to purchase with ease, because they know about kids. I spent an hour in Wal Mart's toy section, painstakingly reading the boxes and trying to guess what a one year old would like to do. Three different gifts were chosen, and three times I turned around and placed it back on the shelf, second-guessing my choice before I even made it to the check out. I was thrilled with what I finally chose - a Leap Frog Learning Pad for kids ages 6 - 36 months, complete with a separately purchased Spanish and English Baby, Let's Go! cartridge - But it took me an hour to find it.

The men formed a circle to talk about sports and cars, the women gathered to talk about what Adrian was doing now developmentally and something they'd read in Parent's Magazine. I stuffed my face with a slice of salami wrapped around a chunk of Colby Jack cheese and looked around.

I stared at the fathers running after their sons, the moms delivering the requested juice to their daughters. I took a gulp of wine and realized why I was so uneasy: I always thought I'd be one of the parents at a party like this, not the single woman.

As long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a mother. My whole life was based on the assumption that I would follow, more or less, the pattern of my parents' 34-year marriage: Meet and marry young, and start a family sometime thereafter. I never took the SATs in high school, because I never planned on attending college. I planned on being a wife, then on being a mother.

I was engaged at nineteen to a wonderful man named David. He was a cadet at West Point, on track to become an officer in the Army. We met when I was seventeen and began dating almost immediately. Our wedding date was set for June 3, 2001. We were best friends, and I couldn't have asked for a better man as a future husband. He made me laugh and he would do anything for me. But as we signed contracts for caterers and DJs and florists, things began changing. I purchased my dress, went to three fittings and bought shoes and a veil to match. We sent out beautiful invitations, heavy stock ecru paper bordered in dark blue and sliver, requesting your presence at my marriage to a Second Lieutenant in elegant script writing. I spent a week painstakingly addressing the envelopes, rushing to get them out in time. Not long after I dropped two hundred invitations at my local post office, David and I called it off.

One month before our wedding, we decided we weren't ready; That we weren't sure that getting married the day after he graduated West Point was the right decision. We'd been together for almost three years, we bought home furnishings and registered for gifts at Pier 1. But something was missing. We loved each other like crazy, but it wasn't enough.

So now I have a gorgeous white dress hanging in my parents' house, custom-made to fit my then twenty-year-old body, waiting to be sold or given away, and I'm the single girl at a party full of families.

Sometimes, like a party full of mothers and fathers, or when another of my friends advises me that she's getting married or is expecting, I start to feel the ache of being so far from where I thought I'd be. But I'm not just looking for a vehicle to get me from single gal to married mother; I'm looking for the right one. I tried once with David, again with Tom, and struck out on both occasions.

More often than not, when I relate my desires to anyone, I hear "But you're so young! You've got plenty of time to get married and have kids." or "Why would you want to do that? You're so smart. You should focus on your career." And I don't know how to relate that I don't feel twenty-four. That I don't want a career. That Adrian's birthday party was nothing but a slide show in all the things I've wanted for so long. That I'll never feel "at home" until I have one of my own.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Make Mine an Old-Fashioned

"You know what you want! Go for it!" They exclaim, these magazines targeted at twenty-something women, such as myself. "Don't be ashamed to go after a guy! A man thinks it's sexy when you walk right up to him and take control!"

Well maybe he thinks it's sexy for me to take control, but I think there's nothing sexy about a man willing to let me take control.

What happened to the days of gentlemen and ladies? What happened to being old-fashioned?

It's true that even the term "old-fashioned" implies that we have picked up, moved on, and fashioned something better, newer and more appropriate; It's "old" for a reason. But when it comes to dating, to pursuit of a mate, why is old-fashioned so utterly impossible to find?

I am a girl who likes to be pusued. I do not ask men for their numbers, and I do not give mine out unless I am asked. If given a man's number, I will most likely never use it unless I am returning his call. I want a man who opens my door and pulls out my chair and is digusted by the idea of the lady paying for dinner; It reeks of romance and chivalry.

See, recently, I met a man at a bar. We sat together, well after closing time, and just talked, figuring out our similarities, sizing each other up. I thought it was going well, as I had used almost every big word I knew and he'd kept right up with me. He was old enough, tall enough, smart enough. And then it was time to go. We walked outside into the icy air, wrapped in our coats and scarves, our breath making halos of fog around us. Parked on opposite ends of the parking lot sat our cars, waiting to be turned on and warmed up. His car was a mere ten steps away from us. Mine, about thirty. He hugged me goodnight, and headed to his car. For a moment, I stood there, astounded. I looked at my car, so far away from me, and back at his, right there. I began to walk away, struck dumb that he let me walk to my car alone.

A gentleman would never allow that.

A gentleman would have walked me to my car, made sure I was in and closed the door behind me. He would wait until I started the motor before walking away. Once at his car, he would sit in it until I put the car in first and began to roll. Just to make sure everything was okay.

I get a lot of flack from my friends, who point their fingers and crinkle their noses when I insist that I will not pusue a man. They can't believe that someone so opinionated, so strong-willed, would prefer to be in the submissive role.

"It's not 1950 you know," they say as though I fell asleep in my poodle skirt one day, and woke up to the year 2005.

I know very well what year it is, but a lady is a lady, no matter what the year, and I just prefer to be treated as such.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Down Time

Well, it's 10:46 pm here in Milford, and I'm sitting in the computer room of my parents' house, catching up on emails and typing here because, as you may or may not know from my recent podcast, I don't have internet at my house.

Normally, the absence of the world wide web in my home doesn't bother me. I'm at work more than I'm home, so it makes sense that I would do all things internet-related in the down time of my work day. Sure, I get my work done: I'm productive, pleasant, and hard-working, but once my projects are finished, it's blog-hopping time.

Apparently, I spoke too soon in the podcast when I said I'd continue blogging "as long as I have internet access," because I was given some devastating news recently. Someone, somewhere within my bank clicked on an "inappropriate" website recently, resulting in the confiscation of her address book, which resulted in a slew of lewd and pornographic junk mail thorughout the bank. This epidemic has caused the president of the bank to crack down on all email and internet use at work. He has advised us via email, ironically, that our email and internet use will be monitored from this point forward, and anyone using his or her computer for purposes other than business will face disciplinary action and/or termination. To which I say "Woah, man! Lighten up!" But he's the president, and I'm just a lowly assistant, so what I have to say doesn't really count for much.

Three months ago, I would've said "Bah! Who cares?! Internet-Schminternet." But now things have changed: I have this wonderful space into which I can pour my thoughts, words and feelings. I get comments. I feel like I'm part of a circle of bloggers. I feel good reading other people's blogs, as well as when I write on my own. And now, I can't. Until I get an internet connection at home, I'm stuck playing Spider Solitare and wondering what NJ has been saying on his blog, what Tumbleweed is up to, what Scoot's rambling about, what dirtly little secrets Melina has to share, what cute story Bry is going to tell, and what Brian will say today. I'm left without the little peephole through which I get to view other bloggers, all with their own distinct personalities and senses of humor. And, selfishly, even worse than that: I won't be able to post. This truly breaks my heart. As I've said before, I believe that writing here keeps me sane: Something about writing it out where there's a chance someone else will see it feels like liberation.

But, as of today, I will be stuck in an internet-free prison, forced to post only when I visit Ma and Pa. Until, that is, I get around to talking to my roommate/landlord about internet at the house.

The Real World

Severe winter weather whipped through Milford yesterday, rendering most of the town immobile. The view out of the windows at work was nothing but white; Snow blowing in fifty different directions, snow-encased trees, snow-covered roads. Any plans I’d made for the evening had been cancelled, and I resigned myself to an evening at home.

After Hot Synching my Palm Pilot, doing my laundry and making my dinner, which never amounts to more than pasta and bottled sauce, I settled into my freshly washed sheets to watch a little TV and get to sleep early. I was out late on Monday night, dancing in New Jersey with my friend Derek, and I was left utterly exhausted on Tuesday. But as I curled up in my blue comforter, I found myself engrossed in The Real World.

I’ve said before that I love The Real World. I watch every episode, and get upset if I miss even one. If there’s a marathon of episodes I’ve seen before, I’m prone to sit and watch them all with the same intensity I’d employ if I’d never seen them at all. But last night I was especially enthralled: It was the Goodbye Episode.

The Goodbye Episode always gets me. Even though I know these seven strangers picked to live in a house only live in that house for four months, I always feel the ache of the goodbye. There they are, four months after their excited introductions, blubbering about how much they’ll miss these people, how their lives have been changed by the relationships they’ve forged and ferociously hugging each other. Part of me looks at it and thinks there is no way you’re that broken up about leaving him. Don’t you remember in episode five, how he called you a bitch? Or worse Give me a break. You just met her. You won’t even remember her name three months from now. But another part of me watches it through wide, teary eyes, weeping right along with the people I only get to know on Tuesday nights at ten. I’ve listened to all of their stories, watched them fail miserably at attempting to act like therapists and philosophers and made fun of their stupid little dramas. I don’t believe that any of them applied to be on The Real World because they wanted a new, strange, funky life experience. I believe they just wanted to be on TV. But, still, I cry while watching them bid a fair aideu to six people they never would’ve met if not for MTV.

Last night was no exception. The wind was beating at my windows, and I was wrapped in sheets and blankets, tears streaming down my just washed face.

“You are so retarded,” I said aloud to myself in my dark room, wiping the wetness from my face with my palm. I looked up at the ceiling as Shavonda and Landon told one another goodbye beside a waiting taxi. I heard her tell him “you’re my best friend,” and another tear squirmed out of my eye and down my face. Despite the fact that I think it’s impossible to be best friends with someone in four months, the sentiment got to me. And it got me thinking: Would I be able to do that? Leave everyone and everything I know for four months to live with people that I may or may not like, who may or may not think I’m nothing but a bitchy white chick? Would I make any friends, or would I close myself off entirely to avoid the wretched goodbye that’s sure to come? Or would I do what is more stereotypically me, and get too attached to someone, and find myself sobbing in front of twenty cameras and all of America, because I didn’t know how to keep my distance? Would I be the girl in the house – because there’s always one – who falls in love with one of the boys? Would I fight with anyone? Would I stick up for myself? Would I even be myself? Would I let my insecurities shine, or would I try to hide them all and portray myself as bad ass? Would I get an episode dedicated to me, or would I be the non-issue cast member, who’s there with a sarcastic remark from time to time?

It doesn’t really matter who I would be there. Because I don’t think I’d have the balls to go for it. I don’t think I’d ever give up my job, my friends and my house – as much as I complain about all of the above – to live in some fabulous house with six beautiful people. The thought alone intimidates me. But mostly, I can’t stand the idea of having to try to make friends, knowing that I’m only going to have to let them go.

I loathe goodbyes. When my vacation was over, and it was time for me to leave Austin, I couldn’t fight the tears. I missed him already, and I wasn’t even gone yet. I hugged him tightly and told him I loved him, but nothing I could say would sum up what I was feeling. I wanted to thank him with every fiber of my being for being so generous and kind and gracious while I stayed with him. I wanted to tell him how I’d like to fold him up and take him with me, because he made me laugh and made me forget that I was starting to feel lonely. He kept me smiling. He made me feel good, even when he was busting my balls. I wanted to tell him how grateful I was that I was able to spend that time with him. I wanted to tell him that I already couldn’t wait to see him again. I wanted him to know how much I care for him. But all that came out was “I love you,” which falls painfully short of what I feel for him. But I had to leave it at that, and crawl into my car and drive away, knowing that it would be months before I would be able to see him again.

To add to my misery in saying goodbye is the anticipation of missing someone. When I miss someone, I do it right. I miss them completely, feeling their physical absence. I wallow in miss, I ferment in it. I let it consume me. I miss until I have no choice but to call them. And then I miss them more.

It’s possible that the cast members on The Real World left their Philadelphia house with visions of a Real World/Road Rules Challenge dancing in their heads. They probably exchanged addresses and phone numbers like it was summer camp, and extracted promises to keep in touch. And they probably left knowing that they’d see the ones they wanted to see, and let the rest of the people drift into their memory, filed under Someone I Used To Know. But if that were me, my Real World, waving goodbye to my four month roommate from the back seat in a trolley, I’d be crying my blue eyes out, thinking about how horrible I am at keeping in touch, and shudder at the notion that I may never see them again. But I would gave goodbye, already thinking about how much I would miss them.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Taking the Plunge

There are a number of perks that go along with wearing high heels: You look sexy, you are asked at least once a day “How do you walk in those things?” You look taller and feel dainty. However, there is a drastic downside to wearing stilt-like shoes. Falling. As unfortunate as it is, the occasional spill goes along with stiletto territory. And usually at the worst time.

Exhibit A: Wal Mart. I was strutting through my local Wal Mart here in Milford, dressed in my suit and wearing my then-favorite pair of high-heeled boots. Carrying windshield wiper fluid and a CD, I walked, one hip at a time, through the aisles. In my mind, I was hot stuff. And just as I was thinking that, I felt my heel slip out from beneath me. There’s an awful slow-motion sequence you go through when you’re about to plummet to the hard tile floor of a Wal Mart. You think you catch your balance. You actually think “Whew! That was close! I almost fell!” Then you realize you haven’t caught yourself after all: It was just your mind playing a dirty little trick on you. So I fell in my fancy suit and slick shoes, merchandise in hand, and wound up on the floor, right between the Little Debbie display and a rack of magazines. I just stayed there for a moment, sprawled out on the Wal Mart floor, giggling, because I think the only thing worse than falling in a crowded store is getting up really quickly and trying to pretend it didn't happen. After resting there for a moment, I gradually hefted myself up off the floor. As I came back to my feet, I noticed a woman standing just to my left, peering at me over a magazine she was "reading." She was suppressing a smile, but quickly looked away and straightened her face when she saw me looking at her. "It's okay," I told her. "You can laugh. I am." She smiled at me. I was going to leave it at that, but then I realized: Wait a minute, she watched me fall and watched me sit there and watched me get up, grinning over her In Style, and never made an effort to see if I was okay. So I got a little annoyed. As I dusted off my hind quarters, I said "But thanks for offering to help me up. I appreciate it."

Exhibit B: West Point. At the age of nineteen, I was enrolled in college courses at the United States Military Academy at West Point. I was taking a public speaking class in Thayer Hall, a large classroom-filled hall at the Academy. The building consisted of four floors of long, slick corridors with the entrance on one end of the rectangular building, and an auditorium on the other. My class had been offered ten extra credit points to watch Presidential Candidate Ross Perot speak in Thayer Hall, and never ones to turn our noses up at extra credit, four of my classmates and I attended. The auditorium was packed with what amounted to hundreds of cadets, so my friends and I stood near the rear of the theater. We sat through the dull speech, but cut out just before all the cadets were released. A few of my fellow students and I were walking through the long hallway when I felt the heel of my boot slip. I tried to recover by slamming my other foot in front of the unsteady one, but then that heel slipped, too. So I fell, and my purse skidded down the empty hallway, scattering lipstick and pens and tampons and gum wrappers and my wallet...So I rolled over onto my back and took in the scenery of Thayer's beautiful fluorescent lighting, then remembered that a hundred cadets were just behind us when we left...So I scrambled to my feet, and my classmates and I gathered my strewn-about belongings. Almost the exact moment I stood up, a herd of cadets rounded the corner at the end of the hallway. I breathed a sigh of relief that I had narrowly avoided the sure trauma of cadets seeing me lying on Thayer's floor, and exited the building, laughing at the utter grace with which I carry myself.

Luckily, I’m the kinda gal who can laugh at herself.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Pod People

Courtesy of Scoot, I have been interviewed on a pod cast!

Click here to hear it.

But listener beware! I speak very fast and I do, as the website name implies, ramble.


Because I am now single, and it is a distinct possibility that I may go on some bad dates, some friends of mine and I have come up with a list of how best to sabatoge a date that is surely headed for the shitter anyway.

1) Discuss, at length, the dissolution of your most recent relationship.

2) Cry over your last boyfriend at the table, lamenting about how you just don't understand what went wrong.

3) Go to the ladies' room and return with toilet paper hanging out of your pants.

4) Go to the ladies' room, return, and announce "Wooo! That section is closed!"

5) Complain about your recent case of explosive diahrrea.

6) Whine about your menstrual cramps and heavy flow. Then look startled, show him your ass and ask him in a panicked voice "Did I leak?"

7) If he is an avid non-smoker, chain smoke or complain of not being able to smoke at the table.

8) Order the biggest breakfast/lunch/dinner on the menu and eat it like a pig: Let the juices of the meal dribble down your chin, eat with hands ONLY, no utensils.

9) Ask him over and over "Do you think I'm fat?"

10) Tell him about how you already have the dress picked, the venue booked and the menu chosen for your wedding, all you need is a guy. Then ask him if he happens to own a tux.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A Dozen Years

When Tom and I met, I was the tender age of 20. He was 32. It never occurred to me that it would be so scandalous. For me, age wasn't an issue. I had never enjoyed the company of boys my own age, who preferred to play video games and get shit-faced in bars to having a nice conversation over a glass of wine. Initially, I was a little shocked by Tom's age (In fact, I did deem him "too old" when I first surmised the sum of his years), but the shock quickly gave way to captivation. I was enamored of him, and the age difference was rendered insignificant. Tom never did look old, and I never looked that young, and together we made quite a striking couple. Both with tall with blue eyes, I was dark-haired with an alabaster complexion where his hair was light brown against his tanned skin. He looked like a watered-down Val Kilmer, his strong jaw cradling full lips and a sweet smile. I loved it when gray hairs would break into his mane of brunette, and I was careful to point out each one, giving him grief for his age, even though it only served to turn me on; I found it extremely sexy. Something about the gap in our years being so huge was almost naughty. And it was interesting, learning things about someone a dozen years your senior. The glaring differences in the childhood icons, favorite cars and fashion preferences we had growing up just made for interesting conversations. Not distance.

Our friends and family, however, thought differently. My parents were mildly horrified that I had begun to date a man so much older than me. His family thought it ridiculous that he was dating a girl who couldn't even legally have a drink at a bar. And my coworkers called him "Grandfather." Each time we met with friends or family, we were greeted with a slew of new computations enunciating the gorge in our ages.

"Do you realize that when you were in college, she was in kindergarten?"

"Do you know that you when you were in diapers, Tom was in puberty?"

"Do you realize that he was driving when you were in preschool?"

"Hey! When you were 12, he was double your age!"

"Wow...When Tom was legally allowed to drink, you were only nine."

"When you're 38, Tom will get his AARP card!"

"Tom was 30 when you graduated high school!" (Which is only partly true - I graduated at 17, thank you very much, which would make him 29.)

His family would show me pictures of Tom in his younger days, his long blond hair and neon-hued clothing a product of the '80s, and they'd be careful to point out "This picture of Tom, at his prom, was taken when you were four."

We'd laugh at the comments, roll our eyes and say things like "Oh, really? That's the first time we've heard that." But both of us would sit quietly for a minute, thinking about the chasm in our histories. It may be exciting and new to date someone that much older, but it's strange, too, to date someone who had a whole history before you. And I don't mean just a few significant others. I mean a whole LIFE. Jobs and residences, tragedies, stories. Although Tom was never married before me, he did have his share of girlfriends, and he had lived all over the country. He had been a vagrant, a teacher, a South Carolina resident. And I had just been in high school. I felt that I had little to offer in terms of life experience when compared to his never-ending supply of stories beginning with "When I lived in..." or "When I was in my twenties..." And although he tiptoed around saying things like "When I was your age," we both knew it went through his mind.

I never really believed that our ages would come between us, but in some ways it did. I thought, at his age, he should want to settle down, get married and have kids. He thought, at my age, I should want to travel the country, do more with myself than just live in Milford and work at a bank. I blamed his reluctance to accompany me to local bars with friends on his age. He blamed my desire to go out all the time on being 21. He told me more than once "you just don't understand yet. Wait until you get older." He would accuse me of being "immature" when I said something he didn't like, because chronologically speaking, I was immature compared to him.

But age isn't just the difference between today's date and the date inscribed on your birth certificate. It's so much more than that. Tom may have been around, but his longest relationship was a year. I, on the other hand, was a walking, breathing study in long-term love. At twenty, I had three long-term relationships and an engagement under my belt. I was ready to settle down, be a wife and a mother, but Tom, at 32, still wanted to wander the country. Our differences stretched far beyond our ages.

And, ultimately, it wasn't an age difference that caused our demise. It was just difference of opinion. And we could've been the same age and run into the same problems. Because, honestly, I never looked at him and thought "God, when I was 6, he could vote." I just thought "God, I love him."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A Rose By Any Other Name...

I was filling out an email survey today, and one of the questions was: "What are some of your nicknames?" My family has more than a few names for me, so I started listing them. Halfway through typing the first one, I stopped to giggle at the memory of my mom telling me that, when I was about 4, I refused to respond to the name Laurie.

"My name is not Laurie," I huffed in my childish voice. "My name is Doodlebug."


I don't know where it came from. Nobody does. It's a mystery.

But wherever it came from, it stuck. I'm 24 and I still get messages on my cell phone saying "Doodlebug, it's Mom. Call me back."

There was a time in my life when I was mortified by the name. Sixteen years old, and eager to feel grown up and cool, I shunned my nickname. Doodlebug. How childish. How uncool. How stupid. I refused to answer to any sentence that began with "Doodlebug." I forbade my mother to use it in front of my friends. She slipped once, saying "Bye Doodlebug!" as I left the house with a friend, and I fought back tears. I was horrified by the idea that my friend may have heard it and would spread it around school, as though being called Doodlebug was the worst thing that could happen to me. I didn't want to be known as Doodlebug. I wanted to be cool.

My parents induldged my desire for secrecy, agreeing to keep their arsenal of nicknames for me under wraps. They referred to me as Laurie or Honey when friends were around. But when I was alone with them, they called me every name they ever had for me, and even made up a few. And now, even though I'm all grown up, nicknames abound.

I call my dad The Olden Dragon.

I call my mom Pocahantas.

I call my brother Chaserina.

But those are just a few.

It seems like the worst nicknames always stick. The cute ones, the sweet ones never do; My dad spices up our conversations by calling me "Sugar Booger." Sure, there's an occasional "Sweetie" thrown in there. But I'm not called Sweetie nearly as often as I'm called "Fart Blossom."

Obviously, I've grown past the stage of embarrassment that comes along with pet names. Now, I think they're cute. I love that my parents have bestowed upon me nicknames including references to bodily functions and mucus. At this stage in my life, they don't make me shudder, they make me laugh. And they remind me of being a kid; A chubby kid in a purple bathing suit running around our huge yard in Kentucky, bowl haircut blowing in wind, laughing without even caring that I had teeth missing.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


"I gave your blog address to my friend...And she gave it to her friend, and he gave it to his son, because we were thinking we could fix you guys up. So he read your blog - all of it - and he said 'I don't think she's over her ex.'"

"And...What? He doesn't want to be fixed up with me?"

"Well, my friend said it would all go out the window once he met you, but...Yeah."


Fair enough, I guess. I couldn't fill up pages and pages of cyberspace with memories of him if I weren't thinking about him in some respect. But I'm not sitting in front of my keyboard, trying to conjure up ways to get us back together. I know exactly where we stand, and I'm happy with it. I don't want to squeeze myself back into the painful shoes I was in before. I have no delusions of "Maybe this time...: or "Maybe if we try again..." I understand O-V-E-R. Over certainly is the best thing for me. There is no question about our status. There will be no reunion, there will be no white dress or wedding bells.

But am I over him? I don't know.

Do you ever get over someone that you love?

Do you ever stop thinking of someone with whom you spent all of your time? When do they gradually work themselves out of your stories, your memories? When do eschew them from your thoughts? When do you stop wanting to call them as soon as something blissfully wonderful or terrifyingly sad happens? When does anyone ever actually wash their hands of someone else, when there was no cheating, no beating...When the reason you can't be together has nothing to do with being in love or out of it - when it has everything to do with loving each other, just not being able to love each other the right way?

The unfortunate part of this blog is that the only part of my ex that I have exposed is the part that hurt me. I only showed his talons, his jagged teeth, his weapons. But I'm not entirely a masochist. I didn't stay around for that long because I enjoyed being hurt. There was far more to him than what I've written thus far. In truth, I adored him. I woke up every morning thinking about him. I thought of him every night before I slept. And not in some mutant sort of way. In a God-I-Wish-He-Were-Here-With-Me-Right-This-Very-Moment sort of way. I wanted to be around him all the time. I made myself completely available and utterly vulnerable because I thought that's what he wanted. I didn't want to run the risk of the chase - He might get tired of running after me and give up. So I bared my chest and lay before him, hoping that he would take all of me, and keep me, protect me, and love me forever.

But of course he made me cry. There's no doubt about it. Everything I've written about him has been true. I shed more tears over him than I thought myself capable of producing. But he also made me laugh. And he felt like home. Yes, he was an intolerable ass at times. Yes, I feel that I deserve someone who will treat me better than he did. Or maybe more fairly, how I would like to be treated. Yes, he hurt me. And to say that he broke my heart doesn't even cover the damage I've felt. But I loved him. And part of me always will. I loved lying with him watching horrible movies and making fun of them. I loved when he called me "Lar." I loved when he kissed the top of my head for no reason at all. I loved just being around him. I loved how his skin smelled hot when he would come inside from the sun. I loved the smell of his worn shirts. I loved that he let me call him Tommy, despite how much he hated the moniker. I loved it when he would take my car and change my tires or fix my brakes or change my oil, because that was a small way he told me he loved me. I loved the surprise party he threw for my 21st birthday. I love the feeling I get when I recall the moment he told me he loved me - The total fulfillment, the butterflies in my belly; I'd wanted to hear him say the words for what felt like ages. I loved kissing him, I loved being held by him. I loved the idea of the future we planned together. Until I was no longer allowed to believe in it.

I write about the bad things, the horrible moments, the most disgusting and loathsome events in our past, but that's not all there was to him. He was, at the base of it all, a good man. He loved me, the only way he knew how. And that just wasn't enough for me. I don't wish that he die alone, or that he miss me so terribly that he comes crawling back. I hope he finds someone who can give him what he wants: Freedom. I'm sure there are girls who require less of their boyfriends than I do. I'm sure there are women who never want to get married. Maybe he'll find one of them. I hope so.

So in the meantime, I spill my memories, my thoughts, my heartbreak into the text box of Blogger just to get it out of me. I don't want those moments inside me anymore, eating me alive. My intent wasn't to crucify him with words instead of nails, but it was my intent to exorcise my demons. Exposing my bloody wounds, my battle scars, my shattered heart provides the catharsis I need. I heave my most painful memories out of my mind so that I don't have to carry them around. I write it out and I feel lighter, freed. And the written word serves as a reminder of why being together was just not right for us. And maybe I'm yet not over the man I wanted him to be, the relationship I wanted us to have. But I am over the notion that there is anything thing left in the wreckage to salvage.