Thursday, September 29, 2005

All That I Needed

“I’m going to have to ask you to do me a favor,” I said to him in the pre-dawn darkness of his room. I was splayed out in bed, two blankets shielding me from the cold air seeping in through the cracked window, and he was standing before his closet, worrying over his tie selection. At his feet sat his half-packed suitcase, t-shirts, underwear and socks resting in its shallow base.

“What’s that?” he said, holding a polka-dotted tie against his newly purchased dress shirt.

“I’m going to have to ask you to call me often while you’re away.” I shrank back into the pillows, a hint of shame over my request nipping at my heels.

“Huh?” He looked at me.

“I just, you know, need you to call me whenever you can…I know you’re crazy busy…But…I just, I don’t know…Need you to call me.”

He looked at me, his head tilted and mouth in a half smile. “Baby, are you thinking bad thoughts?”

I laughed, not because it was funny, but because I was embarrassed. I had been thinking bad thoughts. “Nooooo,” I replied, incredulous.

“Am I making you insecure?” His tone was soft, sweet, genuinely inquisitive.

“No. I am.”

I had been bothering myself for two days with the “bad thoughts” he’d accused me of having. For some reason, my aforementioned pre-menstrual mind frame had pushed me directly into a tidal wave of insecurity. A mid-afternoon phone call I’d been expecting that never came sent me into a flurry of irrational thought: He doesn’t like me any more. Maybe I’m putting on weight. He’s not interested in me any more. I’m not on his mind. I didn’t think of the possibility of his being busy. When he called me later, I searched his voice for signs of his disinterest.

I focused on how tired he sounded, and chose to read that to mean tired of me instead of tired from thirteen consecutive hours of work. I chose NOT to focus the fact that he bought, purely on his own, a beautiful pair of silver hoop earrings to replace the pair I broke at his house on Sunday. “I hope you like them,” he said Monday night, passing me what was obviously a jewelry box. I was searching for the joke, the gotcha, even as I removed the lid to reveal gorgeous hoops, roughly the same size and texture of the ones I’d broken. More beautiful, even, than the hoops I broke because he gave them to me. “I know you were upset when you broke yours. I hope you like them.” I was damn near speechless and damn near tears. No one, ever, has done anything so thoughtful for me.

I know what I’m doing to myself, making myself sad when I have no reason to be, and I hate it. This insecurity is 100% my doing. Yet, somehow, I expect him to fix it.

“I’m pre-menstrual,” I explained, retreating further into the fortress of blankets to hide myself. “And I just need some reassurance. It’s silly, I know. And I know you’re busy…”

He moved to the side of the bed, bent over and wrapped me in his arms. “I am. But I’ll call you.” He laughed and kissed my sleepy mouth. I tried to hide the tears I felt. I wasn’t sure why exactly the stinging behind my eyes had started: Happiness? Worry? Pure insecurity? Relief? Frustration? The corners of my eyes betrayed me and let little hints of tears out, but he had pulled me to his chest by then, my tears thankfully hidden. I didn’t want to have to explain that, too; I didn’t even understand myself, how was I supposed to make him understand it?

The intercom on my work phone buzzed me this afternoon. “It’s Billy,” my coworker’s voice informed me, and she transferred him over.

He only had a minute, but I was grateful for it. It was just enough.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It's The Dryer's Fault, I Swear

When do you, when you’re in a relationship, get to the moment where you stop worrying that everything is still going well, that he’s still into you? When do you reach that point of security? I know it’s there somewhere, I just can’t figure out where or when, exactly, I’ll find it.

I do know this, though. You will not find it when you are pre-menstrual; when it’s six days away from your birthday; when you’re feeling like your belly and hips have swollen to mythic proportions in the past few days; when you’re busy blaming your suddenly-a-little-bit-tighter pants on the absence of both a cold-water cycle on your washer and a low-heat setting on your dryer.

Because no matter how great the guy, how wonderfully reassuring he is, the aforementioned issues will always stand in the way of security. For me, anyway. Especially the tight pants.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


“Do you have a boyfriend?” asked a man clad in baby blue overalls and a striped sweater.

“Yes I do,” was my reply, shouted over a pulsating dance beat.

“And where is he tonight?” he tilted his head back to get a better look at me from under the brim of his cockeyed golf cap.

“Home.” I pushed a sweaty lock of hair behind my ear, shifted my weight from one aching foot to the other. The shoes I chose for the evening were not designed for four hours of dancing, and I was starting to feel it.

“Smart guy,” he laughed, “letting you come here alone.” And he wasn’t being facetious. Two men danced by, their faces barely an inch away from each other. “He’s a lucky guy. You don’t look Spanish, but I’d be willing to bet you have Spanish blood in you. You can move, girl.” He looked me up and down, nodded in approval, and off he went.

“Did you just get hit on in a gay club? By a boy?” Derek’s boyfriend, Vidal, slid up beside me.

“I don’t know,” I giggled. “I don’t think so. I think I was just being complimented.” I took a gulp of my third (or fourth?) Vodka and cranberry for the evening and headed back out onto the dance floor.

Because the floor was so crowded and the patrons of Rainbow Mountain were all either covered in sweat or entirely shirtless, I knew that last call was only a few minutes away and that closing time wasn’t far behind. Determined to pack as much dancing as possible into the evening, Derek and Vidal and I moved and shook and writhed and spun our way around our section of the dance floor until the beat slowed and finally stopped altogether. The throbbing strobe light gave way to the harsh and steady glow of fluorescent lighting, and the night was over.

Climbing into the back of Derek’s truck at the end of the night, pleasantly exhausted, I smiled.

“I forgot how much fun I have with you guys,” I announced, buckling the seat belt and wrapping myself in the jacket I brought along. It was true. I had forgotten. I went out with them almost every Saturday night when I was with Tom. It was always fun, but it was also an outlet, and a place to be appreciated. Although I was almost never hit on, I was told “Honey, you are fabulous” more times than I could count. And having heard that so infrequently in my relationship, it was a welcome change. I continued to go out to Rainbow Mountain for a period of time after Tom and I broke up. “You’re never going to meet a guy going to a gay club,” my friends would tell me after I filled them in on the extraordinary night I’d had. But they didn’t get it: It wasn’t about meeting men. It was about enjoying myself and the men I went with. About not worrying about meeting men, not having to worry that my outfit said “Sultry” instead of “Slutty,” not having to figure out how to say that I’m into relationships, not one night stands. But it was about watching Derek and Vidal dance together, how happy they looked under the blacklight, in a world of their own on a packed floor. Going out to Rainbow, for me, was about dancing like no one’s watching: Because, when you got down to it, no one was. Nobody there cares about me, and it’s liberating. Dancing, surrounded by mirrors, the only person I ever had to worry about impressing was me. And it always felt luscious.

Saturday night was no different. My hips carried the heavy beat all night. I pranced between Derek and Vidal in a very Dirty Dancing moment, where one of them was in front of me, and one was behind, while they called out steps. “Hungry Eyes” may as well have been playing over the speakers. Had I ever thought to check out my face in the mirror, I’m sure that I would’ve seen mascara dripping beneath my eyes, visible sweat marks in my foundation. But it felt so good.

“No shit,” Derek said over the whirr of his truck’s starting engine. “We’ve missed you, too.”

Driving along Route 209 toward home, I kept fading in and out of sleep. In the front seats, Derek and Vidal talked about the night as my eyes closed stubbornly against the cold air coming in through the open window.

“Did you have fun tonight?” Vidal asked, turning his body around in his seat to face me.

I lifted my head from its reclined position. “You have no idea what a great time I had. I danced until my thighs hurt, and I laughed all night. That, to me, is a perfect night.”

“Yeah,” Derek added, “I noticed you laughing an awful lot…”

I giggled, rested my head against the soft leather interior. “This is what I’m like when I’m happy.”

Friday, September 23, 2005


It’s hard to come up with things to write about these days.

I could write about my new house, but, truthfully, I’m not there all that often. I’ve been staying at Billy’s house for the last…well…since we started dating, pretty much. My life is split between the place that I call my home, and the place that is his. The essentials travel with me these days: Makeup, zit cream, deodorant, perfume, razor. Actually, they were traveling; as of right now, they’re conquering Billy’s counter space, encroaching on his Allure Homme cologne and Speedstick. A toothbrush of mine has taken up permanent residence in his holder. Underwear and clothes are rotated in and out of his bedroom via a daily stop at my house. A large silver bag sits in my car every day, waiting to be flushed of yesterday’s garments and filled with tomorrow’s wardrobe. The weeks that take Billy out of town to work find me in my own home, a stranger within its newly painted walls. I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m there: No cable, no internet, no boyfriend. It’s a strange feeling. This is the first time I’ve spent this much consecutive time with a boyfriend. A weekend here or there, yes. But every night? Getting ready for work right after him, the bathroom still smelling of cologne and soap? Reminding him before he leaves for work of something he’s supposed to do? Nodding my head in approval of his tie selection for the day? This is new. And scrumptious.

Or I could write about how happy I am right now. How often I find myself smiling. How people ask me “How are you today?” and I say “Great,” and actually mean it. I could detail all the cute little moments that my new beau and I share, the alternately salacious and sweet text messages we’ve taken to sending one another. I could write about how much I want to see him, how I’m in the blissful stage that demands I spend every free second of my day either thinking of or seeing him. How I actually miss him when he’s not around. What a good boyfriend he is. But is anybody really all that interested in reading me go on - and on and on - about how great he is? I think I may be approaching saturation point as far as gushing about my boyfriend goes.

But therein lies the problem: Being happy, writing just doesn’t come that easily. When I’m upset, angry, heartbroken, I’m eager to get the words and thoughts out of me and onto paper. I’m anxious to expel the frustration and sadness, so that the problems aren’t rolling around in my brain attempting to eat me alive. But when I’m happy, I want to keep it all in. Savor it. The pieces I’m willing to spare wind up falling short, lacking the true passion of the moment or my emotion. It’s easier to describe the pain you feel in heartbreak because you can liken it to physical pain – Knives, daggers, bruises, spears; crushed, broken, beaten. These words are certain: They’re painful to everyone across the board. I may be going out on a limb, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that no one likes to be stabbed. And most, save for a certain sector, don’t enjoy being crushed or beaten. Each word makes you cringe, so you know what the writer meant exactly. But what do you use to adequately describe elation? What encompasses Happy? You can describe how your belly feels, how the beat in your chest revs up, how your hands shake with nerves when you see that certain someone, but where do you go from there? There’s so much more. And the words you choose don't do the situation justice, then all the better words you want to use to describe how you feel rush to the forefront of your mind creating gridlock. And the only word that eeks out is “happy,” or “great.” And you feel like a nincompoop.

So it’s Friday now, and I haven’t posted since Tuesday. Not because there’s nothing to report, but because things are going so well. This weekend, I’ll wrap myself in my boyfriend, we’ll watch a movie or two, I’ll go dancing with my friend Derek, and, hopefully, I’ll be so content through Sunday that I’ll still be at a loss for subject matter.

But I suppose worse things could happen, right?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Words Fail Me

This weekend, Billy actually called me out on my reluctance to open up to him.

“About what?” I asked defensively, rolling over in bed so that I faced the window instead of him.

“About everything,” he huffed, playfully pulling me back to him. “About what you like, what you don’t like…We’ve been together a month and a half and I still don’t know so much.”

“I’ll tell you anything you want to know – You just have to ask. And you haven’t. I’m not just going to spew my history all over you or hit you with a litany of my likes and dislikes,” I told him. And although it was the truth, I felt badly about saying it; all that does is toss blame around. And, really, I don’t like saying what I like. I feel like telling you that I do like something is basically telling you that what you’re doing for or giving to me isn’t good enough. But I didn’t tell him that part.

“But I don’t want to have to ask you how you feel about me,” he said. I tried to control the shock I felt. Somehow, as a girl, it never crosses my mind that men might want to know that you dig them, that you’re into them, that you like them, too. I just assume he knows how I feel by the way I look at him, by the amount of time I spend with him, my insatiable desire for him.

“Oh, come on,” my voice was incredulous, “like you don’t know.” His face was open, questioning; inviting me to tell him more. But I just couldn’t. Nothing sincere, nothing close to how I actually feel about him would come out. “You know I like you.” I knew that alone wasn’t enough. “A lot,” I added, just for good measure.

You’d never believe it from reading what I’ve written here, but actually saying out loud how I feel makes me horribly uncomfortable. I usually meet “I miss you” with a sarcastic quip, “I wish I was with you right now” with a joking “yeah, whatever. Sure you do.”

I can always write out what I feel better than I could ever hope to say it. I can spit venom more effectively with my pen than with my mouth when I’m angry. I can better articulate love on paper than I can with my vocal chords. I suppose it seems strange that I would prefer to write my feelings on paper as opposed to saying them out loud. Once you’ve said something, no on can actually prove you’ve said it. You can pretend it never happened. “No, I never said that,” can immediately diffuse volatile situations. But when you write those same words down? Irreversible. You’re forever held accountable for the letter, the note, the post you’ve written to or about someone. To some, that’s horrifying.

But for me, not having to face someone while they find out how you feel about them is priceless. I can’t back down. It’s how I really feel, and it’s out there. I have a horrible habit of recanting words once I’ve said them. “No, that’s not really what I meant” is very easy for me to say, even if I did mean it. And you can’t argue with me when I’ve written something. Those words are irrefutable. But, more importantly, my written words can’t be rejected. I don’t have to look at your face when I say I’m crazy about you, crossing my fingers in hopes that your eyes reciprocate what I’ve just said. I don’t have to chance the awkward tension that comes with me admitting that I was dreaming of you when my alarm went off this morning, and thought of you from the moment I woke up and never stopped until I fell asleep that night, if you don’t feel the same way. Even, even, if I know you do.

This fear has been with me forever. Sentimentality makes me uneasy. It has nothing to do with my last relationship, or the one before that. My mom has complained, since I was small, that I wasn’t affectionate or mushy. It’s just something in my wiring. But I’m a romantic, a hopeless one. I cried during the movie and the book The Notebook, I love love, I crave to hear that my boyfriend likes me. I want to know what he likes about me, why he likes me, how much. But when it comes time to say it back, though my mind is flooded with things I adore about him, I just can’t say it. I feel silly. Contrived. Like I’m only saying it because I should. And so, much to my dismay, my spoken description of my affection for him falls dreadfully short of accurate.

“You want to know how I feel about you?” I said, my face only inches from his. “Read my blog.” For some reason this causes me less terror than having to say it to his face. Even though he could call up every friend he has, give them the address and say “Check out how whipped I have this girl.” Even though it could terrify him with how much I really like him. At least he’ll know, and I won’t have to watch his reaction.

“I feel like that such an invasion of your privacy,” he responded. How sweet, I thought. But if you had a blog, I’d be reading it obsessively.

“But it’s not private. It’s a blog. On the internet. Anyone who wishes to read it can. Including you. And it’s all on there. There are people I don’t even know from all over the world who know how I feel about you. You may as well be one of them.”

I know he read it, because I told him – via email – exactly which ones to read. And though I feel better knowing he knows, I’m working on being able to say right to his face “I’m crazy about you.”
Happy Birthday, Mamila!!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Each morning, the alarm wakes us well before it’s time to actually get up and start the day. Or rather, it wakes me while he sleeps through the blaring static of a barely-received radio station. I nudge him awake, instructing him without words to hit snooze. He complies, stretching his long arm across an unused section of bed to quiet the noise. He reaches back over to me and pulls me close, so that we spend the fuzzy moments between asleep and awake curled together. At the last possible minute, he gets up, kisses my sleepy mouth and escapes to the shower.

While he prepares for work, I fade in and out sleep, stretching my slumber until I absolutely have to leave. When the clock tells me it’s almost eight, I roll out of bed, dress and collect my things. He returns as I’m slipping into my shoes, his hair dripping still from his shower, body freshly sprayed with delicious cologne. He smiles at me, hugs me, and we talk about our plans for later. He buttons up his dress shirt, selects a tie, and I watch him, waiting to leave because I want to spend as much time with him as possible.

We go downstairs together, exchange wishes to have a good day, a safe drive and part. I climb into my car and head home to get ready for work, my window barely cracked to the fresh morning air. When the breeze catches me just right, it sends a hint of his Chanel over me. It’s my favorite part of the morning.

“I wish you were here right now,” he said to me last Wednesday night. He was standing outside of a restaurant in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, talking to me on his ancient cell phone.

“Me too,” I smiled. “But I’ll be there in two nights.” I was giddy like a schoolgirl, clutching the warm cell phone to my ear, hugging my bare knees to my chest beneath my comforter.

He went over the directions again, the ones that will take me on a two hour trip from Milford to him. And even though the ride was only a day and a half away, it still felt too long.

When Friday night finally rolled around, I hopped into my 4Runner, rolled down my windows, and was on my way. Prior to my departure, and as I sped down Route 209, my stomach was full of nerves, just like the first night I went out with him. I was excited to see him; Four days apart feels like an eternity when you’ve spent the whole month sleeping in someone’s arms.

And even though this is so new that it still feels strange to refer to him as my boyfriend, something about it feels comfortable and familiar. Effortlessly, he fits into my life: He’s on speed dial, I find my way to his house on auto-pilot, I no longer feel the need to leave my name along with my messages on his phone. I smile every time he says “It’s me,” on a message, spurred into the grin by the familiarity of such a sentence.

This week, again, work has taken him away. We’re separated by only a few hours’ worth of driving, but still it makes me long for him. Waking each morning in my own bed has taken on a foreign feel, especially when I know I’d be so much happier in his presence, sharing his air and his bed.

Tomorrow night, I will see him for the first time in days. We will fall asleep curled together, and on Saturday morning I will wake once again to the loud static of an alarm clock. He will leave for work, and I will stay in bed long after he leaves, comfortable and breathing in the hint of his cologne while I wait to see him again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Baggage Claim

I hear you’re moving to Florida. Good for you. You’ve only been saying it for four years. I think it’s high time you pack it up and move it out. You have better things waiting for you in the humid air of the Sunshine State: You have the ocean, freedom from all ties. You’ll probably rent a place, or maybe buy a fixer-upper that you can flip for profit. I'm sure the south is ripe with people wanting to sell their homes right now. Your timing is perfect.

If you do go, I hope you and Puck feel at home down there. I really do; I know how long you’ve wanted to do this. And I think it’s really wonderful that you’re finally getting around to it, instead of just threatening me with it whenever you felt like I was getting out of line. Stop brining up marriage, Laurie, or I’m moving to Florida. God, how I feared your departure. I guess now that the threats would fall on deaf ears, you’ve nothing left to do but actually go.

So go.

And, please, if it’s not too much trouble could you take all of this baggage that you gave me? I’m sure you’ll have room for it in the U-Haul you’re going to rent (You are going to sell that house furnished, right?). Because, really, I’m ready to give it all back to you. Truthfully, I’m upset with myself for having claimed it as my own to begin with.

Baggage like this fear I have of being let down, deserted, left alone. Because that fear was my one constant for the last four years. Every fight we had, every time I pushed what you considered to be too hard for something, you threatened me with leaving. You pulled the breakup card more times than I can count. I should’ve let you play it a long time ago. You always let me know that you weren’t around to stay. But, if I could just be a little bit better, a little bit more independent, a little bit more of the woman you wanted, maybe – just maybe – you’d consider staying. And I’ve noticed that I carry that little satchel of insecurity with me now, every where I go.

And it’s no wonder that I’m terrified of abandonment: You always promised me you would leave, even without using the exact words. You let me believe that I was not enough to stay around for; That there was nothing remarkable, beautiful or worthwhile about me. You loved to tell me that you liked blonde, waif-like women, knowing that I was far from blonde and not nearly a waif. I used to lament that I never caught you checking me out. You said you were just covert, but I never had a problem catching you staring at other women when I was right by your side. You always made me feel like you were liable to slip from my clutches at any given moment: That my gaining a few pounds, or the appearance of a woman more to your liking, you would spur you into leaving. “I’m only staying in Milford because I can’t sell my house yet; Capitial Gains,” you told me. I always loathed your constant reminders that your being here had nothing to do with me, that my lovelife was contingent upon real estate.

Hey, and while you’re at it, why don’t you go ahead and take this feeling I have that I don’t deserve to be treated well. Although, it does work out well for my boyfriend: He gets extra credit for everything because you did so little. You probably think I’m being harsh, though, huh? Yeah, you’re right. I’m being harsh when I remember that time in Atlantic City when you didn’t want to spend the money on a room. And when your plan to “just stay up all night and gamble” didn’t work out because we were exhausted from spending the night drinking and dancing with Alex and Nancy, your solution was to sleep in my car. And so we did. We reclined the seats in my 4Runner and I sipped nervous drags of shuteye because I was terrified that something horrible would happen, out there in that parking garage in the wee hours of the morning. And you probably think it hurt me because I wanted you to spend money on me. But what you didn’t – don’t – know was that it hurt me because you made me believe I wasn’t worth the money. That’s the difference. And I know your argument: That you gave me so much, that I was so ungrateful. Remember the cruise, Laurie? Remember the dinners I bought? Remember our trip to Canada? Remember the fur-lined suede coat? Remember the sweater I bought you? Remember? Remember? Remember? Oh yeah, I remember. I remember you giving me the gift of the cruise, with an addendum that I had to pay for my flight to Florida to catch the boat. I remember the dinners you bought, just like I remember the times you looked at the check placed before us and told me it was my turn to pay; just like I remember fighting with you on the trip to Canada – which was not only your gift to me for our year anniversary, but also a business trip for you (which I knew because you said “as long as we talk about work every time we eat, I can write this off.”) – because you told me I had to take you out to dinner since you were being so generous. I remember the coat – you bought it because you had lost me. I thought at first that it was the only thing you ever bought purely to make me happy. But then I realized that you bought it to accomplish the greater goal of getting me back. Because even if you didn’t want to marry me, you didn’t want anyone else to have me. And I remember that my time with you was the only time in my life that I wanted material things; I wanted tokens of your affection, just to be able to have something tangible to hold, to look at, to convince myself that you cared.

But, more importantly, do you know what I don’t remember? I don’t remember feeling beautiful around you. I don’t remember ever feeling secure. I don’t remember you ever giving me a compliment that wasn’t saddled with some proviso; and I don’t remember you ever giving me one without my somehow asking for it first. I can’t recall a single word of praise without a “but…” attached. You never got it: It was never about how much or how little money you spent on me; it was about how much or how little attention, security, thought you gave me. You always accused me of wanting too much, but what you didn’t understand is that all I wanted was to feel good around you. And when that failed to happen, I sought something concrete. And of course, no fancy dinners or elaborate gifts could take the place of the kind words you somehow always forgot to say. But at least I’d have something to show for all the tears I’d cried.

When my boyfriend asked me the other night why I am so guarded, I was shocked. I never thought myself capable of building walls. But here I am, chipping away slowly at bricks you made me fashion out of self-doubt, insecurity and terror.

So please, when you leave, take all of this luggage. I’m tired of dragging it around. I’m tired of it slowing me down, standing in the way of the woman I could be if I wasn’t so fucking worried all the time about not being good enough. I know you’re not a bad person, I know you didn’t mean to treat me badly. But I’m really no longer interested in caving beneath the weight of what you think I should be. I'm done worrying that I could upset you by choosing the wrong subject matter. I don’t want to wonder if I’ve done or said something wrong. You trained me to watch my words, be wary of your reaction, to bite my tongue and to be happy with whatever scraps of yourself you chose to give me. But I’m breaking those habits your presence helped me create. I just want to be happy - and although I feel myself hurdling toward bliss, I can’t truly enjoy myself when I’m buried in baggage.

So take it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

“Congratulations,” he said, putting a yellow post-it note on my desk in front of me. On it was scribbled my new annual income, my new hourly wage. “Four percent raise. Pretty good.” He nodded, pleased with having acquired approval to give me a raise above the bank’s standard pittance.

I looked at the sticky paper, and I wanted to cry. “But it’s not even fifty cents,” I muttered to him, not looking up from the note.

“I know,” he responded, somewhat sympathetically. “I tried to get you more…” he trailed off.

A flat “yeah” was all I could manage. He walked into the back of the bank to refill his water bottle, while I went into my purse to retrieve my keys, my cigarettes and my sunglasses for what I felt was a deserved break.

As I walked through the back room of the bank toward the door, he stopped me. “I aimed up here,” his hand was poised just over his six-foot-three frame, “and they wanted down here,” his hand swooped down to his knees. “So we met in the middle.” I nodded, put my sunglasses on. “Hey, Laurie, it’s not that bad. It’s a good raise.”

“Well no, not really,” I said to my boss, my hand on the door. “I was counting on more to make up for the difference they took when they started making me pay that portion of my health insurance. Now I’ll be making less, not even equal to, what I was making before they went ahead and changed that little policy. So, no, really, it’s not that good.” My mind was reeling with how much I’ve put on my credit card already, how much money I’ve transferred out of my meager savings just to keep afloat. I was really hoping to go back to normal when my raise kicked in.

My boss shrugged his shoulders helplessly. I pushed open the door and was grateful that I had thought to bring my cell phone with me. I needed to bitch.

I unlocked my car and sat inside. I lit a cigarette. I dialed my mom at work. The line was busy. I dialed my friend. Voice mail.

I searched for someone else to call. Of course, I wanted to call Billy, but I wasn’t sure how he’d feel, me bothering him at work to bitch about my shitty pay. I felt like maybe it’s too early in the relationship to call with the sole intention of bitching. I don’t know what the rules are as they pertain to this certain situation. Do I bore him with the details of my daily life or will that make the magic dissipate? Does he want to hear it? Does he care? Does it matter? But I needed someone to talk to. And he is, after all, my boyfriend. Listening to me bitch is one of his duties, isn’t it?

I called Billy.

“Hey baby,” he answered. I was surprised. He was at work, and I hadn’t expected him to answer at all.

“Hey,” I responded, softly and weary. “Are you busy?”

“Yeah, kind of. Why? What’s going on?”

“Nothing, really,” I flicked cigarette ash out of my opened window and it flew back in at me. “I was just on my break, and I figured I’d give you a call.”

“Awww. You’re bored and you called me? That’s so sweet.” I couldn’t tell if he was mocking me or serious.

“Yeah. It’s true. I am sweet. But if you’re busy, I’ll let you go.”

“Well, let me call you back, okay?”

“Okay,” I replied. And before I knew it, I was flipping my phone shut. My third attempt to talk had been thwarted.

There may be nothing more frustrating than wanting to whine out loud and not being able to. But then again, moaning about my shitty pay may only serve to open up the Advice Floodgates. I know the solution to this problem: Get another job. I know, I know, I know. Go to school, switch careers, deal with a commute; Do something about it. I know all of that. But chances are I won’t do anything about it. And, in a few weeks, I’ll forget how irate I am right now; the fact that I love my job, its convenience and my boss will outweigh the fact that I’m quite literally scraping by. But for now, I just want to bitch.

Defeated, I tossed my cigarette and wandered back inside. I was going to bitch, and someone was going to hear me.

“I hope you know,” I said to my boss and I sauntered into his office, “that I’m not mad at you for this little raise.” As if it would matter if I were mad at him. “I just don’t understand how they expect to keep employees.” He was packing his briefcase and getting ready to leave. I could feel his disinterest. “And I know you don’t want to hear this again,” I continued. He hears the same string of complaints from me all the time. I don’t make enough money. They’re gonna put me in the poor house. I may have to start living in a cardboard box. If I start losing weight, it’s because I can no longer afford food. I’m sure he gets sick of them. “…but I just really feel like it’s unfair. I don’t live an extravagant lifestyle…But I shouldn’t have to sit at home every night because my employer doesn’t think I’m worth a decent salary. AND, I’ve been here four years. I wanted to stay until my five years guarantees that I’m vested, but at this rate, I’ll be so in debt that the 401(k) I’ll be vested in will have to get me out of bankruptcy.”

He nodded as he clasped his briefcase shut. “I know, Laurie. I get pissed off every December when I get my raise,” his tone implied that he felt drained, weary. Helpless. “The cost of living here is higher than they understand. And there’s a reason they have such a high turnover rate of employees. And there’s a reason they can’t hire anyone. But, what are you gonna do?” He stood up, clicked off his monitor, shrugged his suit-clad shoulders.

He didn’t abet me the way I would’ve liked. A proper bitch session would’ve included some sympathy, some pity. Some commiserating. I walked out of his office, unsatisfied.

He said goodnight, that he would see me tomorrow, and he left the building.

And now I need to bitch about my raise, and the fact that I had no one to bitch to. I have dinner plans with Nancy and Alex tonight. They better have their listening ears on.

Monday, September 12, 2005


“Have I told you how happy you make me?” I whispered it into his mouth right in the middle of a kiss. The lights were off and we were ready for sleep, not quite willingly succumbing to the promise of Monday morning.

“No,” he whispered back. I could feel his smile against my lips. “You haven’t. Tell me.”

Our lips met in a kiss again. I was buying time. I’d set myself up for the demand to tell him, but I hadn’t thought it through. “Very happy,” I said, then laughed.

Although I suppose the question Have I told you how happy you make me? is somewhat rhetorical, I was silently kicking myself for not having a better answer ready.

Very Happy? That’s it? Come on, Laurie. Words are your watercolors. Paint, I thought. But I didn’t paint. I didn’t even wet my brush. I just stuck my finger into cheap, gooey acrylic paint and left my thumbprint on an otherwise bare canvas. Very happy falls painfully short of how he makes me feel. Those two words aren’t nearly enough to communicate the happiness he induces.

Very happy doesn’t describe the perpetual smile I’ve been carrying around. The real smile, not one of the false variety – the one I employ for photographs and problem customers. The real one: The one that encompasses my face and forces my top lip to disappear. The one that reveals all of my teeth; that I can feel around my eyes. And all he has to do is be there.

Very happy doesn’t include the buzz I have around him; the bundle of butterflies in my belly when his hand takes mine. It doesn’t describe the rush of blood in my face when I catch him looking at me for no reason; the dizzy feeling I can get just feeling his lips on my shoulder, his hand on my back. It doesn’t explain the feeling that rolls through me when I hear his voice.

Very happy doesn’t demonstrate how much I enjoy just looking at him. I can’t stop taking him in – the arch of his nose, the strength of his jaw, his wide smile, his kind eyes. It doesn’t illustrate my constant desire to see him. I want to spend every free moment, every free breath on him; Even if we do nothing but lie around and watch TV, I’m satisfied. As long as I can feel him next to me, feel his hands on me, I’m happy.

Very happy doesn’t convey how content I am when we’re together; the way I know he’s not just in the same room with me – He’s present. Nor does it convey how beautiful I feel in his eyes, how wonderful I feel in his embrace, how valued I feel in his company.

But very happy was all I came up with. And he smiled at my laughter. “Well, good,” he said. “I’m glad.”

I nodded. I’m not just glad he affects me so. I’m very happy.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Moving On

Moving again proved to be cathartic. You never realize how much you have until you’re forced to pack and unpack it. And seldom do you realize how much of it you don’t need, don’t want, when it’s tucked away in the nooks and crannies of the place you call home.

So much of what I’ve kept over the years has stayed with me because of emotional attachment. Never a very transient person, this pack rat persona I’ve picked up never bothered me much…Until I started moving from place to place. Four times in the past two years I’ve boxed my belongings and headed to a new home. Always only a bed- and bathroom worth of stuff, it’s taken countless boxes and a multitude of packed cars to cart me from one place to the next. The last three times, I shoved things in boxes with little or no regard to whether or not these things would be needed. I’d put my things away in each new house, each one bigger than the last, and forget, for the most part, the bulk of what I had.

But this time it was different: This time required downsizing. And this time felt like a fresh chapter in my life: I’d shed Tom, claimed my single status, worked on the me that emerged, and met a wonderful man. And so unpacking my overstuffed life into limited space required some sorting out.

So I did.

I sat on my new bedroom’s floor and weeded my belongings. Wedding invitations, favors, receipts, concert and movie tickets: Gone. Old candles, already burnt and mutated into shapeless gobs of hardened wax, pantyhose with long runs in the thigh, bras lacking shape, underpants that had seen better days about five years ago – All saved just in case of an emergency: Gone.

Gone too were clothes that I never wore, saved merely because so-and-so bought then for me. Ill-fitting and logo-ridden t-shirts purchased on one vacation or another, distinct memories threaded through the cotton, burned right into the silk screening of each one. I shucked them all, discarded the pieces like husks, shells; unnecessary. I tossed item after item into a goodwill or garbage bag, memory successfully severed. The memories I want will remain. There’s no need for reminders of the good times; their cadences are etched into my brain. I can recall the sense of accomplishment I felt at Dominique’s wedding without looking at the bent invitation to it. And the worst reminders can take the jaundiced memories with them. I can’t simply choose to forget the worst times, but time bombs ticking away in my closet, my dresser? I can choose to dismantle them. I don’t need to chance their spontaneous explosion.

It’s time to move on.

And move I did.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hazleton, 2 AM

Even in sleep, he encompasses me. His long tanned arms swallow me whole while I, still barely awake, devour the feeling.

I can't get enough. My fingers are thirsty, moving on smooth sleepy skin, eager for more. Any space between us is too much, legs tangled, fingers entwined, arms wrapped around bared torsos. The sounds of slumber fill the room; steady breath, deep inhales, long exhales and murmurs of content circulate like air conditioning. A bounty of his curls rests in my hand as I teeter on the edge of a sleep prefaced by only innocent kisses and wishes of goodnight.

I don't want it to end, don't want to fall asleep and miss this proximity. I know REM couldn't bring anything better than the reality of right now. It's foreign to me, trying to stay lucid while he dreams, to want to soak up the smooth calm of the moment. I'm drunk off of feeling like I'm part of him - an extension of his artist's hand, his splayed legs. Maybe I'm too hungry for him, but it's glorious to indulge. Gluttonous. I'm savoring each moment, stretching it out, committing it to memory. I want to remember this - This moment, this feeling of satisfaction. My own sigh of content escapes my tired mouth, and he rustles, pulling me closer, running his soft hand down my arm. And I smile, invisible in the dark. I can't help it - He makes me smile by just being there. I catch myself, even in the dark, the corners of my mouth upturned, my cheeks lifted, for no one's benefit but my own. He's far away in his sleep right next to me, but I don't feel alone, deserted; He's present. I feel cared for. Coupled. I tuck myself into his frame, pillows circled around my head, and resign myself to sleep, certain that there's more where this came from.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Or should I call it "M-Day?" You know, "M" as in MOVING.

From nine this morning until right now, I have been furiously packing, carrying, loading, driving, unloading, carrying and unpacking everything I own into a house less than half of the size of the one I left. Make no mistake, the new place is beautiful, it's just taxing to get all of that stuff into a much smaller space.

The short notice we received did little to make moving day less stressful than it would normally be. But a pushy buyer's need to get her two bratty children enrolled in school pushed the closing up more than two weeks, and pushed us out of our home much more quickly than we would've liked. But all in all, it was a successful and streamlined job. My two roommates, my boyfriend and I sweated through hours of jamming belongings into cars while the moving men took care of the big stuff for us. And now my new bedroom looks like a war zone of boxes, clothes and shoes, but at least it's all there.

So, the good news is: I'm all moved in, and it'll only take a few more days to make my new place feel like home. The bad news: No internet until Friday of next week.

It's always something.