Friday, November 25, 2005


I'm thankful for my wonderful family. I'm thankful that we always say "I love you" before we part ways or hang up the phone. I'm thankful that we hug and kiss, that we can be emotional and affectionate and not be embarrassed by it.

I love my mom, who gets tipsy on a few glasses of wine and shares stories from her childhood in Serbia. I love that she puts old tapes into the deck of our home stereo and fills the house with a foreign language. I love that she invited her friend, Watson, a soldier she works with, to have dinner with us... I love that she calls him her adopted son. I love that he accepted. I love that my mom loves her kids - the ones she's birthed and the ones she's taken under her wing because they're far from home - so deeply, so fully, that she'd do anything for them. I love the way she looks at my dad, still so smitten after all these years.

I love my father, who sits back and laughs silently when my mom starts slurring her words. I love to hear him cracking jokes as he carves a huge turkey on the kitchen island, his glasses sitting on top of his head, making dents in his thick mane of salt and pepper hair. I love when he starts telling tales of the man he was before the kids were born, the stories of him and my mom traveling the world. I love when he stretches his arm out and puts it around my mom at the table. I love their life together.

I love my little brother, who can make me laugh until tears pour from my eyes. I love that he's not ashamed to tell me he loves me in front of his friends. I love that he sits next to me at the table, and understands exactly what I mean when I give him certain looks. I love that he's so kind, such a good young man.

I love my Billy. I love that he's happy to come to my parents' for dinner, fitting in seamlessly with my family. I love when I hear his laugh, I love that he tried to read Serbian with my mom, half joking and half serious. I love the way he makes me laugh. I love the way he looks at me. I love that we woke up together Thanksgiving morning to snow and coffee. I love that we effortlessly split the holiday between my family and his. I love how perfect it felt.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


It's 4:30 on November 23rd. The entire contents of my desk are sitting behind me packed in liquor boxes. I have about a million documents and photos from my computer transferred and saved on about a million disks (Okay, maybe, like, 10...But that seems like a lot...Because this computer won't write on the CDs I brought...). My desktop is completely clear, save for a calendar, a tape dispenser and my computer. I've said "This is my last day" no less than a hundred times today, to customers and coworkers from the main office. I'm tired from packing, the garbage is full, and I'm ready to go.

I have only a half hour left as an employee here. I don't really believe yet that I won't be coming back to this desk. I guess I'll realize it on Monday when I'm organizing the pieces of my life that was the bank. It's bittersweet, really. I'll miss it so much.

But I'm really excited.

So, I'm off to spend my last few minutes as a bank employee, then to spend this Thanksgiving Eve with my wonderful boyfriend.

Goodbye old job.

Hello new life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cleaning Day

I've just completed Phase I of The Cleaning Out of My Desk and Surrounding Area. I found that, in over four years in one place, I've acquired an obscene amount of stuff. Even for me.

I taped all of the good fortunes from my many Chinese-takeout bags to the credenza behind my desk. I took them down, one by one, intending to throw them away. But some of them are just too good to dispose of, so I'm keeping them in my little Bank time capsule:

"You will show what you are capable of."
"A lifetime of happiness lies ahead of you."
"Nothing in the world is accomplished without passion."
"You will be attracted to an older, more experienced person!"
and, my favorite,
"You are a lover of words, someday you will write a book."

In my desk I've found notes from customers, written in my absence and left on my desk for me to find upon my return from lunch or a break. I've found an enormous collection of packages of brightly colored post-it notes. I've found birthday cards from co-workers, remnants of Christmas and birthday packages I've opened in this chair. I found my old checkbook register, about a million deposit tickets, five bottles of lotion, a brand new toothbrush and travel toothpaste. Rolaids, Advil, a can of Progresso soup, a bag of Pop Secret, a bag of individually-wrapped Lifesavers, a single York Peppermint Patty, an unopened bottle of water, a T-shirt boasting my bank's name.

I've found each and every miniature card that was at one time accompanied by various bouquets of flowers sent to me here at the bank. From Mom, from my boss, from my Ex-Fiancee, from my ex.

I found, too, a picture frame given to me by Pollo in March of 2004, where I'm holding her then three-day-old son, Adrian. The frame folds in on itself and holds two pictures. The other picture is also of me holding the baby, but Tom is there with his arm wrapped around me. We two display broad smiles, Adrian looking up at me with that apparent look of shock on his face that all newborns sport. I had forgotten about that picture, tucked it way at the bottom of a drawer when Tom and I broke up. Looking at it today, it made me smile. The smile I wore in the photo was real, giving no indication of the sadness I was sure I carried for so long. There were good times, too. But it felt good to fold it back together and put it away, knowing that even that was behind me.

Because in my top desk drawer rested mementos of my present: My new boss' business card, and a florist's card in Billy's handwriting "Happy Birthday, you sexy bitch. Love, B."

According to the Middletown Times Herald Record, my horoscope for today is:

Everything is going your way. You will know exactly
what's expected of you and how to make the most of your
current position. Don't worry about professional changes
going on.

I think they're right. Everything is going my way right now. Billy's more amazing a man than I ever thought I could find. My new job promises financial success and room for growth. God, I feel so happy. And ready to clean out my dusty desk, and my musty memories, and move on.

Monday, November 21, 2005


On our quiet weekends, we spend too much time in our local video rental store, painstakingly locating a movie that fits our mood. Usually, we choose a comedy and head up to the counter, ready to spend the rest of our evening curled up in bed bathed in the blue glow of the television. We get home, drop our coats in the living room, make drinks and retreat to the bedroom. We shed our daytime clothes and wiggle into pajamas before nestling into bed. He lies on his side and pulls my legs over his bent knees and hits play. He kisses my shoulder as the movie starts, and we both fight off fatigue in an effort to stay awake through the whole movie.

We sit up and sip from large, condensation-encased glasses. My drink always tastes more like cranberry than the vodka in it – A dangerous misrepresentation of the alcoholic content. But his always smells like green-labeled Jack Daniels, no matter how much or how little of the caramel colored liquor I poured into the glass before I followed it with ginger ale.

Late at night, just before we sleep, his kisses taste like Jack Daniels and Canada Dry. I love when his soft lips, his tongue, taste subtly of cold sweetness and sharp alcohol. And, in the morning, when I carry our used glasses from his bedroom down into the kitchen, the scent of his Jack & Ginger floats up into my face; I love the smell of it, the masculinity mixed with the sugar, the syrupy liquor mixed with the light carbonation. I inhale as I pour the remnants of last nights’ drink down the drain, soaking in the familiarity. It makes me think of the evenings we spend on each other, twisted together and stealing kisses between the movie’s scenes; his kind eyes finding me in the semi-darkness of his room and the smile I can see in them.

This week, we’re living in my house instead of his. He packed last night, tossing dress shirts, wool pants and ties into his suitcase. I surveyed the room for anything I’d been keeping there that I’d need at home. I found my hairdryer, my hairspray, my earrings and tucked them into the bag that accompanies me from my house to his every night. On my way out the door, I grabbed his big bottle of Jack and secured it into my passenger seat. I stopped at Turkey Hill and picked up a liter of Canada Dry. And when he got to my home, we had our nightly drinks.

This morning, his used glass was the first thing I saw when my alarm roused us from sleep. I begrudgingly freed myself from our morning embrace and carried it downstairs on my way to make the coffee. Emptying it into my sink made me smile.

I thought he wouldn’t come with me when I said I’d be staying at my house this week. My roommate would be gone for the week, leaving me with the dog that I would be required to watch. I broke the news to Billy late yesterday and was surprised when he said “Well, I guess I’ll have to pack then.”

I was still sort of expecting him to back out, but there he was, last night, coming through my garage with his bags in hand.

I let the dog out and we smoked on the back porch. “Thanks for coming,” I said. My history was to blame for my certainty that he wouldn’t be there: It was always me expected to make the trip to the boyfriend, very rarely the other way around.

“Did you really think I wouldn’t?” His face told me that he though I was crazy to think anything different.

“Well…sort of.” I looked at the carpet beneath my feet on the sun porch rather than at him. It was embarrassing to still hold him to the low standard set before him, rather than the high standards he was forging.

“So you thought you’d just come back here every night? Sleep here alone while I slept alone at my house?”

“I don’t know.” Like a kid, I kicked at nothing on the floor, a little ashamed of my lack of faith in him.

He smiled at me. “Baby, whose shoulder would I sleep on?”

And it struck me that this is what it feels like to be loved. To be cared for. To have someone who wants to spend his time with me, to have someone who supports me in my tough decisions, who makes me laugh when I’m sad, who makes me feel like everything will be okay. And this is what it’s like to love. To want to care for someone else, to want to spend my time with him. To want to make things better when they’re not going well for him, to want to hear his laugh, to want to touch his face and to let him know everything will be okay, no matter what.

I just feel so lucky.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Last night, I talked to my new boss on the phone. "Oh," he said, his voice cautious. "About your pay." I was making coffee for Billy at Turkey Hill as we spoke, stirring five packets of sugar into the 16oz cup, my phone caught between my hunched-up shoulder and my ear. I stopped stirring when he spoke, preparing myself for the worst. "It turns out, your paycheck will be a little higher than we discussed."

"Excuse me?" I held the little black stirrer completely still, afraid that I really had heard wrong.

"Your pay," he said again. "It'll be a little higher than we expected."

He went on to detail my salary, and how it'll be calculated on a workweek longer than the one I have now. "You won't always work that many hours, but I figure it all balances out."

My salary increase will be over three times what I expected it to be.

"Oh, Drew," I sang, lifting the stirrer completely out of the coffee and pointing it at the wall in front of me. "You just made my night."

Today, I got an email from him, asking me to pick a color to paint my new office.

These factors, in addition to my blossoming excitement to be entering into a completely new field have added up to an amazing day. Suddenly, the fact that the most of the women in the branch (including the Branch Manager and the Assistant manager) are no longer talking to me doesn't bother me. My feelings were once hurt that the bank didn't try to get me to stay, that a majority of the branch didn't care that I was leaving, but now, I'm just thrilled to go. I'm still sad to leave my boss, but the hesitation, doubt, and trepidation are gone; and in their place is a sense of urgency to get to the new job.

This morning, I drove the long winding road between Milford and Honesdale, PA, to visit Human Resources and complete my Exit Interview.

After sitting for an hour and answering various questions pertaining to my employment, my pay and the bank, I headed back out into the cold air and climbed into the car. I blasted Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life" as I turned into traffic, dancing and singing along, excited to be leaving the main branch's parking lot for the last time.

My last day is the 23rd. The countdown has begun.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I Believed

My friend and I were out to dinner on Wednesday talking about our lives, and she was telling me how she always finds some tragic flaw in her boyfriends. There's always SOMETHING that you find out about your boyfriend, husband, lover that you don't like. For instance, she's totally crazy about her beau, who she's been dating for about a year, but he is horrible with money. She fears that he's never going to step it up and support the family if they have one, and it'll be her job to be the breadwinner. She's motivated, educated and on the track to get a great job (she's graduating college after next semester), but she still wants the man to be the man, so to speak. Before this guy, her ex was great in every way except that he was too mushy and romantic and let her walk all over him. Before that guy, her boyfriend was smart and funny and attractive, but he couldn't keep a job. See a trend? Her point is that it is impossible to find the perfect guy - we'll always be haunted by at least one downfall. And until recently, I believed that. But I've come into this new way of thinking, brought on in part by that silly book He's Just Not That Into You. I really have faith that there's a guy out there who is going to be all I want. He'll be smart and funny and good looking and he'll smell nice and he'll be successful and he'll be romantic and attentive and thoughtful, but he'll put me in my place, too. He'll have a nice family and a nice car and he'll make me feel beautiful and loved and he'll take care of me...He won't be emotionally unavailable or addicted to bachelorhood or currently married or bad with money or abusive or an alcoholic or forgetful. He won't make me feel worse about myself when I'm with him, and he won't make me wonder if he's cheating. We will fight, of course, but we'll fight fair - No dragging his history or mine into the mix of here and now. I won't feel like it's an admittance of defeat to apologize to him, because he won't give me the triumphant look that says "You said sorry first..." when I say it. I won't be the only one working to make sure we last. There will be ups and downs, but when I look back over our times together, the Good will outweigh the Bad exponentially. I think I deserve that kind of guy; All the women I know do...And it's just a matter of finding him.

I was cleaning out my computer here at work, trying to weed out all of the personal documents I've hidden in files and folders. I usually write emails in Word first, then copy and paste them into Hotmail. Same with posts. But I tried to title them so that they weren't obviously my own personal documents; Titles like "Analysis Letter 2002" and "Checks and Balances." They were fairly easy to locate, but I found it not only helpful, but also interesting, to open each one and read it.

The paragraph at the top was a portion of a larger email I wrote to Tumbleweed in late 2004. It was written somewhere after Thanksgiving, and before the New Year. It was before I started the blog, and while I was finding myself as a single woman.

When I read it today, it made me want to cry. Because I found that guy. And she found that guy.

I was fucking right.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Damage Control

I've come home sad every night this week. And every night, Billy wraps me in his arms while I run through a litany of questions and fears. Tears slip out of my eyes against my will. My mascara has stained his white pillow cases. He kisses my forehead with his soft lips and tells me that he loves me and that everything is going to be okay.

Tonight, he came home to find me perched at his computer. I was typing a diatribe about how my feelings are hurt that none of my coworkers really care that I'm leaving. He shed his coat and knealt before me, kissing my freshly washed face. "Babe, they don't matter anyway. You're going to do so well. A few months from now, it's not going to matter whether they cared or not." He then proceeded to make me laugh harder than I had since last I saw him. I needed the release that the laughter provided. I love that he knew that.

I hate that I'm so sensitive, that I'm taking a simple change in jobs so hard. I hate that he has to come home every night and do damage control.

But I don't know what I'd do without him.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Rough Cut

Two years ago, my hair was long. It cascaded down my back in one long layer of espresso tresses, straight and stretching from the top of my head to the small of my back. Very rarely did I wear it down; blow-drying took too long, and I found that when I did let it fly loose around my shoulders, it would just get on my nerves. Over-a-foot-long strands would break free of my mane and slip inside my shirt, or down my pants, causing me to spend a frenzied few minutes locating the renegade hair to relieve the tickling it caused to whichever body part it touched. When worn down, my hair would get in my eyes, stick to my lipstick, and generally annoy me. Most days, I wore it piled on top of my head, secured by a covered rubber band in a hairdo my parents not-so-affectionately referred to as "The Marge Simpson 'Do." Though not nearly as tall as her blue bouffant, it did protrude from the crown of my head, making the hairstyle part regal, part ridiculous. I would put it up first thing in the morning, my hair still dripping wet from the shower, and when I took it down just before bed, the hair that was bunched and looped and fastened to my head would still be wet.

When I did wear it down, though, I was constantly complimented on my hair. It's so long, so beautiful customers, friends and boyfriends would gush. I'd grab a handful of my thick black hair and frown. "But it's so annoying," I'd reply, tossing the section back over my shoulder. It being so long afforded me very little freedom as far as hairstyles went; it was either down, in The Marge, or pulled tight against my head in a low ponytail. It got on my nerves.

I often contemplated, and incessantly threatened, to just cut it all off. I'd done it before, years ago as a sophomore in high school. I was sitting with my mom as she had her hair cut in a salon, lazily flipping through a magazine. I stopped on an Estee Lauder ad featuring the then-spokesmodel Elizabeth Hurley.

"Isn't she gorgeous?" I sighed, turning the magazine so that my mom, and the stylists behind her, could see Ms. Hurley.

"Honey," the thin and flamboyant beautician sitting in his vacant salon chair interrupted, "you would look just like her with that haircut."

I turned the magazine around, considered the photo. Her hair was shoulder-length and brown. I didn't see much similarity between the two of us beyond our blue eyes and dark hair, but his compliment was all that I needed. "Let's do it," I said. And, an hour later, almost a foot of my hair littered the area around his swiveling chair.

But two years ago, my hair was longer than it had been in high school. The comparisons between me and Liz Hurley were long gone, and anyway, I was used to having my long hair. Every time I built up the nerve to hack it off, I'd check myself. What if I hate it? What if it looks horrible? I'd talk myself out a drastic change in a fraction of the time it took me to find the guts to do it in the first place.

But then I broke up with Tom. And my little brother's then-girlfriend told me her mom was a hairdresser and offered a free cut & style to anyone willing to donate eleven or more inches to Locks of Love. I needed a change. I was sick of the clogs in the drain, The Marge, the heaviness my hair offered. It was time.

I marched into the salon, and the hairdresser braided my long hair, a perfect weave of deep auburn, black and red strands. The scissors she used barely fit around the thickness of the braid. But with a series of snips, she rid me of just over a foot of hair. I looked in the mirror, at the sloppy, jagged edges of my not yet styled hair, and thought it looked okay, but I wasn't sure I was happy with my decision. But it was, obviously, too late to change my indecisive mind. My hair was clutched in her hands, and the change was already well underway.

When she was finished trimming and layering, pulling hair from opposite sides of my head together to check for even length, blow drying and fluffing me, she turned me around to face the mirror. I loved it. I'm so glad I did this, I thought, as I shook my head from side to side. I felt freed. I couldn't believe I'd been hiding behind all that hair for all that time. I made an appointment for a trim in five weeks, and I've kept it the same length - or shorter - ever since.

I have this feeling that my change in jobs will be no different. I'm terrified; frightened that I may not do well, that I won't like it. But I've just been used to working at the bank. Used to walking into same doors every morning, fixing my coffee and sitting down to eight hours of the same thing every day.

This morning, I fixed my coffee like I always do, grabbed a box of tissues, marched into my boss' office and closed the door behind me. The tears started before the door latched shut. "Bill, I'm giving you my two weeks' notice," I managed to blubber, my face crumpled and my voice shaky. I fanned my face like so many of those women on reality TV do, in an effort, I suppose, to dry the tears before they could fall. I hated that I was crying, but I couldn't help it. I love my boss to pieces, and it makes me so sad to think of not seeing him every day.

"What?" He shook his head as though he was clearing his ears. His expression was disbelief, as though he'd misheard me.

"I'm giving you my two weeks' notice," I said, more clearly than I'd been able to seconds before.

He nodded his head like he knew it had been coming. "Where are you going?"

I told him, while I collected tears in my already mascara-stained Kleenex.

"Good for you, Laur." He sat back in his high-backed chair and gave me a fatherly smile. "Frankly, I'm surprised it took you this long." His eyes were sympathetic. "Why are you crying, though?"

"I don't know." It was a half-laughed, half tear-stained statement that came out louder than I'd intended.

It was like the beautician slicing through a chunk of my hair. It was as good as done.

Right now, I'm looking at the rough cut, the unsure edges that present themselves before all the finish work is done. All the trimming and layering and fluffing will be done in the next few months. And I'm pretty sure that I'll sit back then and think, "God, I'm glad I did this."


Thanks to everyone for the support, the advice, and especially for the kind words.

I thought long and hard all weekend. I bit the insides of my mouth to shreds, as I tend to do when I'm stressed. I smoked about a million cigarettes. I am host to a slew of new pimples, thanks also to stress. My stomach is a mess, and my head hurts.

I hate - I mean really hate - making big decisions like this.

But, about an hour ago, I gave my boss my two weeks' notice.

I start the new job December 1st.

Wish me luck.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Quite a Conundrum

My boyfriend is having work problems...And, now, so am I.

It's Friday, November 11th: Veteran's Day. I thought I'd be using this paid holiday to get my hair cut and perhaps do some reading. But, instead, I went on a job interview.

A few weeks ago, a customer of mine called up looking to see if I knew anyone interested in working for him. He owns a successful business and is interested in finding the right person to become one of his three (very well paid) employees.

As it turns out, I am that person.

I interviewed today, and in all honesty, the job sounds perfect for me. I've known this buisnessman since I started at the bank four years ago. His company is successful and everything he does is top quality. He's nice and we've always gotten along well. The job offers good pay (it would take me at least three more years at the bank to make up what he's offering me to start), health benefits, a good working environment, the option of upward mobility, "the sky's the limit" as far as income goes. I wouldn't be locked into any sort of position, I'd get the whole week between Christmas and New Years off (PAID!). I'd have to work every other Saturday, but only from ten to three. The option is there for me to attend classes to learn more about the profession, therefore earning more money. The more the company makes, he said, the more I make. I'd be, technically, in sales, but my primary function would be point of contact between the customers and my employer. There would be bonuses, maybe some trade shows; I'd be involved in marketing and PR. It sounds perfect for me.

But I'm terrified.

I'm terrified that I'll hate it, that I won't be good at it, that I'll be making a mistake. I'm terrified to tell my boss that I'm leaving him after four years of faithful service. I'm terrified that I'll be in over my head, that I'll disappoint them. I'm terrified of change.

EVEN THOUGH I'm really not that happy with my current job. Yes, I love my boss, yes, I love my customers, and yes, I know what I'm doing...But as far as moving up, I'm stuck. And making money? I'm in the wrong business if I'm interested in getting not even rich, but comfortable.

I've stayed where I am for so long because it's safe. Because I didn't go to college, and my job didn't require a degree. It's close to home. I know what I can get away with. It's stable... There's security....

There's just no money.

I've been living paycheck to paycheck since I moved out of my parents' house. I can't do this forever. And staying at the bank will only offer me maybe a $0.50 raise a year, if I'm lucky. You may remember when I got my "raise" this year, I was far from happy with it. I wanted to leave then, but I lacked the motivation.

And now the opportunity has fallen into my lap.

But I just don't know. I'm full of fear...

And I told him I'd have an answer by Monday...


Thursday, November 10, 2005


From your spot on the bed, you thanked me for being with you. You told me I'm great, then drew me into your arms with a gentle tug on my hand. "Thanks for being with me when I'm in this shit mood...For trying to get me out of it." I pulled back to face you and tucked my damp hair behind my ear. I bowed my head and uttered a shy "You're welcome." You folded me into your arms and kissed the fresh makeup on my forehead.

But surely you must know how much I wanted to be there for you, how much more I would do for you. You must know that my limits aren't even close to being reached - that my capacity to give to or for you is far from maximized. You must know that I want to make you happy, to take care of you. So I made sure we were stocked with cigarettes and booze and food, so that we didn't have to leave the house if we didn't want to. I wanted to keep your mind off of your problems, to keep you happy. Your smile, or a moment when I looked at you and knew that you weren't thinking of work, was my reward.

You came into the bank and told me that what you'd like to do is just pack up and disappear. That you would, if not for me. I felt like you just validated everything I've been feeling. You held my hand over a Manila folder on my desk, traced the curve of my fingers with your own, and said it. I wanted to leap across my desk and kiss you.

You brought me coffee at work the next day, dressed in your suit and tie, ready to hit the road for work. You kissed me on the sidewalk in front of the bank. The kiss was long, full-on and unashamed, as cars crawled by on their way to the stoplight. You tucked a stray hair behind my ear and told me you'd call me when you got there. You wrapped me up in your arms and told me to be good. You were still smiling. We shared another long kiss and you held my hands in yours. "I love you, sexy," you said, just before you turned to leave. I pulled you back for a last kiss, poured "I love you, too" into your mouth. I saw in your face that you were happy, and I felt successful, like I'd had a part in that.

You called me last night, from an hour away, your voice hard with worry and frustration. Your long weekend had lifted your spirits, but a day back at work and reality rears its ugly head and it's as if you've been kicked in the stomach. You explained to me again why your situation upsets you so, and I sat on the other end of the line, plucking my eyebrows; silent. My own frustration nipped at my heels. I didn't know what to say, what to do, so I searched for errant hairs in my handheld mirror. Pluck. Pluck. You had me on speaker phone while you drove, our conversation made awkward by the strange delay your phone forced on us. My jokes weren't funny, fell flat because of the few seconds of silence between the buildup and the punchline. Pluck. I couldn't offer any solace, I couldn't offer any solution. So I let you go on, telling me again why you're in such a mood, why you don't think you'll get out of it anytime soon. I just need to get out of this job, out of this country, you said, dismay seeping through the words you spoke . Oh, was all I could say. Silence. You offered a blanket apology for your gloom. Yeah, I know, I replied, my voice soft. Pluck. I felt the tears behind my eyes, threatening to spill out all over me.

I don't know what to do for you. I don't know what to say. I watch you perseverate and I want so badly to make it stop. I want desperately to make you feel better, to see you happy, but words catch in my throat, my arms fall at my sides and I'm left with nothing. What do you want? I'll do anything for you, give anything to make you happy, but I don't know what to offer. I've listened, I've told you it will be okay, I asked questions, I tried to help. I've been right next to you, I've suggested space. I made you laugh, I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, I tried to indulge you. And when you're facing me, when your skin is barely inches from my own, my tactics are successful and I feel triumphant. But with nothing but my voice to present to you in your time of need, I feel incapable. Powerless.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

When We Say Nothing At All

After he told me, for the first time, that he loved me, I kissed his mouth. My eyes were closed, the kiss was firm. I was smiling through it. I reared back to create just enough space for words to pass between us, and told him I loved him, too. He kissed me. My heart was beating so fast, I thought it may jump out of my chest. I took a deep breath and settled my head into the soft skin of his neck, between his shoulder and his sleepy face. “Like you didn’t know that already,” he said sweetly, kissing my forehead.

“I did,” was my response. And it’s true, I did.

Something about hearing him say it out loud was so satisfying...But at the same time, it seemed superfluous; actually speaking the words was just the icing on the cake. Because I did know, well before the words fell from his lips. And, surely, he knew that I loved him, too. I feel like we’ve been saying it for a while now without words. I know I have. When he sleeps on his side, his back turned to me and my body wrapped around his, I whisper it into his back. I mouth the words into his hair when he rests on my chest. And when he takes my face in his hands, kissing me and backing up enough to look into my eyes, I think it. Loud. I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you over and over, hoping he can read it in my irises. Or my mind shouts I love you, too because I see what I think is I love you in his eyes.

I’ve always been the kind who needed to hear “I love you.” My family says it to one another all the time: Each time we part ways, at the end of each phone conversation. We type it into our emails, we sign it on cards. There’s never a fear that the last thing I say to one of my family members won’t be “I love you.” Maybe that’s what makes me want to hear it all the time from significant others. I’ve never been content to look at actions, to pick up clues along the way and let them lead me to the conclusion that I’m loved. I’ve always craved the sound of “I love you” falling on my ears, the feel of the words as they slid from my mouth. But it was proof I was seeking to find and give. And the proof, for me, was never in the actions. Only in the words.

But the words are woven into Billy’s every kind gesture. They are sewn into the fabric of each tie I’ve purchased for him. They are in the silver of the earrings and the wool of the coat he bought for me, for no reason at all. There were in the humid air of our vacation together. They are in his hands on my skin, my lips on his face. They are the chimes of my ringing phone, in his voice on the other end of the line. They are in the spaces between every word I’ve written about him. They are behind every action, every kiss.

With Billy, I just know. It doesn’t have to be shouted from the rooftops. He doesn’t have to hire a skywriter to spell it out in clouds of exhaust. He doesn’t even have to say it all the time. It’s there, just beneath the surface, in the curve of his smile, in the softness of his eyes, his gentle kiss. It’s nice to be able to say and hear it now…But it’s nicer still to know I don’t have to.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Out Loud

All day long, I've been reliving a piece of last night. It's been running through my head on a constant loop since it happened, forcing my stomach to turn in the most wonderful way, making my pulse quicken, making me smile. It could've been ten minutes, it could've been an hour, I'm not exactly sure. All I know is that, after whatever fraction of time passed between our first and last kisses in a serious of a hundred or more, we finally said it out loud. "I love you."

I hate to quote a television commercial, but I must:

I love this man. I love him. I love him. I love him.

Ahhh. It feels so good to say it, and write it, out loud.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes

Little Black Book was on Starz last night. I’d seen the beginning of the movie twice, but was never able to stick around to see the ending. So while Billy packed for his business trip out of town today, I watched Brittany Murphy dig around in her boyfriend’s Palm Pilot, track down three ex-girlfriends using the Kippy Kan show as a front, and ultimately make a mess of everything.

Billy joined me while Brittany Murphy’s Stacey did her detective work on Joyce, the ex the boyfriend, Derek, still carried a torch for. When Stacey finally snagged a meeting with Joyce, she pretended to be someone else entirely and that she had never even heard this Derek guy. While they talked about Joyce’s career, the dirt on her relationship – the one they ended years ago, and the friendship they continued to that very day – with Derek just spilled out.

“Why would she do that?” Billy asked, lighting up a cigarette.

“I don’t know.”

“She’s torturing that girl.” He meant that Stacey was torturing Joyce.

“She’s torturing herself.” I said as Joyce answered her ringing cell phone and mouthed It’s Derek to a shocked Stacey. “That would be awful, sitting next to a girl who didn’t know that you’re dating the ex she’s still madly in love with and watching her get a call from him, and then watching her laugh at something he said…To watch one half of a conversation where your boyfriend is flirting with a woman he used to date that doesn’t know about you and that he never told you about. That would kill me.”

“That’s what I don’t understand, why she would do that in the first place.”

“I don’t either,” I lied. I knew why. I’d done it before. Maybe I didn’t go so far as to pose as someone else and interview the exes, but I’ve rooted around in history before.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I think we women research too much. In an effort to find out something – anything – about our boyfriend’s history, we dig. We peek at his inbox when he checks his email in our presence, we eavesdrop on his phone conversations, we ask leading questions and begin to piece together a horribly askew picture of his past and his present. We Google. In our more shameful moments, we rummage through rooms, foraging through pockets and luggage and notebooks and boxes, seeking something that will tell us what our boyfriends don’t want to tell us themselves. We interrogate friends and family in what we hope is a subtle way, we keep our eyes peeled for clues, we ask about exes and attempt to decode his answer into what he really meant. And for what? Well, we don’t really know. We’ll tell ourselves that it’s to find proof that he’s over his ex, that he’s faithful to us. But really, it’s evidence to the contrary we’re after. We want to weed out his transgression before it gets a chance to make us look foolish. We don’t want to be played, we don’t want our hearts broken. We want to know.

In my past life, I wanted to know, too. I dug and poked and prodded my way around all of his 36 years. I asked about his exes, looked at their pictures and compared myself to them. And when I did that? It only made me feel horrible. It made me sick to my stomach, but I still kept at it. I asked more questions, looked at more pictures, wanted more information. Even though it made me want to throw up to look at him locked in an embrace with someone from his past, even though it made me feel inadequate compared to these older women who were successful and well-traveled, I kept it up. And it made me a jealous beast. I began to think that he would gladly go back with each and every one of his exes – all they had to do was show up. I started to think he was being unfaithful. Whether he was or not, I’ll never know. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. I kept trying to catch him in lies. I searched the house for another woman’s presence. I smelled his shirts for a foreign perfume. I was almost disappointed when I came up with nothing. My stomach was in a perpetual knot. It was awful. I was awful. I didn’t even like myself then.

But we’re always looking for the bad. What’s in his past? What’s he not telling me? We forget that the past is the past for a reason. And we get caught up in wanting to know things we don’t really even want to know. It’s masochism.

Billy’s checked his email right in front of me, and I didn’t even look. He’s left me alone in his house – I’ve even slept there when he’s been out of town – and I’ve never even had to fight the urge to snoop. I don’t ask about ex girlfriends because I don’t really want to know. I don’t need to know what his last girlfriend looked like, what she did that made him happy or what she did that made him sad. I don’t need to know that he loved her smile or the color of her hair. Because, you know what…He loves my smile and my hair now.

But as much as I’d like to believe that my peace with Billy’s past and present has to do with my new-found maturity and confidence, that’s only half of it. The other half is that he’s open. He’ll tell me what I want to know, all I have to do is ask. And I don’t need to dig around to see if he’s unfaithful – He’s with me all the time. And when he’s not with me, he calls to let me know he’s thinking of me and that he wants to be with me.

And what’s worse is that men don’t do this. From what I’ve learned from the men I’ve dated, known, spoken with, men don’t worry themselves over their girlfriends’ past. They don’t overanalyze and wonder and think and ruminate and make themselves sick over who she used to date, how she felt about him, and what she’s doing when he’s not around. Why is this borderline psychosis so much more prevalent in women? Or are women just less afraid to admit that, yes, they want to know more?

“I don’t get it,” Billy said at the climax of the movie, as Brittany Murphy was confronted with all three exes and the boyfriend she’d been researching. “Look, everyone’s miserable now.”

I knew all too well how everyone in that movie felt. But Billy would have dig in my past to find that out.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Selections for the Shower

He always calls me sexy. Sometimes it’s “You’re so sexy,” sometimes it’s “You sexy bitch” spoken in a deep, slow voice through a seductive smile. “You’re such a sexy woman,” “Damn, woman, you are sexy.” The variations are endless. But he never lets me forget that he thinks I’m sexy.

Yesterday, he had the day off. I went to his house after work to find him in bed, lights off and TV on. He was completely dressed, covered in blankets, his curly hair flared out on the white pillow beneath his head. His smile when he saw me was broad and white. “Hey, sexy,” he said. I put down the overnight bag that I’m always carrying these days, rested my purse beside it, and crawled onto the bed with him. He pried his arms out from beneath the comforter and wrapped me in them.

“How was your day off?” I said into his neck, kissing the smooth skin between his ear and his collarbone.

Wonderful,” he replied. “I feel like I did nothing, which is perfect.”

“Have you been here all day?” I pointed to the mattress.

“No. I cleaned the shower, I made some calls, I made a new CD to listen to in the shower…”

I wrinkled my nose and interrupted: “It’s not Engelbert Humperdinck and Perry Como is it?” Every morning, our shower is accompanied by a soundtrack. Sometimes it’s Jason Mraz, sometimes it’s John Mayer, sometimes it’s a mix of songs I don’t know at all, sometimes it’s a CD of songs I’ve made. But we’re always listening to something as we lather up and take turns under the spray of hot water.

His face looked almost guilty. “You know me too well.” He lifted his head and sang a little Engelbert for me, Tell me when will you be mine/teeeeellll me, quando, quando, quaaaannnn-dooooo, his rich voice boomed in the dark room.

I laughed. I knew he was serious. “I just hope it’s not all slow stuff. That shit’ll put me to right back to sleep if I listen to it first thing in the morning.”

“You’ll like it. Just wait.”

This morning, he got in the shower before me. I was exhausted, gave in to his insistence that I sleep in until at least the next snooze alarm. After being roused from sleep for probably the sixth time that morning by the alarm, I gave in and got up.

By the time I peeled myself from the sheets, made the coffee and opened the door to the bathroom, Billy was already out of the shower and drying himself off. I started to brush my teeth, noticing the CD was already on track number 4 - Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys singing “Impossible.” My eyes went wide. “I love this song,” I gushed, the toothbrush sticking out of my frothy mouth.

“I know you do.” He leaned in for a kiss on my Colgate encased lips.

He left the bathroom to get ready for work, leaving me with the music. I hopped into the shower, Tom Jones crooning “It’s Not Unusual” from the speaker next to the sink. I giggled while I shampooed my hair.

And just as I finished my shower, the song started.

I’m too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt, so sexy it huuu-rrrts

I laughed out loud. I laughed all the way through the song. Too sexy for your body, the way I’m disco dancing.

I dried off while Right Said Fred talked about being a model and doing his little turn on the catwalk, laughing the whole time.

The next song started as I opened the door. Engelbert started to sing “You’re just too good to be true, Can’t take my eyes off of you.” His voice followed me to the bedroom, where I found Billy adjusting his tie, almost ready to leave for work.

“I can’t believe you put 'Too Sexy' on that CD,” I said, still giggling as I pulled my makeup from my overnight bag.

“I put it on there for you,” he looked up at me from his tie.

“And I bet you put this song on there for me, too, huh?” My tone was sarcastic. He cocked his head to the side to listen for the song. Engelbert crooned I need you baaa-byyy, if it’s quite alright from down the hall.

“I did.” His genuine tone made me smile.

I listened to the rest of the CD while I put on my makeup and drank my coffee. D’angelo sang “Lady,” and I couldn’t help but assume that he’d put that on there for me, too. He may not have, but it felt good to think it.

I’m in such a good mood today.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Good Scare

My boss sent me an email today that required I pay "very close attention" to a car ad. Supposedly, if I looked closely, I would be able to see a ghost walking alongside the displayed car. I'm familiar with this email - it goes around every Halloween. You focus on whatever it is they tell you to focus on, you do as the email instructs and turn the volume up high to hear something "subtle" or "quiet" in the background, and then something scary pops up and frightens you. But I watched it anyway, expecting to be startled. I watched the car glide along a mountain road, I looked for the "ghost" that supposedly trails the car after it rounds a certain bend. I didn't see it. But then, out of nowhere, an obviously undead woman, with decaying teeth and rotted flesh, pops up smack in the middle of my screen and screams. I knew it, I'd been expecting it, but it still made me jump. It happens all the time: I prepare myself for it, I know it's coming, but still, it scares the shit out of me. But it's a good scare, the kind that makes you want to run through haunted houses, startled and screaming, knowing that you're going to come out alive even if the man with the chainsaw does chase after you. It gets your heart beating, your adrenaline rushing. You want to do it again and again.

Last night, when Billy got home from work, he kissed me and asked how my day was. We picked at leftovers from the previous night's dinner, and recounted the high- and low-lights of our workdays. We retired to bed early, him exhausted from a seven-day stretch of non-stop work, me exhausted from a relentless hour and fifteen minute step class and weight training. We sprawled out on top of the pillows and comforters and turned on the TV, too tired to change for bed. He rolled over, threw his long leg over my body and rested his head on my chest. "You smell so good," he said into my sweater. He took and deep breath in, and let it out slowly, his eyes closed. "See, I just need this when I get home from work."

"Do you mean you have to lie on my chest in particular?" I said, lifting my head up so that I could kiss the top of his head.

"Yes." He let out a contented sigh, and I felt his body relax into mine.

We lay like that for a moment or two, not even paying attention to the television. Then he looked up at me, put his hand on my face so that it cradled my jaw, the nape of my neck. He gave me a soft kiss on the mouth, then retreated only an inch or so, looking into my face. I willed myself to look back, to stare into his eyes just as long as he looked into mine. But it was overwhelming. I felt his gaze through my whole body, my stomach dropping out beneath me, my limbs tingling. Neither of us spoke, just looked at each other for a minute, smiling. We do that all the time, just take each other in, a staring contest of the best kind.

And each time we do, I'm overcome. I'm startled by how he makes me feel. And it happens every time. I'll prepare myself for it, I'll know it's coming, but still, it scares me. But it's a good scare, the kind that makes me want to bury myself in him, in us, gloriously weak in the knees and terrified of how I feel, knowing that I'm going to come out alive even if we part ways with my heart no longer intact. It gets my heart beating, my adrenaline rushing. I want to do it again and again.