Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I really can't believe it. Less than twenty-four hours to go.
I actually did all of my shopping yesterday. I'm completely, 100% ready for my trip...Save for a visit with my parents and a good pedicure. No, I didn't tan, and I didn't stop eating. And, yes, I did buy shoes.
But I'm stubborn, see. So I didn't buy the sports sandals as instructed. Because, believe me, I tried. I really, really tried to just shove all of my feelings of hatred for the footwear aside and suck it up and buy a pair, even if it meant I'd just wear them while I was there and then LEAVE them in Belize. But I couldn't do it. No matter how hard I tried. And it's not vanity that kept me from purchasing Tevas or something of that nature. It's comfort. I'm not going to enjoy myself if I feel uncomfortable. And I'm sure sports sandals are very comfy shoes, literally speaking. But it's the figurative comfortable to which I'm referring. I just don't feel like those shoes are me. And any woman who loves shoes, who sees them as an extension of herself, totally understands that. If you feel like your feet are swathed in crap, you're just not going to be happy. No matter how beautiful your surroundings. Which is why I bought these Skechers. They don't look so cute in the only picture I could find of them, but trust me: They are. I actually like them. And they're pink, which is awesome. Billy has warned me that they're going to get all messed up and dirty, but I'm going to try to keep them sort of clean. I may actually wear these when I'm not in Belize. You know, in my house. Alone. Where no one can see me.
In order to keep my toes from suffocating, though, I thought it wise to purchase some flip flops. Because I don't own any. None without a stiletto heel anyway (Yes, I have stiletto-heeled thong sandals). So I bought some more Skechers. If you'll notice, they have a slight lift in the heel. Because I can't go completely flat. I think that years of wearing very high heels has done something irreversible to my feet. Like, I am now physically incapable of wearing flat shoes. I'll be honest, even tennis shoes (or "sneakers" as people out here call them...) hurt my feet after a while. My arch is very sensitive. These have a little arch support, and the thing between the toes, which in every other pair of flip-flops I tried on killed my feet, is a soft cottony fabric that I could forget is even there. But I'm not going to lie. I did buy a pair of high-wedged sandals, that are a natural beige tone, and sort of dressy. I thought it was a good compromise. A heel with a jeweled accent, but still in a raffia/ bamboo/ pseudo-natural color. They could be dressy or casual. Tricky, very tricky.
A hundred bucks later, and I think I'm good in the shoe department.
Next, I moved on to makeup. I've thought long and hard about my makeup situation. I really don't want to wear a full face of makeup when I'm going to be in the hot sun all day long. For a number of reasons, not the least of which being that it'll probably just melt right off of my face not five minutes after application. And I think I'm being generous in saying "five minutes." Plus, there's nothing more pathetic than a girl on the beach with a full face of makeup on, from foundation to eyeliner. Even I, Lover of Makeup and All Things Concealing, recognize this. And I do not want to be that woman. So I bought this happy compromise: Estee Lauder's tinted moisturizer/ sunblock. (As an aside, the stuff comes out of the bottle gray, but as you rub it in, takes on the tone of your skin. Crazy.) It gives me the tint I need to not feel self-concious (it's not that I have horrible skin, it's just that I'm used to my face with makeup), the sun protection my pale skin requires, and is really two products in one, hence lightening my load by at least one bottle. Genius. I'm wearing it today (it's a test run) and I must say I'm impressed. It feels light, smells summery (of cucumbers and sunscreen), and looks natural. Makeup: Done.
The last necessity on my list was pants. Because, so far, I've only been planning on packing one pair of jeans and a handful of skirts. And I'm pretty sure I won't want to wear my jeans much, and I keep having this vision of me hacking my way through some Belizean jungle in a booty-skirt. Which is, in truth, kind of stupid looking. Fashionable, yes. Appropriate? Not so much. But I had more or less given up the search for a comfortable pair of capri pants (the closest thing to shorts I'll actually wear) due to ass issues. My behind is very round and very high. It is a sharp contrast to my smallish waist. Which makes for difficult purchase of pants. If they fit in the waist, they will most certainly not fit around my derriere. My ass, in this situation, looks not unlike a sausage. And this, my friends, is not a flattering look, no matter what country you're in. If, however, pants fit in the ass, chances are they will bunch and/or gap at the waist, threatening to fall off and any moment while simultaneously flashing my cute underpants for all to see. Not only is this an uncomfortable option, but it also borders on indecent. Which is why I was so happy to find these pants at, of all places, Old Navy. I've never shopped in there before, but as a last ditch effort, I gave it a shot last night. And I was thrilled. They fit really well. They're cheap. And they're convertible. They can be pants or capris. A backpacker's dream! (Who the hell am I?)
So, now, I'm ready. Except for the actual packing portion of my preparation, I'm done. I have all of my bug spray, my sunscreen, my cream for the bug bites I'm sure to get despite the bug spray. Hair stuff, notebook, books. I'm ready.
See you in ten days!
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
What I'm nervous about, I think, is the week after my vacation. Where I'll come back on a flight all alone, with my boyfriend still running around Belize, and I'm back in Milford. Where I'll pack up all of my belongings in the house that I barely got to know and start the slow and sure process of weeding out the things I don't need, the things that go into storage at Mom & Dad's, and the things I'll be moving into Billy's. And, before I know it, I won't have a place to call my own anymore. Billy's home will be mine. I'll no longer have that little reassurance in the back of my mind: If things don't work out, at least I have my house to go back to. All of my clothes will be there. My lotions and perfumes. My makeup. My jewelry. Everything. That makes simultaneously thrilled and anxious.
Because, what do I do with all of my history? What do I do with all of the pictures that have accumulated over the years, that have all made their way into that one big bag of photos that has taken up residence in the top shelf of every closet I've ever had the pleasure of filling? Do I bring it with me? Do I leave it with my parents?
What do I do with my journals? What do I do with the mementos? The love letters and the little gifts and the notes and the thank you cards and the birthday cards that were given to me by one person or another throughout my life? I can't throw them out. I just can't. They've traveled with me through each move, and I can't bring myself to let them go. But is there room for them in Billy's house?
I think maybe what I'm wrestling with is the permanence of what we're doing. Should I look at it as a temporary pit stop on my way to another place of my own? Or does his home really become MY home, too? Because, if it were my house too, I could bring all of my memories with me and not feel guilty. I live there, right? So my memories come along. Or, do I box them up and write "The Past" in thick black sharpie on the outside and put them in my parents' attic, where they'll stay until my parents decide to clean out the house? Because, it's really not MY house, and perhaps I owe him a fresh start. Just me. Not my memories. Not my old photographs. Me, now, starting something with him.
Because he can shift and shake and make room for my shoes and my accessories and my millions of CDs. He can sort out and set aside space for my shirts and skirts and underthings. But, if I were him, I wouldn't be so quick to give someone a space for their past. "Here you go, Laurie. You can hang your shirts here, there's a place for your skirts, and your baggage? It goes right here."
I just don't know. I've never done this before. I never even thought about it. I thought that the day I moved in with a boy would be the result of a joint purchase of real estate. A deed with our names on it, the ability to decorate it...Not moving what's mine into a place that's already his.
I know I think too much. I know I overanalyze. I know he wants me there. I know this is a big step in just the right direction. But, still, I wonder.
Much like the vacation I'll be taking in a few short days, this is all new to me. And I'm trying to keep an open mind and just go with the flow. I wanted it, and I want to do it. I can't wait. But, still, I'm nervous.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Since the day Billy told me our flights were booked, I've been crossing the days off of my little office calendar. In fact, my favorite thing to do every morning is to take my hot pink Sharpie and X off the preceding day. It makes my proximity to vacation more tangible. I can see my progress.
Again, with my crappy cameraphone, I've captured my progress for you. Note the excitement with which I've indicated where I'll be on the 27th, lest I forget. The teal announcement of "BELIZE!!," replete with stars of varying and bright colors, continues through May 6, at which point all of the celebration via Sharpie comes to an abrupt halt. It is on that day where I will leave my boyfriend in Belize, travel through customs and whatnot on my own, and land in Newark to greet my waiting parents. During that long and lonely week, I will be busy packing up my home and preparing to really, actually move in with Billy. A week after I land, I will drive back to Newark and pick up my well-tanned and well-traveled boyfriend.
But that all seems so far away. All except for our departure, for which, according to my calendar, I only have to suffer through three more workdays. It's getting kind of hard for me to focus on anything but that. Three days 'til we leave. Three days 'til we leave. Three days 'til we leave.
Ladies and gentlemen, the countdown is on in earnest. I have to pack my backpack in two days.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
I'd also been sort of fantasizing that, right around now, Billy would say "Haha! Fooled you! You get to take luggage! Two bags!" and we'd share a laugh, and I'd playfully slap him on the shoulder and ridicule him for scaring me into actually believing I'd only be able to carry a few items, and then we'd kiss and kiss and then, later, I'd start packing the first of my two very large suitcases. With lots of stuff that I don't really need.
However, this was not the case.
What he actually did was tell me to stand up and close my eyes. And then he left the room. From the room next door (a storage room/art studio) he commanded that I keep my eyes closed. "Still closed?" his voice, that was gradually getting closer, inquired.
Feeling like an idiot, I huffed out "YES!" Billy's big on the buildup, and it just drives me crazy. Which he knows. Which is, I think, why he does it.
He told me to turn around and put my arms out straight behind me. I knew he'd be putting the backpack on me, I could even hear it rustling in his excited hands. But I still sort of hoped for the surprise weight of a heavy suitcase in my outstretched hands.
Perhaps it is here that I should explain myself. I know how trite I sound when I talk about traveling with only a backpack. I know that I may even sound ungrateful or unwilling. This couldn't be further from the truth. I cannot wait to go with Billy. I cannot wait to experience something so far from what I've ever done in my entire life. But that's just it. I've never done anything like this. And I'm a little scared. I'm scared I won't do well at it. I'm scared I won't like it. I'm just scared because it's the unknown. I'm very much a creature of habit. And my habits when it came to vacationing, consistently involved packing too much makeup, too many clothes, and what everyone thought was way too many shoes, but were always all worn at least once. That's what I do. Wearing cute shoes and doing my makeup and dressing up makes me feel good. I like to do that on vacation. I like to go out to dinner. I like to go shopping. I like to sight see. But I like to wear cute shoes. I like to wear makeup. So that's is why I'm a little frightened. Because this isn't what I'm used to. At all. Not only am I traveling to Belize, I'm wandering out of my comfort zone.
So I stood there, arms out straight behind me and eyes closed, as instructed, and he put it on me. He slid the backpack over my arms and rested its padded straps on my shoulders. It felt huge on my body, cumbersome and not me. "Lemme look at you," he said, spinning me around. I hooked my fingers through my jean's belt loops, stuck my hip out, struck a pose. He laughed. I felt uncomfortable, awkward. I laughed, too. "I think," he said, while I stood there as he adjusted the straps around my body, like a first grader on my way to my first day at school, "that this may be the last time you come with me, huh?" He laughed and tugged me to him by the shoulder straps. He kissed me, still holding onto the front of the backpack.
"Maybe," I laughed back. I tilted my head back, touching the top of the backpack with the crown of my head. I felt shorter, for some reason. I didn't know what to do with my hands, so I moved them from my belt loops up to the shoulder straps, hooking my thumbs around them by my armpits, pushing the straps away from my body. Just like I did in high school.
I wasn't sure how long I was supposed to wear it for this particular fashion show. Billy kept circling me, checking me out in the gray backpack. He kept nodding in approval, tucking straps in here and there, saying "Uh-huh," and "Nice." So I stood around clumsily for a minute or two of his evaluation, feeling more than a little strange, then finally took it off. It slid down my arms in one smooth motion, and I swiveled it around onto the bed to take a look at it. Since, technically, I still hadn't seen the thing.
What had seemed like a scary behemoth on my back, now suddenly seemed so small. I opened the top flap and peered inside. "I'm supposed to fit all my stuff in there?" I said, pointing to the tiny cavern that would become the home to all of my earthly possessions for ten days in Central America.
"Yeeesss." He then began to unzip and unclip all sorts of compartments and hiding places within the bag, opening each one and displaying its vacancy triumphantly. "Look at this one! And this one here! And, oooh, here's another one!" I looked on, watching his obvious excitement unfold with every compartment. This is what he loves the most in this entire world. Traveling, carrying nothing more than he has to. Being unencumbered. His glee was contagious. I couldn't help but smile, watching him. "You know," he said, re-zipping a compartment, "this is the backpack my brother used when he met me in Greece. And it's the backpack my cousin used when we went to Australia." He handed me the now closed backpack. Passing a baton, of sorts.
"I feel honored," I said with a smile. I meant it. I did.
When he gave me the backpack, I felt the weight, the enormity of what it meant to him. I'm the first girlfriend he's ever taken with him. I'm stepping into a space previously occupied by only family members, people he was required by blood and law to love. People who will be in his life forever. And, me? He's not required to love me, he's just chosen to.
Billy's not one to talk much about the future, about the whys and hows of his loving me. He'll tell me he loves me, that I'm beautiful, that he's crazy about me, but he's not much into dissecting his feelings like I am. He doesn't want to rehash why he sought me out, what he liked about me before talking to me, why he was so hell-bent on getting my phone number, why he worked so hard to gain my trust from the very beginning. He just says "Do you know I love you?" And when I say yes, he says "So why all the questions?" He can't be mushy, he tells me. And that's fine. I can accept that. Everyone has their limits. So I look to The Dresser of Strength. His invitation to live with him. The fact that he stops and picks up ice cream for me some nights on his way home from work. But the one thing that supersedes all of that is this trip. His insistence that we spend ten days together, where we know no one but each other. Sharing something he loves so much with me. Wanting to be with me enough to take me with him the one time in the whole year that he actually gets to be alone. Wanting me.
That makes the backpack so much easier to carry.
Friday, April 21, 2006
So, I think I may have found the "appropriate" shoe I was ordered to buy. It is pictured at left and, naturally, I'm leaning toward the pink. Although it doesn't say anything about this particular shoe that I've selected, the internet tells me that this shoe's sibling (looks the same, but is made by another company) is waterproof, which means, if I had to, I could go traipsing about in waterfalls. I know that the fact that they do not completely envelop my foot proves a tad challenging in the face of hiking and running, but a girl has to draw the line somewhere. I don't see a heel on those things, and I KNOW I see tread. So I think I have compromised plenty.
Luckily, the local huntin' fishin' hikin' store right around where I work (I work in the country, down the street from a both a very large lake and a smallish lake, and just in front of a lot of state land. There is much huntin' and fishin' and hikin' going on around where I work.) carries this type of, ahem, footwear, so I should be able to try one on and wear it home, if I felt so inclined. Which I doubt I will. But at least I won't have to worry about shipping time.
There's another version of this shoe that fastens snugly around the foot. With oh-so-lovely velcro. Although I know that was what Billy was referring to when he said I needed "sport sandals," and though I do not doubt the added comfort and security of this particular variety of "sport sandal," I must pass. I think the "full-grain leather uppers" on the thong I've chosen are thick enough to keep my foot in place if necessary. And if this exact version happens to not be waterproof, I don't mind. I'll wear in the water anyway. Because I'm crazy like that. (And also because I doubt I'll wear them that often when I'm not in Belize. Though, I must admit, those pink ones are quite cute.)
So that's it. Now all I have to do is find a few skirts, maybe a pair of capris, about nine more bathing suits and a way to fit all of my shit into a backpack, and I'm all set to go.
*Because the people I know here would see me wearing a sandal made by nature-loving company Columbia as the first sign of Armageddon. And we wouldn't want to scare them.
"You've been living with me for eight months. Ever since our second date." His voice said It's not so big a deal. He took a spoonful of ice cream.
"Yes, but I still had my own place. It was a technicality, yes, but it was still there. Me giving that up is a big deal for me." He licked his spoon clean and dove back into our plate. He didn't say anything. So I continued. "You are talking to a girl who said she would never live with a guy. Never."
"Again," he said, pointing at me with his spoon, "you've been living with me for eight months."
"Yeah, and even that was a big deal for me." He cast a sideways glance my way. "Seriously. It was. I was in a relationship for four years and never even entertained the notion of moving in with him."
"Oh, yeah? Well I vowed to never, never, let a girl move in with me again. So that's a big deal."
His profession of having lived with girls before sucked the wind out of my sails. So I tried to ignore it. "But it's a bigger deal to me because this was a vow I've made and stuck to for my whole life, not after I tried something and it didn't work out."
"That's why it's a bigger deal to me. Because it didn't work out and I vowed to never let it happen again."
I couldn't get past the thought of him living with someone. "How many girls have you had living with you?" Curiosity always gets the best of me.
He thought for a minute, looked up at the hardwood ceiling above our heads and squinted, thinking back. "Uh...Twice?" Some more thinking. "Yeah. Twice."
"Twice?" I wasn't aware he'd tried it twice. "Well, see. It's old hat to you." I tried to hide how much I didn't like that I know knew he'd tried it twice.
"But both times didn't last over, like, two months. So you're already beating them. You've been living with me four times longer and it's still wonderful." Perhaps he knew how I was feeling.
The thing was, I didn't want to know he'd tried living with someone twice before. It stole my thunder, it made me feel like his attempt with me was just another go round, where mine was a giant step in his direction. I was looking for him to confirm the seriousness of our decision. That even though I'd been staying there, actually moving in was another realm altogether. But, instead, I got the truth of his past.
We try not to talk too much about our histories. I've made that mistake before, asking question after question about ex girlfriends and their roles in my partner's life. And all it ever did was wear down what I thought of us. Events in our shared life suddenly didn't seem as profound anymore, because he'd already done that with his ex. There's novelty lost in the relationship you're creating, where you'd like to imagine that you're sharing a bunch of firsts - Even though you know neither of you are virginal in many aspects, you can at least fantasize that you're sharing new experiences. And asking about exes only reminds you that you're not. You can't even pretend. So I don't ask Billy about his past relationships. I don't want to know. Best to leave them mysteries and believe that everything we do is only ours.
So his sudden confession that he'd tried living with someone twice before knocked me back. My last boyfriend lived with his girlfriend before me, and I never quite felt like I belonged in his house as a result. At least, with Billy, I knew no one had lived in this house with him. Our bedroom was still ours.
"Yeah, well, I'm telling you, mine is a bigger deal. Four years," I said, holding up four fingers in his face, to illustrate my point, "and I never even kept pants there. And, anyway, I didn't move into your house on the second date. I didn't start keeping stuff there until much later."
"Oh, you kept stuff there."
"Earrings," he said, his tone jokingly accusatory. "On the night stand."
"But that was accidental," I explained.
He laughed. "No, it was on purpose. You were marking your territory." He shook his finger at me, grinning while he spoke.
"No I wasn't."
"Yes you were. Just admit it."
"I'd admit it. If it were true."
It's funny how differently men and women view things. I did leave my earrings on his night stand, but only because I left his house every morning with barely enough time to get to my house and get ready for work on time. I always picked them up the next day. I could see why he thought that, but if I'd been thinking about marking my territory, I'd have done something less obvious. I'd leave panties in the bottom of the sheets, tampon wrappers in the garbage, perfume on the pillow: Things only women notice. Earrings are too obvious.
And now there's no denying a woman's presence.
And, regardless of how many times he's tried it before, regardless of how I haven't, it doesn't make it any less dramatic. No matter how I look at it.
I just have to remember that. And think of The Dresser of Strength.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
2. Things I've done in preparation for my trip:
- Permed my hair.
- Thought about the trip.
3. Things I haven't done yet, that I need to do in preparation for my trip:
- Gone tanning.
- Stopped eating.
- Gone shopping, successfully.
- Considered what I should and should not bring.
- Found "appropriate" shoes.
- Even considered finding "appropriate" shoes.
- Considered how little space I will have in my backpack.
- Even seen the backpack.
- Thought about packing the backpack.
4. I have, however, been going to the gym. And even though I didn't want to go last night, I went. I only had half an hour, so I decided to take half of the kickboxing class I normally take on Wednesday night. The problem? We had a substitute teacher. Who, apparently, has never heard of the word "rhythm." Nor has she encountered "flow." And, apparently, she wasn't very good at math. Because when she said we'd be doing "Four punches, four kicks," she decided to switch it up on us every time. Sometimes it was three punches and five kicks. Sometimes four and two. We didn't know. It was a mystery. She proceeded with no regard to the music, and then abruptly stopped one move to explain the next one. There was no following her. Which resulted in a classfull of women, jumping, kicking and punching haphazardly and randomly. It was hard to contain the laughter. The class started out with eight women in it. When I quit after my half hour, there were three remaining. I felt cheated out of a workout. So if I feel fat in Belize, I'm going to blame on that teacher.
5. As far as shopping for the trip, I decided I'd have to do it after work one day, by myself. Because I'm just one of those women who cannot shop with other people. Not at this point, anyway. The only trouble with that is, my car, Gwen, isn't exactly starting all the time, which proves difficult when I'm considering going to a mall with the intent to actually get home. I mean, she'll start, but she sort of click-clicks her way through a few revolutions before she gives in and starts. Which is just an abduction/rape/murder waiting to happen, really. Me, in my car, clicking away, in an empty mall parking lot. I'm thinking it's one of a few things: Starter (obvious solution), clutch, battery or bad gas. I don't know. And I have every intention to take her in to get fixed, it's just that I don't want to get slammed with a big repair bill before I go away. Maybe I'll put her in the infirmary while I'm gone. And I'll worry about the repair when I get home.
6. The perm has loosened up nicely. I'm actually quite happy with it. There are two windows of time, however, during my day that I hate it: As soon as I wake up, when it's frizzy and weird looking...And HUGE. And right after I wash it and put my $14 Curl Creme in it, when it just sort of lays on my head in tight little curls. But when it dries, it looks awesome. And, save for a few straight pieces in front (which I don't freakin' understand, but whatever), I'm really happy. I offer the accompanying picture as proof, with the condition that you disregard what would appear to be 80s bangs on my forehead. It just fell that way. My apologies. And, although this picture suggests otherwise, yes, I do have a neck.
7. It's so warm out now. I'm thrilled. It's actually spring. In celebration of this fact, I have begun to wear my favorite open-toed shoes. Every day I sport a new pair, which is nothing short of wonderful for me. My toes have felt claustrophobic from my winter boot selection. However, I went to a construction site yesterday (don't ask) in my high heeled sandals, and got all sorts of shit from the guys there that my shoes weren't OSHA approved. And I told them they could all suck it because it's spring and I'm wearing my high-heeled, inappropriate shoes, damnit. Even if I do have to traverse gravel, uncut lumber and rough tiling. Because I can.
8. I actually have a few things to do today, which is huge for me. I should go and, uh, do them.
9. I don't know how to end this post, so I'm going to do it....NOW!
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Billy Joel's "The Longest Time" serenaded me while I transferred over miscellaneous sales. "Who knows how much further we'll go on / Maybe I'll be sorry when you're gone / I'll take my chances / I forgot how nice romance is / I haven't been there for the longest time." It was enough to make my eyes well up, so that I was forced to tilt my head back and fan my face to dry my tears, a style favored by the weepy girls on reality television.
It's never good when I start my day second guessing my entire life, and then being forced to listen to romance and breakup songs all day long. It does something to my psyche. Something horrible.
This is what caused me to be mad at Billy when he called to tell me he was on his way home, EARLY. Although he technically has one early day a week, his actually being able to leave work before nine rarely ever happens. It's like Halley's Comet, only more rare. So imagine my surprise when he told me he was on his way home and suggested we "rent a movie or something." I, of course, had it set in my mind that, if he should actually get off early, we would go out to eat, just the two of us, since the last three weekends have been packed to the gills with familial obligations on both our sides. So I was miffed at his suggestion that we stay in. But I didn't tell him that, naturally. I just huffed out "yeah, whatever" and chose to resent him for it.
Somewhere between his call and his actually getting home, I decided that I couldn't take my mood out on him. I didn't care if we stayed in or went out. I just wanted to see him. So I tried to pep-talk myself out of it before he pulled in the driveway. I managed to talk myself out of displacing my frustrations on him, but I was still foul. He, of course, knew something was wrong. I'm sure he suspected it on the phone, but I confirmed his notion when he actually got home: He came into the bedroom to find me laying on the bed, immersed in "Pleasantville" on HBO. He burst through the door, sporting his new sunglasses and a broad smile, and I offered a weak grin in return. He looked so cute, in his shirt and tie and big brown shades, but I just felt so blah. So I complimented his eyewear as he removed his tie, kissed him back when he kissed me, and said "nothing" when he asked me what was wrong.
The thing is, I hate being like that. I hate being the grumpy girlfriend, the mopey one, the glum one. But, sometimes, I just can't help it. And I know that, if I were to tell him what was on my mind yesterday, he'd offer me solutions. And I just didn't feel like hearing his suggestions. I know his intentions are the best, and that he cares enough to offer helpful advice, but I just didn't want to hear it.
There was an email that went around a while ago, Men's Rules. One of the rules (which were all numbered "#1") was "Come to us with a problem only If you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for." I had sent the email to Billy, and he laughed, citing how true that rule in particular was. Men, generally, do not understand the catharsis that is just bitching for the sake of bitching. He always offers me some option or solution when I tell him my problems, as has every boyfriend in my past, as does my father, as does my brother. It's a male thing. Women, on the other hand, just nod sympathetically and commiserate. That's what I needed yesterday. And I knew that if I heard him utter the words "Why don't you just..." I may have exploded. I thought it best to save both of us the Raging Bitch Session for the night, and chose to circumnavigate the issue altogether.
But I can't imagine how it must've felt for him. He tried so hard to get me to tell him what was wrong. "What happened at work? Did you have a bad dream about me? Did your friend do something? Are you tired? Is it your period?" I said yes to that last one, for two reasons. One, yes, as a matter of fact, I do have my period. And that, my friends, makes me irrational and emotional for no reason whatsoever. And, two, saying anything related to the feminine cycle usually forces those of the male persuasion to shut up immediately. They chalk up your foul mood to hormones and estrogen, and, anyway, they surely don't want to know more about your cycle than they have to, so they just accept it as is and leave it alone. But, still, he knew there was something bothering me. He must've known there was something beyond my monthly visitor, because my cramps and bloating and quick-draw tears are usually just the gateway to some other issue.
When Billy's had a bad day, and he's sullen and quiet, I automatically wonder if it's me. If I've done something wrong, or if I can do something to help. I wonder if he feels the same. He knew I wasn't happy. And I'm generally a very happy person, so it must be tough for him to watch me try to smile, force a laugh. He knows.
We went downstairs and ate some leftovers, and while we cleaned up, he asked me once again what was wrong. "It's nothing, Babe," I said, rinsing my bowl out in the sink.
He went into the freezer and pulled out our Ben & Jerry's Pistachio ice cream. "Well," he said, prying the top from the carton. "I don't know why you're in this mood, but I'm gonna try like hell to get you out of it." And he stuck a spoon in the ice cream, smiled, walked over to me and kissed me hard on the lips.
How can you stay grumpy with a man like that?
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
I don't love what I do. Not enough, anyway, to feel guilty for getting paid to do it. And I can't refinish ancient hardwood floors, and I don't get my manicured hands in the dirt, I don't dabble in flora and fauna. I don't have anything I'm passionate about. Besides this.
And events in my recent history have stifled my ability to talk about it. Bragging about my blog, as silly and self-absorbed as it is, has only gotten me into trouble. So I don't talk about it. Better to not mention it than run the risk of yet another person reading it and getting offended.
So that just leaves me with work. And I think: Do I want to do this for the rest of my life? Writing out paychecks and enter bills into a computer? Looking forward to managing payroll? But then what? What is it that I'd rather be doing instead? The sad truth of it is, I don't know. There's nothing that captures my attention, my passion, my soul. Nothing that I can actually see myself doing. And if I have no clear designs of something else, why rock the boat?
I go through this a few times a year. I look at my life, my 25th year, take stock in all I have and what I do and decide that it's not enough. That I should quit work and go back to school. Find something, some career that challenges me beyond logging checks properly into the computer. Go and learn something. I loved school. I could meet people. I could better myself. And at least then, when someone asks me where I went to college, I wouldn't have to hit them with my well-rehearsed speech about going part time to West Point Military Academy, where Mount Saint Mary's college offered courses on post, taught by West Point professors, accelerated courses that saw me through my technical junior year, where I finally quit because I was going to get married and couldn't juggle classes and planning a wedding. I wouldn't have to say that I took a year off and never quite got back into the swing of things...All just to avoid the half-truth that I really didn't go.
I know I'm smart enough to do whatever I want. I lack no faith in my mental capacity for knowledge, for learning, for comprehension. The problem with all of this second guessing and worrying and thinking about change is that I just can't give it up. I can't give up my free time, the extra money in my checking account. The feeling of independence I have. The fact that if it doesn't work out with Billy, I'll have my own funds to fall back on. The fact that I may need a new starter on my car, and I don't have to worry about how I'll pay for it, or worry about asking someone to help me. I guess, more appropriately, I don't want to.
Perhaps the problem with quitting now and diving back into school would be admitting that I made the wrong choice all those years ago. It would be me saying I was wrong. That I should've gone straight to college from high school, as scared of it as I was. That I shouldn't have dropped out when I was planning to get married. Or, at the very least, I should've gone back. Leaving what I do now behind and moving on would be tantamount to saying I'm not happy with the way things are, that I've made bad choices. That I'm not proud of who I am. And it hurts too much to say that, out loud or implied.
What I'd like to do, all I'd like to do, is this: Write. And I'd like to be allowed to be proud of it, to talk about how thrilling it is to write something really good, to get comments, to find a site that's linked me. I'd like to write about posting my new Perm Picture, about my borderline funny entries, my sad ones, everything. But I just feel like I can't. Because this is such a source of controversy. Save for my mother and a few friends, I leave this blog out of my conversations entirely.
I need a hobby. Something I'm good at that I can talk about. A writing class. A green thumb. A flair for computers. A sure hand with a sander. Something. Because that something is missing right now. And that emptiness is tangible. The space where some passion should lie is hollow, throbbing with its own vacancy. I need an occupant.
Monday, April 17, 2006
So, when we entered the Billy's family & friends Easter gathering, the seat at the bar, and the wine that waited there, were welcome options...For both of our sakes.
Billy worked the room, leaving me to fend for myself. I sipped my wine and said my hellos to his family from the comfort of the seat, feeling good that Billy knows we're at that point where he can leave me alone at his family functions, and know that I'll survive. Despite my foul mood, I always feel a sense of accomplishment that we no longer need to be chained together at family functions. He talked to his cousins while I talked to his aunt and uncle.
We hadn't been there for more than twenty minutes when the food was unveiled; two buffet tables packed with lunch and desserts. People immediately swarmed around the smorgasbord, leaving just a few of us at the bar.
I talked with Alex and Nancy and Billy's uncle while, all around us, people settled in with their heaping platefuls of Easter lunch. But I was tired and unmotivated, too lethargic to stand in line, so I stayed where I was, caressing my wine glass and catching up with my fellow stragglers.
I felt a hand on the small of my back and turned around to see Billy. His long fingers straddled my spine, and kneaded the exact area that ached. He leaned down and kissed me gingerly on the forehead. "Are you hungry?"
"Yeah," I tucked a kinky piece of hair behind my ear. "I'll get some in a few minutes, when the line dies down."
"Do you want me to fix you a plate?"
"Would you mind?"
"No," he set his drink down in front of me. "What do you want?"
"Surprise me. Thank you, baby."
He kissed me again. "You're welcome."
His uncle, from the other side of the counter, watched our exchange with wide eyes. "Who. Are. You?" he said to Billy, squinting his eyes. "'Do you want me to fix you a plate?'" He mimicked. "Oh my God. You've gone over to the other side!" His raised his voice and grasped his head in his hands, a sign of pure confusion, desperation, disgust.
Naturally, Billy rolled his eyes, annoyed with being called out. "Trust me," Billy said. "Two minutes of fixing a plate saves me hours of aggravation later." We all laughed.
"I can't believe you trained him," his uncle said to me, spearing a slice of ham with his fork.
"Stop picking on him," I said, attempting to defend my man in the face of his emasculation. "I haven't trained him, he's just being nice. And he's right. You don't know how bitchy I've been."
"Yeah," Billy said, "you have no idea. Trust me. This is purely for my benefit." And he left.
I glared, in jest, at his uncle. "You leave him alone. Things are good. Don't fuck this up." I pointed my thumb over in Billy's direction, where he stood in line, talking to his cousin, two plates in hand.
"Hey," his uncle said, laughing his way through a bite of mashed potatoes. "I've been getting shit for years for being nice to my wife. Thank God I can finally give it back to him. I was worried I'd never be able to. " He pretended to cry. "He's one of us now," he said, nodding to Alex. I wasn't sure if his mock tears were of happiness or defeat, but apparently, he was including Billy in the Men Who Treat Their Women Well group.
I'm so happy to finally be one of those women.
Friday, April 14, 2006
"Oh, sure, now you tell me." I looked in the mirror, my head of hair rapidly disappearing into rolls of purple secured by elastic. "I'm nervous as it is. My hair is virginal, and I was skittish doing anything, and now you tell me you hate doing them."
She laughed, deep and throaty. "Yeah, well, it's just that I'm so good at them. Besides, I talked you into it, so I can't exactly say much, can I?" She popped the rod closed and reached for another.
What I was doing to myself this morning was something I haven't tried since I was roughly eight years old. A perm. The very notion of which sends me into a mild anxiety attack. Because when I think perm I think of my father's mother, with her tight, tight, tight white curls in a smallish 'fro around her head. I think of little old ladies and beauty parlors and Aquanet and women who wrap their entire head in toilet paper at night to keep their hairdos in place. So when I told my beautician, jokingly, that I was considering a perm, she said, in all seriousness, "You should do it. It would be great for you." And she went on to describe how it would be wash and wear and so much easier than my sort-of-straight, sort-of-curly current hair. She'd use big rollers, she said, to make it look like the natural curl in my hair, just all over instead of the sporadic curls I have now. I agreed.
So that's what I did today. Because, for my trip, it would be no-fuss hair. She painstakingly rolled my hair up, lined my head with cotton and dumped the most foul-smelling chemical I've ever encountered in my life all over said rollers, then covered it with a plastic bag and told me I'd have to sit like that for 20 minutes. I felt geriatric. All I needed was a walker.
It was not pleasant. Not only because it was humiliating, but because that horrible chemical was not contained by the cotton. And it rolled in toxic droplets down onto my face where it stung and burned until I blotted it with the wet towel she provided. "I guess there's no turning back now," I said to her via the mirror, my head wrapped up like last night's leftovers.
Her smoker's laugh echoed in the salon. "Nope there isn't. But stop worrying so much. Your hair is so strong."
"Thanks. I've been working out."
She giggled and clipped the plastic baggie closed at the tippy-top of my forehead. "It's going to look great."
"I hope you're right," I said, smoothing my cape over my lap. "Because if I had to sit here in this degrading headdress, drowning in chemicals, in danger of asphyxiating for nothing, I'm totally not tipping you."
She laughed. And invited me to join her for a cigarette. Despite the fact that I was pretty sure I was highly flammable, I accepted. Because I, sir, have an addiction.
Twenty minutes later, she peeled the cotton from my moist head and rinsed the rollers of the offensive product. But this was not the end of my journey. She blotted my head with a paper towel ("This just gets more humiliating at every turn," I said, my head covered with three sheets of Bounty.) and directed me back to her chair.
She followed me over with a tube of Hydrocortisone cream, for the red patch blossoming on my forehead. "This'll help with that irritation."
I surveyed the splotch in the mirror. It started at my temple and crept its way up to the middle of my forehead. Red and angry, it scolded me: This is what you get when you just can't appreciate the hair you have. You know your skin is sensitive. What? Did you think a chemical that permanently curls your hair wasn't going to irritate you? What were you thinking?
"Hey, Jill?" I said, fingering the mark, surveying it for premature peeling and/or bubbling, "Do I have to pay extra for the mild chemical burn, or is it included in the price?"
She spun me away from the mirror. "We throw that in for free. Consider it a gift from me to you." She then mummified my hairline once more with cotton and applied the "neutralizer." "This only has to stay on for five minutes," she told me as she squirted each roller individually. "So your added-bonus-chemical-burn should be pretty much contained."
As promised, five minutes later, she stripped my head of the cotton and began to unroll all of her careful work. She washed my hair and began to give me instructions for the care of my new do. No washing it for 48 hours. "You can wet it," she said, "just don't use shampoo." Gross. Not only because I am an avid hair-washer (once, sometimes twice, a day), but also because my head smells like shit from all those chemicals. I'm so sure Billy will love it when he gets home, cuddles up to me, and notices that my head smells like a toxic dump. For forty-eight hours.
She sent me from the hair-washing chair to her chair and let me look at my new curly hair.
Drowned-rat came to mind.
But a drowned rat with some pretty curly fur.
I'd been moist about the head area for almost two hours. My hair was pretty limp. It was tired from all that rolling and burning and general activity.
She put some "curling creme" in my hair and told me my blow-dryer days were over. "Blow drying tends to make perms frizzy." She worked the product through my hair, scrunching handfuls of it in her hands. It was so relaxing. I wanted to fall asleep. "If you do what you used to do to make your hair curly, you'll have an afro." Which, by the way, to me, is awesome. The bigger the hair, the better. "And you can blow-dry it straight whenever you want to. It's pretty easy. When you're on vacation, just put some gel in it and let it air-dry." She picked up her blow dryer. "But I'm gonna diffuse your hair now, to get some of the dampness out."
"Thank god," I said. "I'm sick of being wet." Also, I was hoping that I'd like it better dry. Because I wasn't really feeling the limp look. Plus, it wasn't exactly the natural wave she'd promised. It was pretty...Permed.
Sensing my dissatisfaction, she spoke: "Now, remember, it's the tightest it will ever be right now. In a few days it'll be loose and natural."
I examined the results in the mirror. Okay. Still wet, so just okay. I hoped that, once it dried I'd like it better.
And, as it turns out, I do. It looks almost exactly how I wanted it to: Like my natural curl, only no longer intermittent; more consistent. And not as crunchy from a gallon of gel/ mousse/ hairspray/ hairdryer/ hairspray. (Yes, I know "hairspray" is in there twice. I use a lot.)
But I'm still looking forward to a few days from now, though, when it's a little more "natural wave" and a little less "HEY, I JUST GOT A PERM!!"
Me, five minutes ago, in all my permed glory.
Sorry for the ghetto "Camera Phone Self Portrait Through the Looking Glass;" I know you can't really tell what my perm looks like here...But its the fastest way for me to get a photo taken and uploaded. I have pictures on my actual camera from Christmas that have yet to be seen on anything but that tiny little screen on the camera. Whoops.
*The title is an allusion/direct quote from one of my favorite '80s movies: Troop Beverly Hills. I had to give a shout-out to Mrs. Nefler's horror story about Christophe's Salon. "He said, 'I'll streak your hair, and I'll give you a body wave.'... And when he turned me around to face the mirror, I saw it, HE PERMED ME!!!!! [screams from Mrs. Nefler AND the troop]" Oh, how that made me laugh. And I thought about it today.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
"Laaaaaaaaaaaurie. It's Joe." Sigh. "Call me." Some fumbling, and a click.
I was at my parents' house, having just Turbo Taxed my way to a handsome refund and stuffing both my Federal and State envelopes with my freshly printed taxes. I erased the message and looked at my parents, a worried look stretching across my face.
"It was Joe. He never calls me." I flipped my phone shut. "Well," I considered aloud, "maybe he's calling because we're both going to be out of town the end of this month. Maybe we need to work something out with the dog?" My voice was hopeful. My parents were both turned around looking at me over the backs of the comfy chairs they were sitting in.
"Maybe." Mom said. But her face betrayed her. She knew what the call meant. She turned back around to face American Idol. "Call him back," the back of her head said to me.
"I get shitty service here," I said, moving my phone around in the air to find the ONE spot in their house where I get more than one bar of reception. I had to get his voice mail on speakerphone, completely still, lest I drop the signal have to start all over again. For the fourth time. I gave up. "I'll just call him on my way home."
Of course, by "home," I meant "Billy's home." I tucked my IRS envelopes into my purse and headed for the door.
I was nervous about talking to Joe because I pretty much knew why he was calling me. The house we live in (well, the house I pay to live in, anyway. The house where I keep all of my clothes until I need them.) has been on the market for a few months. And, in my history living with Joe, we've moved into three houses. So, twice before, I've been the recipient of the call that warns me it's time to pack up again. Sometimes I had a month to pack. Last time, I had a week. And I've been dreading that phone call since he regretfully told me he'd be selling our latest house, too. I had a feeling this was that phone call.
When I got to the house, I dialed Joe's number. He answered, sounding a little weary. "Are you sleeping?" I said apologetically.
"Nooo...." His voice trailed off.
"Well, what are you doing then?"
My stomach lurched. "Tell me you're packing for your vacation."
He laughed sympathetically. "Sorry. But that'd be a lie. It sold today."
I put my palm to my forehead, a million things running through my mind. Go to the liquor store and get boxes. How long did it take me to pack last time? Clean out my car so I have someplace to store everything in transit. Oh yeah, and WHERE THE FUCK AM I GOING TO LIVE NOW? "How long do we have?" I asked, meekly.
"Till the end of May."
"Awesome." I leaned against the kitchen counter, the sounds of Billy assembling the new patio furniture out on the deck floating in through the open window.
We finished our conversation after going over some details, and I tossed my phone into my bag, disgusted.
Billy came in and wrapped his arms around me. I hadn't so much as said hello to him since I walked through the door. "How are you, baby?"
"My house just sold," I blurted. I rubbed my forehead. Where would I rent? Where would I go? What can I afford?
The thing is, I don't mind my monthly rent payment, even though I don't live there. I like having a place to call my own. But I don't pay much rent now. So it's never bothered me. I sort of think of it as a storage fee. I have an incredible deal with Joe, so living anywhere else will really gut me financially. Everything will change if I find an apartment that will undoubtedly cost me four or five times what I'm paying now. I just can't justify sleeping at Billy's house every night if I'm giving half of my paycheck for rent. And I'm not ready for that change.
"Are you nervous?" Billy said, smiling.
"Of course I'm nervous," I rested my head on his chest.
I lifted my head and looked out past his shoulder, onto the deck. The empty boxes from the new table and chairs sat in the dim light. "Save those boxes, will ya? I may need them. TO LIVE IN."
He laughed. "There's a bigger one out there. You could have a two story."
We chuckled together, and I excused myself to the bedroom to change. Part of me was sad that I'd be out of my house. The other part was upset that Billy hadn't mentioned anything about me moving in with him. But, I reasoned, it's for the best. The last thing in the world I want to do is invite myself to move in with him, and I certainly don't want him to feel like he has to take me in. And, besides, I'm really not stuck with no place to live. My parents, after all, live right in town, in a big comfortable house that is always open to me. I'm not too keen on the idea of living with my parents again at 25, but it's not the worst thing in the world. I love them, they're fabulous, and I'm at Billy's most of the time anyway. It wouldn't be so bad. But I still like my independence, my own space...So, still morose, I plodded downstairs to join Billy in his assembly task on the deck. And I eyeballed my new living space: The box marked "Table."
The next morning, I woke up with the whole issue still weighing on my mind. My boss is renting out an apartment soon, and even though it is in the same building I'm working in, it may be a possibility. I lined my eyes and considered what it would cost my budget to fork over an actual rent check. I started thinking: Well, my car will be paid off shortly, I could not order my lunch anymore...It started to make sense.
I went into the bedroom to collect my things and leave for work to find Billy partially awake under the covers. I had tried not to wake him, since Wednesday is his one day off, but there he was, blinking at me with sleepy eyes, his smile weak with slumber. I walked over to him to kiss him goodbye.
"Have a good day off, baby," I said, my mouth barely inches from his. He cupped my face in hand and drew me to him, pressing his soft lips against my own. One kiss, then another, and another. Each time I pulled back, he pulled me closer. "So," he said, between kisses. More kisses.
"Babe," I said through our mashed lips, "I really have to go." Another kiss. "I'm running late."
"So...Would you like to move in here? With me?"
I was truly shocked. It was something I wanted to hear, but nothing I expected. "Do you want me to?" Another kiss.
"Of course. There's just one problem, though." Another kiss.
I wasn't sure what to expect. "What?" Kiss. Kiss.
"I don't think I can fit all your shit in here."
"I won't bring it all. How about that?"
Kiss. "Okay." Smile. Kiss.
"In that case," kiss, "yes. I will. I do."
"You do what?" Kiss.
"Want to move in here."
He stretched out a "goooooood," kissed me one last time and let me go. I sprinted to my car and headed to work.
And, although I was listening to the radio, I couldn't focus on it. I was busy thinking. Thinking about what had just happened. He actually asked me to move in with him. He slept on it, and he woke up thinking it was the right move to make. And even though I've been more or less living there already for the past eight months, it still struck me as something profound.
Because there's a drastic difference between just staying there and actually living there. Because, as of now, if there's a problem or a fight or a breakup, I have a house of my own to go to. I can go back to life as I knew it, Before Billy. But relinquishing that freedom is, actually, a pretty big deal for me.
I never thought I'd be the type of girl who saw moving in together as a big deal. Because, up until recently, I never thought I'd actually consider moving in with a guy. I was the kind of girl who, ten years ago, out-and-out refused to live with a guy unless we were married. Then, three years ago, I thought maybe we'd move in together if we were engaged - But only with a wedding date secured. All this time, I'd been living off of the technicality that I wasn't really living with him because I had a place of my own. Until I realized that it is a huge deal. That you are sharing a life with someone. There's a permanence to cohabitation.
It's probably a much bigger deal to me than it is to him, I think. He probably sees it as just me bringing over a mountain of shoe boxes and more odds and ends. I see it as giving up my way out. And it scary: I'm saying "Hey, I really think this is going to work with you and me, so I'm going to trust that I won't need a place to live other than right here with you."
I'm kind of freaking out a little bit. Last night, laying in his arms before bed, I turned to face him. "Can I ask you something without getting shit for it?" He nodded. "Are you sure? About me moving in here?"
"Of course I am. But, babe, you've been living here for eight months, anyway."
"I know...I just don't want you to feel like you had to ask me, or that I expected it of you. I want to make sure it's something you asked because you wanted to, not because you felt like you had no choice."
He squeezed me and kissed my forehead. "Aw, babe. You worry too much."
My mom always disagreed with couples living together. Why would he buy the cow when if he's getting the milk for free? But she was just as happy as I was when I told her the news.
Sometimes, when it feels right (even if you are a little scared), you don't feel like you're giving away anything. You feel like you're getting something, instead.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
2. And I didn't know until after I did them that they didn't have to be postmarked until April 17th. If I would've known that, I probably would've waited even LONGER. So it's probably for the best that I thought I'd have to get 'em in the mail by Friday.
3. I drove to Wendy's for their Southwest Taco Salad (Which I loooove) and, during my lovely, spring afternoon drive, I was cut off by three people. Please understand that I live in a town that consists mainly of two-lane roads: One lane going my way, one lane going the other way. But, from time to time, (three times, in fact) the road expands to let people out of Wal Mart, Staples and Lowe's, hence giving us two lanes to work with. For all of about four car-lengths. Oftentimes, there is no one coming out of those stores, so that extra lane just sort of sits there, unused. A few assholes see this as their opportunity to get one goddamn car ahead, because that's really gonna cut down their commute time. The first time, the driver was a teenager, so I just sort of shrugged and said "Kids. What'cha gonna do?" The second time, it was an adult, and it kind of pissed me off. I'm very much of the Wait Your Turn mentality, so it frustrates me when someone just has to get in front of me. If you're passing me - or anyone else, for that matter - on a two lane road, that's fine. Fair enough. Par for the course. Yadda, yadda, yadda. But to use a lane that's not really a lane to go 42 mph as opposed to my already-disobeying-the-fifty-billion-posted-35 mph-speed-limit-signs 41, and, oh yeah, I can't go any faster because there are other people ahead of me is just much to Asshole-ish for me. The third time it happened, it was an old lady in a Mercury. I'm sorry, but when I am made to feel like I'm going too slow for someone who can barely see over her steering wheel, I feel disgusted. Like I'm holding her up or something. Please. I've been stuck behind her geriatric brethren on one lane, no passing roads, going 15 below the speed limit on numerous occasions, and I stayed right where I was. How dare she pass me?
4. Wendy's forgot to give me a fork. Do you know how ridiculous it is to make me pull around and go inside for a fucking fork? That should've been included without so much as a thought because I got a fucking salad? How do you forget that? It is not the first time this has happened to me, and it infuriates me. Plus, I'm lazy. And that meant I'd have to get out of my car to go inside and ask for a fork. But, trust me, if I could, I'd totally just pull around the drive through a second time for that thing. I'm that unmotivated.
5. There was a line in Wendy's. It was a big night for dining out in Milford, apparently. (I noticed some of my fellow residents even put on their good flannel and camouflage for the evening. Not me, though. I wasn't counting on getting out of my car.) Anyway, there was this huge line, and the forks at the little condiment/necessities kiosk were all gone, so I had to go to the counter. And this always presents a dilemma for me. Because part of me wants to wait in line because, hey, I know what it feels like when someone just jumps right to the front because their thing is "easy" or whatever. But the other part of me thinks "Hey, no way. I waited in line and I got screwed. Which means I have to wait in line twice? Uh-uh." So I thought about it for a sec, then, despite the slight twinge of guilt I felt, I just walked up to the nearest pre-pubescent cashier to ask for the utensils they cheated me out of. And, wouldn't you know it, some "lady" (and I use that term very loosely) said "What? You ain't gotta wait in line like everybody else?" No, ma'am, I ain't gotta. Because I'm young and still have all of my teeth. And that, my friend, gives me a free pass. Which is what I wish I would've said. But I didn't, of course. Instead, I got all nervous and apologetic (I hate confrontation with strangers) and explained - very quietly, I might add - that I already ordered through the drive thru and just needed a fork. I'm an idiot.
6. I think waaaaaaay too far into things.
7. My roommate/landlord called to tell me our house sold. Which means I am now, technically, homeless.*
8. I ate that Wendy's salad only to get home and find out there were freshly grilled, homemade hamburgers waiting there. D'oh!
9. I went to bed too late. I'm tired today. Hence the lame list.
*This may not be so true. An event that occurred since I woke up this morning, but before I left for work, may have drastically improved the way I feel about Item #7. Post to follow. Later. After I figure out if Billy's sincere invitation to move in with him, I mean really move in with him, was truly an invitation, or something he accidentally blurted out in his Day Off half-awake/half-still-asleep/not-quite-alert-or-conscious state. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
"No," I responded, peeling back the covers on the freshly made bed with its clean sheets and crisp pillowcases. "It's over there." I nodded in the direction of our laundry hamper, where our favorite winter blanket laid folded in front of a mound of clothes I had yet to wash.
We bought the blanket when we first started dating. We were walking through the Filene's bedding department, joking that there are no masculine bedsets, when I ran my fingers over what may be the softest, most amazing blanket I've ever felt in my whole life.
"Babe. C'mere. You've got to feel this," I instructed, unwilling to stop touching it myself. He came over and wrapped his slender fingers around the fabric.
"Oh my God." He looked at me in disbelief. "That is amazing."
And so we sought the blanket in its packaged form (as opposed to its on-display form). We faced a wall of the blankets, in every color and size imaginable. He let me pick the color, and he insisted on a king size, even though we were still sleeping on a queen. "It'll be inspiration to get a new bed," he said as the saleslady rung up our first domestic purchase.
Because it was summer when we started dating, the blanket sat in the closet for months. But, on the first cold night of fall, out came the blanket. We put it on the bed and fell instantly and hopelessly in love with its softness, and the way it was warm to the touch, no matter how cold the room around it was. Unlike sheets, it was warm from the moment you burrowed beneath it. It didn't require body heat to be cozy.
It stayed on the bed from that point on, and, later, it was finally able to call a King size mattress home. From the comfort of the bed, we could be heard saying, over and over, "I love our blanket." I loved that, that it was the first possession we claimed jointly. One of the first items to be stamped Ours.
Making the bed together, however, we struggled with the blanket. Because it is essentially made of two blankets sewn together along the perimeter, it tends to suck in on itself, ever shifting in shape and size.
"It's like some sea urchin," Billy said as he thrust his hand into one of the pockets created by the blanket swallowing one of its own corners.
"I know. It takes ages to dry, too, because it just keeps balling up in the dyer," I pulled the opposing corner taut to make it easier for him to reconstruct the blanket to its original shape.
And from that day forward, it was called The Urchin. And I loved that we had now moved to the arena of a relationship that allows for stupid nicknames for inanimate objects. That's a big step, as far as I'm concerned, in a relationship. You bond over something that only the two of you understand.
In bed one morning, staring at The Urchin in its lonely spot by the perpetually full laundry basket, he said "You know, I think we're wrong when we call it The Urchin. Because, don't sea urchins have, like, spikes that come out when something gets near them?"
I paused in the middle of my morning makeup routine. "Yeah...I think it's more of an...Anemone." I was shocked at myself for even knowing the word, let alone what it meant.
"That's right. Anemone."
We both looked at it. Silently, we both considered the name change.
"Nah," I said, shaking myself out of the Anemone Vs. Sea Urchin trance. "I like 'Urchin.' It's cuter."
He considered it. Then nodded. "Yeah. I like 'urchin' better, too."
It's my favorite part of the relationship: The bond we feel over a grammatical error that we've made for months. How we don't want to change it. That The Urchin sits right next to The Dresser of Strength. That we have enough time under our collective belt to actually begin to create history together, stories that make us giggle, words to which only he and I know the definitions.
There's a certain point we all reach in relationship when you realize that you are no longer just dating, you are a real, actual, factual couple. For whatever reason, The Urchin was my point.
Monday, April 10, 2006
For the afternoon, I was his muse. He told me to turn or tilt, to look at him, to look away. The results of Sunday's photo shoot sit in our camera phones, set as Photo IDs and backgrounds.
We had spent the morning at brunch with my mom and dad, then killed the afternoon in a local flea market (one of the largest in the area) where we haggled over knock-off bags for me and a golf bag for him. Tired from all the walking and worn out from the wind, we headed home, our purchases resting in the back seat.
We retired immediately to the bedroom where, like a kid, I stripped my fake bag of the tissue paper surrounding it, preparing to fill it with my many necessities. He aimed his camera phone at me, snapping me in the late afternoon sunlight, capturing the surprise in my face when I looked up to find the tiny Sanyo lens in my face.
We spent the next hour with camera phones poised, taking shots of one another. We played with resolution and color filters, angles and distance. His photos always came out more crisp, more flattering. Mine were grainy and shaky, the product of my unsteady hand and my complete lack of an eye for pictures. He took the "sepia" tinted one above, where I chose to look at him while he fiddled with the position of the phone above our heads, committing our gaze to a lifetime in my phone.
This is what I love, days spent in the sheets, laughing and behaving like idiots. Times that remind me that we don't need excess stimuli to enjoy one another's company. We can be perfectly happy all afternoon with just one another; watching HGTV and Grey's Anatomy, stealing kisses and making each other laugh, it's perfect.
I remember when I was single, I thought that what I missed was someone to go out with. An arm to thread with my own, a built-in date for weddings and social affairs. But I was wrong. I didn't even realize I was missing this, the pure comfort of someone you trust, an easy afternoon of laughing with and at one another. Feeling like I may burst with joy and love and glee because I love this man so much, and I feel so lucky to have him.
Days like this are the ones I live for. They're the ones that shock me out of self-pity and self-doubt. The days I don't care about my weight or my makeup, days when I am just purely, blissfully happy.
How do you thank someone for a day like that?
Saturday, April 08, 2006
I learned the term in my psychology classes during my brief stint in college. I was intrigued by the way people who suffer from the disorder are so oblivious to the way they really look. "If you gave someone who has Body Dysmorphic Disorder a marker," said my Social Psych professor, "and had them stand in front of a mirror and trace their outline, they would outline their reflection inches larger than their reflection actually appears. They may even be too thin to be healthy, but they actually see their body as bigger than it is. They don't just think they're fat, they actually believe it enough to see it."
Sometimes I wonder if I'd do the same thing. If I outline my nude reflection in a mirror, would I add some inches to my hips, perhaps draw my waist a little wider than it actually is? But I'd never dare try it. Best not to know.
"Why do you think that?" Billy said, clearly annoyed that I have turned into yet another girl who has chosen to plod down the "I'm fat" road.
"Because if I had really gained as much weight as I think I have, none of my clothes would fit. And all of my pants are loose, not tight."
I'm terrified of losing control of my wits, on any level. It's one of my biggest fears in life. Because, to me, losing control of logic and reason equates to crazy. After I saw the movie The Sixth Sense, I was terrified of dead people. The night that I saw it, I drove home alone from the movie theater with my windows down and the lights on inside my car. Apparently, I thought ghosts were afraid of both cold air and interior lights in SUVs. When my fear got a little out of hand (when I rushed to my bedroom to try and fall sleep while my parents were still awake downstairs because, somehow, it made me less fearful), I decided it was time to put a stop to it. When I would get home at night and face the long, dark walk from my car to the front door of my house, I would fight my urge to run inside, instead walking slowly and deliberately, reminding myself with each step I took that nothing was going to happen to me. I reminded myself how far from logical my fear was, how ridiculous I was being. And before I knew it, I no longer had to sleep with the hall light on and the radio playing.
I always talk myself out of the craziness I feel creeping up on me. My mind, although emotional and sometimes creative, is rooted in logic. And, usually, I can convince myself out of any impending psychosis...
But I still declined a midnight snack.
I just wish I could see the woman he sees when he looks at me. He tells me I'm sexy and beautiful and perfect, and there are some days when I agree, but others that I just don't believe it. Not that he's lying, it's just that I don't feel gorgeous. In my mind, I could be just a little thinner, a bit more toned, a tad more shapely. I'm so critical of every curve, of my softness, that I begin to see them as flaws instead of attributes. And while I'm busy picking me apart, Billy's telling me how beautiful I am.
I should start listening to him instead of me.
Friday, April 07, 2006
I have things on my mind, but nothing I can write about here. And it's so all-consuming that I just can't focus on anything even mildly creative. Four posts have fallen victim to the delete button already, each one of them lacking quality, passion and clear thought.
I keep trying, but nothing's coming out.
It's time like these that I feel the worst. Verbal constipation. When I can't express what's running through my mind, the tension in my body builds on itself, multiplying exponentially until I all but shut down. Or at least my skills of self-expression go on hiatus.
The worst part is, the thoughts sprinting around in my brain aren't bad. They're just monotonous, aggravating, simple things. Like, I have to get to the gym, I have to start tanning (even thought I've never tanned before and I don't really want to...I just don't want to wind up with a sun rash on my trip), I have to make a hair appointment, I have to seriously consider what I want to pack, all jokes about high-maintenance needs aside. I have to get all my bills paid before I leave, I have to figure out if I want to pay off my car now or wait until after I get back. I have to figure out how much money I'll be taking. I have PMS. There are other things, too. Personal items best left out of a public forum.
So, I'm hoping this is just a weird phase that passes, that something great will happen today (or tonight) to get me thinking about something good instead of itemized responsibilities and small grievances.
Also, the fact that it's cold and rainy out isn't helping matters. Weather like this tends to make me somber and introverted. (I could make a joke here about Blame it on the Rain and Milli Vanilli, but I won't.)
Let's hope I'm back to normal tomorrow. Or later today. Because I can't even stand myself right now.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
TJ Maxx was filled with summer essentials. Bathing suits, towels, flip flops, cover ups. Which was just what I was looking for, right? Well, yeah, except that I was assaulted with hues in the neon family, prints of the floral persuasion and shoes of the little-to-no-heel variety. I do not wear neon colors. At all. Ever. I may, from time to time, sport a bright aquamarine or warm pink (hot pink's more demure counterpart), but, generally, I steer clear of any color that may get me confused with a Vegas marquee. And I pretty much hate flowers on anything. And, if you've read this blog for a while, you know how I feel about shoes without heels. (If you haven't read me before, I'll bring you up to speed: I hate them.)
But this is my vacation. My first trip where I'll actually be required to use my passport (and not just flash it around at people to make myself feel like a World Traveler...As I did on my cruise three years ago). The first time I'll be away from my house for more than a few hours with only a backpack worth of belongings that does not involve a lunch period and study hall. And I'm going to do this. So I started looking around for something more my speed. Mom pointed out some very lovely, middle-age appropriate knee-length shorts (Pleats?! C'mon, Ma!), which I politely declined. (The shorts were declined for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the pleats. Also, they were declined because I do not wear shorts. Mom? Billy? Do you hear me? NO SHORTS. I hate them. I hate they way the ride up between my legs when I walk, I hate the way they make me feel fat, I hate the way my ass refuses to fit in many cuts of decent shorts, and, last but not least, you can't wear shorts with heels unless you want to look like a whore. And I gave that particular look up in high school.) But I did find something that I liked: Skirts. Rows and rows of skirts. My heaven.
I picked up crocheted skirts, linen skirts, terry cloth skirts. Jean skirts, flimsy fabric skirts. Knee length, long, barely-covers-my-J.Lo-ass skirts. And, then, excited about my finds and succumbing to the reality of my trip, I began to shop in earnest. Light, cool fabrics in tropical colors - things that made me think "Advertisement for Sandals/Puerto Rico/Honeymoon getaways" - were draped over my left arm while I used my right to sift through one packed rack after another. I was really getting into it. And when I spotted a cute pair of flip flops with beaded straps and a slight wedged heel, I went for it. And mom stopped me.
"Laurie. You can't wear that stuff." She picked up the flip flop, dangling it in front of my face like evidence. "You're going to be backpacking. And walking. You can't wear shoes like this." She gave it a shake. Taunting me.
"But he told me we'd just be spending a lot of time on the beach. I can wear those shoes." I pointed to them, lest she forget about which shoes we were arguing. "Look, they're the perfect compromise. Minimal heel, yet still flip flops. Designer, yet casual. And," I tilted the tag and inspected it, "only $8.99. If they hurt, I can just throw them away and wear, I don't know, palm fronds on my feet, or whatever I'm supposed to be wearing."
She rolled her eyes, putting the shoes back on the display.
So I went into the dressing room, and twirled around in front of my mother in the skirts, testing the tank tops for length and comfort, and settled on two skirts - one short and white, one long and green - and three shirts. (I also went and bought a pair of BCBG heels, too. They are neither minimal nor flip flops. Big high heel, completely impractical. I bought them because I could.)
Later that night, while we prepared ourselves for bed, I told Billy that I'd done a little shopping for our trip. I told him what I'd bought, and about the scuffle over shoes.
"You might want to get some diving shoes. You know, for waterfalls, stuff like that."
"I have a gay pair of diving shoes I bought in Jamaica when I climbed Dunn River Falls there?" The end of my sentence went up, like a question. Do you really expect me to wear diving shoes?
"Hmm." He considered it. "Well, I don't know. Maybe sandals or something. That won't fall off your feet and don't have a heel." He thought for a second, then spoke again: "You know, you might want to consider that you can shop there, too. Maybe save some room for stuff there."
"Can I bring a real suitcase?" I said it quickly and hopefully, like the speed with which I spoke and the need in my voice could magically trick him into saying yes.
"No," he said, just as quickly as I'd asked. "Backpack."
And we laughed that I was silly enough to even think he'd let me take a real suitcase.
And, I'm thinking about it, and I don't know how this is even physically possible. Don't get me wrong, I'm so excited about all of this...The challenge of packing light, as opposed to my compulsive need to overpack, the prospect of travel outside of the country, the even more intoxicating prospect of spending that much time with Billy, the fact that, a few weeks ago, when I showed Billy my plain gray cotton skirt that I was thinking about bringing, he said "Aw, babe, not linen or something? This is supposed to be romantic. You know, walks on the beach, stuff like that." I can't wait to be with him in the sun and the sand and the water. With the drinks and the foreign land and the distance from home. I just can't wait.
It's just that, when I think backpack, I think this:
And I just don't know how I'm going to carry any hidden makeup in that.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Hence, my mood today. A stark contrast to my googley-eyed demeanor of yesterday, I am more bitter and tired than loving and affectionate. It has nothing to do with Billy, or any events that occurred besides the fact that I fell asleep and woke up. That's really the only thing to which I can trace this mood.
But now that it's here, everything is aggravating it.
1) It's snowing. It is fucking snowing. And sleeting and freezing rain. And it's windy. And, oh yeah, it's fucking APRIL! There's something very wrong with waking up on an April morning and seeing flurries.
2) Because it's snowing, I chose to wear a turtleneck. But not just any turtleneck, my favorite sweater. It's a wool sweater, probably knit by someone in Mexico or Japan, but looks like it could've been carefully crafted by my grandmother. It is in the most beautiful shade of mottled blue, not unlike a robin's egg. It's gorgeous. And, I got it on sale: $25 down from $100! But, it is very, very, very itchy. So I wore silk underwear underneath. Naturally. But the silk undershirt I have on doesn't protect my very sensitive neck. And the sweater, at this very moment, not only itches like a million mosquito bites, but is also sort of choking me. So I've got that going for me.
3) I have a strict policy that dictates that, whenever I wear a turtleneck, I wear my hair up or back. It has to do with my low tolerance of anything in my face during the day. And I notice that turtleneck + hair-down = a lot of hair in my face all day long. PLUS, I feel like my face is being suffocated by said turtleneck + hair-down combination. Did I mention I hate having hair in my face? So, anyway, normally, I'd have my hair up in a classy little low ponytail or a fancy French twist with a mess of curls on top. But when I dried my hair this morning, scrunching it and scrunching it to achieve the right amount of curl to perfect either of my two preferred hairstyles, I noticed that I was having an awesome hair day. So I threw caution to the wind and abandoned my tried and true rule of no wearing your hair down when you're in a turtleneck...Especially an itchy turtleneck. And it has been horrible. I'm constantly brushing loose tendrils of hair from my face. And it's slowly reaching the point where I may be forced to either a) rip out my hair or b) rip off the sweater and work in my silk undershirt. Tres sexy.
4) Because of the undiagnosed OCD that forces me to fixate on how irritated I am by my sweater and my hair (which, by the way, despite thoroughly pissing me off, does look positively awesome), I cannot concentrate. I don't have much to do at work as it is, but spending all of my energy focusing on how frustrated I am does not allow for much excess energy for completing the two - count 'em, two - tasks I have on my agenda for today: Enter some bills, call a customer. And what am I doing? Blogging about how annoyed I am that I can't concentrate on my work.
5) The fax machine jammed. Three times. On the same fucking page of the same fucking fax. The only way to get it to go through was to fax each page separately. That kicked ass.
6) There's a woman who calls here every day. Every. Day. She's a customer of ours, and apparently, she is of the mindset that harassing us on a daily basis will keep her present in our minds and therefore get us to finish her job faster. She calls each day, before 8:30 with an equally stupid and unnecessary question. Many times, she's "just checking in." I can't stand it. But, the thing is, she's really nice. So I can't hate her. And she's always so sweet to me when she calls, telling me it's a pleasure to talk to me in the morning because I'm so nice and cheery. How can you hate that? So it puts me in quite a quandary. Do I spend more energy being annoyed that she has now called TWICE today, or do I just focus on how pleasant she is when she talks to me? Given my mood, it's fair to say I'm leaning towards hating her, but there's that little piece of me that just wants to give her a break.
7) I went to have my breakfast earlier (a sliced banana with vanilla yogurt), and after opening the yogurt, I saw that there were no spoons. Nor were there any bowls. This vexes me. Because I like to slice the banana into a bowl, then drown it in the yogurt and eat the two together. So, because I am stubborn, I sliced the banana into a tupperware container, dumped the yogurt on top, and ate it with a fork. Which was fine for the fruit part of the breakfast, but a little challenging when it came to actually getting the somewhat runny yogurt from the bowl to my mouth.
8) My desk is a mess. And it's really not my fault. Because, somehow, over the course of the three hours I've been here so far, there have been numerous items left by other people. Files, catalogues, magazines, mail, schedules. It's making me feel claustrophobic.
9) Fuck, my neck itches.
But it's not all bad. I've taken to putting big pink Xs on my calendar as each day passes and brings me one step closer to my trip to Belize. Twenty-two days away and counting. And all I have to do in that time is a) get my body bikini ready (and I'm guessing the half block of Gruyere Cheese and a fig-n-almond pie/cake thing Billy and I ate on Sunday aren't helping that situation) b) tan c) figure out what the hell to pack and d) figure out how best to get my hair to look awesome when I'm constantly in and out of the water. For the record, I think item "d" is impossible, but I'm going to give it a shot. Because I don't really fancy the idea of looking like a drowned animal for a good three-quarters of my vacation. So, we'll see.
I'm really looking forward to later tonight when I get home and get the fuck out of this sweater. Because, then, I'll be comfortable and watching American Idol. And probably eating too much. But at least I won't be itchy.