Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Saturday was perfect. I was given the long weekend off of work, so I was free to do whatever I chose with myself and my time for three whole days. Saturday morning, after waking up early to go walk my parents' dog, I came home to tackle the extra bedroom.

The room's door is just opposite the door to my bedroom, and unless I keep it closed all the time, I am forced to look at the Mt. Everest of boxes that I lugged from my old condo and into Billy's house in my move. In my haste, I simply piled the boxes on top of one another in the room, directly in front of the closet that now serves as home to many of my work clothes and all of my excess shoes. This made it all but impossible to reach any of my belongings until something was done about the pile. Additionally, that particular bedroom serves as sort of the "junk drawer" for the entire house. Towels and winter clothes are piled amongst discarded suitcases and unused laundry hampers. Old sheet sets and miscellaneous junk mail adorn the floor, while larger, more obtrusive items clutter up the rest of the room. In order to make my junk fit, I was going to have to clean out the junk that was already there.

In the warmth of our sunny Saturday, I changed into some clothes that allowed me the flexibility that is all but required for the cleaning out - or at very least "straightening up" - of any room. With Billy at work, I was forced to assume that nothing should be thrown away, and instead took to just organizing all of the odds and ends into more aesthetically pleasing piles about the room. Having been a messy person all of my life, and having been told on countless occasion that I could "not go anywhere until that room is clean" while growing up, I've developed an almost mystic talent for creating the illusion of cleanliness in what is, unquestionably, a messy room. And so I did what I do best. I stacked boxes, I consolidated, I arranged. And in between sections, I'd run to the bathroom, and spray Scrubbing Bubbles over the entire shower/bathtub, the toilet, the sink. In the space of time most would need to clean out merely a section of one room, I cleaned two.

A sweat mark, two sore legs, and one broken fingernail later, I stepped back to admire my work. Sure enough, I was now able to reach to all of my things in the closet, my still-boxed items were stacked to ensure maximum access to the paraphernalia inside, and the bathroom gleamed. I was proud.

I sat on our unmade bed and took a swig of the cherry coke I'd brought up for my moment of celebration. I lit a cigarette. I glanced at the clock. Eleven. That's it? My job is done? What the heck do I do with the rest of my day?

My mind reeled with possibilities. It had been so long since I'd had a day - a whole day - to only myself. With no plans, no commitments, no work. Having just paid off my car the day before (I'm a car owner now! The bank has no hold over me!), I decided to reward my hard work of today and my financially savvy move the day before by being fiscally irresponsible: I was going shopping.

I took my time getting ready, listening to music, applying my makeup in no hurry whatsoever. I chose my outfit based on its changing room merits: The correct bra, easy-to-get-out-of-and-into shoes, a shirt that slips off easily without yanking the hair from my scalp. I brought my checkbook, my debit card, a good CD. I was ready to spend the day with Me.

It was one of those days where everything goes perfectly. The sun shined, and the temperature was perfect with my windows down. The CD I chose was incredible, offering stellar accompaniment to my long overdue day of solitude. As I drove the hour to my favorite mall in New Jersey, I delighted in the fact that I had all day to shop. Or browse. Or both. Since I had no one with me, I could take my time in every store, with no sense of urgency to get home, and without worrying that I was holding up my shopping companion. My only companions on this trip, after all, were my faux Coach bag and the paycheck I'd deposited the day before. Even then, only a half hour into my drive, it felt good to reward myself. I've been laying off the shopping, being good, keeping my checkbook in check, in an effort to pay off that car and nix my credit card debt. I'd been doing so well. It was time I reaped the rewards.

And the day only got better. Everything fit. Pants, even. Which never happens for me. Denim, cloth, whatever they're made of, they never agree to fit me around both my ass and my waist. But Saturday? Everything fit. And, as luck would have it, there were some awesome sales. Jeans, t-shirts, bras, tanktops, panties, capris...They all fit, and they all made it up to the cashier, and ultimately, into my wardrobe.

When there were no stores left for me to terrorize, I left the mall to seek out the elusive DSW shoe warehouse I'd heard was hidden somewhere behind the marbled-floors of my favorite shopping center. After some light searching, it appeared: The big black letters stretching over crisp glass doors, like a beacon.

I parked and strutted inside. Upon hitting the cool air of inside, I was breathless.


Rows and rows of shoes. Of every variety. And those racks in the back? All on SALE. The siren song of thousands of shoes pulled me through the aisles, calling my name, coaxing me to try them on. I couldn't believe my fortune. I slipped off my shoes and tried on every pair I fancied, particularly ones with ridiculously high heels. The more impractical, the better. I paraded in front of the provided mirrors, assessing each shoe as though I were making a purchase that would impact the rest of my life. I considered the outfits that would go with the shoes, where I would wear them, who would comment on them. I admired every pair from every imaginable angle. I rolled up my jeans to consider how the stilettos would make my legs look. I painstakingly evaluated every style the incredible DSW offered. I smiled serenely to myself.

The last time I went shoe shopping, I left with flats. So I steered clear of anything with a plastic sole, and also of anything that was any less than three inches high. In the form of three boxes and $150, I repented to shoe gods for my clearly deluded purchase of flip flops and imitation sneakers a month ago. And the gods, they smiled. One pair was 50% off. Another pair? EIGHTY PERCENT OFF. I felt like I was being rewarded by some power greater than myself.

When I got home that night, gaggle of bags in hand, Billy sighed when he saw that I was carrying what was obviously shoes. "More shoes?" he said, eyeballing the familiar black-and-white striped plastic bag. "Is that why you got rid of all of those others? To make space for more?"

"Yes." I said, matter-of-factly, and headed up the stairs with my purchases.

He had just tormented me about all the shoes I'd already moved in. "You must have thirty pair in the other bedroom," he said one night. "And probably twenty pair in here." He pointed to the closet beside the bed.

"I know," I huffed indignantly, "but I threw out, like, forty pair. So this is good." He laughed and hugged me, resigned, I suppose, to the fact that he would never understand or change my obsession with shoes.

And I may never understand it either. But I'll tell you this much: I can scarcely recall the last time I had a day that good. I had, after all, been to the holy land.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Not Good Enough

So, I just started writing this post about my Memorial Day celebration. Billy and I over at Nancy and Alex's house, with Chuck and Pollo, and our friends Peter and Helen and Andy, and how the bunch of us sat on Nancy & Alex's back porch and drank lots of alcohol and ate well-prepared food on the bank of the Delaware River, laughing and chatting and just enjoying the day. I was just writing about how hot it was, how I was sticky all over from just the air, how Chuck was just sitting and he was sweating, but how that didn't detract from how great it felt to be there: On the first true day of summer with my incredible boyfriend and my closest friends in the whole world. It felt extra good because Billy and I were back to normal after a brief interlude with an argument last week, and it's those times - after a fight, when you vaguely notice that almost imperceptible shift back to normal after a day or two of strained interaction - that I realize how truly wonderful things really are. That I haven't just imagined how truly enamored I still am of my boyfriend, and how he does still hold my hand and rub my back and touch me for no reason, even after nine months of dating. And I realize how much I love to hear him say he loves me out of the blue. And I realize that I really am happy. Suddenly, I forget about the worries of day to day life, the small grievances that I let burrow too far under my skin; It's the cumulative bliss that matters. And then, for the first time, someone asks Billy "So, do you and Laurie live together?" and I heard Billy say yes...And I had no idea it would make me that happy, to hear him say out loud, to someone he'd only just met, that, yeah, we do live together. We're that serious. And, in that instant, I realized I'm starting to get over all of my worry with regard to moving in with him. Because he loves me, and he asked me to be there, and I should stop fucking worrying about what may or may not happen in six months, a year, five years. If it doesn't work out, I'll deal with that then. Why behave right now as though something terrible is looming? Enjoy it, for fuck's sake. And why did it take me this long to figure that out? And all that being sad about leaving my condo? It's just the ending of one chapter that opens up the vein of opportunity for a new one. Yes, it's cliche. But it's the truth. And when I shared a good laugh - the kind that erupts from the whole group at once; a unified sense of humor, and an onslaught of smiles - with my friends over pasta salad and margaritas and kielbasa and eggplant, I saw just how much I have right now. And I can't even begin to describe how happy I am.

I started writing about that. But then I realized just I couldn't do it justice.

Friday, May 26, 2006

I Got Nuthin'

I know I should be committing some serious time to writing about my trip, but I just can't. Because:

1. The computer at home? Still not fixed. Apparently, today, my other half will be calling the snail of a technician that's supposedly fixing it. I can't even remember the last time I was on the computer at home. It's been that long. I don't even go into the room that used to house the computer, because seeing the computer desk empty just makes me want to cry a little bit.

2. I'm bitchy, so I'm not at all in the mood to recount the excellent time we had. For a number of reasons...
a) I have spent, in the last seven days, over five hundred dollars on my decade-old car. Between my starter and my rear shocks, I have had just about enough of getting that shit fixed. When I went to pick her up yesterday from the repair shop, the guy giving me back my key asked me how I was doing today. "I'd be better if I wasn't a regular here," I replied, as I ripped a check for $254.27 from my checkbook. I will say that it's nice to have a car that starts all the time now, rather than having it be a crap-shoot every time I turn the key. And it's nice to no longer be at the mercy of an all but uncontrollable rear end. But, still, $500? That's two car payments.
b) The weather has been nice here lately, so we at work have taken to keeping the front door open during the day. Because of this open door, we've welcomed into our world a fly the size of a small pterodactyl, which, for some reason, loves to fly about my head during the day. I hate that thing. It's loud and fat and slow, yet still I am unable to kill it.
c) I just am, okay.

3. Yesterday, my boss was in a horrible mood for the few minutes he was here (he came in and then immediately left for an appointment). When my coworker asked what happened to him, I said I didn't know, but confessed that I was cleaning out our coffee pot while talking on the phone when he got in. "It was probably you, then," she said, matter-of-factly. "He's been complaining that you have too many personal calls and you're on the internet all the time." I concede on the internet thing, but the calls? I do not talk all that much. And I always use MY cell phone, not the business phone. And I try to keep the conversations to only when I'm on my cigarette break. But, at any rate, it would've been nice of him to say something to me, rather than just letting me go ahead and continue doing what I've been doing, then just resenting me for it.

4. I'm not sure if Billy and I are fighting or what, but I feel like something's off right now with us. The thing about Billy that I've learned during the one or two fights we've had in the past is that he has a hard time letting things go. So, where I can just get over a fight in the matter of a few hours, he must cogitate and stew over it for days. Rarely does just going to sleep bring him back to normal. I don't get it, but that's him. (And, no, the fight we may or may not be having is not about the stupid shit I wrote about on Wednesday.) At any rate, I cried as I left the house this morning because something is definitely wrong, he won't talk to me about it, I can't fix it, and I hate it. My friend suggested it's just the growing pains of moving in together. Which, even though I've really already been living there for eight moths, is quite possible. Because, for some reason, actually moving in with him has made me more insecure, rather than giving me the positive vibe I was expecting. I keep thinking that maybe he regrets it, maybe he thinks he made a mistake, if he dumps me now, I have to go back to my parents...Consequently, I am now ultra-hyper-extra-special sensitive to his actions. This is really only the equivalent of shooting myself in the foot, seeing as tension begets tension, so I know it's entirely possible that I'm the only one freaking out here. It could all just be in my head. Maybe he really isn't mad or upset about anything, like he says when I ask him if we're still fighting. But I don't know. And it's driving me NUTS.

5. The cold/sinus infection/bird flu/whooping cough that I've had for the last two weeks is refusing to go away. On the bright side, my face no longer feels like it's going to explode, and my nose isn't constantly running anymore...But on the dreary side, this fucking cough will not go away. So I spend a lot of time, normally when it's least appropriate, suffering through a wet hacking cough. And then I light another cigarette and wonder why my cough won't go away. Don't judge me.

6. I'm tired. Like, crazy tired. And I'm not sure why, although I can sort of trace it to two things: One, staying up waaaaay too late on Wednesday night to watch our recorded season finales of both American Idol and Lost. Two, having to get up early to take out my parents' dog, as they are out of town. Oh yeah, and moving. And coughing. And fixing my car. And fighting (maybe?) with Billy.

7. That dog. I love my parents' dog. He's the cutest fucking golden retriever in the whole world. Seriously. In. The. Whole. World. But my dad doesn't bother with a leash when they go for walks, so when I take Sam (that's the dog) out with his leash on, he's not exactly sure of how to behave. He has no leash manners. He pulls and tries to run, yanks me around...Yesterday, he saw a deer down the street as we were on our five o'clock walk 'round the neighborhood, and he leaped at it with such force that he nearly ripped my arm from its socket. But I held onto that leash and attempted to pull him back to me. I say "attempted," because he really didn't want to come back. While I was on one end of the leash, bracing my self by practically squatting with my legs in a wide stance, leaning all my body weight in the direction opposite of him, he was at the front of the leash, choker collar (not the one with the spikes, mind you) around his neck, hacking from being choked, yet still crouching down and crawling with all of his strength toward the deer and away from me. Trust me, the last thing in the world I want to do is cut off his oxygen supply, so I ran in his direction to alleviate some of the stress, and all he did was try to take off running again. During all of this, I was screaming his name, trying to get him to come to me, bribing him with treats, calling him an asshole, trying EVERYTHING to get him to forget about the deer and come to me. Nothing worked. Until, finally, the deer was out of sight. At which point, he abruptly turned and RAN full speed back toward me. But I was still leaning back and bracing myself for him to run in the other direction again. So I almost bit it onto the concrete. And, best part, my neighbors were sitting on their deck. Watching. Which was totally not embarrassing at all.

8. My big Friday night plans? The Real Rainman on the Science Channel. Jealous? What? No? Why? Well, maybe I'll do a little laundry first. What do you think about that?

9. And, no, it's not that time of the month.

So, that's it. That's why I'm not posting about Belize. Yet. I must wait until I'm in the right frame of mind. And that's all there is to it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Literary Tools

When I was in sixth grade, I was in trouble. I was acing every test I took, but I was refusing to do my homework. This resulted in a below-average grade on my progress report for the first time in my life. Naturally, my mother, upset at the C that was staring at her from Greenspun Jr. High's mid-quarter report, scheduled a conference with my teacher.

"The problem," she said to my mother, crossing her legs in the quiet of the eerily empty classroom, "is that Laurie figures out the formula, the pattern, of the tests." She glanced at me as she spoke, perhaps expecting me to add something to the conversation. But I kept my mouth shut, embarrassed. I looked, instead, over the rows of desks that were so full during normal school hours. It was strange to see them vacant, strange to be there when there was hardly a soul in the building. I didn't want to look at her or my mother. She turned her attention back to my mom, smoothing her skirt over her pantyhose. "She doesn't need to do the homework if she can just rule out two of the three options on a multiple choice test. She sees the pattern in the quizzes, recognizes what we're looking for and does that. So her test scores are excellent. But this class's grade is based, also, on her homework. The worksheets. And they bore her."

It was the middle of the school year, and I had just transferred into this school from my school in Kentucky. I didn't know what they did in Vegas when your grades started slipping, but I was sure it was horrible.

She suggested Honors classes.

This trend follows me through to this day. I look for it in books and movies and television shows. Nine times out of ten, I'll finger the correct murderer in CSI because of some random appearance he or she made in the first five minutes of the show. Not because of the evidence Grissom unearths throughout the hour, but because the creators almost always give you a shot of the assailant in the beginning. It's the formula of the show. It's the ancient literary trick of foreshadowing. It works like magic.

But I think I've been reading too many books, watching too much forensic science, looking for too much foreshadowing. Because it's wormed its way into my life, as though the author of my life has stuck a few clues into my daily routine as to how it will all turn out.

If I counsel a friend through a breakup, I imagine the flashback sequence later, when I'm breaking up with my significant other. When a friend of mine teetered on the edge of a breakup with her boyfriend because he wouldn't talk marriage with her, I saw it clearly: Me, crying over the exact same thing, but thinking back to telling her everything would be alright. Stupid, I'd think then, in the midst of my own marriage fight. You should've known it was going to come down to this. Remember when you talked her through it? That was your warning.

When my fiancee and I were months away from our wedding, West Point was redoing their sidewalks. In the wet concrete, we carved a tiny "L+D" in the corner of a square by the library. The next day, it was gone. After the breakup, I would say to friends "I should've known we wouldn't make it when they re-paved the sidewalk we'd written in. It's like it wasn't meant to last there forever. Like someone knew."

As a result, I'm terrified. Like the universe is sending me signs. Signs of failure, or a rocky future, that I could avoid if only I'd actually pay attention.

It's so stupid, I know. But, in the midst of my own fights, I think back to the fights of friends. "Well," I think, "they didn't break up, so we'll be fine, too." Or, conversely, "Uh-oh. Their relationship plummeted after that fight. We're doomed."

I think it's that I just feel so powerless, so clueless, when it comes to relationships. How much is too much; which battles do I pick; what do I do to fix it, without compromising what really matters to me? And the foreshadowing gives me some sort of artificial grasp on the situation.

And, sometimes, it just makes me worry unnecessarily.

I just never know which one it is.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


I got mad at him last night because he made fun of a bad joke I'd made.

"That was a bad old-cell-phone joke," he said, staring at me with mock sympathy. Or disgust. I'm not sure which.

I sipped my drink and scooted away from him on the couch, and when I didn't say anything, he said it again, "That was a bad old-cell-phone joke."

"I heard you the first time," I said to the television, too pissed to look at him. My face was blank, intent on watching American Idol and not him.

"I was just checking." He looked at me, waiting for my response. I lit a cigarette instead and refused to look at him. "Don't be mad because you made a bad old-cell-phone joke," he prodded.

But I was, and I don't know why. Something about it made me cringe. And he was making it worse by repeating my failure over and over again. And, so, I was mad. We'd just had a nice outing at the movies, in Milford's one and only ancient movie theatre, where they keep the temperature down to roughly four degrees and the seats too close together to ever get comfortable. We brought along beef jerky, a sack full of candy and ate through the entirety of The DaVinci Code. We laughed when he slapped my face with Twizzlers, when we complained about the early onset of hypothermia we were suffering through in the theatre. We had a great time. Then, we got home, sat down to watch the recorded finale of American Idol, and suddenly, I was mad.

Perhaps part of me was embarrassed - Normally, I would've said "Yeah. That joke sucked. I know." But the sting of humiliation forced me into anger instead. But part of me was irritated. I don't like when I'm made to feel like an idiot, and that's what Billy's comment did to me. There I was, ready to share a laugh, and there he went, telling me I wasn't funny. It made me cower, and the only way to cover my shriveling confidence was to be mad. And part of me actually, truly was. I was indignant. How dare you tell me I'm not funny? Why be such a dick about it? Why not just not laugh? Why rub it in, continue to say it, make me feel more ridiculous with each passing moment? Just let it die. Why do you want to make me feel like shit? I know he thought he was being funny, but couldn't he tell that I didn't see the humor in it?

"C'mon," he said, "don't be mad." He put his hand on my leg, took my hand from its clenched position in my lap and laced his fingers through mine.

I continued to watch the screen, breathing my way through my not-necessarily-warranted anger. Somewhere between Katherine's and Taylor's first songs, I felt the attitude slip away. I held his hand a little tighter, laughed along at jokes made the contestants' expense, actually looked at Billy when he spoke to me.

During the last set of songs, I was intent on listening. Having been a staunch Elliot fan, my favor had defaulted to Taylor. I was hoping Katherine would fuck up, so I set my ears to search for flaws in her performance. And, as she took the stage, Billy began the loud process of recalling an old conestant's name.

"It sounded like McPhee, didn't it?" I leaned in toward the television. "Mc....Mc....McVee? McVeigh? Something like that?"

"Shhh," I instructed, as Katherine launched into her first notes.

"Yeah, I think McViegh..." He was so loud. Must we shout?

"SSSSHHHH," I commanded again. For emphasis, I put my finger over his moving lips.

Still, he continued. "Yeah, McVeigh. Or McVee, something like that....MELISSA! MELISSA McVEIGH!"

In my head, all I could think of was how much I wanted to hear the competition. And there he was, doing the one of the things I hate most in this world: Talking over the TV. I could feel the irritation building in my chest, the tight feeling I get when I am so frustrated it becomes a physical feeling.

"Shut. Up." I said, louder than I'd meant to.

His face contorted into what was unmistakable disgust. "What is your problem?" He said. "What happened to you?"

And now, he was mad.

What I couldn't, can't, figure out, is if it was just reciprocal anger. Or warranted. Yes, I was a little bitchy last night. But I never snap at him, I never give him shit. I'm not saying I'm a saint, but it's not like I'm a whirlwind of emotions, bound to change at any second. Yes, I get sensitive, and yes, there are times when I'm touchy...But, overall, my mood is pretty placid. And my offense was not so horrid that it demanded an actual fight over it. But, somehow, there it was. A cold war. Because, at that point, I become too proud to apologize for something I didn't feel was so terrible. And he'd refuse to admit he was wrong.

And, so, we were at an impasse.

We went to sleep shortly thereafter, without so much as bumping into each other. I tried to open up the lines of communication by claiming my usual spot on his chest, between his ribs and his arm. But the way his hand laid limply over my back told me he was far from calling a truce.

This is so stupid. But I guess for a couple who rarely, if ever, fights, you have to expect that one was bound to erupt over absolutely nothing sooner or later.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My Own

My condo is bare. The living room and dining room furniture was carted away on Sunday. The only things left in the kitchen are mine: A few bowls, some glasses, a cabinet full of old non-perishables that I never used.

My bedroom is boxed up, piled into one corner. The bed was stripped, the closet is empty. The bathroom is empty, too, the contents cleared from under the sink, from my linen closet, from the counter. My TV is unplugged, my boxes are labeled "Mom & Dad's" or "Billy's," to give me a better idea of where I'll be taking them. In a matter of a few days, the condo will be sold, and the new owners will be hefting their furniture into the rooms I only recently vacated.

For the past week, I've been packing all of my belongings slowly, trying to get rid of what I no longer need, and trying to decide what I will need, and what can afford to be kept in my old room in my parents' house. In a largely disorganized, labor-intensive project, I've misplaced a number of items I know I'll be needing: My Sirius information, my Sonicare Toothbrush, the remote for my stereo. I know they're all somewhere, I'm just not sure which boxes they landed in.

Last week, I loaded my car with my Salvation Army donations and headed up to my parents' house, dropping off the Glad Force-Flex bags in their garage, giving them not only the burden of taking the bags to the local SA, but also the hefty tax deduction that's sure to come with the wardrobe worth of clothes and shoes I've discarded.

Sunday, I packed the back of my car with boxes of things I won't need at Billy's house. Among those boxes were all of the photos of my history, both in and out of frames. The stereo I won't be needing at Billy's, winter coats and evening gowns that don't rate enough for a place in my new, limited, closet space. Box by box, hanger by hanger, speaker by speaker, I shuttled the boxes from my room to my car, then from my car and into my old room. I stood back and surveyed what I'd be leaving there. I recognized the feeling I had, the same way I felt the last time I was forced to move my belongings back into the high-ceilinged room of my post-adolescence. But this time it felt different; my moving was far from done.

Because, back at the condo, sat another pile of boxes, waiting to be moved in to Billy's house, and the closet was still home to a majority of my work and summer clothes. Yesterday, I drove there to face the pile. The two garbage bags of clothes from my already-gone dresser, the boxes of jewelry and makeup, the boxes of perfume and shampoo. I threw out no less than six bags of trash - things I no longer needed and didn't feel could be given away - and still I had a mountain of boxes to carry.

So I hiked up my pants, squatted down and picked up the first duo of boxes. Like Noah, I ushered my belongings out of my old life and into my new one, two by two. I hung my clothes over the headrests of my car. I arranged the boxes so that nothing would be spilled in transit. My oh-so-classy garbage bags o' clothes assured that the lighter boxes would be staying put. And I closed the garage door, started Gwen and headed to Billy's.

Now, all that's left in what used to be my house is a laundry basket, a TV, a CD rack and a handful of clothes. I have to buy a shelving unit of some sort to organize my life so that it fits seamlessly into Billy's.

But leaving my condo yesterday, knowing that my work there was almost done, made me sad. I took a deep inhale, savoring the smell of independence. I did it. For three years, I lived alone. I paid my bills, I slept by myself, I didn't need anyone but me (and my kind landlord). I never, in all my life that came before, imagined I could do that. I thought back to the three homes I've lived in since I moved out of my parents' house. I thought of my first night in my own place, the way I used to walk around touching the furniture, thinking "Oh my God. I. Live. Here." I thought of the nights I was afraid, the nights I couldn't be happier. I thought of my privacy and my seclusion, my bliss and my fears. I thought of making dinners for myself, my first trip to the grocery store for my own food. I thought of coming home, flicking on the lights and smiling. I thought of my garage door openers, the carpet in each of the rooms I inhabited, my bathrooms, their colors, the showers that were my own. I thought of sitting on my various porches, smoking and reading and drinking. I thought of what it felt like to truly be out on my own, even if I was mere miles away from my parents. I felt proud, standing there among the remains of my single life. I was glad I was by myself. I'd moved in alone, it was fitting that I'd be moving out alone. I needed this moment, to tell the scared 22 year old that moved out of the safety of her parents' house three years ago, despite her trepidation, that she'd done a good job, that I was proud of her. Thinking back on the good and bad moments, watching myself grow up and learn to rely only on myself made me so full. I felt like I'd accomplished something. It felt good. I was almost sorry to leave it.

Because even though I couldn't be happier that I'm moving in with the man of my dreams, I think a little piece of me will always miss a place of my own.

Monday, May 22, 2006

It's a Sabotage

My car stopped starting this week. Tuesday night, to be exact. In front of a majority of Billy's family, I tried, unsuccessfully, to start my car until finally giving up and running to Billy to tell him that Gwen just wouldn't start. Naturally, as soon as he walked up and stood beside Gwen and me as I click-clicked my way through starting attempts, the car decided it would be funny to start, right then.

"Figures," I whispered, with a trace of bitterness, as she whirred to life. Billy laughed at me.

"Let's go drop it off right now," Billy said, leaning against the door frame.

"It's midnight," I argued, "and, besides, shouldn't I call them first or something?"

"What if it doesn't start again? Better to get it there while she's running than to get it home and have to get a tow truck or something."

So I gave in, and Billy followed me to the auto repair shop, where I parked Gwen in front of the garage, filled out an envelope detailing her ailments, then dropped that envelope, key inside, into their "Secure Key Drop."

"Poor Gwen," I said, sliding into Billy's passenger seat. "She's sick, too. Just like me."

"She'll get better." He put his hand on my thigh and we headed home.

The repair shop called me early the next morning, to tell me that it was, in fact, her starter. But that a new starter wouldn't come in until the next day. So Thursday was to be the day I'd get my car back.

"Thursday," I said to Billy, closing my cell phone. "Two days without my car."

"You can just drive mine," he replied.

Inside, I jumped for joy. Billy's Lexus is low and sleek and sporty. I love riding in it, and the materialistic bitch inside of me loves the idea of driving around in his car. But it's also his little baby. He rarely drives it himself, normally opting to use company cars instead. The hood of his car is long, much longer than mine, and it's a little nerve wracking to drive someone's beloved automobile when you're not used to a car that low, or that long.

But I was able to suck it up and drive it. With the windows down. And the radio up. I used the keyless locks and entry every time I parked. I felt glamorous. The car rides so smooth, the whole thing feels buttery and luxurious, nothing like the SUV I'm used to. When the auto repair place called to tell me it would be another day before I got Gwen back, I wasn't upset at all.

But Friday night I picked her up. My friend dropped me off in front of my car, waited while I started her. Perfect. And so I drove.

Immediately, I noticed the difference. You can't drive a luxury vehicle for two days, then hop into your ten year old beast and not feel some sort of disparity between the two. I could feel every bump in the road. I felt like I was being tossed around her interior. And then I heard it: The thick THUMP coming from her rear. Could it have been there before? Am I just noticing it now because Billy's car was so quiet? I figured I'd give it a few days. If it was a normal noise, I'd stop noticing it within a day or so.

But Sunday came and I was still hearing it. As I moved things from my condo and into Billy's, Gwen's tail-end thumped whenever I went over a bump. So Billy hopped in with me, and after hearing the noise only once, concurred that it did not, in fact, sound good. After narrowing down the noise to the rear driver's side, Billy crawled under my car. After shaking my vehicle from side to side, then up and down, and making some loud, worrisome noises, he crawled back out from her underbelly and back into the passenger seat. In his now grimy hands, he held a piece of my car. A rusty, old, broken, thick and what appeared to be a necessary, piece.

"What's that?" I asked, horrified.

"Your strut is broken."


So explained the strut to me. And the fact that what I was hearing was essentially metal slamming into metal every time I ran over a bump. Apparently, the lift Gwen had to get on to have her starter repaired was the final straw. Snapped it.

So I had to call this morning to make another appointment to get her fixed.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think I did this on purpose, just to get the chance to drive Billy's car again.

But I'm supposed to be moving. My room is packed, and ready to go, I just need to cart my belongings to their new home. And Billy's little car isn't very conducive to moving.

And this is exactly why it's hard to sit and recall my wonderful vacation. Because between all of my coughing and sniffling, my car is falling apart, and there's a whole house that needs to be moved out of. I think my car has it in for me.

Despite the series of events that have transpired over the past week and a half, I've tried a number of times to write about my trip, but they all seemed, how shall I say it? Phoned in. I need to write with a glass of wine and cigarette; not clandestinely at work.

Cross your fingers that our computer is ready this week. It will make things so much easier.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Excuses, Excuses

It seems like the longer I wait to post, the harder it is for me to talk about the trip. Everything that's transpired in the past two weeks has all but overshadowed my trip, but I swear I am going to sit down and write about it....Eventually.

One contributing factor to the difficulty in writing about the trip is the fact that the only computer I have access to these days is here at work. And it's a little hard to reminisce about my time in Belize when there are actual work things I should be doing. That, and I can't upload my photos here. The computer at the house has been in the shop for, oh, about FOREVER, and rumor has it that it will return to our computer desk sometime in the next week or so. Having fallen victim to a debilitating virus, the whole thing was stripped down and rebuilt, and it seems to be taking its sweet time to recuperate. Once it is home, purring away in its spot in the front room of the house, posting my photos and recounting my jaunts through my very first foreign country should be no problem.

It's also a bit overwhelming. Where do I start? What do I write about? There's so much. But at the same time, there's so little. We relaxed, as I would on any vacation, but everything about this vacation was different: Because it was a new country, because I carried a backpack, because I was with Billy, because he is incredible. And, yet, in the midst of all of our glorious vacation time, I still managed to be the overly-analytical, stereo-typical chick that you all know I am, secretly wondering from time to time if he regretted taking me. It was stupid and uncalled for, but I still found a way to wonder if he was sorry he brought me along. Some things never change, no matter what part of the globe you're standing on. And, sometimes, I annoy myself.

Then there's the moving. My room in the condo I have referred to as "my home" for the past seven (?) months, without having actually lived there for more than a month, cumulatively, is a disaster, and it needs to be organized, packed up and carted away. Just like writing about this trip, it, too, is overwhelming. I stare at all of it and can't even find a place to start. I had planned to use the week after my return to methodically sort, throw away and/or pack everything there, with the goal of being all moved in to Billy's house by the time he returned. But this proved to be more challenging than I gave it credit for. But, finally, four Salvation Army bags and about a BILLION trash bags later, I have managed to cart all of my carefully chosen shoes from that condo to their new home in Billy's house. My house, now, too, I guess. And now I feel like the ball is finally rolling. The room may still be littered with boxes and old clothes that have yet to be moved, but my shoes have left the building. It is the first step to my every move, so at least that progress has been made.

The moving, though, was interrupted by the tragic events to which I alluded in my last post. I don't want to go in to details, since it's not my place to talk about it, but I am going to a funeral today. Out of respect to the departed and the family, I'm not going to go into who it is or what happened, but it has claimed a better portion of my days and nights since last week. This, clearly, is the main reason I have not been posting, as it's hard to get all psyched in talking about my trip when there is grieving and supporting and helping and worrying and listening to be done.

That being said, I'm not sure, exactly, when I'll have time to write a proper post. But I will, because I need to. At the very least, I need to write for me. To clear my mind. And that day will come, I'm just not sure when. Please bear with me.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

When it Rains, it Pours

Please pardon me for not posting. Things around here a tad crazy right now. Besides my mountain of work that still needs to be whittled down and the moving that isn't getting done, a sinus infection has decided to make its way into my body. I'm at work today, where I will hopefully get all caught up and have some time to write something of substance by the end of the day. That is, if I can last the whole day here. My face feels like it's going to explode, my throat feels like it's lined with sandpaper and it feels like I've been punched in the chest. I'm alternating between sniffling and wet coughs. I'm tired (from coughing all night, an inability to breathe from time to time, and general restlessness that goes along with some other tragic events in my life right now that I can't get into here), I'm grumpy and my nose won't stop running. I'm just hoping the Sudafed "Non-Drowsy" I took does as it promises and knocks out my ailments while NOT putting me into a decongestant-induced coma. Because I won't be much good at work if I can't keep my head up OR my eyes open.

Please bear with me. I have so much to write about...So many pictures to post...I just have to wait for things to settle down.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

We Interrupt This Program...

I will be back to writing about my trip shortly, but may I digress for a moment?

This week, the week after a blissful vacation, is the worst week EVER...You know the kind. The kind of week where you greet every morning with a string of obscenities, maybe even some tears, because you're HERE, in bed, having to get up and get ready to go to work, when just a few days ago you were THERE, waking up whenever you damn well felt like it, drinking coffee, reading books, drinking rum, laughing, and doing whatever you felt like for the day. And when you were THERE, your boyfriend was right THERE with you, and it was all cute and sweet and romantic and fucking TROPICAL, and now you're HERE, but your boyfriend is still THERE. And you just had him all to yourself for ten whole days, and now you're, like, starving because he's still THERE. And it's the sudden separation that kills you because you miss him even more now than you would've, seeing as you just ate, slept, breathed and lived every second of your day with him for ten days. And besides that, you have to go to work, where there's a stack of shit waiting for you, just where it's been since you left, accumulating and growing and mutating to mythic proportions, and you can't very well BLOG, or even read other blogs because of all of this WORK that needs to get done. And when your day is finally over, you have to PACK so you can MOVE, because your roommate sold your condo AGAIN, after only roughly seven months of owning it. And yes, you get to move into your boyfriend's house, but need we reiterate that your boyfriend is still away - still THERE - which means you have to do all the moving IN by yourself. It's not the heavy lifting of moving alone that bothers you (you've done that several times before), it's the idea of putting YOUR stuff into HIS house without his INPUT. So you're weeding through your stuff, trying to pare it down, which isn't so bad, because, hey, at least you're getting rid of a lot of stuff, but you KNOW you're going to have to rearrange some things in the boyfriend's house to make all of your stuff fit in nicely, and you feel bad about that. Because how would YOU feel if you were away on vacation and you came home and your significant other had gone and uprooted all of YOUR shit, and brought in new furniture and basically TOOK OVER YOUR LIFE while you were sitting in the sun? Probably not very good. So you feel bad, but you know it has to be done, and you want to get it done NOW so that it's not looming over your head, because you always put everything off until the last minute. So you rush from work to your boyfriend's house and change, and then rush to your soon-to-be-ex condo and start packing up your life, sorting out what you do and don't need, what you want to donate to the Salvation Army and what is just better in the trash. And you have this creepy attachment to everything you own, so you hem-and-haw over everything you throw out, sometimes second-guessing yourself mid-toss, which is sort of a self-defeating act since you're trying to GET RID of stuff, not make more of a load to cart over to your boyfriend's house. And you have to sleep in your boyfriend's house WITHOUT HIM, because your room in YOUR house looks like a nuclear bomb hit it, leaving a million half-burnt Yankee Candles, old lipstick tubes and black high heels in its wake. And you can't sleep in that. So you spend an inordinate amount of time driving. And you really want to use this week to catch up with your friends, but you REALLY need to move out, because if you wait too long, your roommate is going to just toss all of your shit into the garbage because you're never there anyway. And you're stressing yourself out over all of this moving in business, and you get an email from your boyfriend that says "Move in whatever you want, bring in whatever furniture you want, don't forget about the extra closet space in the spare bedroom you can use for your clothes and shoes, you can use that, too...And all I ask is that you leave a path from the door to the bed for me." And that makes you so happy that you want to cry again, and that makes you miss him that much more because he really is THAT awesome. And you think "God, I can't wait to pick him up on Saturday," and you start counting down until he's home. And then you start thinking about how nice he always is, and how exceptional he was on your trip, putting Benadryl on the sun poisoning on your back, telling you you were the most beautiful, sexiest woman alive, sun poisoning and all...And then you remember how he changed his plans when your flight home got delayed, even when you told him he could just go, and he said he wanted to make sure you go out of the country alright, and that made you cry because no one has ever been that nice to you, ever. And then you think about him still THERE, Scuba diving, and that just reminds you that you're back HERE now, and not THERE anymore, thereby starting the whole thing over again.

Yeah. That's the kind of week I'm having.

We'll return to our scheduled rehashing of my trip to Belize shortly...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Prelude to a Flight

He said "Let's get out of this country!" as we entered Newark International. His voice was tired, lightly laced with excitement and what I'd come to think of as his own version of fear.

We walked hand in hand to the appropriate international departure line, him in Travel Mode, me just realizing I was actually leaving the country. We were in the International Terminal, for Pete's sake. I'd never been in the International Terminal.

Our backpacks made us slouch. We were still groggy, tired from going to bed too late after spending a majority of the evening packing, and then getting up at four to make our early flight. I crumbled beneath the weight of the gray and yellow backpack, shifting my weight from one pink flat shoe to the other. My stomach twisted and turned, lurched and settled over and over again. I was excited. I was nervous. And I was a little afraid.

I wasn't afraid of the flight, or the prospect of ten days alone with Billy, or even the idea that I'd be backpacking in some foreign country. I was afraid I'd wreck it. A month's worth of exaggerated complaints rang in my ears as we watched one person after another get called to check in. I heard myself jokingly complaining about not wearing heels, not wearing makeup, carrying a backpack. I belatedly hoped he hadn't taken me seriously. I eyed him, as he dug his passport from the smaller of the two backpacks he was carrying, worried that he was worried about bringing me. I searched his preoccupied face for signs that he was scared, too: Scared that I'd be a pain in the ass to travel with. I stood up on my tippy-toes and gave him a kiss on the cheek. I smiled, wide and genuine. "I'm so excited," I said, like a kid on the brink of a trip to Disney. He smiled back. "Me, too, baby."

But I was unsatisfied with that. I felt like we were staring into the obvious, both finally acknowledging that I was completely out of my element. I looked down at my flat shoes, shifted my weight again.

He'd been reassuring me for weeks: "Don't worry, you'll love it. It'll be great. Give it a chance. You are going to have a great time." And, looking at him there, in the early-morning bustle of Newark, he looked just plain worn out. Tired of telling me it would be okay, that we'd have a great time - Like, instead of him convincing me of the awesome experience I was about to have, it turned out the other way around: I'd convinced him of my inability to adjust.

In line, silently, I chastised myself for complaining, for worrying out loud, for expressing my concerns, and acting nervous instead of excited for the past few weeks. "Hope you're happy," my Inner Kill Joy said to my Inner Weakling, "because now, I bet you he's sorry he asked you in the first place."

"You're probably right," my Inner Weakling sighed, just as she began to sulk.

But I was excited, now that we were actually standing in line there, my virginal passport sitting in my sweaty palm. Packing and traveling always stresses me out, never mind when I'm not working with excess suitcase space. I can never decide what to bring, picturing myself four days from that moment, longing for the tank top that I decided to leave out in order to take an extra pair of shoes. I can't make decisions, period: I'm the girl that stands in the shampoo aisle forever, endlessly reading and rereading the false promises and prices on two select bottles before finally taking one just to get myself out of Wal Mart. I didn't have those options, though, on this trip. Billy gave me a list: Two pairs of shoes, two pants, three skirts, seven shirts, bras, panties, bathing suits. I packed three pairs of shoes. I snuck in an extra skirt. And one more shirt just for good measure. But I still had room in my backpack. It wasn't as bad as I thought.

"I can't believe we're actually going," I said to Billy, grabbing his long arm with both of my hands and squeezing. "I am so excited."

"Me too." He kissed my forehead. But I felt like he was nervous. Like, in his head he was saying Calm down, it's okay. It'll be fun. She won't be difficult. She won't be a pain in the ass. It's okay. You didn't make a mistake in asking her...God. I wish I was alone.

"Well," my Inner Weakling said, mustering her strength in the eleventh hour, "it doesn't matter because you're here now, and you're going. And you know you're going to be fun to be with, and you're going to have a great time, and YOU know you're not going to complain. He's probably just stressed about travel. Don't worry about it. Enjoy yourself and for once don't over analyze everything. God. You drive ME crazy. And I'm part of you."

My Inner Kill Joy nodded. "She's right. Shut up."

"I can take the next passenger," the Continental agent at the end of the line said, beckoning us with a curl of his fingers.

The tension around Billy seemed to lift. As we started to walk, he grabbed my hand, smiled at me. "You ready?"

I was.

Monday, May 08, 2006


There's a full post coming, but I'm at work, and there's a lot that needs to be done. A long vacation makes for lots of catching up.

But for now, a quick update:

I have a stamp on my passport.

We spent our entire time in Placencia, Belize. Which was incredible.

I read five books.

I went nine days without wearing heels. Because, I did buy and bring a pair of platform wedges, and insisted on wearing them one night. Standing at a bar with Billy, I admitted that I would've felt stupid had I worn stilettos. And I never wore the wedges again, because they are not conducive to walking in sand.

The only makeup I wore (if you don't count tinted moisturizer) was mascara, which I only applied twice during our ten day trip.

I snorkeled. There was a Lemon Shark in the water. Lemon Sharks are not big, per se, but they are still SHARKS.

I had an amazing time.

It sucks to be home.

I cried when I left. For two reasons: One, it was the first time I actually didn't want to go home from a vacation. Two, I was leaving Billy there.

It feels like I was gone for a month, but at the same time, it feels like I was only gone for a few days.

I'm already thinking about how I can work "When I was Belize" into my future conversations.

I thanked Billy every day for taking me. But I feel that my words of thanks fell short of truly expressing my gratitude.

I miss Billy.

But, God, I had such an amazing time.

There will be much, much more about this trip (including pictures) in the very near future.