Friday, December 29, 2006

The First Gift

He entered the department store, one he hadn't been in for several months. He'd been in another state, you see, so he hadn't been in his home department store in ages. He probably hadn't even gone in before you left.

And now, here he stood, trying to find a Christmas gift for his girlfriend back in that other state. She simply refused to tell him what to buy.

"I don't need anything." She said.

"I'll like whatever you get me." She said.

How obnoxious can you get?

He knew better than to wander over to hardware. What about kitchenware? The shiny, non-stick pans beckoned him, and he knew that she wouldn't object to kitchenware in the way she might if they had been married for twenty years and buying her new kitchenware might be taken as an insult.

Still, for their first Christmas as a couple, it seemed impersonal.

What about a cookbook, then? They waved at him from the wooden bookshelves near the pots and pans. Hot chocolate! French pastries! 101 Things to Do to a Chicken! Perhaps one of those would be just perfect.

But, no, something about the fake grins of the chefs on the front covers turned him off of those gifts.

Why had he come to a department store? Alone? Right after Christmas?

Yeah, AFTER Christmas. He was home, away from her, with his family in his home state for the holidays, and he hadn't been able to shop with her around. When would he have had the time?

So, here he was, surrounded by screaming children, frantic mothers and anxious shoppers trying to grab whatever they could before the end of the sales. It wasn't as crowded as right before Christmas, but the atmosphere was different, more panicked than hurried.

He pushed his hand through his dark brown hair, sighed and walked toward the escalator.

Second floor.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006


John Legend says that love hurts if you do it right. Well, she thinks, she must be doing it to perfection, because her heart is so heavy that it wouldn't surprise her at all if it fell out of her chest and dropped through the layers of the earth.

And, in some ways, it would be a relief to have that rock out of her chest on a permanent basis.

But then, on the other, and wiser, hand, the pain feels good. It reminds her that she's alive. While she's anxious for answers, anxious for the return of the man she loves, anxious for the pain to go away, she's also grateful for the pain. This pain makes her realize that she feels something real for this man.

Other men have gone away. When they went away, she forgot about them almost completely, almost to the point where she needed to ask their names again when they returned, "And you are? And you're here because....?"

But not this one.

No, while this one is gone, she dreams about him at night, not happy dreams of love but anxious dreams where he replaces her with someone else, where he is more loved by her friends than she...where he replaces her in her own life.

She's not sure what the dreams mean, but she knows that he needs to get back to her as quickly as possible.

She is the girl, remember, who when left to her own devices too long can imagine an entire life gone wrong...

And she won't believe him when she tells her she's imagining things.

He ought to hurry home.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Forgetful Fog

It was one of those days that makes a woman forget who she is.

After days of unseasonably warm temperatures, she awoke to a cold, foggy, truly wintery day. And no surprise there, as it was the first official day of winter. She stayed in bed as long as possible, with the covers pulled up around her neck, snuggled deep into the blankets.

She thought about him, because he's what occupied her thoughts most of the time now, anyway.

She realized that she'd woken several hours earlier to find his back to her. She'd kissed him, but he hadn't moved. She vaguely remembered that he had lane side by side with her for a bit, but when he'd left just after dawn, there were none of the usual smiles and playful kisses. Something was definitely wrong.

She shook her head to get rid of the negative thoughts. She scrunched down as far as she could into the warm, cozy blankets. Her cat gave a disgruntled meow at the movement and curled up closer to her body.

"It's fine. Everything's fine." She told herself, but she knew differently.

She'd gone to bed in a happy mood. She'd gone to sleep with him beside her and woken to find that, this time, his absence seemed to mean something more.

"No, stop thinking about yourself. He has his own problems, and they don't all result in him leaving you." She chided herself for always thinking that when someone seemd out of sorts that it had something directly to do with her.

Still, in the dreary early morning light, she forgot that she was a woman in love and settled into being a woman scorned, a woman abandoned in favor of smoother pathways. She was not, by any means, a woman who was easy to handle. She made demands; she faltered at communication.

It seemed easy that he would leave her. Not that he wouldn't struggle with the decision, but on a day like this, on a foggy, dreary day like this, it seemed that the only possible decisions were sad ones.

Who could be happy on a day like today?

And then, she realized suddenly, she could name the feelings with which she had awoken.

For the first time in months, she woke up feeling alone.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Little Night Context

While making out with her boyfriend, a girl tries to maintain conversation, as she has discovered that he seems more willing to tell her interesting things when the two are in the midst of a make out session.

"You don't tell me things. I can see that you're thinking something, what are you thinking?" He looks her straight in the eyes, just after she's had her fifteenth, "Tell me that you love me!!" thought of the evening.

Of course, she doesn't tell him.

"Look, I think things, too. It's not just you."

Kiss kiss kiss

"What do you think, then?"

"Well, I'm thinking, I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really like her, and does she like me? I kiss her, and sometimes she pulls away. How does she really feel about me? It's a mess!"

"Oh." And on the inside she says, "How do I feel about you?! I FREAKIN' LOVE YOU!"

More making out, more giggles out loud...

"So, do you really worry about whether or not I like you?"

"No, I know you like me. That was just an example."

A looooong pause, as she rests her head on his chest and contemplates her next move. "How do you know I like you?"

"Well, your whole face lights up when you see me. And the way you say, 'Hi," and your voice goes up. I can tell."


He starts to drift off to sleep. She drifts in and out. "But you really, really, really, really, really like me, then?"



Then, it's time for sleep, but she's getting a bit loopy, as she often does right before drifting off, "I better go to sleep before I say something I shouldn't."

"Wait, what?!"

"I have to stop talking now."

"What would you tell me?" He's wide awake now.

"Something that I shouldn't."

"Why can't you tell me?" He's genuinely curious and intrigued.

"I just can't yet."

This goes back and forth, with him unsuccessfully trying to convince her to blurt out whatever it is she's holding inside.

She drifts off to sleep, thinking, "You really, really, really, really like me, but do you love me? It would be so much easier if you said you loved me."

But before she can do anymore thinking, she's fast asleep, nestled against his chest, feeling secure, warm and, dare she think it, loved.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What If?

On cold, dreary days like this one, it's incredibly difficult not to let my mind wander to what might have been.

Now, my "might have been" is not melancholy. I'm not wishing that these things had come to pass, I'm merely curious at how my life would have turned out had I made a few different decisions. If my life were a "choose your own adventure" book, I would just want to read the other paths, see what the other options would have looked like.

Let's start with this one:

What if I'd stayed in Boston the first time?

I stayed. I freaked out, I cried, but I stayed. I kept working at the radio station. I decided that although I loved that job, I wanted to stick with my major and be a magazine writer.

What would that have looked like? So, I stayed, and I finished my degree. I pushed through another Boston winter and walked in a graduation gown and masters' hood in the Spring.

Would Marie Claire have hired me, as I originally planned? Or would I be stuck working at Barnes and Noble, still trying to make it as a freelance writer.

Or, with a perfect twist of destiny, would I have applied for work at Boston Public Library and still found myself in the same profession?

Now that I see that typed on the page, I'm convinced that's how it would have gone. Big time magazine editor? Not my speed.

So, Boston wasn't a waste. And I shouldn't have stayed. I wound up exactly where I belong, and that was unavoidable.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

But Then There's You

There are times, she thinks, when living in her head can be dangerous. In her mind, she can marry herself off to someone she's seen only once, perhaps that cute checker at the bookstore who commented on her purchases and gave her a crooked smile, or maybe its the handsome man in the Nissan X-Terra she passes every day on the way to work. Surely, she is meant for these men, these men are meant for her.

In her mind, she can do more damage than good, though.

These imaginary relationships with essentially imaginary men do little to harm her psyche. In fact, they do nothing at all but encourage her to consider the possibility of marrying someone, someday.

It's the real relationships that suffer when she's left alone too long with her thoughts.

Left to her own ponderings, she can find herself deciding that her boyfriend is clearly having an affair with the random chick with the swingy ponytail who started talking to him at a party. Her suspicious mind comes to believe that his friend Laura (how sick she is of the name Laura) is in love with him, even if he's not in love with her.

She shouldn't be left alone too long.

Left on her own for even one evening, she believes that he's keeping things from her, that he's hiding his life and not being honest.

As soon as he returns, though, everything is better. As soon as she sees him, as soon as she looks him in the eyes, she knows he's true, she knows he's the only one for her.

And so, he takes her out of her own mind and into the world to live with him.

She hopes that soon, even when she's left alone, her mind will stay on him, on the truth of him.

what'll she look like when she opens her eyes and sees what she wants to see
instead of this cold mirror's lies and all the pieces complete
she says with a sigh "i think i'm ready..."
what'll she sound like when she opens her mouth
and all the phrases sound right as they fall out
and she says "yes"
and she's not scared of the sound
she says she's ready
(Stephen Speaks)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I Hate

I hate that I'm starting to feel like if you say, "No," to me, I'll break into a hundred little pieces and never be put back together.

I hate that I'm afraid to talk, because I don't want to hear what you have to say in reply.

I hate that I'm sitting here loving you, waiting for you to say it first so that I can say it back.

I hate knowing for an absolute fact that if I say it first, this will never work.

I hate you, just a little bit, for completely messing with me even when you don't know you're doing it.

I hate time.

I hate that when I said the word "February," in reference to the two of us, you looked at me like I was crazy.

I hate that I want to be with you forever, and you don't talk about the future.

I really, really, really hate that you got news about your job and didn't tell me.

I hate that I know I have to tell you these things and somehow figure out how to do it without sounding insane.

*Of course, I was raised never to say "hate," so please substitute "strongly dislike" for the word "hate," if you'd rather.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006



rock in your chest, look at him and you know.

your chest burns when you think that he might break up with you.

you can't sleep, because you're so anxious to see him again.

a smile lights up your face when he walks in the room.

his eyes sparkle as soon as he sees you.

You look at him and automatically think, "I love you."


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

When Trust Begins

She stopped looking today. Well, she took one last look, one last search to make her heart ache.

She saw listings on singles sites. Well, on the single site where they met. She found nothing she didn't know already.

She didn't log-in to the site to check up on him, because that would be too much. The answer she would expect to receive - the inexplicable answer that he's still active on the site - would probably break her heart into a thousand little pieces. So, she didn't ask the question. Didn't have to get the answer.

Instead, today, she did one last search, typed his name in one last time, saw that he exists in the world as a real human being with a real history, a real name, a real life. She spied on him one final time.

And decided to trust him.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


If I break down
Will you be there?
If you go away
Can I follow?

If I say something you don't like
Will you listen to the reason?

If you say something I don't understand
Will you patiently explain it?

If I break down
Will you carry me?
If you crumble
Can I put you back together?

If I trust you
Will you love me?
If I love you
Will you let me?

If I hate you
Will you calm me?
If I scare you
Will you tell me?

If I break down
Will you wait for me to come around again?
If you run
Will I find you?

If you love me
Will you keep me?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Maybe That's Just the Game

...or maybe I'm just falling for the guy.

When jealousy rears its ugly head, I have to give myself pause, some time to consider why I might be feeling so particularly...uhm...territorial.

I've never liked it if some woman was hitting on "my" man, and I've never liked it if "my" man was checking another woman.

At the same time, getting all riled up, because we're not "exclusive" and it appears he's still browsing the Internet makes me realize that I WANT to be exclusive.

Online dating, Google and the Internet age in general give us so many more ways to be paranoid.

I saw him again last night. It felt we were in a relationship. I've decided I'm not going to look for his profile anymore.

Remember: If you don't want to know the answer, don't ask the question. I don't want to know if he's still looking, and that's the only answer I need.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wishing I Swore

When you date online, you take the risk that someone - the someone you're dating, the someone who's met your parents, the someone you REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY like - is going to stay "active" on the site.

So, I don't swear, but I will say this:

What the hell did you mean when you said, "Oh, you're not the one who's been to Italy." Who the hell else has been to Italy that you're confusing me with? How many girls are you dating? How the hell do you have time to date more than me?

That's all. Thank you.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Chance You Take When You Say Goodbye

Mila said goodbye to her boyfriend Michael. She didn't just say, "Goodbye, I'll see you tomorrow." No, she said, "Goodbye, I don't want to see you again." Well, it actually came out more like, "Michael, I don't think we should keep seeing each other."

Michael flinched, nodded and walked away.

In her heart, she told him goodbye.

But she wished she never had.

Mila watched a man who was completely wrong for her walk away because she asked him to, but she always wondered what might have happened if she'd not taken a chance on goodbye.

That was five years ago, and now Mila is sitting across the table from a new man, the latest in a string of new men over the past several years, none of them lasting more than two dates.

New Guy taps his fingers on the white linen table cloth and says, somewhat anxiously, "Do you know what'd you'd like to order?"

He doesn't call Mila by name. Mila has noticed this, that being called by your own name, let alone by a pet name, takes weeks, months, years. These first dates are a series of nameless conversations. She doesn't try to change this, try to alter this. She doesn't call these guys by their names, doesn't say, "No, Peyton, I'm not ready to order." That seems too intimate for a first date.

She orders her usual first-date meal, the linguini with clam sauce and a diet coke. The linguini is delicious at this local eatery, and its white color doesn't stain her teeth. It's also fatty enough to excuse the diet coke - she doesn't want her dates to worry that she's anorexic, nor does she want them to tell her what good eater she is. She hates that.

New Guy orders a dish layden with spinach and garlic, and Mila mentally dismisses him and prays for a fast end to the evening.

For the most part, he's harmless enough. He's wearing a polo shirt (aren't they all?) and khakis. She can tell that he combed his hair and she can certainly tell he put on cologne.

It's not that she wants Michael back, certainly not after all these years, not after she's the one who said goodbye, but she does want someone who just isn't so not Michael.

Mila talks to New Guy about her work as a pre-school teacher. She relays a tail of a curious youngster who ended up getting himself locked in the supply cabinet. She laughs her fake laugh, the one she reserves for time spent with those she hopes to never see again.

Their meals arrive, hot and steaming. The waitress smirks at them, as if she thinks they're a couple just about to leave for an evening of exciting lovemaking. Mila glares at her and asks for the parmesan cheese.

New Guy looks up from his garlicky meal to ogle Mila's breasts, somewhat on display in her low-cut dress. Mila notices and shivers, "It's cold in here." She takes her violet sweater from her seatback, puts it on, and buttons it up almost to the top.

New Guy returns to eating, pausing only to tell a brief story about his next-door neighbor who refuses to mow his lawn.

Mila yawns, apologizes and flags down the waitress to ask for a box, "It's getting awfully late."

"Yeah? Do you have to be at work early?"

Mila refuses to lie, "No, tomorrow's my late day, I don't have the kids until 2, but I'm exhausted. It's been a long week."

"It's only Tuesday."

"I know. It's crazy isn't it? You'd think it's easier to work with kids..." Mila ends the sentence abruptly to provide her fake laugh.

"Oh, so you're ready to go?" New Guy gestures at his still unfinished meal.

"Go ahead and finish. No worries. I'll just go to the restroom."

When Mila returns, the bill lies waiting on the table. She hates this part, hates taking a meal from someone whose calls she's not going to return. She also doesn't believe in paying for her own date.

New Guy reaches for the bill just as Mila takes her seat, "I've got this one."

"Oh, thank you. Did you want me to get the tip?" Mila always asks if she can pay the tip.

" should be..." New Guy peruses the bill, hestitating over the amount.

Mila keeps herself from rolling her eyes. The meal couldn't be more than $25. "Don't worry. I know how much to leave."

"Oh." New Guy slides his credit card into the plastic sleeve.

Conversation stalls. Not that it ever really got started to begin with. Mila tucks a strand of her curly black hair behind her ear, "So..."

New Guy glances up, "Yeah," He's interupted by the waitress returning with his credit card and a receipt. He signs and says to Mila, "I'll walk you to your car."

Mila hesitates, "Uhm." It's only 9:15. She wants to run into some of the other stores in the shopping center, but she doesn't want him to tag along.

They stand up together, tuck their metal chairs under the glass table, and he lets her lead the way out of the restaurant.

Thankfully, he doesn't push the issue, "I had a nice time. I'll call you."

Mila smiles, "Goodbye."

She walks out of the restaurant, towards the import store where she can buy a birthday present for her best friend.

A few days later, when New Guy hasn't called, Mila briefly ponders what might have been, had she liked him. She goes over his good qualities in her mind. She feels a tiny bit of regret at not having made more of the opportunity. He might not have been such an awful guy.

This little bit of regret, while nothing like what she felt about Michael, is still the chance she takes every time she says goodbye.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Waiting Room


"Oh, I think 1996 or 1997? I can't remember which, sometime during high school, maybe it was both."

"Why didn't it work?"

"Uh, hmm. I was a total geek but some reason girls totally dug me. I think it was the limp..."

"Go on."

"Yeah, so, I told her I didn't want a girlfriend, just friends that were girls."


"I know. What about you?"

"Oh, college, Freshman year. I was a total asshole, but you know, I sort of did that on purpose, I think. Made girls fall for me, then pull the rug out from under them."

"I'm sensing a pattern."

"I wonder if she ever did..."

The two tall, dark haired men stand in one corner of the drab waiting room, surrounded by other men of varying heights, weights, hair colors and races. They're all talking about her, the girl who's in the room downstairs, waiting to marry the guy upstairs. They're waiting, waiting for the possibility that the guy upstairs will join them here in the waiting room.

In another corner, a short blond guy with an impossibly outdated goatee chats up a tall Korean American guy with a tendency to interrupt each sentence.

"So, how do you know her?" Says the blond, as he adjusts the brightly colored scarf around his neck.

"Scuse me? Uh, I don't know. We went to some thing together, a couple of Giants games."

"Giants games? Me, too, or at least.."

"Sorry, dude, but I'm trying to find a television with a decent picture. I've got HDTV at home, the picture's like I'm right on the field, why are we here again?"

"I think we're waiting. Didn't you get the e-mail?"

"I don't really check my e-mail that much. I've got other stuff to do." The guy pushes his thick, black framed glasses up on the bridge of this nose.

"Ah, I see."

They're all waiting, not quite sure what they're waiting on, but they're there, aware of the fact that they all know her. Not that they all remember her very clearly.

"I think we went out junior year of college," says a guy with reddish blond hair, a prominent nose. He's clutching a bible and seems really nervous to be around people who might start asking him questions. "But it must not have been for very long, because I can't remember her name at all...Carol? Sheryl?"

"It's Beryl." A short, slightly balding man wearing an untucked Giants t-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap says abruptly. "What's so hard about that?"

"Look, guy, I don't even know why I'm here. What we went out like two times? And then it just got awkward."

"Yeah, well I was her first kiss, and I'd like to see how this one turns out."

"He'll leave, or she'll make him leave, just like the rest of us," interjects the newest addition to the bunch, a tall, red-haired man who has just arrived, looking pissed off, confused and impatient. "It's what she does. She makes us fall in love with her, and then she kicks us to the curb."

One of the two dark-haired men in the corner speaks up, "I totally didn't love her, Red, so I have no idea what the hell you're talking about." A gold hoop earing shines on each earlobe, "Maybe you fell in love, but I think she fell in love with me."

"Wait, wait, let me get this straight, Beryl loved you, but she didn't love him," the guy with the goatee seems interested in what happens, just for the sake of getting to the end of the story.

"Probably. I think she tends to fall for guys who will never love her back. It's safe that way. She can be artistic and angsty and have that pain in her chest but she never has to actually change her life."

"Well, aren't you Mister Philosophy," Red glares at the guy with the earrings.

"Look, I get called to more than one of these waiting rooms for more than one girl. I think I know what I'm talking about, besides, you're just jealous."

"Of what? She never even kissed you."

"Yeah, but here' s the difference, I didn't want her to."

"Yo! Seriously! The game starts in like fifteen minutes, and I've got money riding on this one." The Korean guy paces around the room, flexing his muscles.

"As far as I can tell, you shouldn't even be here, because she still talks to you. You're a friend. Get the hell out." The guy with the goatee understands the rules now, and the Korean guy ponders his chances of getting out of the door that doesn't have a handle.

Before he has a chance to ram the door or try to say some magic word, the door opens. All the guys, even the one-daters shaking their legs nervously in the stained waiting room chairs, completely unsure of what's going on, who this Beryl is, and why they need to be in this room, with these clearly disturbed men, look up curiously.

Someone new stands in the doorway.

The guy with the goatee, apparently the ringleader of the group, approaches the door, "So, she did it? She cut you loose? I was pulling for you man."

The man doesn't enter the room, he's just a shadow, his features unclear, his height uncertain. He moves closer to the door, pushes his arm into the room. It's black-suited arm.

"Is that a tuxedo?" says the redhead incredulously, "She left you at the altar! Wow, and I thought I got shafted with a phone call argument followed by an e-mail break-up."

"Shut up, he's got something to say," the Korean guy breaks into the conversation, distracted, for a moment, from his quest for HDTV.

"What do you have to say?" Asks Mr. Goatee.

"She did it."

Shouts of indecipherable dismay fill the room:

"Ah man!"

"That's messed up."

"I thought she got it right this time."

"I don't want to have to keep coming here."

"He's not done," whispers the balding guy in the baseball cap, "And he's not coming in."

"She did it. We got married."

Silence fills the room, and all of the men, with the exception of the one-daters, who, quite frankly, couldn't care less about her and her escapades, stare open mouthed and speechless at the shadow man in the doorway.

"You're all free to go."

The shadow man turns from the door, leaving it wide open.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Final Details

I could tell you that I found a kick-ass apartment in the North End, with exposed brick walls, kind, quiet neighbors and more floor space than I knew what to do with, but that would be a lie.

After I figured out why I had come to Boston, I stopped looking for an apartment and had a long talk with Hunky Mike.

I could tell you that I declared my love for him and that we moved in together and now, as the snow falls upon us, frequently make out by the light of a street lamp, glowing with love and passion. But that would also be a lie.

Instead, I talked to him about this new job, this fabulous opportunity, I got down to business and got the nitty-gritty details. What would I be doing exactly? How much would he pay me? Between what I saved by living with my parents (minus, of course, the money I just had to spend on shoes, purses and other items necessary in the life of a woman) and the decent salary I would be making at the online magazine (the online version of a popular print magazine, as it turned out), I could afford to buy a place. It's not fancy, but it's not a studio. It's tiny one bedroom walk-up in a neighborhood that just barely passes as Beacon Hill, and I love it. It's mine (or it will be in 30 years), and I can do what I want with it. I can have Hunky Mike over for dinner, which I might, once he's really over his wife...

That's the other thing. I must admit that I harbored some fantasies about Mike wanting me to move to Boston so that we could be togother, but I realized soon after we got here and Mike had hour long conversations with Kathleen each day on the office phone that Mike's not the guy for me. He's not the guy for me, because he's the guy for Kathleen. But he's also not the guy, because I've met someone else.

I'm in a brand new relationship, and I'm keeping the details to myself.

But I can shout from the rooftops that this time around, I'm not just beating Boston, I'm loving Boston.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Beating Boston

It took me all night. Literally, all night. I didn't sleep. My mother would have killed me. Or at least made me hot chocolate.

I stayed up that entire night, trying to piece together my logic. Why would I return to a place that I hated oh so much? My friends had stopped short of asking me that very question.

But before I met with Mike in a couple of days, I had to have an answer that went beyond, "Well, he asked me to come."

When the crisp, autumn sun finally started to poke through the curtains, I had a break through. When I'd lived in Boston before, my favorite part of day had been the sunrise. I would actually make an effort to get up to see it blossiming over the horizon. Even if I immediatley crawled back into my double bed, which I usually did, and pulled my red flowered bedspread over my head, which I usually did, the sunrise gave me hope that I could succeed in this practically foreign city.

I stood up, walked to the floor-length window, parted the curtains and stared out at the still-empty street.

The sunrise made me realize that I had returned to Boston, because this time I wanted to win. I didn't want to tuck my tail between my legs and scurry away, back to California where the sun shone and the snow never fell. I wanted to keep the confidence the sunrise gave me throughout each and every day.

Exhausted after my long night of apartment and soul searching, I shuffled back to bed, crawled under the delicately patterned duvet, pulled it over my head and slept.

Monday, August 07, 2006

All Roads Lead to Boston

And so, I was preparing to leave for Boston. I was trying to find an apartment online, and remembering how badly that had gone on my first Boston adventure (I landed a sweet apartment with a gargantuan price tag), gave up and decided to look for a place when I arrived.

My parents were less upset than I had anticipated, probably because I'd been moping around the house for more years than they cared to realize and were pleased to see me get started again with my life. My mom was teary eyed as I told her that I would stay in a hotel for at least a couple of weeks before I moved to an apartment.

"What about all your stuff?"

"I'll box it up, but can you ship it to me when I get a place?"

"So, you'll live out of a suitcase?" She seemed offended at the thought that the daughter she had raised to keep her clothing neatly folded or hung in her dresser or closet would not be requiring such luxuries for the near future.

"Mommy, I'll be fine. It's okay. It's better than getting stuck in a lease on a place I really can't afford in a neighborhood that's more downtown than community."

"Fine." And she silently started gathering the things I would need in order to safely box up my breakables. She handed me bubble wrap and tape, some old towels I could use for cushions in the boxes and rags once I got to Boston.

My dad took it all in stride, walking in and out of the room where my mom and I stood packing, "I'll clean out the garage when you leave." He always cleaned out the garage when I moved. So, this made my heart ache with all of the times I've left them.

But we all knew that I had to go.

Dawn told me to save her a place on my couch, once I had one, as she fully intended to run away from Sacramento on a very regular basis, "You'll be tempted to start charging me rent, but remember, I'm just a houseguest. Say it with me, 'Dawn is just a houseguest."

After my boss announced my resignation and the reason, my coworkers congratulated me, wondered how I would be replaced (easily, I assured them silently, and probably by someone who cared), and then they heard a rumor about donuts in the breakroom and quickly abandoned our conversation.

Before I knew it, I was standing in my room in the Back Bay Hilton, wondering how the time had gone so fast, how I'd gotten here so quickly, and what on earth I was doing in Boston.

Mike and I talked a few times a day. He had packed up his place in Portland, sublet a condo in Beacon Hill and would be in Boston by the end of the week. He'd take me to our new office the day after he arrived.

Late one night, after a dinner of take-out Chinese from the restaurant around the corner, I rested on the King bed (far too big for one person), sorted through listings on Craigslist. I had found a listing for a one bedroom, with an exposed brick wall, plenty of light and the sights and smells of the North End when I suddenly remembered something very important.

I hate Boston. I hate it with a fiery passion.

I had spent the two years of high school talking solely of returning to California as soon as possible.

And now I was back.

In a city everyone knew I hated, but everyone I knew had neglected to remind me of this small fact or question me on my decision to return here.

There is usually a thin line between love and hate, but for me, there was a thick, thick bar between loving and hating Boston.

Why was I here?

Not for a job. That was the motivation, not the reason.

Not for Hunky Mike, though I might like to think that was the reason.

Then, why?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Back to Boston

And so I found myself back at home, awaiting Hunky Mike's phone call. I'd eaten dinner, my parents had gone out to run groceries, and I'd settled in for a long wait.

My cell phone vibrated on my desk, wiggling wildly around, as if excited by the caller. I answered, and then I was talking to Mike.

"Hi, Tracy," he replied to my trying-to-stay-calm, "Hello."

"Hey, Mike, how are you?"

"Oh, same old stuff. Wife packed up and left. My job, so. You?"

"Oh, same old stuff. No husband to pack up and leave. My job is boring as ever."

"Oh, gosh, Tracy, it's so great hearing your voice."

Our conversation continued, but I'm not sure I heard much of it after he said it was great to hear my voice. My brain was off on its own little adventure, ignoring the fact that I was talking to a soon-to-be-divorced man about a job possibility and not talking to my boyfriend or husband or anyone.

"So, about this job."


"I don't think you should take it."

"Okaaaay. But you're the one who suggested it."

"I know, I know. But I found out a bit more about that particular newspaper, and I think that you'll hate working down there, hate dealing with those people and will be bored in five minutes living in Southern California."

"Is that so?"

"So, here's what I was thinking, because, you know, I have to get out of here."

"Out of...Portland? But I thought you loved Portland!"

"I moved here because of Kathleen. She wanted to be here, and I found a job here so that it would be possible. But I'm not much for Oregon."

My image of Mike's happy life continued to crumble. I had figured that even if his marriage had broken up, at least he had his swell life in Portland.

"So, what's your idea, then?"




"Okay, you'll have to expand on that a little bit for me. It's been a long day at the office, and I'm having difficulty focusing."

"Tracy, I want to move back to Boston, and I think that you should to."

"Huh! Well, that's not something I expected to hear."

"I know, it's weird. I haven't talked to you in forever, and then I call up and tell you to come to Boston."

"Yeah, it is a shocker. I, uhm, okay...again, what?"

"Boston. I have a lead on a job as a managing editor of an online publication, and I'd like to recruit you as our features editor."

"EDITOR?! Uhm, yeah, I haven't written anything publishable since graduation, so I don't know how that will be possible."

"Tracy, I know what you're capable of, and it's an online publication, and the condition of me accepting the job offer is that I get to pick my staff."

"Oh, staff? Okay, so who else are you picking?"

"I don't know yet. You're the only one I know with a job she's willing to leave."

"Can I think about it? This is a lot to take in at once."

"Sure, take it in, call me in a couple of days and let me know what you decide, okay?"

"Yeah, sure. Thanks, okay."

We hung up the phone, and I sat and stared at the silent phone in my hand.

Could I go back to Boston? Should I go back to Boston?

Before another question came into my mind, it was already made up.

"Boston." I said.

Monday, July 31, 2006


Today, it seems that everyone I encounter is a character in a novel. I headed home for lunch and saw a Mexican gang-banger with a shaved head and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth driving a low-rider. That didn't seem real.

Yesterday, I was walking in a quirky town with my date, and I felt as though someone was playing some kind of trick on us. At three distinct points in the date, we encountered abandoned shoes. Three very different shoes. One was a brown, male sandal, posed strategically on a rock. The second was a pair of lady's maryjane shoes, tucked beneath a white picket fence. The third and final was a pair of sneakers and socks, resting on a bus stop bench. I felt like I was in some kind of esoteric French or Swedish movie, where the lone shoe is supposed to symbolize the lone conqueror, who stands at the top, alone. The Mary Janes? I don't know. The sneakers on the bench were spotted at the end of the evening and seemed to signal the end, as in, put your feet up and have a rest.

My last boyfriend was frantic, perhaps somewhat manic, and insistent on declaring his love for me at every turn. He was overly affectionate, and twirled me in the street. He kissed me openly whenever he could, even in Home Depot, as we walked behind his mother one lazy Sunday afternoon. He was loud and told obnoxious jokes that didn't make me laugh but cracked him up. He sent me roses at work. He learned how to say "I love you" in foreign languages. He couldn't resist touching me or talking to me, but he also couldn't respect when I didn't want those things to happen. I'd tell him to leave me alone, and he wouldn't believe me, couldn't believe that I wasn't as head over heels as he was...and sooner or later, he would come up behind me, hug me and kiss me and "check on" me. It didn't help that he had a face like a cartoon character, like a child, so this all seemed very surreal.

This new date, almost exactly a year after I met my ex-boyfriend, took things as they came but did not inform that's what he was doing. We toured a local landmark, just because it happened to be open. We had a cool drink in a cute cafe, because that's what we came upon first.

My ex-boyfriend fell for me head over heels from the moment he saw me, and never stopped falling long enough to really see me. This new date is falling for me, I believe, but at a much more reasonable pace, taking in the view along the way, recognizing our differences and not moving faster than he should.

But the fact that this is my life seems so unreal. Does everyone have this sense of distance from their lives? This sense that they live a separate life on the weekend?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

And so it continues

When I return to the office, I put my leftover burrito in the packed office refrigerator. As usual, someone has used the limited space to store their lunches for the week, making me search for a spot for my tiny bag. I give myself a once over in the staff bathroom and head back to my desk.

The e-mail is still there, taunting me. I read it again, looking for any nuances I might have missed the first time, and I see one towards the bottom.

If you’re interested in talking about the position, let me know, and I can give you call. It would be nice to talk to you, Tracy. Take care, Mike

I hadn’t noticed that the first several times I read the e-mail, having focused so much on the possibility that I could get a new job.

Mike wants to talk to me. Miiiiike wants to talk to me.

But Mike is married. He’s married to his Lovely Wife.

As I ponder how exactly to respond to the e-mail, the same denim-skirt clad woman from this morning approaches my desk, “The copier is still out of toner.”

“Yes, Brenda, I’ve told the office manager. The man from the copy place will be out sometime later this week.”

“But I need to make copies.” She stamps her little foot, wobbling the laces on the navy blue Keds.

“Brenda, I believe that there are a couple of other copiers on this floor. Why don’t you ask your supervisor which one you should use” I say with a smile.

“Fine.” Brenda walks off in a huff, and without even pausing, I hit “reply” on Mike’s e-mail.

Though I’m not ready to start a new job tomorrow, I restrain myself from saying that in the e-mail. Actually, I keep the whole e-mail rather restrained. I thank him for e-mailing, ask after the Lovely Wife and himself and ask for a few more details on the job.

It sounds great, Mike, but I’d like to know more about it before I commit to anything. When’s a good time to talk?

I sign off with a polite, “Thanks for thinking of me. Hope to talk to you soon,” and hit send.

I stare at the monitor and wonder what I’ve just done. At best, I’ve opened up the opportunity for a new, fulfilling job, and at worst, I’ve opened myself up for emotional turmoil. If I renew conversation with Mike, will I start to feel those awful feelings I felt when he left Boston for Portland with Lovely Wife? Will I feel silly for being in love with not only a married man but also a married man who never had such feelings for me?

I tell myself that I worry too much and try to find something with which to occupy my time. It’s the summer and half of the staff is on vacation, not to mention the fact that it’s three o’clock on a Friday, and no one’s even pretending to work anymore.

I open up the minutes from the most recent staff meeting and pretend to read them, just in case someone walks up behind me, as often happens in this public space. Instead of reading, I consider the e-mail, and the sign-off. I do wonder for a moment where Mike got my work address, then I remember that we actually did e-mail for a while after graduating. Mostly, he sent me pictures of his new tricked out condo in Portland, his new bride in her Vera Wang gown, the disheveled newspaper office where he spent most of his days. Then, about two years ago, Lovely Wife wanted to have children, and Mike stopped writing. I heard through a mutual friend that they were having trouble conceiving, and I still got a Christmas card from the happy couple each year at my parents’ house, but I hadn’t had a real conversation with the man in a very long time, in almost as long a period a time as we had known each other in Boston. Now, I wanted to talk to him more than I wanted the job.

Finally, five o’clock rolls around, I shut down my computer, climb back into the Explorer and head home for the weekend. For the first time in weeks, I don’t feel bad that I have nothing planned, that I’ll probably end up going grocery shopping at Costco with my parents, that my friends and their boyfriends and husbands will be out doing couply things, and I’ll be wandering around like a seven-year-old with my parents.

Monday eventually comes, and I go through my regular routine of world-saving dreams, cereal for breakfast and a bleary-eyed drive to work. The weekend passed quickly, I talked to my parents and friends about the Santa Barbara possibility. My mom looked like she might cry, while my dad looked thrilled that he might have my mom to himself again. My friends thought it was awesome and asked if they could come visit me. I reminded everyone, myself included, that I did not yet have an interview, let alone the job. In the details of the potential job, I forgot to worry about actually talking to Mike.

My computer awaited me, perky as ever, and I signed on and waited for my messages from the weekend to load onto the server. Buried beneath a pile of memos that needed formatting and offers of a cure for male pattern baldness, I saw an e-mail from Mike. What I read made my heart leap, the blood pound in my ears and my breath quicken in my chest.

Dear Tracy,

Well, I’m glad to hear that you’re interested in the job. It sounds like a great gig. How about I call you this evening – do you still have that same 530 cell phone? – and we’ll talk about it? How about around seven?

I’m doing fine. Portland is still good, although I’m getting tired of seeing thirty-something men walking around spiked hair, ha. Thank you for asking after my lovely wife, Kathleen…but I wanted to let you know that she’s no longer my lovely wife. Or at least, she won’t be in a couple of months. Tracy, Kathleen walked out on me about four months ago, and we’ve filed the divorce papers. Everything will be final by October.

I hope I haven’t depressed you too much with this news. I’m doing okay with it, as things haven’t been right for a long time…probably since before we got married, but anyway…

We’ll talk more tonight.


I quickly turn off Outlook, jump out of my chair and run a fake errand to check the mailbox.

I return to my desk to see the e-mail still on my screen, taunting me, begging me to write back. It’s sad that my first reaction to the news that Mike and Lovely were going to divorce is one of joy. Now he would be back in the world! He’s out of her grasps! Secondly, I feel pain for my friend. My friend Mike, someone I’d spent a lot of time with in Boston, and yes someone I was more than a little in love with, and I wished that I could so something for him. And my wanting to date him wasn’t going to solve anything.

I decide that since the nature of the e-mail had gotten a bit more personal, I would forward our conversation to my home e-mail and answer later in the evening, after I’d calmed down, eaten dinner and watched a rerun of Friends. Only then could I face this e-mail.

Amazingly enough, I find a pile of folders on my desk, which means that I can keep myself busy doing actual work.

Right before lunch, I suddenly realize that poor Mike mentioned a specific time to talk to me, so I should at least send off a brief e-mail confirming our phone call. I try to remain businesslike in my tone, just in case those e-mail spies are watching my work e-mail.

Dear Mike,

Oh my goodness! I’m sorry to hear about you and Kathleen. Yes, call me around 7…same cell number as before. I’ll talk to you soon.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Thinking About It

When I knew Hunky Mike outside of cyberspace, back in Boston, I had goals and ambitions that were so strong I could feel them coursing through my veins each time I covered a student protest, a theatrical production, a controversial campus firing, or anything at all that my editor assigned. I was going to be a reporter. I had graduated from a prestigious undergraduate university and struck out on my own in Big Bad Boston. Granted, I chose Boston, because I was afraid of New York City, but still, I had flown from the West Coast and taken up residence in a place where it snowed twenty inches at a time, and where my friend Aida would joke about the terrible summer weather:

“What do you call it when it’s sunny all week and rains all weekend?”



Hunky Mike would laugh his big laugh, and I would smile in appreciation. This was a man who would someday run a newsroom, a kind man who would make the tough calls but never resort to drinking whiskey behind closed doors. This man would not have a heart-attack at forty-five. He would make time for a family, friends, a life, but still have a fabulous career. And I was attracted to all of that. Not that Hunky Mike cared. He was already dating his future Lovely Wife. They had met at a bar and bonded over a brutal Red Sox loss against the Phillies. I never believed that, as Miss California, she cared one bit about the Red Sox, but her bright smile, flowing blond hair and low-cut tops managed to convince Hunky Mike that she was a devout fan who worshipped at the altar of Nomar.

My other friends and I rolled our eyes at her obvious beauty, but Hunky Mike fell for it all. I had thought better of him, but I had also thought that at some point he might realize his mistake and knock on my apartment door, declaring his undying love for my wire-frame glasses, colorful clothing, too-long pink scarf, always messy hair and crooked smile.

He never did any such thing. Instead, we all graduated. He and Lovely Wife moved to Oregon, got married in a lavish ceremony and settled into life in hip, quirky, just where I wanted to be Portland.

I moved back home to Elk Grove, California, refused to apply for anything even remotely close to a job in Journalism, and found myself working in an office in downtown Sacramento. Three years later, I’m still here. Sometimes I get almost motivated enough to apply for another job, but something always holds me back and I stay here. They pay me well. They train me to do new and exciting things like train other people how to do new and exciting things. Plus, it’s fun to watch the women’s eyes bug out of their heads when I wear a new pair of leopard print heels, or successfully sashay down the hall in a new silk skirt. This job has nothing to do with journalism, but it has everything to do with people watching.

The morning passes uneventfully, and I have yet to respond to Hunky Mike.

I take off for lunch, meet my friend Dawn, whom I’ve known since high school, at the La Salsa in Downtown Plaza, gossip about people we know who have done strange things.

“Did I tell you that Blonde Gwen almost set herself on fire?”

“What? How?” Dawn volunteers at a fire-arts studio, in her attempt to hone her own art skills. Blonde Gwen is the studio hussy who apparently only volunteered in order to meet artsy guys with tattoos.

“Oh, so she came into the studio with her hair in this, I don’t know, bouffant, style, just full of hairspray. I have no idea how she thought it looked good, but anyway, Her hair was up, and her shirt was down to there, and I guess she got distracted, because she walked under a fire pipe, and you could just smell burning right away.”

“What, burning hair?”


“But I thought she almost set herself on fire.” I swivel the straw in my ice tea absentmindedly, trying to piece together all aspects of Blonde Gwen’s accident.

“Hold on.”

“Okay, I’ll be patient.”

“Not your strongest suit,” Dawn pushed her long, pink-highlighted hair out of her eyes, “Anyway, so we all start pointing and jumping up and down, because if we try to talk, we’ll start laughing. Eventually, she crinkles up her nose and starts screaming. She puts her hands, complete with French tipped nails, up to the top of her hairdo, feels around, and then…get this…LIFTS OFF the hair. I almost died laughing. She had her real hair in a bun underneath. She had put FAKE hair on to come to the studio. It was hilarious.”

“I’ll bet she didn’t think so.”

“Oh, no. So, she’s looking around for a bucket of water to dunk this…this…wig into, and she opens up her eyes all wide and terrified, and says, ‘Doesn’t anyone have any water, this is a fire studio for crying out loud. You’d think there’d be some water nearby’”

“Wait, I’ve been there. Aren’t there buckets of water all around, and then extinguishers on the wall?”

“Yes, exactly. So, she’s screaming, but there’s a bucket right next to her. Finally, Jason, you remember Jason, he’s the one who always wears a leather jacket” I nod “Yeah, so Jason comes over and says, Gwen, there’s a bucket on your left, you can put your cat in there.”

“He said, ‘cat’?”

“And she didn’t even notice. She just batted her fake eyelashes and said, ‘Oh, thank you, Jason, I couldn’t have done it without you. It. Was. Disgusting.” Dawn takes a breath, “So, what’s going on with you.”

I tell her about the e-mail from Mike, and she nods at appropriate places, “So, what are you going to do? I mean, I’d miss you, but Tracy, you have GOT to get out of here. You’ve been home way too long.”

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Today, I'm starting a new story. It's brand new, and even I don't know how it ends. I hope that you enjoy it...if you have suggestions for how I can improve it (or if you have compliments :Þ), please leave a comment. Stay tuned for future installments.

When I wake up in the morning, I have a million thoughts in my head, ideas about how I’ll save the world, fix my life, find love and otherwise bring happiness to all. By the time I’ve fully woken up, eaten my bowl of Raisin Bran, dressed in something appropriate for work and climbed into my Ford Explorer, all of the ideas are gone. That can’t be a good thing.

I arrived this morning to a virtually empty office. Apparently, everyone else had something better to do than go to work. So, I turned on my computer, and low and behold, I found a job offer. This wasn’t even a job offer from one of those crazy African businessmen who want to put money into my bank account. It was a true to life change of scenery, staring at me from my perky Dell computer.

Of course, at that point, people began to arrive. Coworkers stared at my bright orange shirt (maybe it wasn’t actually appropriate office attire), my boss smiled and said, “Hi Tracy.”

I nodded back and stared at the e-mail on my screen. Someone thought that I, Tracy Margaret Lakofsky, would make a great stringer for a newspaper in Santa Barbara. The pay was the same as my own, but I would live in SANTA BARBARA instead of the steady, boring pace that is Elk Grove.

Since the day had just begun and since I’d cleared my desk of work the previous evening, I allowed myself the opportunity to consider the possibility of responding to this e-mail from a former J-school classmate. My school chum Mike didn’t like the idea of packing up his home and moving from Portland to Santa Barbara, but he remembered I had once talked of a love of Southern California one freezing cold night in Boston, and he remembered reading my work in the student newspaper. Now, what I could have really used was a date with hunky, Italian Mike, but I didn’t think that Lovely Wife, a former Miss California, would approve. So, I settled for a sudden and random job offer.

Mike couldn’t offer me the job directly, but he had been asked to find someone else for the position. Everyone else from our class had settled into professional journalism careers or left the field entirely. So, he thought of me. I paused, trying to decide whether I was offended or exhilarated that I was sort of a last option. I went with exhilarated at the opportunity and breezed through a couple of websites, searching for housing opportunities in Santa Barbara. Could I afford to live there? Would I really want to?

Another co-worker, dressed to the nines in a long denim skirt, Keds and a baggy t-shirt, stopped by my desk to mention that the copier had run out of toner. I told her that I would let the appropriate person know, ignoring the fact that the appropriate person sat on the other side of the office from me, a mere two desks away from this woman. The e-mail from hunky Mike sparkled at me from the screen, all the more appealing after this little reminder that my career had not exactly taken a direct path to success.

Rather then get lost in the Internet as I searched for a new life in Santa Barbara, I stood up, stretched my legs, and went to check the mail. My office is a long, rectangular floor of a two story building. My desk is at the opposite end of everything, far from the copier, the mail slots…the exit. I work as a secretary, and there are days when I hate every minute of it. If my job were as humorous as it is for the characters of “The Office,” I wouldn’t mind it as much, but it’s not. It’s deadly boring. My desk is a vast waste of wood, I don’t even get a cubicle, because I work directly for the president of the company. That means that unlike my co-workers, I cannot cover a bulletin board with pictures of my children and dogs, funny quotes from comic strips or flyers announcing department potlucks. I have no privacy, and I wonder each day how I wound up here.

I check the mail, grab the envelopes for my boss and walk back to my lonely desk. A few coworkers smile as I pass in the hall, but most have their attention fixed to their computers. Maybe they all got job offers from Hunky Mike today.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Final Bit of Pondering

I give into the stress and decide to talk to my mom about the next steps in my career. I give into the loneliness and decide to call the man of my dreams just one more time. One time is all I’ll allow myself before I officially cross the line into crazy girl. If this can become a relationship, then one of the big questions will answer itself. I won’t move if I’m in a happy relationship. I won’t mess with success by moving to a brand-new state and setting up shop.

I know inside that this one phone call is simply a way to delay my decisions, to delay the possibility that I may not have a shot at a happy life with this man.

But delay is the solution right now, and delay is right at home in my fantasy world.

I pick up the phone and dial his number.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Still Pondering

Three years ago, I moved home to straighten myself out, to recover from eight months of “finding myself” in grad school in Boston and Los Angeles, to pay back an inordinate amount of student loans and to remind myself why it’s best to not shoot for the moon or the stars. Three years is a long time, though, and I think I’m sufficiently healed and should move on to something new. I thought I could stick it out when I met the man I thought was the one I’d been dreaming about all my life. After three weeks of him not calling and me somehow still convincing him to ask me out until he finally just stopped responding to e-mail, I realized that the real man of my dreams won’t need convincing in order to spend time with me. But his appearance in my life at a particularly crucial time led me to the belief that I could stay here and be happy. His departure has spurred me into another one of my “itching to leave” phases, but this time, I’m not sure how to handle it.

I’ve already finished grad school.

I’ve already fled to Boston and returned merely with a newfound ability to say, “I lived in Boston.”

I could flee to New York, but I think that might actually kill my mother, and when I returned from Boston, I vowed never to never again try to kill her with my leaving.

So, do I wait this one out? Do I hope that the people who keep insisting that they’ll hire me will actually hire me? Do I forget my newly minted degree and try for a new career and move to the city that’s an hour away from home but light years away from living at home?

Neither the drive home nor my walk up the driveway provides enough time to properly answer these questions.

But I’m 25. My back hurts. My shoulders are tense. I have a headache, and I think I’m getting way too stressed out about making these kinds of life decisions. Why can’t someone else make them for me? I haven’t done such a hot job so far, so why must I continue to be the person who screws it all up?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pondering Some More

It’s five o’clock on a Wednesday evening, and I’m driving home to my parent’s house. I’m nearing 26, and I live at home. Every time I think of it, it makes me sick. I don’t feel ill at the thought of seeing my parents. No, I feel nauseous at the thought of an empty adulthood looming before me.

It’s five o’clock on a Wednesday evening in September. I’m almost 26. I live at home. I have a ridiculous and boring life. Every day, I stare at a computer screen and pretend to be busy. Every boy I date starts out by asking what I do for fun, and I want to yell at him across the table of whatever hole-in-the-wall restaurant they have chosen to impress my quirky sensibility, “Fun? What do I do for fun? Why do you think I’m dating!?! My life is boring, and I expect you to perk it up a bit. What do I do for fun? I have no idea.” Instead, I spew forth my regular assortment of hobbies. I cook. I dance, but not in any choreographed way. I take long walks with my dogs.

I have such a long list of things that only barely entertain me that I inevitably leave off one or two of the few things that genuinely capture my attention. The boy across the table, probably wearing a polo shirt, and also probably wearing glasses, will then detail his own life, and suddenly, I’ll realize that we have an interest in common. “Hiking?! I love hiking, too,” except now it sounds like a desperate plea for a second date instead of the full-blown interest it actually is. Again, I want to shout at the poor guy, “Oh, fun!? I didn’t realize you meant actual fun. Oh, for fun, I go hiking. I love to hike. I love to smell the flowers, feel the heat, swat at the bugs. Really, I love it. I just wish I could find someone to go with me.” Instead, what comes out is, “Oh, yeah, I like to hike to. I forgot.” And I sound like a ditz. The smart girl inside of me cringes, and the smart guy across the table visibly attempts to stop his eyes from rolling. Usually, he’s successful.

It’s five o’clock on a Wednesday evening, and oddly enough, I’m looking forward to an evening spent preparing for tomorrow’s dinner. I found a recipe today for a cake that requires advance preparation. Luckily, it’s a cake made out of crepes, so I can pass it off as a family dinner. I’ve taken to cooking for my family at least once a week. It’s my feeble attempt to prepare for my married life, whenever that should finally get around to happening.

At five o’clock on a Wednesday evening in September, I don’t turn the air conditioning on in my car, because I like the feel of the warm sun on my bare arms. I have always loved that first moment in a hot car after hours spent in a building full of cold, canned air. Luckily, my office and its regular use of air conditioning allows me the opportunity to retain this childhood fascination with a hot car.

The fifteen minute drive back to my parents’ house gives me just enough time to listen to some music and get over hating my job. Well, get over the concept of hating my job, because I don’t really hate my job. Rather, I hate that it isn’t another job, the job I actually want, deserve, and for which I have been educated and trained. But then, I’ve always had a problem accepting my lot in life, not that I do anything about it. Each day, when I make this drive, I somehow manage to convince myself simultaneously of the facts that I have screwed up my life and that I can do nothing to fix it.

Did I mention that I am 25, live at home, cannot afford to move anywhere, have no boyfriend and am incredibly boring and bored? Of course, anyone with an ounce of intelligence could have figured out the last two long before this point.

Today, I spent about half an hour looking at apartments on Craigslist. I look at apartments in my state, in New York City and in Washington, D.C. During that half an hour, I reassured myself that life is no better anywhere else. That I can no sooner afford to live in my hometown than I can on the East Coast. I did not look at apartments in Boston, because I’ve already lived in Boston, and no one wants to see me repeat that mistake.

Yes, all of this goes through my mind in the fifteen measly minutes I have to myself after I leave work and before I pull into my driveway and begin the quarter-lifer’s version of the second-shift. I don’t have kids to care for, nor do I really have dinner to make (that’s a volunteer job). What I do have to do is put on a happy face for my parents, feed my pets and try not to make my mother cry.

In the time it takes to walk from my now-air-conditioning-cooled sedan to the ice-box cool house, I have tried to wash out of my mind the questions, statements and concerns that will bring tears to her eyes. I vow to avoid talking of moving out, of the collapse of my most recent romantic interlude, of finding a new job, of anything that even remotely relates to getting on with my life.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Pondering, Part 1

I’ve reached that point in my life, again, where I don’t really exist in the present reality. When I’m sitting at my desk, typing a memo, answering the phone or doing whatever it is that a secretary should do, I’m not really there. Instead, I’m pondering a life that includes dreams fulfilled instead of dreams deferred. Fear keeps me from pursuing my dreams, but when I really stop to think about those dreams, they fly away and I’m left with vague remembrances of walking up a flight of stairs in an old Victorian, interviewing an author for a magazine article or catching the red eye to New York City.

This is not a good place for me to be. I need something to entertain me. Someone please entertain me. Give me a vacation to plan, a boy to kiss, a dinner to make. I need something solid to do, or else my mind will take me places everyone I know would rather it did not go. My mind will take me away, and it will take a long time to get me to return.

Maybe Grandma was right. Maybe I do live in a fantasy world.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Breathing Room

Matchbox 20. Anne Lamott. Other people, I'm sure. They've all talked about needing breathing room. Whether or not I want it, I've got plenty of it, at least when it comes to him.

Our relationship is so slow moving that I haven't heard from him in a week.

So slow moving in fact, that I would be delusional to think that we even have a relationship.

But I can't hate him. I'd really rather hate him. It would be so much easier to hate him.

Monday, July 03, 2006


"It's funny," she said.

"What's funny?," said her friend.

"That I could have gone my whole life not even knowing that he's out there, but now that I know, it just ticks me off that he doesn't like me."

"So, not so much funny 'ha ha' as funny in the Alanis Morissette 'Ironic' kind of way."

"Yeah, it's like meeting the man of your dreams, and then realizing you're not his type."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hurt Me

If you're going to leave,
make it mean.

Tell me what you don't like about me.
Tell me why you don't want me.

Make it hurt.
Kick me in the stomach with your words.

If you don't hurt me,
then I can't hate you.

If I can't hate you,
I can't get over you.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

You Exist

That night was the first time I saw you.

That night was the first time I stood beside you.

It felt like we were already a couple.

I had to remind myself that we weren't,
that you already had someone in your life.

But it was enough that you exist.
Your presence in the world gave me hope.

There was at least one man in the world who
Could somehow make me feel more like myself.

I didn't have to be with you.
I just felt better knowing you were there.

But now you're here.

If you're not going to stay, I'd rather you'd never have come.

I was content to know you exist.

That was enough.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

When I Loved You

I have tried to convince myself for so many years
That I didn't love you at all.

The words would flow through my mind over and over again:
"You didn't really love him."
"If you loved him, then what does that say about love?"

But it's true.
I loved you.

I have to respect who I was at 17 enough to admit it.
I loved you.

Maybe I shouldn't have.
Maybe you weren't worth it
Maybe you did break my heart.

But I did love you.

It's true you left me first.
It's true you didn't love me.
But I knew it the first time I saw you smile,
waiting for me outside of that grand marble building on campus.

That smile, and no one else's since, made me feel
Like there was no one in the world but the two of us.

And so, I loved you.

And I've waited to feel that again,
All these years passing without loving someone else.

I tried.
I really did.
I told another boy that I loved him.
But I didn't.

And I don't love you anymore,
But I did.

And for now, that's enough.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Truth Is

The fact of the matter.
The bottom line.
The truth is.
I might leave you.

No matter who you are
Or how much you love me
I might run away
If I don't love you enough.

I have a wild streak,
A need to fly,
A wish to run,
A desire to flee.

If you get caught up in that,
and if you're better than me
at staying,
I apologize in advance.

I've never stayed in one place too long,
and staying with you forever
Might be more than I can handle.

I just thought you should know,
before you even meet me,
that there will be times
When I want to go away from you.

You can't possibly love me enough to make me stay,
but you can love me enough to let me return.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Completely Clear

Sometimes I can see my life with perfect clarity. When I walked up the stairs to my suburban office after lunch this afternoon, I could feel myself walking up a narrow staircase into an apartment building, going into an apartment with hardwood floors and lots of light, turning around and carefully locking my six locks. I could feel myself living in a city.

Earlier, as I contemplated applying for my dream job, I saw myself falling in love with an author, moving to Connecticut, having some adorable, blonde children and living my life with joy. I feel the silk of my blouses, the soft cotton of my pants, that worn-in leather of my Manalo Blahnik heels. In my hand, I clutch a Coach briefcase of the softest tan-colored leather. I'm wearing my cream colored coat from Banana Republic. Am I a walking commercial? No, I'm living my life the way I want to live it.

What I have now is not a life. It's getting by. Now, don't get me wrong. I have a life when I'm not at work. I have a family who I love and who loves me back. I have friends I adore but who always make me feel slightly out of place.

I've never belonged here. I have made friends but eventually alienate them when I prove less like them than originally anticipated. I was born into the lower-middle class and have moved with my parents to the middle-middle. Eventually, I plan to be upper-middle or upper class, feeling no guilt at living in comfort but remaining Catholic enough to give away a great deal of my income. I will wear crisp suits and feminine dresses that hug my waist and accentuate my best features.

Yes, I'll admit it, though it shames me to say it. I often feel too good for the life I live here, too educated, too smart, too talented...I know enough to know that I deserve better.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Coming Into the Light

I went to a big college because I would be anonymous. Wandering the tree-lined campus as an undergrad, I felt part of history. I felt as thought I'd actually stood on Sproul Steps during the Free Speech Movement. There were days when I could hear the voices of the protestors in the 1960's. Those words echoing through history, filling my hopeful mind.

Of course, anonymity meant that I didn't really make my own contribution to the fabled and famed history of my university. But I was there. I became a part of that tradition just be being there.

Now, I don't want to just be there. I want to matter and make a difference. I want to do more than type memos and send faxes. I want my voice to be heard. I want to have a voice.