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.