Tuesday, July 10, 2007


trying the wordpress thing.

Friday, July 06, 2007


I want to tell you about a place. I want you to go there with me, to stand beneath the concrete archway. But I don't have to tell you it's concrete, and I don't want you to have to see it the way I do.

I want to take you to a place, but it's a universal place. It's not Paris. It's not Rome. It's not Tokyo. It's high school.

I only have to say the words wrought-iron gate and concrete pillars, and I've got the high school entrance right in my mind. Of course I do, I walked through it every day for four years.

I don't want you to have to see that high school. I want you to see yours, or your best friend's or your husband's.

I want to tell you what happened to a young, slim, scared little girl when she went to high school. Though the setting in my mind is that semi-urban high school by the cemetary, you don't have to see it that way.

I want to take you somewhere. I want you to relate to the girl in the plaid skirt.

I don't want to spend pages and pages telling you about the green grass and the unheated winters.

I just want you to know it already.

Can you see it yet?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Compromise, Part 1

She doesn't know exactly who to turn to about this. Her mother gets teary eyed (but at least tells her to follow her heart). Other friends say things like, "I'll always be your friend, but there are red flags."

Maybe she's just not explaining herself well enough.

Because looking at it from the outside, sure, it looks bad. It looks like he's walked in and taken over her life, or, worse, that he's walked in, and she's handed it over.

That's not the case, at all.

She wanted a simple list of things:
*To fall in love
*To get away from her hometown

She's got the first one down, so what next?

She told him with great force in her voice, nearly in tears, sitting in a restaurant barely able to choke down the foccacia, that she wants to "get the hell out." She's not compromising; she's getting exactly what she wants.

She never settled on where she would go, and he offered a suggestion. Her request was vague. His was stable and specific.

Her friends do have a point. There was another man who offered, directly, to take her away with him. To have her as his wife and take her to Texas. And she was okay with that, for a brief moment.

This is one of those things that people judge her on, that this is not the first time she has considered someone the solution to all her problems.

But that was then. And this is real. The previous man was simply a fantastical solution to a wealth of issues. He was made of stardust and didn't even have one foot in reality. He was a temptation and a lesson, nothing more.

And if she had it to do again, well, she wouldn't have kept dating him.

But, when it comes down to it, maybe the people who once knew her best are basing their ideas on what they knew way back when. They're basing it on a girl who clung to her family. A girl who always went home on weekends. A girl who was afraid to go see what the world had to offer.

And maybe, just maybe, there are others who know her better, who understand her situation, who say things like, "compromise shows maturity."

Maybe she already has people who will listen to her worries.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ever Expanding Family

She did believe, in some vague way, that whenever she got married, her husband would simply flow seamlessly into her own. She never thought about having to fit into his world, his family. It was as though she expected him to come from some great vacuum, eager - but not too eager - for family dinners, evenings out, backyard barbecues and all of the wrappings of an active family. She even has friends who insist that their spouses will, essentially, have to have no family of their own in order to properly assimilate into the demands of large family life.

It never occured to her that she would fall in love with someone who, while enjoying family, has no desire to acquire a new one.

But she has.

In some ways, she's been lost to her own family. Her parents wonder about her whereabouts. Her grandmother curiously calls and asks for updates. Her cousins, well, they vanished on their own long ago.

But she's creating her own family, building from the ground up, melding lives with someone completely different from herself.

So, she doesn't over commit him, although he generally does whatever she asks. She never tells her mother, "Yes, we'll be there." Recently, if it's something that matters enough, she'll commit herself, "I'll be there for sure, and I'll get back to you about him."

Her mother seems to appreciate this semi-commitment.

Mostly, she despises saying "Yes, sure thing, you can count on me," when she may very well have to place an apologetic phone call or write a suck-up e-mail later on down the road.

So, her new method seems to work.

Though it's new for her, and her observing family, to note that she can't just say yes, that she has to talk to someone else first, that she no longer seems in complete control over her time, of her life.

This is a deliberate move on her part. She has a tendency to move full-force through life, completely forgetting that anyone else might care about a decision she has to make, that there are people who would like to be consulted before she, say, rents an apartment, quits her job or books a hotel room. That is, there are people other than her mother who want to be involved in her thought process.

When she rented her apartment, she didn't tell him until she was moving in two days.

Now, months later, she consults him about an issue at work. Mostly, she's made up her mind about the course of action, but at least he thinks he's involved. And he, like her father always has, offers a unique perspective on the situation. At the very least, he will validate her choices.

He can fill some of the roles that her family long has, but he still will never fully integrate into her family.

He will never be her mother's son. He has his own mother, thank you very much, and, admittedly, he doesn't call her enough. He can't possibly take on another one.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007



It's not just me.

You're here, too?

I'm not the only one.

Looking for answers.

Searching for truth.

Am I supposed to believe this isn't all about me?

That's new.

Give me a moment to get used to that.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Even now, what I fear is that you won't be able to love me enough.

That I will ask for much more than you can give.

That you will realize you don't have enough.

That you will walk away from someone who needs so much.

Even now, I fear that I will change for you and for me and then you will leave.

That I will be completely different, will have left family and friends behind.

That you will be gone, and I will have nothing.

Even now, I fear that I will leave for you, and I will need more.

That I will require too much, need too much of your emotions and time.

That I will never understand that what you give me is all you have to give.

Even now, I fear that you'll give up on me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ready or Not?

Each Sunday, he leaves. He returns to his side of the mountain, to a world she was working really hard at getting to know before he moved again. He moved a few months ago to a place where she's not comfortable staying overnight. There's not much to talk about when it comes to that. He knows it. She knows it. And there's nothing to be done about it.

So, more often than not, he's the one who leaves.

There are days when she's anxious for him to pack up his computer and head down the stairs to his sports car, ready to have her space returned to her, ready to have the sole bathroom available for only her use.

Especially on Sundays, she is ready for those few quiet hours before the hectic week begins, for the peaceful hours to herself. She reads. She cleans. She watches movies he doesn't want to see. She prepares herself for what she will face heading back to work on Monday.

Her contentment after his departure proves her budding theory that she is not ready to get married, that, in fact, after too many of those conversations that dance around marriage and kids, she feels slightly sick to her stomach, like she's eaten too much ice cream. It proves that they are not ready to get married (not that he's asked).

She sometimes finds herself getting anxious, eager for the time when she'll be one of the women looking at dresses and picking out colors, giggling with her bridesmaids. But that's a wedding, not marriage. She's not ready for marriage. She likes that he is her boyfriend, not her fiance, not her husband, but her boyfriend. She enjoys that he has his own apartment -- on his own side of the mountain.

If all of this is true.

If she is so content with the current situation.

Does it make sense for her, every Sunday night, to long for the time when neither of them has to leave?

Monday, May 28, 2007


She has finally begun to see that she will not have a life even remotely resembling the one she once envisioned:

A worthwhile job.
An adorable house.
An adoring husband.
Two or four or six kids running amuck.
All starting with a husband at 22.

Of course, the husband at 22 never materialized, and she's ridiculously grateful that she's had the intervening years to find herself, discover her identity. She would have made a horrible wife at that age and would likely not make a good one right now, not yet anyway.

After a series of hopeful comments and interesting discussions, she paused to think about the life she now sees for herself.

For the first time, there is a blank slate.

This is at once depressing and a great relief. There is no particular life towards which she is aspring. Certainly, she wants to get married (and specifically, she wants to marry him) and have children (his), but there is no outline for how this will occur, no deadlines, no specific script that must play out in order for her to obtain happiness.

"Have you ever struggled with wanting to be successful and than realizing that being happy could be the same as being successful?" She asked him.

"Yes." He said.

And with that word, she remembered why she fell in love with him in the first place.

Glimpses of herself in a charming cafe in Boston, New York, heck, even Chicago or what about Rome, dot her imagination, but they don't drive her. She once craved a life in New York City, the Big Apple, Manhattan Island, where she could prove her mettle and make it once and for all. She once craved, as Michael Cunningham said, more of the same, a life exactly like the one she imagined her parents had at the start of their marriage. A tiny house with a big back yard, lots of love and frequent barbecues in that big backyard.

She never envisioned a quiet apartment with the wind howling outside, sitting alone on her couch at 26, pondering her future. But she is fast understanding that, though she held onto it for years past its expiration date (should, in fact, have come to terms with it perhaps as many as ten years ago, when she started college with no boyfriend to her name and no clue as to what she wanted other than a husband), the life she envisioned for herself is not the one worthy of her, not the one meant for her.

She finds it a great relief to pause and consider the life in the future and realize that a life unscripted is the only way to live.

This unscripted life could be less than what she planned, but it will also be more. It will lead her places she never foresaw and others she would have eschewed as impossible as little as a year ago. It will be better. It will be worse. It will be the same. It will be different.

But, most of all, it will be hers.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


He sat with the Starbucks coffee cup between his legs, "Wow, that's hot."

In the passenger seat, she maneuvered a few things and freed up the second cup holder, "Here." She reached over and took his cup, setting it in the holder, "We don't want you to boil your boys," she smiled teasingly.

"Nope." He kept his eyes on the road. "Or we could just have all girls."

A strange, hopeful feeling filled her. It was the first true time he had openly suggested that they would have children together, that the children he would have in the future would also be hers.

"Well, in that case," she jokingly reached for the hot coffee.

"Seriously, geckos tend to have girls when the eggs are kept over 80 degrees or something."

The moment passed, and they started talking about the lore of babies born in the summer mostly being boys.

But there had been the moment. And for today, that was enough.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Did He Really Just Say That?

Sitting in the drive through, waiting for cheap Mexican takeout.

She said, "It's my money, I can do what I want with it."

He said, "Yeah, but I'm not going to be that guy. I'm not going to be that guy who has his girlfriend pay for everything. And I still owe you from the last time."

"No, you don't. That money is gone, spent, gone. I'm not trying to be your Sugar Mama. It's more fun for me if you're there with me, so it's my money being spent on my enjoyment."

"Look, you're right. It's your money, so you can do what you want with it. Until we share a bank account, I have nothing to say about how you spend your money. But my money is mine, and I can do what I want with it, and I am going to pay you back."

Wait a minute, did the man who has so carefully avoided all mention of a future together just say, "Until we share a bank account..."???

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Shift in the Breeze

It was just a slight change, barely perceptable to the human eye.

No one but her would notice it. She notices because she knows him better than he thinks.

But something is different.

He's different.

He is there with her now. He believes that he will be there for a while. He didn't know just a few weeks ago what he wanted, what he believed. But now, now he knows.

And she can tell.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Erasing it All

She has found that she takes him places she's gone before. She takes him where she went with that other one, the too eager one with the cartoon face. She has to replace that guy with him, fill in the memories, reclaim her favorite places.

The funny thing is that her ex doesn't factor into a lot of things, only when she practically forces herself to think about the past does he enter into the picture at all. He's not a real element in her life anymore, nor should he be. He was a learning experience that lasted two and a half months and ended a year and a half ago. No reason to keep him around.


She wishes that he had just a bit of that belief in fate that the ex did. That he would tell her that he wants to marry her and be the father of her children. She wishes that he were just a little of a believer in the magic of it all.

And then she stops herself and realizes that the the realistic romantic is the best kind of all.

When she marries him, it won't be blindly. When he decides he's ready, it will mean more than a spur of the moment, gut instinct kind of a decision. It will be real and lasting.

And it won't just be a fairytale she made up.

In those moments, when she remembers why she loves him, she's okay with the fact that she has to be the one to believe in magic.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Tickle on Your Neck

With the sounds of accented English coming from the family room, she stretches across her bed, trying with all her might to pay attention to those last few pages of the Bible. Well, it's not like she's reading Revelation, but she is finishing what will make her a woman who had read the entire Bible. Based on the memory of her college roommate practically swooning over it, she saved Song of Songs for last, a brief eight pages about a bride and groom about to embark on their life together. The man she hopes to someday marry sits at the dining table, clicking away on his computer.

The accented English comes from a bizarre movie told in four languages, none of them particularly well spoken. Nothing made sense.

In one scene, the Mexican-born artist living in France says in English, "I want you to touch my hair."

His London-born, French speaking love interest replies, also in English, "I can't do that."

With eight minutes to go in the movie, and feeling slightly batty, she can't really take it anymore, so she removes herself to the bedroom. The sunshine filtering through the window is slightly dulled by the few remaining clouds in the sky.

The combination of the dull sunshine, the piano-soundtrack, the foreign languages, the images she's seen in the bizarre movie makes her feel that if she looks up just at the right moment, outside of her window, she will see the place she wants to live next year. She's never seen it before, never been to that great mystery of a continent, so she doesn't know what she would see if she looks up, but she has a strong suspicion that it would look nothing like the parking lot of her apartment complex.

In fact, she has a feeling it would look like Australia. At that moment, with that music, and those voices and the strange images of the movie fresh in her mind, she feels right on the cusp of her future. She believes that she will feel this again, in a year perhaps, will feel it when she stretches across her bed in Australia and looks up at the window, knowing for a fact that if she does, she will see her next future.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Real Romance

"When did you know you loved me?" A beautiful, blonde woman in a carefully designed pink tanktop and perfectly fitting ivory colored pajama pants asks the man beside her.

"From the moment I saw you." The man, with a muscular build, wearing nothing but some old cargo shorts and a smile, says, staring into her bright blue eyes.

"Oh, puhlease!!" She scoffs at the television, tossing the remote against the pillows as she turnes off the late-night movie. She rolls her eyes and gets up off the couch.

"What?" He says, looking up briefly as she saunters over to the fridge to grab a cold bottle of water.

"This show is freakin' lame."

"Huh? What are you talking about?" His glance briefly wanders in her direction and then quickly returns to the computer screen.

"It wast just completely unrealistic, completely dull and just not at all what I would want in a relationsh..." She stops talking as she realizes he's once again engrossed in his game.

He looks up again, a sheepish grin on his face, "A relationsh?"

"Oh, now you're paying attention?" She feels a tiny bit of annoyance creep into her voice, though she's trying to control it. She doesn't care if he's playing his game, as she's told him a hundred times, what she cares about is just getting to be in the same room together.

"I'm like a cat." She'd told him.


"I don't have to be pet all the time like a dog, but I just like knowing I'm in the same room as the people I care about, even doing my own thing. From time to time, you can wander over and pet my head, and I'll be happy."

He'd smiled his big open grin and hugged her.

Back in the present she looks at him, watches him decide whether she's really upset with him or just mildly irritated. Settling on the later, he says, "You don't want things to be fake in a relationship? If I had told you I loved you when I first saw you, you wouldn't have wanted that?"

"I've had that. I've dated a man who insisted he fell in in love with me the first time he saw me. I don't buy it."

"You don't want all of that romantic stuff?"

"You know I don't." She tucks her hair behind her ears, closes the door of the fridge and walks over to him. She gently kisses the top if his head, "I want you."

"Oohhh, so are you saying I'm not romantic?" He grins that lopsided smile that always gets to her.

"You're not going to get to me, Mister. I'm not saying that. I'm saying that I don't like all of that fake nonsense. I like reality. I like honesty." She strides back over to the couch, sets her water bottle on the coffee table and reaches for her book, "So, go back to your video game." She says this without a trace of irritation in her voice, and she feels a shiver of pride in herself.

"Okay." He turns his attention back to his computer screen, sighs, shuts the laptop and walks over to the couch. "Move your feet."

She lifts her feet to allow him to sit down, and rests them back on his legs once he is seated. "Please would be nice."

"Move your feet, please. I want to make out with you now."

"I'm reading." She drops her gaze and stares at him, a half smile tilting her lips flirtatiously, or so she hopes.

"Yeah, but this is reality. And I know you'd rather make out with me than read." He looks her right in her eyes, and her stomach gives a little jump.

"It's a really good book," but the book in question is already sliding out of her hands onto the floor (she barely had time to replace the bookmark).

And she gives into the romance of the moment, realizes that if this is as much romance as she gets, then she's not going to waste any time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Familiar Roles

It is undescribably true that our friends are the family we choose. Most of my closest friends, I have known for a minimum of five years. At this point, they know me far better than most of my blood family every will (with a couple of obvious exceptions). They ARE my family.

I have looked for most of my adolescent and adult life for the one person who will build a family with me, that one person with whom I will make a life. I have stood on the outskirts at many a party, watching as couples danced, as men flirted with women who weren't me. I've gone through patches of time when I was completely okay with than and others when the thought of an evening out as the lone unattached one broke my heart and encouraged me to stay home to watch Sex and the City or read a book. Generally, not wanting to be a crazy cat lady, I would go out and be the lone unattached one. I longed for the person I could call who would come to my rescue. For the person who would catch me when I fall and whom I could also save. I wanted a knight in slightly battle-worn armor, or at least someone brave enough and strong enough to come along on my crazy adventures.

And I've found him. And he's the family I will make. He's gradually melding into my blood family. The friend family takes more time, because we are built of memories and experiences that he doesn't share.

Before him, I was still here, still sitting with an aching heart as I watched my friends pair off, fall in and out of love. I have been here all along. I have had weekends spent going to Costco fourteen times with my parents (possibly a slight exaggeration), and no one called me then. No one fought for my attention when there was plenty to give.

I sometimes feel that my friends are waiting for me to fall back into the role of the unattached one. They were comfortable with that, comfortable hearing my wacky dating tales. I also believe that, at times, they think of him as another of my two-week long romances that crashes and burns before anyone even meets the guy.

It's not a year, it's not 10 years, it's not a shared adolescence or even one college formal attended as a couple. It's a simple sharing of life with none of the trappings of school.

It's "only" been six months, but, to me, and to him, that's a long time. And besides, a lifetime together, the building of a family together, has to start somewhere. Why not here?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Welcome to the Row

The worlds most obvious sorority girl stood in front of Jackie, delicately running her fingers over the row of tiny, pink pearls draped around her neck.

"So, Jackie, tell me why you want to join my sorority."

I don't, thought Jackie, and then she wondered at the ego of this woman to believe that every single one of the 700 girls going through sorority recruitment wanted to be in this particular chapter. "Well, I am new to the notion of a big campus...my high school class had about 200 kids, and I'm ready to make some lasting friendships here."

"Oh." TWMOSG pursed her lips. "Well, tell me what you think friendship means."

"I don't think I understand the question," Jackie smoothed her hands over her khaki skirt, wishing fervently that she'd gone ahead and worn her favorite sundress. At least that one covered her knees and made her feel less conscious of how she sat, stood and walked.

"You say that you're looking for friendship. How do you think friendship here will be different than in high school." TWMOSG almost spat out the last two words, so far was she from those homework laden days.

"It doesn't have to be different." Jackie spoke quietly, her voice gradually getting stronger, "I have friends from high school that I intend to keep all my life, but they don't go to this school. I don't know yet how the friendships here will be different. I haven't even started classes yet!"

"I see. Yes, I want you to realize that being in a sorority is a COMMITMENT. That it will take time out of your day, your week, your life. The friendships you make here will change the way you see yourself. They will make you who you will be in your future." TWMOSG batted her long lashes and stared at Jackie.

Jackie opened her wide, blue eyes and looked right into the narrow green slits that passed for TWMOSG's eyes,"I know that a sorority will change my life. But I know who I am and who I want to be. I don't know much about sororities, since no one in my family has ever been in one, but I do know that I want to live with and be friends with the kind of women who will accept me, respect me and value me. And I want to feel the same way about them."

"Interesting." TWMOSG sighed as she glanced anxiously around the room for her replacement in the recruitment rotation.

Soon another woman arrived, this one wearing the same tight black pants and jewel-toned top of the first, "Hi!! I'm Casey! It's my turn to talk to you!"

TWMOSG stared at Casey, "Yeah, be a little more obvious. I'm going to go get some lemonade. It was so nice to meet you Jackie. Good luck with your recruitment. And I mean that. Best of luck." She turned and walked towards the kitchen, walked in, and let the huge oak door slam behind her.

"Well, she can be a bit picky! She's our president!" Casey smiled freakisly at Jackie and waited for a response."

"Lucky you," she said out loud.

Remember, you asked for this, she said to herself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Observations on Toddlers

Standing in the library, she watches as the toddlers and babies, okay, mostly the toddlers, make their way around the space in that funny little way they have.

There's a little girl, with a neat braid, wearing a cute little sweatsuit, attempting to skip. You can just see the kind of girl she's going to be when she grows up. She's going to match her purse to her shoes. She's going to get her hair cut evey six weeks, but for now, she's just going to skip in a way that makes her look she's about to fall over.

There's a little blond boy. His mother brings him into the library each week. She dresses him in the preppiest clothes she can possibly find. Little sweater vests and khaki pants. Topsiders. Topsiders on a four year old! This kid is either going to be grow up to be a Republican, a Protestant or very, very gay. Or maybe he'll rebel and become emo or punk or whatever is popular when he's a teenager.

Then there are the usual rag-a-muffin kids, the ones who look more like her when she was little. Their clothes may or may not match, and not because their parents' don't buy them matching clothing, but because you can see who won the fight of "But it's my FAVORITE shirt" that morning. Their hair is a mess. They run. They yell. They ask "Why?" repeatedly. They are just your average, every day KIDS.

Some might wonder why it's not the babies she notices, but the babies don't turn around and wave as they walk away. The babies don't walk around like little old, angry men. The babies just don't have that certain toddler joie de vivre. The babies are also tucked into their carriers, being held by their parents and still just not quite old enough to ask for crayons at the reference desk.

And it's not the babies that make her feel almost ready to be a mother. It's the toddlers, with their over-abundance of personality that make her look forward to the moment when she brings her own mis-matched three year old into the library for storytime. It's the toddlers that make her curious about who her children will be and excited to meet them, whenever they should see fit to make their appearance.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Wasting Away

There's nothing like sitting in a hot tub with three strangers and your boyfriend to make you think about life.

No seriously.

Sitting in a jet-less tub with her boyfriend of less than half a year, surrounded by two women he's known since junior high and one guy who's married to one of the women, she had a thought.

None of us are as young as we used to be.

It's true, of course, that they are all still young, still safely on the young side of 30, but just old enough to start realizing that youth is wasted on the young. Did any of the women appreciate their bodies when they were younger? Before they settled into the routine of jobs and having fun almost exclusively on weekends, did they appreciate what they had going for them?

She certainly didn't. Only now does she enjoy the fact that a man enjoys looking at her body.

They are not yet 30 but are already getting older. There is a thickening around the waist and a thinning of the hair for the guys, a certain jiggle to the thigh and wrinkle to the eye for the ladies.

One girl is tired by 11 and wants to "get up early." Another who wishes the jets would just start already. And she wishes she could avoid the 8:30 start time at work the next morning.

She thinks about her own friends, the lives they're leading right this minute, and she's incredibly grateful that she's finally, finally figured out how to have fun.

Because she would hate to hit 30, looked back and realize she spent way too much time worrying about finishing work, preparing for the future and ignoring the good stuff in life. We all need to be the cricket and the ant...or whatever that story was...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Day

Today is a day when I want to drive my car around all day, not being responsible for a single thing.

Today is a day when I realize that I'm still the restless person I've been all along, that I haven't really settled down in any way.

Today is a day when I feel fifteen, anxiously awaiting the announcement that will free me from the school day early and let me board the bus and head to a swim meet. Probably the first of the season.

Today is a day when the wind against my skin feels amazing.

Today is a day when I want to move to Texas and care about high school football.

Today is a day when I want to move to New York City, wear high heels without falling down, drink a mocha latte at three in the afternoon and stay out all night with my dark, moody boyfriend. Or better yet, my handsome, successful artist boyfriend. Moodiness is overrated.

Today is a day when I see children running around, and I feel grateful that I don't have a child yet but hopeful that I will have one in the future.

Today is a day when I deal with the ramifications of having dreamt that I had a daughter named Serena.

Today is a day when it feels unneccessarily cruel to make me stay indoors until 9 p.m.

Today is a day when I want to work in a bubble, in a safe, corporate office where I don't have to deal with snoring or screaming homeless people.

Today is a day when I want to not know that there are still people who need to shop at the 98 cent clearance center, because they have to.

Today is a day when I want to believe that everyone in the world climbed out of the need to have K-Mart layaway at the same time my family did.

Today is a day that I remember that though we were neither incredibly poor nor even remotely upper middle class, we have overcome some financial difficulties.

Today is a day I do not want to go back to how things used to be.

Today is a day when I realize I'm not entirely done finding myself.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Walking across Lower Sproul Plaza, late on an early September night. It's still warm, still that completely un-PC term of Indian Summer. There's a hint of a breeze. I almost wish I had a sweater, but I'm warm on the inside. I've just finished filling out my "preference card" for sorority recruitment (AKA Rush). I am a college freshman. I'm wearing a white t-shirt and a blue and white plaid "skort" (I'll soon learn why this is unquestionably not something I should ever wear in public). I've got on my favorite sandals, the leather soft and supple but the shoes still in good condition (unlike my favorite flip-flops, which have retired to my parents' garage), and my legs are long and tan. I can feel the breeze on my arms - also tan from a season of swim team and a summer in the sun. I feel beautiful. I feel like I'm in college.

That moment, that quiet, dark night, the campus belongs to me. Berkeley is mine and mine alone.

Heading to class, walking through the Eucylaptus grove, watching my feet on the flagstone path, I think about how one day, one distant day, I will walk that path with my husband, my child. That moment. Well, those multiple moments, belong completely to me. I breathe in the fresh smell of the trees. I feel my feet on the hard, cold ground. I brush autumn's leaves out of my path.

Late afternoons, walking up Bancroft Avenue, heading to the sorority that I chose and that chose me, I hear the sounds of people yelling, talking, living. I walk, sometimes hunched over with the weight of my backback, sometimes fresh and happy, eager for the evening ahead. All of Berkeley belongs to me.

Crowded in the bathroom. Hurrying around my own bedroom, curlers, hair dryers, makeup, clothes, scattered around the room. Making that wonderful mess that is getting ready for a party. Curling someone else's hair (even if she ended up not liking it later). Zipping dresses. Dancing around to whatever pre-party music someone had chosen. The smell of at least six different perfumes and a dozen different hairsprays permeating the air. Twenty different stereos playing throughout the house, creating a mix no DJ would ever attempt. Those memories, those moments, belong to us all.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


It's rather ridiculous that the moments when you realize how much you truly love someone are not the moments the movies lead us to believe. It's not the moments that are ridiculous. It's the movies that make us think it will only be when the man sweeps in his tuxedo and shoots down the bad guy or hands us a bouquet of roses that we realize the depth of our hearts that bring new meaning to the word ridiculous.

She stood outside of her work, anxious after having been yelled at by someone who had no business yelling at her. He was on his way over, bringing her a piece of equipment she shouldn't have brought home, that her bosses didn't know she had but that she needed right that instant, to appease the person who had yelled. He was on his way through the worst traffic she'd seen in weeks. And then he got there, and she found him, and her heart swelled. She felt about to burst with the strength of her, "I love you!" but instead she just pushed all of her passion into "Thank you" and a smile. That moment, though, she also saw a flash in his eye that let her know he wasn't ready for those particular three words. She could almost see him say, "No. Not here, not now. Don't you say it yet." And she didn't.

Two days later, while climbing up a gravel road, on the way to a Wine Cave, it struck her like a ton of bricks (cliched though it is, the phrase is true), that he wants to be only with her. If he wanted to be with anyone else, he would leave and be with her. The jealousy she has felt over nothing suddenly ended. She saw in his walk, in his smile, in his mannerisms, that he is hers and hers alone, even if he's not ready for that great big word.

And finally, in the smallest of moments, when no grand gesture, no release of jealousy, nothing special at all was happening, she recognized him.

He stood beside her, hunting amongst the bags of soil at Home Depot, quite possibly the last place on earth any screenwriter would set a romantic interlude. He was trying to pick out just what she needed, a bag that would foster her little seedlings, a bag that wouldn't sit half unused on her patio for the entire season. And she turned to look at him in the late afternoon sunlight (at least the lighting was romantic), and she recognized him.

Immediately, she thought of that poem she'd fallen for years before, that one by Jewel.

and I will recognize you
amongst the many
and claim you as my own

He smiled at her and walked inside to look for the perfect size bag of potting soil, and she walked beside him, just feeling that recognition.

She looked at him in the garden section of Home Depot and knew with absolute certainty that she had found him.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Just Wondering

"So, what was the point?"

"The point of what."

"Of meeting the dream guy whose type I wasn't? I mean I got all worked up about him, thought he was THE guy, and then...nothing. What was the point of him all those months ago?"

"You needed to know you get all worked up about someone again."

"Seriously? That's it? You think?"

"I don't know. What brings this up?"

"Oh, I was just thinking about how interesting it is the way things turn out. And the one who actually is THE guy has a lot in common with used-to-be-dream guy."

"Well, then that's easy. You just got confused. Somewhere inside, you knew some of the qualities of your particular Mr. Right. You just noticed them in the wrong guy. It's like when you're a kid and you see your mom in a store, and you run over to her, and almost take her hand, then realize it's not your mom."

"Just a case of mistaken identity then?"


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Monday Night Date

There he stood, looking cautiously around, wearing one of those shirts that makes him look inexplicably and indescribably adorable.

She stood off to the side, holding her book, noticing him looking for her. And then she walked toward him, and he saw her. A smile lit up his face, as one was surely lighting up hers. He reached her first, grabbed her hand in his, interlaced their fingers and kissed her square on the lips.

"Hi." He drawled.

"Hello." She said, her voice barely above a whisper.

They walked over to baggage claim, he kept holding her hand. He kept sneaking glances at her. Her brownish hair with golden highlights (natural, of course) falling softly around her shoulders in loose waves. He looked into her eyes and told her about the comedy of errors that was the second leg of his flight. Crying babies. iPods on so loud he could hear the bad music playing clearly through him. A woman who sniffled her nose incessantly. Turbulence. Anything else he could think of. And he looked at her. And he smiled.



She told him about her wonderful dinner with a friend. A dinner at a random local restaurant that, it turns out, also exists in the city he just left.

He gripped her hand then released it to take his computer bag off of his shoulder.

"It's like I'm having a hot flash or something." He was visibly warm.

She stood in her coat, happy to be so warm and standing next to him, feeling his presence beside her.

She looked at him. Examined the dimples around his smile, remembering all over again why she finds him so unbelievably attractive, even if another woman might pass him by without a single glance.

"Where's the luggage? Is the thing broken?" He seemed impatient to get out of the airport and on the road back to her apartment.

"It's on it's way. It's okay."

He told her about dinner the night before. He told her about the fancy sticky buns he had packed with an ice pack so they would be fresh upon arriving in California. Then he stopped, and just looked at her.

"You look great."

"Thank you." She smiled at him.

The slowly moving luggage carousel finally started pumping out more than the initial run of about fifteen identical black suitcases.

He started to look for his.

"You have your suitcase and a box?"


They stood side by side and watched.

Would anyone ever say that standing in the airport waiting for luggage is romantic?

Probably not at first pass.

But with a little context, it becomes obvious, that sometimes it's the most romantic date you could possibly imagine.

He suddenly shot forward, grabbed his suitcase and a small cardboard box off of the metal carousel.

"That's it?" She asked, grinning at him.

"Yep. Let's go."

"Alrightee." And she led him out the door of the small airport and towards her waiting car in the parking lot.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wake Up

She scrunches down under her comforter, pulling the blanket over her head.

"Sunshine until 11 a.m., then gradual fog..."

She knew it was coming...the start of the day had to come sometime. But after a restless night spent tossing and turning amid disturbing dreams, she'd just as soon that it didn't come for another few hours. Sleeping the day away sounds awfully appealing. "Twenty more minutes," she mumbles, resets her alarm and burrows back under the covers.

He's not here. For the first time in several weeks, she's sleeping without him. She never thought she'd get used to having another person in her bed so quickly, but she did. The first night, it almost didn't matter, because she was so tired when she fell into bed. But these past couple of nights, she's gone to bed missing him and dreamt of a life without him, only waking to find that she still misses him. Shouldn't dreams be a relief? Shouldn't she only have to miss him when she's awake?

He hasn't left her for good, but it feels like it. He's moved out of the apartment, although he wasn't really living there...just staying there until he found the place he moved into last weekend. She knew from the first night he threw his suitcase at the foot of her bed that he wasn't staying forever. They weren't moving in together. She prepared herself for a week's stay, but that turned into nearly two months, and now she's used to him.

It doesn't help that the day after he moved his belongings (though not the visible ones at the foot of her bed, only the ones in the patio closet) into his new place, he flew home.

So, he left her twice in the last week, and she feels like a fool.

She rolls over on the bed and rests her head near her sleeping cat, comforted by the warmth of his body, the feel of his fur near her face.

She never thought she'd be the girl to get so caught up in a guy, but looking back, it all makes sense. Every crush she's had has felt nearly this intense. In each of those crushes, she invented full fledged relationships without ever even talking to a guy once, or without dating him, or without being anything more than friends.

She also feels like a fool for worrying. One week away won't steal him from her. Him living elsewhere will also remind her where they are in their (still new) relationship. Rather than live in false state of union, they will return to their twice a week dates, their phone calls, their own space.

She rolls onto her back and kicks her legs against the mattress, frustration letting loose. While she knows it's healthy to see each other less, it seems like a total step backwards, a step she's not willing to take.

The alarm blares again, startling the cat enough to make him raise his head, and she turns it off, without resetting it, knowing that she has to get out of bed and face the world.

Even when she's stewing over the status of her relationship, the world has to continue. Her life has to continue. She will go to work. She will have lunch with her parents. She will drive a good distance to see her friends.

And she will see him again in a few days.

But she wonders if she will ever stop feeling so foolish for being a fool in love.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


There are moments when she wishes that she never had a day off. The days off come to mean too much -- if she spends one away from him, it seems like wasted time. If she spends it doing something other than what's on her list, it seems pointless. And she goes back to work only to have lost her ability to block out the annoyance she feels when people ask her whispered questions.

She has never been able to tolerate whispers. They make her skin crawl.

Mondays are full of whispers as her customers hesitantly begin their own weeks and are at their most polite. Sadly, whispers only make her snappy and full of wishes that these people would learn how to do things on their own, instead of coming to her with their hopeful faces.

And then, those days off roll around again, and she is infinitely grateful for any snippet of time she gets to spend with those she loves, whether those moments be with her family, her friends or with him. And she wouldn't trade them for anything.

But there are moments when she wishes she didn't know what it meant to have a life outside of work, because having that life, even for a whisper of time, makes her crave it all the more.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


No more can she trace "I" heart "u" on his back as he falls asleep.

He caught her the other night. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." She calms her fingers, resting them lightly on his shoulder.

"I thought you were like having seizures or something. You're all twitchy."

"No, I'm fine." She couldn't even think of a good reason for her rapidly moving fingers. She just stopped and wiggled her feet for good measure, just to show she was getting the "twitchy" out of her system.

"Okay. Good night." He hadn't even opened his eyes. Neither had she.

"Good night, baby." She sighed softly and tried to sleep.

Now how would she tell him that she loves him without telling him that she loves him?


I am my father's daughter. There are moments when a certain flick of my wrist or tilt of my hip will remind everyone that I am my mother's daughter as well. But I am my father's daughter.

My father will be angry for days and even weeks before he will let anyone know what is wrong. He will mope. He will furrow his brow. He will set his jaw. He will not speak.

I am my father's daughter.

People think they know him. They call him by a nickname, when in reality, he hates when anyone shortens his name. They think he's "such a nice guy," in much the same way everyone thinks I'm "such a nice girl." I had too many "stay sweet" comments to count in my high school yearbooks, yet anyone who really knows me would probably not use "sweet" to describe me if they only had one word to use.

I am my father's daughter.

My father loves my mother with all of the passion in his heart. He loved her stupidly and wrongly. He was rude and sarcastic and thought that would work. He dated other women, not making her jealous, just biding his time until she saw fit to love him in return. He hid his affection behind a shield of anger.

I am my father's daughter.

I am in love now, for the first real time in my life. All the other times I may have loved, but I do not think that I was in love. I love with all the passion in my heart, but I will not say it. I will bide my time, making passive aggressive comments until he should see fit to say he loves me in return.

I am my father's daughter.

My father will remember key facts about certain people and nothing about others, even if he's been told 100 times.

I will stare right through some people, never remembering why I am supposed to know them, while there are some faces that I can recognize and identify from a mile away, and not because I want to, not because I like the people that go with the faces, just because.

I am my father's daughter.

My father will make seemingly snap decisions that, in fact, he's been mulling over for hours, days, months, whatever fits.

I thought about moving out of my parents' house for at least two and a half of the three years I lived at home, most seriously in the 10 months before I finally moved. Yet, my decision to actually do it came over the course of about four days. Those close to me were not pleased by the seeming alacrity of this decision.

I am my father's daughter.

Both father and daughter show our emotions in our behaviors yet keep our thoughts private. It's obvious that *something* has affected us, but we won't tell you what, not unless you fight for it. If you want into our world, you have to earn it and earn it and earn it again. And there's no guarantee that once you've been let in once, you'll be let in again anytime soon.

There is sometimes an angle in my hip, a sigh in my chest or a tilt in my head that will remind people that I am my mother's daughter, too.

But then I will retreat into my private, secret world, and it becomes all too obvious that I am my father's daughter.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Slightly Unwelcome Nostalgia

She could feel a pang in her chest as she skated around the rink, hand-in-hand with him. A huge part of her felt amazed that, here she was, in her mid-twenties, finally holding the hand of a boy as she whizzed around the ice rink. Well, slid along on her crisp blades without falling down is more like it, but she felt like she was flying.

The pang surprised her.

But she knew immediately what it was.

She was happy to be here with him, but the reason she had come was to skate with her friend, the girl who had, in recent weeks and months, miraculously become her closest friend. And the pang hit her just as she skated by her friend, holding the side rail, staring up into the eyes of her on-again-off-again-on-again boyfriend. She missed her friend.

She also realized that this would be life now.

She will never have her friends the way she once had them. Even if all of the current relationships were to fall to pieces, all of the romantic entanglements dissolve, all of the friendships will have irrevocably changed.

She had wondered, cautiously, over the years in which she had no boyfriend, what she might have to give up, to sacrifice in order to have the thing she wanted most. She worried that something would happen, some karmic twist, that would balance out her happiness with the way the rest of the world felt. She had already recognized some of that sacrifice in the relationship with her parents. It simply isn't possible to maintain the same relationship she did when she lived at home and didn't have someone else who required most of her attention. When she lived at home, in those pre-boyfriend days, she really did only have to think about herself. And she often chose to situate herself next to her parents, for an evening in watching movies.

So, there she is, in this ice rink for the very last time before it closes. She looks at her boyfriend, the man holding her hand, the man with whom she argued just a few short hours before, about his desire to spend time with a friend she doesn't like at all. He lets go of her hand so that he can better balance himself on his wobbly, rented skates, and she retreats back into herself.

This is the last time she will skate on this surface. She'd only been to the rink twice (counting this time) since graduating from college, but in her sorority days, she spent more than one Saturday afternoon making "whips" with her friends, twirling, whirling and giggling. She realizes how long it has been since she really laughed with her friends, since those mostly carefree days of college. The worries she had before graduation were nothing compared to the big, weighty worries she has now, worries she tries not to register, believing, half-heartedly that God will sort everything out for her.

She's still awkward with him after their fight. She feels better about things, but it's hard to come back to their comfortable ways after she's told him some, but not all of what she was feeling. Their conversation is stilted, as if she's speaking with someone who doesn't know the language, or maybe it's her who doesn't know the language.

At last, his ankles can't take any more wobbling, and he goes to sit down next to her friend's boyfriend and another friend's husband. The men can't hack the somewhat graceful moves required to ice skate.

Her girlfriends join her on the ice. They talk, and they laugh. She fills them in on the fight. Their conversation is fluid and easy, and she misses her friends so much, even though they are right there. With a sudden, fierce intensity, she misses college and the sorority. She misses having someone to talk to just next door, or an IM away. She misses late night conversations, midnight runs to Safeway for ice cream, the lightness and freeness of being young, single and away from home. She misses setting her own schedule. She misses not having friends who have gotten married. She misses not having to worry about the big things like whether leaving her job would be career suicide.

They keep skating around. She hears more about her friend's latest, hopeful job possibility, and she's happy. She's happy to see a smile on her closest friend's face.

The other, a married friend, advises them both, and assures her that the right she had with him will be repeated. It is reassuring to hear that their argument is one that will repeat itself, that it's the kind of argument only real couples can have.

The pack of people on the ice thins. The music on the stero jumps erratically, and they can sense the evening coming to a close. The married girl jumps off the rink to try to persuade the men back on the ice for one final lap.

Out they come, and she's happy to see him, happy to hold his hand, but still just a bit melancholy that is presence means she's done having that easy, genuine conversation with her friends. She misses easy conversation not laced with arsenic.

They finish their lap. They leave the ice.

And she steps back into her life.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

In the Air

The door closes gently behind him, and she strains to be sure that's what she heard. Certain that he has gone, she whispers, "I love you," rolls over, pulls the lavender colored down comforter over her head and curls into a ball.

She's known for a while now that she loves him. At first, she was most certainly falling for him, and that was at least two months ago. Two. Whole. Months. Now, she loves him, but she can't tell him. She's certain that telling him before he tells her would spell certain doom for their relationship. Though she's less certain of that than she was when she first realized her feelings for him went stronger than she thought.

At first, she was impatient. She loved him, therefore, he MUST love her. When would he tell her? Any day now, she could feel it. Well, days have turned into weeks and will soon turn into months, and with the passing of time her anxiety has miraculously turned into patience.

She loves him more and more each passing day and has begun to realize that what her mother told her all along was true, it is possible to increase in love when you thought you couldn't possibly love one drop more. Even in just this short time (well, short relative to the lifetime she hopes they'll spend together), her love has shifted and changed shape, moving from a crush turned into deeper feelings to a true and real love, a love that means she can not like something he does and still want him around, a love that means she doesn't want him to tell her something he doesn't mean.

After her anxiety passed, she started taking risks. A whispered, "I love you," as he drifted off to sleep. Spelling out "I" heart "U" on his skin with her finger, careful always to make everything slightly misshapen, lest he realize what she's doing.

Now, she says, "I love you" each night in her mind, and every morning when he leaves. She wants it out there, in the air, as he drives those winding roads to work, as he interviews for jobs, as he goes to new classes.

She believes that those three little words can fly out the door after him and weave themselves into a sphere of protection around him, guarding and guiding him through each day.

At this moment, as she falls back asleep, snug in her bed, with the covers wrapped tightly around her, resting in the warm spot he so recently left, it's enough that her love is in the air around him, even if he doesn't know.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Another Tongue

"Do you want to get dinner tonight at that new Thai restaurant?" He asked.

"Yeah, that sounds good." She said.

"What sounds good?"

She stared at him, willing him to go on with that train of thought, to dare to tell her, once again, that she had simply misunderstood his words. "What?" She asked, not quite believing that this was happening once more.

"You said 'that sounds good,' but I asked whether you'd like to stay in and cook, or whether you want to go out somewhere, like maybe to the Thai restaurant." He blinked at her, daring her to call into question the logic he deemed infallible when compared to her feminine intuition and in-borne moodiness.

"No. Whatever. Thai. I'd like Thai." She raises her hands in the air, and lets them fall down, slapping them against her legs.

"You sure?" He cocks his head to the side and looks at her with wide, green eyes.

"Yes." She says through clenched teeth, not even remotely moved by the puppy dog stare.

"Okay, then."

It is another simple discussion gone horribly wrong. It ends alright. They'll eat Thai and move on to the next discussion, but it's just one more clear-cut example of the fact that she often wishes for a Him:Her translation guide.

He speaks another language. Luckily, he's told her himself that she has a knack for languages.

So, now, she'll buckle down and learn his, because, obviously, he's never going to learn hers.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Life According to Plan

"Originally, she thought, "I wanted to meet someone in college, date him for several months and then bring him home to meet everyone." She thought this on her way back to her apartment after a dinner with her parents and her boyfriend of a mere six weeks.

"I wanted to know him inside and out before I let him loose with my family. Who knows what he'll say? Who knows how he'll behave."

She certainly didn't know, couldn't predict yet how he might react to a given situation. And, she worries, people sometimes want to hold her responsible for his behavior, as if she could make him say "thank you" more often, when, really, she knows he just wasn't brought up that way.

She does know this, though, he's very different than she thought he was. Different in a better way. She worried he'd be too much like that last one, too nice for his own good, so nice that she felt that one of two things would happen, 1) she would somehow explode from her desire to be not-so-nice around him, or 2) he would eventually revert back to the purely bad behavior she knew about in his past.

But this one. Oh, he came across as nice and innocent, but, then, she also comes across that way.

They are two misunderstood people living in a world that has been cruel. He's given in to more cynicism than she has. She still believes that everything will turn out okay.

She believes that when she's most in denial.

She turns to look at him and smiles at the sight of his face. She's come to accept and appreciate that this is the face she'll be seeing throughout her life. She also looks at that face and thinks, "Who are you? Where did you come from?"

He senses her stare, reaches across the car and takes her hand.

She continues to smile at him, then turns to stare out the car window, thinking, "I don't know you at all."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How Many Times

In the last week, I have started to count, though not really keep track of, the number of moments when I realize that I would like to say the words, "I love you." I'm not talking about times when I would like to say it for the first time. No, I am counting the times I would like to say it if we were already saying it to each other.

For example:
*When he made pretzels, without being asked, to take to my parents' house for dinner
*When he felt comfortable enough with my friends to spend an entire evening with them
*When he asks if I want him to drive
*When I go to sleep at night
*When he leaves in the morning

I'll have to be careful, because I've started saying it to him, in my head, or just mouthing the words after his eyes are closed, or after he closes the door. Perhaps one time the words will just slip out of my mouth, unannounced. Perhaps I won't mind.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

As the Night Sky Passes By

Don't you worry,

As you concentrate on driving down this dark freeway,

As the night sky passes by, I'll sit here quietly,

Loving you.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Take Down

My latest mostly-autobiographical story is posted at LTR.com. If it's not the first post, look for "The Take Down" in "Dating & Relationships."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Truth

I find it fascinating how we can get so caught up in a moment, that we can entirely lose sight of everything else that matters. In convincing myself that I need to be "present" when I am with him, rather than thinking about some far off future, I neglect to be present in other areas of my life.

In the past, I forgot what it meant to be involved in a day-to-day relationship with a man. I really thought it was me who forced the marriage talk, and I made a deal with myself not to bring it up for a couple of days. I quickly realized that it had never been me who was caught up in the possibility of a future together. I stopped completely, and this man couldn't even begin to think about not talking about it. So, I realized how important it is for both people in the relationship to be in the present.

So, check that off my list. I'm in the present with him. I'm so far in the present that I can hardly bring myself to ask a question about tomorrow, let alone next month, next year, the rest of our lives.

And that's okay.

The ability to see into the future together will come in time. Now, I really do want to experience whatever I can. The future will take care of itself.