Friday, July 25, 2014

two insomnias

When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you are not here, I can't go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

--Rumi

Cosmic love

"The stars, the moon; they have all been blown out.
You left me in the dark.
No dawn, no day; I'm always in this twilight
in the shadow of your heart."

x Florence & the Machine


-------------

She said, "A month ago, my favorite songs were mostly about the things people lose or miss out on. I don't even have the heart for them anymore. You've touched every part of my life and made it better."

& he said, "A month ago, I didn't know you and today I would rearrange the stars if you didn't like how they sat in the sky." 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I'd rather be left for dead.

"And if there's one thing in this world I've ever known for sure, it's that this girl is gonna crush me like a bug; leave me so fucking broken there'll be body bags beneath my eyes from nights I cried so hard the stars died. But I'm like, go ahead. I'm all yours. I would kiss you in the middle of the ocean during a lightning storm 'cause I'd rather be left for dead than left to wonder what thunder sounds like."

x Andrea Gibson

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sometimes, it just works out

"This isn't happening. Is this happening? This isn't happening."
I was in Puerto Rico and it was the day of my dad's wedding. I'd slipped into my bridesmaid's dress with just enough time to pick up my date at the airport and get to the other end of town for the ceremony. Bending over to put lotion on my legs I heard a small zipping sound. I raised back up and looked around the room, not sure where the sound came from. No sooner had I bent back over than I realized; the sound was my dress coming unzipped.
"B?" I called out for my brother's girlfriend.
She came into the room. I had my back to her, "What's going on with my dress? Am I unzipped?"
"Umm, sort of." She guided me to a mirror and I looked over my shoulder at my back's reflection.
"You can't be fucking serious."
The zipper was still in place at the top of the dress's back, but somehow I was unzipped.
"Can you fix it?" I asked, started to sweat with panic.
B tried and tried to pull the zipper down, to no avail.
"The zipper's missing teeth. Can you wiggle out of it?"
I tried jumping. I tried covering my chest and back in lotion in the hopes of sliding the dress off.
Nothing. Nope. Not going to happen.
I glanced at my phone; it was 3. Matt's flight should be landing.
"Fuck. This isn't happening. What do I do? Should I safety pin it?"
"You can't safety pin that," B said. "We need to pick up your date."
I threw on a jacket and grabbed a pair of jeans. She and I were on our way to the airport when I saw a dry cleaner/tailor. "I should go in there."
"We can't leave your date at the airport."
"I know. But I also can't show up at my dad's wedding like this. Let me off."
"I don't know how to get to the airport. & I don't have your date's number."
Directions to the airport were already pulled up on my phone, I tossed it in her lap, "Keep it! Come back for me once you've picked Matt up!" We were still in the middle of the street when I jumped out of the car and ran inside the dry cleaner.
The man behind the counter barely looked at me when I came inside. "What can I help you with?"
"I'm having an emergency. I need a dress repaired."
"My tailor has left for the day. Come back tomorrow."
"I can't come back. I have to have the dress fixed today, now." I heard myself and how rude I was being. "I'm sorry, I'm desperate," I told him. My eyes started to fill with tears and I felt hopeless. My dad is going to kill me.
The man was finally looking at me, "You're breaking my heart. Why are you crying?"
"I'm ruining my dad's wedding. I have to be there soon and my dress is ruined."
The man held up a finger to me to quiet my crying. He picked up his phone, "King? Are you busy? There's a girl in my shop who needs her dress fixed and it's an emergency. Can you come look at it? Great." He put his phone down and said to me, "I just called a good friend of mine. He lives nearby. He'll be here soon."
"Oh my God. Really? Thank you so much." I was literally kissing the shop owner's hands.
"No more crying. It's going to be okay."
The shop owner was named Wilfredo and he tried to keep my mind preoccupied by asking me questions about Texas and my home life until his friend arrived. When the tailor, King, came by, he drove me to his shop, just 5 minutes away. Inside his shop, I took off my jacket and showed him the back of my dress. He looked at it thoughtfully, tugged at the zipper gently and just once. And then, with no warning, he ripped the back of the dress apart. "Ya," he said, shrugging. Enough.
I changed into my jeans and put my jacket back on. I brought him the dress and he was already set up with a new zipper and thread in his sewing machine.
When I say it took King less than 10 minutes to change out the zipper of my dress and sew back the rips, I'm probably tacking on unnecessary time. It happened so quickly, I couldn't believe it. He handed my my dress and I slipped it on over my jeans and under my jacket. I pulled the jeans off and took off the jacket. King zipped me up; it fit like a charm. And then King was driving me back to the shop. It was 3:20 and I was still within the frame of time to make it to my dad's wedding venue on time.
While all of this was happening, a million things tiny complications ran through my mind:
though I'd left B with my cellphone, I hadn't given her the password. She had no way of getting Matt's number from my phonebook and she'd never seen him before. I'd once shown her a picture but that was it. I'd also not told Matt to be on the lookout for someone else to pick him up, it had all happened so quickly. And there was my dad--I'd called him in a panic and told him what had happened, but I hadn't since told him what was happening or that the whole thing was miraculously resolved. On top of everything, I had no way of telling B, had she gone to the original shop looking for me while I was with King, where I was or how to find me. All these things were racing through my mind when King's phone rang. He answered and had a rather efficient conversation with the person on the other end where all he said was, "Yes," before hanging up.
"That was Wilfredo," he told me, "He said your friend is waiting for you back at the cleaner."
When I got to the cleaner, I told B I needed to pay and she went back to the car to wait for me. I was pulling out my wallet, asking what I owed them and both King and Wilfredo waived their hands dismissively.
"No, I have to pay you, please," I was brandishing my debit card.
"Our payment is that you make it to your father's wedding and that you look beautiful," Wilfredo said.
I started to get teary eyed and Wilfredo hugged me, "Don't cry. It breaks my heart to see you like that. Go have fun! It's a wedding!" I gave him a kiss on the cheek.
I moved toward King, tears still in my eyes and repeating thank you, thank you over and over with each breath. King took me in for a hug and looked into my eyes. A tear was streaming down my cheeks and he wiped it away with the pad of his thumb. "Ya," he said. Enough. I gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Climbing into the car with B, she told me how easily she'd found Matt at the airport, that she'd dropped him off at the hotel before coming to pick me up.
We picked my brother and Matt up at the hotel, we caught a cab to my dad's wedding venue. As we paid the cab driver and stepped out of the cab, I realized something, "I forgot to tell you something: thank you," I said to Matt.
"For what?"
"For coming here. For being willing to meet my family literally three days after we met and for taking this big risk on me. For doing all of this even though our friends and families are calling into question our sanity because this is all borderline crazy, right? But thank you. I'm glad you're here. And also, thanks for not being mad at me for not being there to pick you up."
We were holding hands walking toward the venue and he kissed the back of my hand. "No problem. And honestly, I think it's better that you didn't pick me up. I got to meet your brother and B without the awkward formal introduction. It was good."
We parted ways as he and B went to find their seats and my brother and I went to find the rest of the bridal party. I saw my dad and he grabbed me and turned me around to look at the back of my dress.
"What happened? I've been calling you."
"I know, I'm sorry. B kept my phone. But it's fixed. I'll tell you about it later."
The wedding happened at sunset in Old San Juan. There was a violinist and a sea salt breeze in the air. As I took my place at the front of the ceremony space, Matt and I caught each other's glance.
You look beautiful he mouthed to me from his seat.
And it wasn't just the heat, or the Puerto Rican humidity, or the sweat beads forming on the small of my back that were beginning to trickle under the heaviness of my bridesmaid's dress, but I was actually melting.
Well, not actually, but you know.

Eight days later, it was my final night in Puerto Rico and I sat on my grandmother's patio, crying. I could go on and on about what Puerto Rico means to me. The island is my story and the story of my family. The island is my abuela singing in her kitchen; it's my titi combing my hair back for me on a hot day. The island is the stairs in Gurabo, that seemingly endless zigzag of stairs, that my dad climbed everyday on his way home from school as a boy. It's the lull of coquis chirping in the evenings, the last thing you hear as you give in to sleep. It's the heartbreaking beauty of the tropical hillside and bursts of red flamboyan trees. And above all, Puerto Rico is a community of people, like Wilfredo and King, who will go out of their way for you because you call the same place your home.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Change in the tide



"Because of you, I again seek out 
the signs that precipitate desires:
shooting stars,
falling objects."

--From Love by Pablo Neruda

And then, something crazy happened.

With my head resting on his chest, we laid together on a rocky beach.
Black waves rolled and crashed just feet away from me.
I was facing the sky; another endless sea where charcoal clouds dragged themselves across the stars.
In that moment, the oft spoken adage came to me; you find it when you least expect it.

Having endured literally a dozen fruitless first dates in the weeks preceding the day I met him, I had resigned myself to the idea of fun-for-now.

So, when I saw him at the rehearsal dinner for my best friend's wedding, I ignored the way something inside me fluttered when I looked at him.
Yeah. Whatever. Fine. He's hot. Enough.
As luck would have it, he and I were paired to walk together in the wedding.
After the rehearsal dinner, the wedding party met for drinks. Though he and I spent the better part of the evening talking to each other, I still thought little of it. At the end of the night, I excused myself for a cigarette outside.
"I'll come with you," he said.
He borrowed a cigarette from me and we kept talking. The groom came outside to take a phone call and seeing him said, "Matt, you don't even smoke." That small gesture was the first indication to me that anything was happening here.
The wedding happened. It was beautiful.
I spent the whole night with groomsman number 3 (as my brother's girlfriend called him later), dancing and stealing soft kisses when no one was watching.
And at the wedding after party, I wondered how long before, or if, I'd ever see him again.
"I'm leaving the country for ten days. My dad's getting married on Tuesday," I said.
It was a Saturday night in the small military town where I grew up. The wedding party and old friends of the newly weds were celebrating in a country western bar. Groomsman number 3 and I were sitting on stools and I was practically yelling into his ear over the noisiness and chaos around us.
"I could go on vacation," he said.
"Stop it."
"I could. I've never been to Puerto Rico. And what's more, I've got a feeling about you and I need to get to know you."
"You're joking."
"I'm not."
And I playfully called his bluff right up until the moment that he booked tickets to meet me in Puerto Rico three days later.
"It's done. I can't take it back now," he said, showing me his email confirmation from the airline.
"Hold on," I stepped away from the barstools we were sitting on and walked over to the bride and groom. I pulled them, literally and by their arms, away from the conversations they were having.
"Is he crazy? I need to know right now. Is something wrong with him?"
"Matt? No. Why?"
I walked back to my barstool and he casually handed me a drink he'd ordered while I was away.
"This isn't real."
"Tell that to my fucking bank account," he leaned over and kissed my forehead.

And even though that night, I stayed up talking to him in his hotel lobby until 6 am;
even though he called me everyday and we talked for hours each time;
even though every moment it seemed we discovered more that we had in common and
even though we were getting along so great, I didn't believe he'd actually show up Puerto Rico.
I kept waiting for the moment he'd tell me something had come up and he couldn't make it. The moment he'd realize this was all crazy
and ill advised
and plain stupid.

But that moment never came.
And there I was, laying on a beach at midnight,
suddenly in the middle of something special
with no idea how it all came to be.
Enamored. In awe.

The boy who smelled like a synagogue

He was all wrong for me
in every conceivable sense.

But he smelled like a synagogue and being beside him reminded me of
the rabbi's chanting and the way he'd pound the palm of his hand against the podium in rhythm;
cedar pews that were still oily to the touch from cleaning products;
rosh hashanah sermons that brought me to tears,
God may be a liar, but he's all we've got. 

And so I endured his company--
his insufferable attitude,
his misogyny,
his false bravado--
because the way he smelled reminded me of a place I belonged to.

A Marilyn

& to think, all of that melodrama of online dating happened because of something you wrote about her.

You called her the epitome of elegance.
You never said anything like that about me.
I remember
sexy
and sometimes
sohni
but mostly I remember the night you told me I was trouble.
It was a loaded moment; the moment I realized I would never be the right girl.

Foolishly, I clung to the past: John had Marilyn, even if Jackie was the first lady.

This isn't the prom.

"What kind of music do I like?
"Let me tell you something: I never imagined myself doing anything like this. I guess I always thought I'd be in a bookshop and a stranger with devastating brown eyes would bump into me in the poetry aisle. Something like that, you know?
"But this; I never thought I'd be here. Honestly, I've been on six first dates this week and if one more person asks me what kind of music I like, I swear I'm going to lose my shit. It's so disingenuous. In all the time I've been alive, nothing good has ever come of someone asking me that question. No one's ever ended a date early because I named a band they hate; and no one's ever invited me on a second date to a concert for a band we both like. It's such a bullshit question.
"And then what? At the end of the night we walk back to our cars together and we'll hug goodbye and one of us will lean in for a kiss and our teeth will knock together and we'll feel too embarrassed to try again. Or maybe it'll be a perfectly pleasant kiss and you'll convince me to 'go for a ride' with you, but really we'll end up in a poorly lit parking lot and you'll ask me for a blow job. Like I didn't just meet you; like it wasn't a rude suggestion. And I'll seem surprised and you'll tell me not to be offended because you just had to check since my face is 'so pretty you wanted to put your dick in it.' And somehow, still, I'll feel bad for putting myself in this situation because I should know better. Because I'm 27 and by now know that there's no such thing as a free ride. And even though this isn't the prom, somehow I'll still end up giving you a reluctant handy. And you'll ask me to spit on my hand but I won't because I'm trying to retain a shred, just a tiny shred, of dignity. And afterwards, you'll drop me off at my car and all the way home I'll wonder what became of the girl I thought I was.
"'What happened to her?' as I wash my hands in my bathroom sink.
"Or better still, maybe you'll charm me and we'll end up at your place so you can 'show me the view' from your balcony. And things will get hot and I'll ask you to put a condom on and you'll oblige but then lose your erection beneath the suffocating chubbiness of the latex and I'll pretend not to notice as you shove your flaccid penis into my inner thigh. And you'll apologize as I get dressed in the dark and I'll say it's not a big deal but my inflection will betray me.
"And on the way home, all the way home, I'll still wonder if I gave up on the girl who believed in meet cutes and the real fucking thing or if she's still in there and it's just that I'm impatient or if I finally just know better."
--the soliloquy, while I was online dating, that was likely the reason I didn't get booked for many second dates.