to the person whose number I once again deleted, today:
Saturday. 7.6.13 6:17 pm
I'm not even going to make it private because guess what has two thumbs and doesn't give a crap!
An Open Letter:
You decided to leave our friendship totally untouchable, back in January. The very next weekend, I was on a plane to New York, where I was whisked away to a ball like a freakin' princess and treated as if I were an actual independent woman with valid thoughts, feelings, and ambitions. I went on to have a short romance with my date, but pulled away upon realizing that his priorities and mine weren't aligned. The only time I bit back at him during the end was when he chose to make me feel like a bitch for not carrying our last date out the way he wanted--for somehow disappointing him by not riding with him instead of taking my bike, for waving instead of hugging. That was when I told him the possessiveness was just reinforcing my decision, and he didn't talk to me for two months, which was fine.
You, however, messed up. And you know that, and I know you know that, but the extent of it really just isn't quite enough. Less than a month after you left, I knew liking you romantically was just a role I took on, because no woman in her right mind would like someone who consistently--consistently--made her feel so unworthy and like such a mess. You hurt me, and then you were the one to make it better...and somehow, all along, it was my fault. I made you hurt me, right? I made you leave. You made me feel insecure about the state of our relationship time and time again, constantly throwing out signals that you were jealous of other men, signals that you were interested in other women, signals that didn't make sense, especially knowing you and all that you insisted upon. And then I would express these enormous doubts and somehow my assumptions were silly and based on nothing and just me being insecure.
No, "like" is a strong word for how I felt about you. "Trapped" is a better fit. "Worthless." "Aching."
I went to New York hoping to forget you, and it worked. It wasn't the mini romance that helped, so much as the moment my heels sunk through five inches of snow and I laughed all the way into that New York mountain cabin. It was seeing the Washington Monument from the plane home, and experiencing the thrill of running through an airport to catch a flight. For the first time in several years, I wasn't thinking about you--I was thinking about my frozen feet, my connection flight, the sheer sense of newness...
I raised my ambition in your absence. When I wasn't studying hard and making new friends, I was volunteering for Relay for Life, kayaking on the ocean, helping build gardens for children living in the food desert, moving up in the ranks in my club, taking on a spring semester role in the office complete with giving interviews to new applicants, becoming a true feminist and sincerely aware of what it means to be privileged, tutoring students, finding my true future goals amidst all the false goals born from the fear that I would disappoint my parents, learning to trust again, climbing mountains, literally and figuratively, until I arrived at this point in my thinking where I had to ask, "Why the hell did I stay so long?" and I'm still wondering now.
While you were stagnant, treading water in the mess you made, I was out there living a life so full of color and possibility and thought...
And now you text me and say you're sorry, and all I can say is that it's already done and that you were forgiven long ago. For leaving, I nearly want to thank you, as I have been for months (I pause, for a moment, during wonderful days, and do just that), because I needed that. You were the world's heaviest security blanket; I couldn't move.
I asked if you intended to be friends, and you said you thought that would be very naive of you to intend, after neither of us speaking for six months. I told you it was sure a better plan than leaving, coming back to apologize, then leaving again, but honestly I know you won't stay, and that's fine. Halfway through your long and suffering apology, I realized that I didn't give two shits that you felt bad. That isn't what an apology is about--you don't sit around and express some long and drawn-out suffering that you've been through from hurting this other person. I was so hurt, and in such a bad place, and oh that's too bad, you felt terrible about what you did and thought about it long and hard?
Yeah, it shows in the six months you waited to apologize. It shows in the fact that you didn't once mention that you were sorry for hurting me. You were ashamed of an action, and that isn't the same thing as being sorry.
So here it is: I'm sorry that you're still the person I watched walk away, six months ago. You're still the same person who thought it was necessary to tell me to not kill myself when you left, and you're still the same person who will take any confrontation as a reason to "have a talk about where we stand," which is a fancy way of saying "we're splitting up." You're still the same person, and I'm not...and that leaves us far apart with no reason to draw closer.
You haven't earned my trust, my confidence, or even my warmth. If you ever manage to accomplish any of the three, maybe then we can talk.
Until then, don't text me; I'm busy being amazing.
a walk through the city
Wednesday. 7.3.13 9:27 pm
Meagan was at my door around quarter past two in the afternoon, today. She used the bathroom, then opted to walk instead of driving to the spot I had in mind for our afternoon wine and chat--which suited me, since it meant we could both drink to our desires without worrying about being functional enough to operate a vehicle safely.
The walk took less than an hour, I think, and it was generally pleasant, albeit moist from the post-rain humidity. We admired the architecture I'd grown accustomed to and wandered through campus while I told her stories about our generous alumni (husband and wife) who inspired our class ring, then walked down the shopping district until we hit the end, only walking a couple dozen feet before reaching our particular hole in the wall haven. A quirky location with the most wonderful French cuisine, our restaurant had mostly bar seating and sparse, unusual decor. She ordered the special, which was a delicious-smelling curry, a fresh slice of watermelon, and some bread and cheese, and I ordered a croissant with warm goat cheese and a side salad. We held conversation effortlessly the entire time, aided a bit by the rather strong house wine and the unassuming atmosphere. It's much easier to talk, not to mention, when the servers hardly hear you when you need them to, much less when you don't. It rained a bit, while we ate, but ceased long before we left the tiny room.
After finishing our wine at leisure, we sought out (and eventually failed to locate) her dream shorts at the rather morally-unfortunate Forever 21 in the shopping district, but first stopped into a Unitarian graveyard to enjoy the tranquility (me) and history (her). The entire site was overgrown with plant life, which seemed appropriate; with so much death on the grounds, why cut away at the only life?
After all this was said and done, I showed her my favorite store in town, and she wandered it, touching everything in her path, for several minutes, finally settling on a tapestry, a friendship bracelet, and some incense to bring home for herself. Having been by just days before, I settled on a pack of ten incense sticks, one of which is burning now. Again, it rained a bit, and again it stopped, minutes before we were ready to leave.
The day was still relatively young. I joked about the beach, which is still a sore spot for myself, to be quite honest, considering that it's been raining for the past week straight...which happens to coincide with my break from work. I gave her some options, and we decided to enjoy a hookah at one of my favorite spots in the city.
She ordered her favorite dip, having been there with me before; I ordered baklava. Then, the mystery hookah came, and we smoked our way into a euphoric, giggly buzz, especially enjoying the bubble kit I'd ordered with a couple extra bucks--the outcome essentially looks like this:
Mostly, I ordered it because she said she was bad at it, and I wanted her to get better at it so we could all blow bubbles together, next time she came down for more than a day.
She was successful. In fact, she blew a bubble so big that the waitress passing by muttered, "Nice," transfixed on the giant, smoke-filled orb.
This is not what attracted Will's attention, but he came by to make conversation. I knew him from orientation--he'd just transferred in--but didn't know that he'd been hired at the restaurant just recently. I invited him to sit and all three of us smoked and talked for at least an hour. He took my phone and made sure I not only had him on Facebook and Vine, but that I also favorited every single Vine he'd ever produced. He then proceeded to ask me to come back to smoke hookah with him, sometime, and put his number in my phone, texting himself my full name so he could save my information, too.
That was easily the slickest way I have ever been asked out.
Meagan and I walked back around seven, neither of us understanding where the time went. There was a lot of laughing and general giddiness at the perfect day we'd just shared, absolutely emphasized by the hookah buzz, which was still flowing pretty strongly. I made sure we walked a different way so that she could see different houses, and we talked about Victorian architecture. By eight-thirty, she was headed out on the road towards our hometown, and I was left again with my newfound collection of film and television sources (all, of course, one hundred percent illegal...and one hundred percent useful during long, rainy breaks).
I needed a day like today. As fantastic as this city is, I sometimes let myself forget how good it feels to walk all the way across town for a good meal and some time outside.
on the downright religious interference with my love life
Monday. 7.1.13 12:24 am
"I like the idea of you and Evan," my porch swing companion mentions casually. We aren't on the topic of Evan (as usual--I don't bring him up, because there's nothing to say), but that seems to stop no one from saying those exact words to me, when I mention dating, romantic interests, and other topics along the general romantic theme. They like the idea of us. Apparently it's a universal OTP.
I look to the left and forward at the storm clouds coming in. It seems like I always find myself back on this particular dock during storms. I often notice it reflecting my mindset--the sunny, warm day accompanying my first date with someone incredible, freshman year; the cold rain of my journal writing on the outer dock, stretching out into the vastness of the sea; the distant lightning of my frustrated brooding, gusts of wind unsettling my hair.
"Everyone likes the idea of me and Evan," I respond dryly, still staring into the emptiness of space (somewhat obscured by charcoal clouds).
It's February and I'm conducting another set of group interviews for the internship. The boss is a little behind, so I wander quietly into the lobby to do a tap dance, or something, while she sorts everything out and gets the conference room ready for the interviews ("Nope, all I need for you to do is give me a couple minutes to get some e-mails sorted out," she tells me, when asked if I could help her). I've been told it's only two students, and that this is a special session scheduled just for them, because they were too busy to take a normal slot. Weird. So just me and the boss interviewing them. Okay.
They seem normal enough, and I wonder passively if I look normal at all, leaning awkwardly against the opposite wall, quite possibly the farthest distance from them I could maintain without actually leaving the room. I ask some basic questions to burn some time and distract them from their impending group interview doom...and the fact that we're late starting. The one is a psychology major, and I rip into psychology with him without a second thought about how I tend to come off as an excessively passionate individual (to put it kindly). He opens fire back, and I'm completely filled with glee...but on the down low.
The entire interview with him is like this. He lists his clubs and organizations and I can pick out several that I've wanted to join. He gives a likable and relatable speech "to new students" (read: my boss and me)...better than I'm able to, today. During the individual Q&A portion, my boss leaves the room with the other applicant, and he answers every question perfectly with a humored smile, alternating polite responses for parent-simulated questions and curse words for the students.
After the interview, I can't leave the conference room for a good minute. My boss shuffles quickly out of her office and stops to see me still standing in the doorway, eyes surely saucers in the wake of this total destruction of my entire universe. How could there be someone with so much energy and life, out there, sharing a whole BUNCH of my interests and beliefs, and, more importantly, how have we never met?
"Yeah," she says, smiling at my stunned expression.
I take the cue, and ask slowly: "What was that?"
She laughed, understanding exactly what I meant.
"That was Evan."
"He'll be your special project," she said matter-of-factly, before slipping back into her office. "I like you two as a team."
back to basics
Saturday. 6.15.13 2:33 am
The other night, some of us walked a group of students to the huge dock overlooking the bay between our peninsula and the area across the bridge. We were supposed to leave at 7:30 and return around 9:30, but we ended up staying until 11:30, instead, after feeling this great connection with everyone and giving a multitude of chances to leave. Near the end of the night, Rashad suggested we play the ABC game.
It's a cool night in May, and we all come into the library, tense, scratching at mosquito bites from the unsatisfying outdoor debrief about a "simulation" that left some downright hostile, and many others upset, to say the least. Jason asks us to go around in a circle and talk about how we felt, starting to his left and ending with me, directly to his right. These people I held so dear talked about how frustrated they still were, about the injustices of the simulation, about the secrecy behind the point of the whole exercise... All the while, I had time to think. None of this is what's bothering me. What's bothering me, really?
Once again, the psychology came in handy. I settled upon the answer quickly and tried to come up with its matching solution, because that's what orientation interns are trained to do, to the point where a problem without a solution is a major source of stress and frustration.
I knew what it was, and couldn't wait to have my turn to talk. We were all so tense and so low, emotionally, that it was searing through all of us like venom, and I didn't want to feel that way, any longer. I didn't want anyone to feel that way.
I paused, staring at my bare thighs under the soft light of the lamp beside me, collecting myself. My anxiety was rampant, and suddenly this was twenty times harder to get out.
"The point of a debrief," I said, my voice shaking, "is to get your participants back down to their original emotional state. They didn't do that. We haven't debriefed, really. So can we please get back to center and play the ABC game instead of thinking any more about things we might never know?"
I looked up to several surprised pairs of eyes, none more surprised than that of our fearless leader, Jason.
A minute later, we were standing in a circle, shoulders touching tensely against one another's, eyes closed. The energy in the room was palpable and thick, a rubber band stretching to its limits to encase our emotions.
There was a moment of nauseating silence.
"A," Ian started, so loudly that it sent a twisting sensation through my stomach.
Then, simultaneously: "...E."
We all groaned a little, but Jason had by then figured out what my point was in playing this right away, and with all his intensity demanded, "Again."
Ian, again: "A."
And so on, every time ending in a more humored groan and Jason's ever-insistent "Again." Eyes closed, we felt the energy in the room return to its normal state, each of us too focused on one another to entertain any more silly thoughts about a stupid simulation that failed to matter either way. When we managed to finish the alphabet without two people saying the same letter at once, we cheered so loudly that it left an etching in my emotional memory bank. The relief that came from such a simple thing--I can still hear our joy, coming from such a small victory and such an enormous connection.
We were the only group to come out of our family session completely at ease.
I smile over at Rashad, and the group we're with makes it to Z much more easily, being three times the size of our tiny family. The four of us--all interns--are surrounded by the potential of these new students, sitting on a dock encased in darkness and swaddled in the sounds of the ocean. Everything is okay. Nothing hurts.
Heat lightning turns the distant sky a beautiful purple and I remember the way the stars looked especially beautiful, that night.
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