Something to remember…

It seems as though every generation has it’s teen sitcom. Whether it’s Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, Saved by the Bell, Friends, or something else, everyone has a show that they grew up with. You measure the status and importance of your relationships with the opposite sex, gauged on what you’ve seen on TV. There’s these larger than life men, that always come sweeping in with grand gestures and romantic one liners that make your heart hurt just a little bit. It hurts because we know most men really aren’t like that. That the cheesy one liners never really happen in real life, and we remind ourselves that it’s not real. Until it is.

When I complain about how horrible men are sometimes, I only remember the bad. I only remember how many time I’ve been let down, hurt, or disappointed by someone else’s actions that really have nothing to do with me. It’s not very often that the fleeting great moments I’ve had come to the top of my mind. But when they do, all I can do is smile.

I was 19, and I’d just moved to Wilmington, NC. I’d already made my way through one boyfriend who turned out only to be a two weeker. And I was possibly moving on to my second. This guy was sweet. And gentle. And kind. And for the first time, I didn’t feel pressure to really do anything I didn’t want to do, which was nice. It was probably a Sunday– I say that because I remember I had school the next day—and we were both bored, with nothing to do. We hadn’t kissed yet, and were still in the friends stage of things, which really isn’t always a bad place to be. Everything is fun in the friends stage, no drama, no hurt feelings, just fun flirting. But back to the story. It was a Sunday and I was bored, and we both decided we wanted to do something fun. I had told him how someday I want to go to Myrtle Beach, just to see it. Everyone made such hype about it, yet it was only 45 minutes away from where I currently was. So he suggested that we just go. Hop in the car, drive down, check it out, and come home. Even though it was only a short drive away, it was still across a state line. And I’d never driven myself across a state line before, and weirdly enough it was that that made me nervous. Not any other part of it. Just the driving across the state line.

Just the same I agreed to go, if he drove. He said he didn’t mind. And we were off. I don’t remember what we talked about when we were in the car. I remember we go to Myrtle Beach though and trying to find some place to hangout, if even just for a bit. Somehow I got into a Senor Frogs, and I didn’t want to even try to drink at all because I didn’t want to chance getting kicked out of a bar in a state I didn’t even live in. But I stood with him at the bar and saw they had Mecheladas on the menu. I hadn’t seen or heard anything about that particular drink, since I lived in Mexico. It’s a beer with lime juice, and chili powder, amazing perfection. So I went to sit down so he could order, and he came back with two Mecheladas. One for him, one for me. I was so excited to be drinking it. I thanked him profusely. And I was even more excited when I actually drank it. I can’t remember exactly what he said. But it was something along the lines of “anything that can make you smile like that is worth it”. Now mind you, I was only 19, and didn’t truly know how to appreciate a line like that. But I swear that’s how it happened.

On the way home, I told him about how much I hated thunder and lightning storms. They just kinda freaked me out, I don’t know why that came up. We were probably just rambling off random facts about ourselves.  We covered every subject. There was not a single pause in the conversation the whole way home. We didn’t get home till about 2 am, and I had class at nine. I told him goodnight, when he dropped me off outside my apartment, and thanked him for just a fun night.

I went into my little apartment, changed out of my clothes, slipped into bed, and shut off the lights. What a perfect night. I fell asleep in no time. Only to be woken up three hours later by the clap of thunder and flashes of lightening. I sat up in bed, waiting for the next sound. Another clap. The storm was close. With my hatred of storms, I crawled out of bed and went into my living room, to flip on the TV to see what the weather man had to say about this storm. Growing up as a kid, if the weather was bad enough, there was always people on the TV talking about it. Yet there was nothing. This was the south though, things could be different. I went back to my bedroom, sitting on my bed. Thinking to myself that I’m an adult, I really shouldn’t be this freaked out by something that can’t actually hurt me. I glanced over at my clock, it was 5:15, at the time I didn’t have friends, or even know people who were up at that hour. It was just me, afraid, in bed, during the middle of a storm.

That was when I heard my phone buzz. Someone was calling. I looked down, it was the guy. I picked up the phone. He laughed and said he knew I’d be awake because of the storm, and he called to make sure I was ok. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How is anyone really this sweet? We talked for the next 45 minutes until the storm passed and I was ready to go back to sleep. Then for the second time that night he wished me good night.

I woke up three hours later to get ready for class. I was tired, crabby, and mildly regretting my last minute late night trip so late at night. The boy texted me a good morning, and asked me what I like to drink. I wasn’t sure what he meant. I mean such two statements are usually said at opposite ends of the day. Morning: Good morning. Night: What are you drinking? He told me he was stopping by a coffee place and asked me what I wanted. I was touched again. I told him my drink order, hoping that he wouldn’t be too late, as I was already on the verge of being late for class. He showed up five minutes before I needed to leave and said “if you’re going to stay up that late, and still make it to class, you deserve this” and handed me my vice of caffeine in a cup.

Once upon a time, in one night, I had three very sweet, pseudo cheesy moments, with one guy. And when my bitter cynicism gets the best of me (more often than not), I think back on those moments and am thankful that there’s hopefully still some good, even in all the bad.

Something about windows

There’s a wise old proverb about windows and doors. It’s something to the effect that the universe never closes a door without opening a window first. The hard part about that is though, when the door closes, it’s usually in our face.  And if there’s a window open, it’s probably letting the cold in, while we’re stuck staring at this closed door, fuming in anger at the fact that it is closed. So while we’re focused on our closed door, and getting cold from the draft of the open window, I usually can’t even notice that there’s a window in the room.

When I’m given bad news, I’ve found over the years that I prefer my bad news the same way I like my tea. Strong, but with sugar to sweeten it a bit, and a splash of milk to add a thickness to it. But just because that’s the way I like it, doesn’t mean that’s how it always is. Usually it’s blunt and hard. And usually I let it ruin me, defeat my entire being and purpose. It takes days to bounce back from it.

Lately though, things have become different. Bad things still happen. I’ve noticed though that my reaction to them have been drastically different. My car had been broken into over Christmas, broke out the passenger side window and took my GPS. I didn’t care that they took my GPS, I just hated that it had happened. Usually in matters like this, I hyperventilate and break down sobbing, feeling violated and victimized. This time though I just found myself staring blankly at my car with one word in my head. Fuck. Not fuck in anger. But as in a way that is simply understanding what has happened. The only thing I could think to do was to have the window fixed and not let it ruin my day. So that’s exactly what I did. I had a new window put in within three days. I was not forced to go through my everyday with a constant reminder of what happened to my car. And when it was all over, I couldn’t believe how easy it had been to handle all of it.

A door closed recently. Or, it’s going to soon. At least that’s what I was told yesterday. I knew it was going to close soon. I could feel it. It was just a matter of whether I was going to pull the door knob to shut the door myself, or let the door slam in front of me. So sitting in this little room with a closed door, I’m excited to look around me and see all the possibilities of all the windows. All the places that they will take me. I’m curious to find out what the open windows will make me do, and how it will change my life.

So I think I’ll just get in my car and drive. And feel the breeze from the open windows, waiting to see what they mean and what’s on the other side of the window.

Soup for the soul

When I’m sitting around in conversation with people, sometimes people will begin to reminisce on the food they had growing up. One girl will talk of how her mother made the best (insert what your mom cooked here). It’s usually at some family get together or something when this is brought up and I generally respond with “yeah my mother never really cooked too much”. Now I’ll tell you this. My mother is never in the room when I say this, but somehow she always finds out that I said it. And she always gets offended. Later when it’s just me and her she will say something along the lines of “I cooked. You just don’t remember. I always cooked for you guys (meaning my brother, sister and I). You don’t know how good you had it growing up”. And she’s right I probably don’t. When I tell people my mother never cooked, I only mean it jokingly. I guess I just assume everyone is in on the joke.  In all reality, my mother always had a meal on the table at dinner time (or we’d go somewhere), but… I guess when I say my mother never cooked I always mean my mother never baked. But that’s a whole other subject.

So even though I claim out loud that my mother never cooked, she does make some damn good chicken and dumplings.  Now these are from scratch. So when she did make them, it was kind of an afternoon type thing. I’d walk into the kitchen and pick at the chicken she was pulling from the whole bird she’d just boiled. She’d swat at my hands and tell me to go away. I’d come back later, and there would be dough rolled out on the table, cut into strips. I’d pick one up and eat it, and as before. She’d tell me to get out of the kitchen. Finally, late in the evening, the family would sit down to a bowl of chicken and dumplings. So good.  It’s the kind of thing that warms you from the inside out, heats up the soul. So even though we didn’t have it often, when we did, it was good.

Fast forward several years. I’m living in North Carolina and up to my ears in school work. I’m so stressed over whether or not I’m actually going to pass my college classes. What if I fail my test? What if I flunk a class? Can you flunk out of a Community College? I needed a break. I needed something to escape to. I wasn’t sure what though. I’d never been into the idea of hard drugs, and I didn’t have enough money to buy the amount of alcohol it would take to get a good enough escape. On top of everything, not only did I need a break but I had a nasty cold coming on. I called my mother, craving her chicken and dumplings. I’d been getting better at cooking and figured I could make a pot and things would be better. I scribbled down the instructions as she told me over the phone. It sounded easy enough.

I set out to the grocery store to buy the two things I would need: a whole chicken and a bag of flour. Walking into my kitchen after visiting the grocery store, I took out the biggest pot I had and filled it with water.  I cut open the plastic bag and shook the bird out. It felt into my kitchen sink, and sat there. I looked at it, not exactly sure what to do next. I picked it up by the leg and it swung to the side. This is so weird. I couldn’t get over how I was just going to shove a whole bird into boiling water. Something that had once been a living breathing thing. I mean I’d cooked chicken and such before, but never resembling the form in which god had made it. Once the chicken was cooked, I took it out of the water that had now become broth. Once the chicken was cool I pulled the meat off the bone and giggled like a prepubesant kid “I’m deboning a chicken. Hehe”. Once the chicken was off the bone, I measured the flower carefully into a bowl, and did the same with the broth, mixing them together. Rolling out the dough I cut it carefully and placed it back in the boiling broth for them to cook. And then I added the chick. And there it was chicken and dumplings.

From then on, it became something I did regularly. When life was becoming too much to handle, I would go out and find me a chick (okay it was in the poultry section at the grocery store, but whatever) and pull out my big pot. Making chick and dumplings I learned was a great escape from life. It was something I could focus on, step by step. And in the end, I go to ignore the rest of the world for about four hours, and I had an amazing meal.

For me. Chick and dumplings was unplugging my life and focusing solely on the task at hand. Making sure the chicken was done. Picking the chicken off the bone. And not fucking up the dumplings. It was existing temporarily in a world where I could control everything going on, while the rest of the world was not only out of my control but out of my mind. It was holding the bowl of broth, chicken, and noodles and letting it warm not only my hand, but my soul. It was an easy and delicious way for me to forget about the rest of the world.

And to think. I got all of this from a woman who I claim doesn’t cook.

Max

September 14th, 2011

I hadn’t talked to him in five or six years. Even though it just feels like yesterday. And thanks to this so called wonderful thing known as Facebook, I saw that he had finally joined the rest of the world in being united together through wall posts and status updates. I was so excited to see him, or at least his profile. He was dating some blond now, and was still located in his own country.

Max… what can I say? He helped me to form a standard as to how I would judge men. There were men like him, and then there were the others. Men like him came to my house to take me to our classes party and optioned staying over when he found out I couldn’t come out. Men like him kissed me out of jealousy of everyone else. He could build me up so easily and make it seem like nothing at all. No one would think to look at him looking at me. He was as stubborn as I could ever dream to be, even in my strongest moments my hard head could never match his. It had only been a month, maybe two and already this guy was becoming my best friend.

And yet. Leave it to foolish teen stupidity to mess things up. It was a cool night and it had been raining. Five foreign kids were bored in a living room with nothing to do to fill their time, except trouble of course. And it was a mix of said boredom and desire for something new that found me and an Australian alone in a German’s bedroom. His clammy hands shook as he placed them on my hips. I was nervous too. He leaned in and kissed me. I had known that I would kiss the Australian since the moment I met him. It was just a matter of when. I felt his hands go from my hips to his pants and I heard the jingle of him undoing his belt buckle.

I pulled back. “What are you doing?” I looked up at him. I was sitting on the bed and he was standing in front of me. He looked confused for a moment. And it was the look in his face that let me know exactly what was about to happen. Even at sixteen, it’s easy to be unsure of intentions sometimes. “Fuck! No. I can’t do this. This was a bad idea” I jump up from sitting on the bed and open the bedroom door bolting out.

Max is coming up the stairs as I do this and for a moment we lock eyes. And then he looks at the Australian as if to suddenly put two and two together. “What’s going on?” he was confused. I looked over at my friend Ying who sat across the room. “Come on Ying, we’ve got to go home. NOW!” she looked confused as well. But stood up and followed my lead.

Max now jumped in front of me. “What did you do with him? You had sex with him. Didn’t you?” I was trying to read him to see what he was feeling, he just laughed. Trying to make it come off as no big deal, like he wasn’t hurt by all of it. “We didn’t do anything I swear.” I had no idea then that those events that took place over a matter of minutes would change everything for the rest of my year abroad.

The next night, I was standing on Max’s balcony with him. Both of us were staring out onto the street two stories below us. “So you had sex last night?” he broke the silence with an abrupt question. I looked over at him trying to read where he was coming from.

“No. Max. Nothing happened. I swear, we just kissed. He undid his pants and wanted to do something, but I…” I could tell he was no longer listening to anything I had to say. Why bother to try and explain myself? “So kiss me.” he said five minutes later. And I kissed him. I knew once I did it, that it was a revenge kiss. Something to tally up to what I had or had not done the night before.

For the rest of the year, he would argue with me over what did or did not go down in his bedroom. We were never really friends again. Even after the Australian left at Christmas. And it’s only now that I’m finding him on facebook. And we’re talking again. And there’s playful banter, jokes about him coming to visit me, or me visiting him. The same jokes we made together before a kiss ruined it all. To be honest, it feels so good to have it back. It’s kind of funny, because it’s almost like opening a time capsule to find something that is just the same now as it was six years ago when it all started.

Where everybody knows your name

September 7th, 2011

I’m lonely. And I don’t mean that solely in the woe is me, I’m still single thing. I mean that as in, aside from my brother I really don’t know anyone here. I mean sure I’ve met a handful of people. But when I wake up, when I go to bed, it’s still just me. My closest friend is two hours away in Houston, and even then, we both have completely different lives and… I don’t know. I think I’m just tired of not knowing people. I mean how do you meet people and become a socialite? The people I want to be friends with I wont necessarily meet at bars.

I don’t want to coexist in a city that could eat me alive if I let it. I want to thrive. I want to have the city wrapped around my finger. I want to flirt with door men who know me, smile at a crowd who is excited I’m there (where ever that is). Essentially I want to follow the Cheers theme song “Where everybody knows your name” And it’s so funny. You meet person after person after person and nothing cliques.

Another bit….

I’d spent a weekend and a Monday filling out 18 pages of forms that had been due the Thursday before. But I’d only received the papers that Friday. Not only was it 18 pages, but they all had to be done four times, four signatures from one doctor. Four color copies of the same four photos that somehow seemed to explain me. One was me playing a guitar wearing a livestrong bracelet, as if to imply that 1) I could play the guitar or 2) I was in anyway tied with people who were all about “livingstrong”.  There was also the picture of me with my mother, brother, and sister at my brothers naval graduation. I look like a ridiculous fat cow in the picture, but my mother thought it was nice, so I printed out four and cut and pasted.

Two weeks came and passed, and I’d been interviewed by the local Rotary. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t all that nervous. My odds were good. One of the men had been my DARE officer in the fifth grade, two of them were friends with my grandparents, and another one, I’d swam on the same swim team with his kids when we were young. Even though growing up in a small town sucked, there were advantages to people “knowing you”. After the local interview, it was on to the district interview.

My friend Patrick had prepped me for the district interview. He’d coached me on the right things to say, and about the polio vaccine that had been in the works. I wasn’t sure whether or not to be nervous. I mean there can’t be that many kids applying. Can there? I mean what kind of wing nut besides a few others like me would want to go live abroad in highschool? Well, I found out there were 38, and only 28 would be accepted.

The only way out is through…

Last June I was faced with a delima. Fight or flight? I hadn’t been accepted to the school I had anticipated acceptance from. And my options more or less were to fight (stay in North Carolina and work in a job until I COULD get into the university) or flight (move back home and finish school), well…. For the last few months I have been feeling lost and confused. Everyday I would wake up and wonder “what the hell am I doing here” and I was just going through the motions. I’d been hoping for a sign, some clarity, something. I needed to know why I was here. Besides being my choice, it just didn’t make any sense.

It wasn’t until yesterday when I was sitting bored in an airport that I realized I had made a mistake. A very large mistake. I had been at a cross roads once, and I chose the wrong path. I chose the path that would lead me closer to home. The path that led me to where I currently am. And even though I realized I had made this mistake I felt relieved, I was finally feeling SOMETHING. I had complained recently that I was tired of going through the motions of not feeling something for anything. I didn’t care about my classes, my friends were good, but even with them, it was a shallow feeling on being mildly content. Even though I was upset at my mistake I was so glad to have finally realized it. To have seen it clearly. But now what? What do I do now that I realized I’ve made a mistake? Don’t people tell you you need to learn from your mistakes? Well in the hour and a half I sat on a plane from one destination to a lay over I realized exactly what I had to do. The only way out is through. The only way I can fix this mistake is to go through it. And to get through it I know I just have to buckle down and focus in a small attempt to get through school. And then I’ll move on to somewhere else.

Now this might not see like a big deal to anyone else. Hell. I’m sure there’s a large handful of people around me who realized this about me long before I did. But. Just the same, I can finally see it clearly and it brings me more comfort than I could ever have anticipated that it would bring.