Things to Take On the Journey:

– a best friend

– snacks (carrots, grapes, Cheetos, chocolate chip cookies, granola bars, Pringles)

– water

– mix CDs

– cash money

– clothes

– cowboy hats (brown for L, pink for me — or maybe blue?)

– jeans that are old, which will potentially smell of horses by the end

– a bathing suit that will not fall off in the event of water skiiing

– a razor

– some shampoo

– pajamas, you always forget your pajamas, and it will be a problem on all vacations until your honeymoon

– PAJAMAS (please remember your pajamas because you and L will be sleeping in the same bed)

– maps

– sunglasses

– cowgirl boots

– a dress for Sunday

– your singing voice

– short stories to read on the road

– underwear, 12 pair and a few extra for good measure

– sports bra to keep everything close during horseback riding

– sunblock as an investment in the future 40-year-old face

Things NOT to Take On the Journey…

– anything resembling work (this could be a problem when it comes to the pajama pants)

Denying the Melancholy

July 24, 2009

We met in the summer, and it’s summer again, three years later. It’s easier to remember the feel of a warm body close to you when the sun seems to wrap around you just like that. It’s not that I regret the decision. It’s not that I ever doubted that the separation would force us into that transformation we both needed — it stuffed us into our separate cocoons. But I still hear songs, sad songs:

I’m like the wind in the canyon
I’m there then I’m gone in a second
You’re growing older in peace where you’re at
I wish I could be there for that
But I’ve moved on
Like a rolling stone
In a crowded room
I’m alone.

I’m not going to stir up the past (much), nor do I wish to write about broken relationships over the internet, nor is dwelling on my own mistakes and shortcomings a welcome diversion at this early hour. But this point in summer does leave a girl sort of reminiscent and melancholy. There is that feeling to it, that sense of past somethings boiling in the heat, remembering those magical feelings in the beginning, so full of promise and anxiety when neither of us knew where we would end up. I’ve ended up in so many places since then, but only two really matter tonight: With him, Without him. Two and a half years with him, six months without him, or is it seven now? Some days it feels as though gangrene got to one of my limbs before the antibiotics could. It festered before amputation. I screamed and bit a pencil when they sawed it off.

For a while I thought about him every day, there were rages and fits of tears, grasping and flailing, long moments of silence, the awkward conversations where I said too much, the social situations that would have been so much easier if he had been there. We were good in social situations. We were vaudvillian. He warmed up the crowd with his brilliance and charm, I came behind with my wise-cracks, and oh, friends laughed. This next part is the part I shouldn’t mention, the part about a place I couldn’t reach, a place within him where no space existed to fit the curves of my body.

For the longest time, I wondered why I stopped longing for him to love me. I figured it out. So, for the past six months, I’ve been in hibernation. This thing has been blocking my voice. In India, I sat on a bed and cried with my friend — I was grasping for something familiar in such an unconventional place. I felt out of control and dug for the places I’d once found control, in the peace of acceptance, in knowing that someone had rooted for me for nearly three years. But the peace wasn’t in that place anymore, and I cried because I couldn’t picture him there with me, the angles of his face blurred in the heat, the hottest summer heat I’ve ever known. Our California summer is nothing in comparison to India. I blurred into everything around me, and it blurred into me. He was gone.

He was gone because I broke him, and I swept him away. I did many wrong things; I said many bad things; I made him feel things he didn’t deserve to feel. He did the same to me. And so it goes. It feels like a baby must feel in those violent moments of being expelled from that safe, dark womb. It’s cold. The oxygen burns those lungs.

But I’ve moved on
Like a rolling stone
In a crowded room
I’m alone.

Do you remember how those crowded rooms would watch us, to see what funny thing we’d do or how we’d say something to make them laugh and all the times I slapped your face when you didn’t expect it and you’d make all those misogynist jokes just to see what I’d do? Do you think about all those times I kissed your dimples or the knuckles on your hands or connected your freckles with my fingertips? Perhaps the only thing that binds us now is the problem of what to do with these memories. I cannot leave them behind, nor will I take them with me. Summer is too hot for extra things.

Before I came to where you were, to California, when the whole country stretched out between us, you’d tell me how much you missed the rain. “It never rains in California,” I’d tell you. “You should have known before you moved there.”

I’m like the rain in a downpour
I wash away what you long for
And I wave goodbye with the sun in my eyes
But I wish I could be there tonight.

On Being Nearly 27

July 23, 2009

An excerpt from a letter to my pen pal of 6 years (not 6 years old… we’ve been writing to one another off and on for 6 years):

“It is late — 1:30 a.m. — and I laid in bed for a long time before clicking on the bedside lamp again and accompanying the gentle tick of the ceiling fan with the scrape of pen across paper. These are the sounds of thought, of sorting out, of seeking peace and absorbing silence. It’s been a long week, a week in which I have come to a few conclusions and thought more about all the aspects of my life that would be more comfortable if I could find their conclusions as well. I like to think, that since I am generally such a good sleeper, that the times sleep fails to conquer me are really moments of spiritual awakening, where God is trying to capture my mind to tell me something deep and wholly sweeping, that He will reveal something to me that will make me look soulful and integrated and holy in the eyes of my peers. Tonight, however, it seems that there’s no getting around the fact that I just ate sushi too close to bedtime.

“I do have a lot of thoughts, though, as this is the first evening this week that I’ve had a chance to sit in silence and think over the past few days’ events. Indeed, a lot has happened. When I decided it was time to get involved in events outside work and find community and rediscover having a social life, I didn’t realize it would all fall on me at once. I went from guarding my alone-time like a Victorian guards her virginity, to scarcely being able to find enough alone-time to process my days. So, I’m losing some sleep and writing to you because writing to you always has a way of putting my mind right.

“I am thinking about men lately, thinking a lot about marriage, and praying about my desire to have a man, to be married, and to do everything that goes along with marriage (wink). Eventually I would like to have some babies. I have never really thought much about this until the past few weeks, when the desire is manifesting itself because next month I will be a 27, and my body keeps reminding me that it’s ready. It’s prime time for baby implantation. It’s time to incubate an organism.

“When I really think about having kids, about raising them, about the reality of labor (and stitches after labor… ew) and diapers and vomit and screechy little voices, I’m all, “SHUT UP, BIOLOGICAL CLOCK,” not to mention all the obstacles that come with marriage, like having to keep air freshener beside the toilet, having to clean up all those little stubbled hairs all around the sink, rolling over in the middle of the night and coming into contact with hairy armpits, and, oh yeah, compromising your life in order to meld it with someone else’s. Exercising selflessness. Having full, unconditional, overflowing love for someone. And having to exercise that love consistently.

“Isn’t it bizarre how much we want these things, even though they have the potential to hurt us, to make us uncomfortable, to push us to be the best and worst versions of ourselves? The strategic part of my brain sorts through all the possibilities, seeking out the one for my future that will be best. And even though the cons for the case of marriage and children come neck-and-neck with the pros, it’s still right there at the top of all possibilities, a possibility that I, for the first time in my life, am having to lay down and let go of every day. I hope for that life. I want to struggle through it with someone I love, someone I’m crazy about. I want to be in a position where we have to manufacture our own brand of happiness together. I want to be a wife.

“In other news, I’m considering restricting all men under the age of 30 from my list of dating prospects.”

Cultural Commentary

July 16, 2009

A: There’s something weird going on with a lot of the older men I meet in Orange County. It’s this weird cultural thing like they see younger women as conquests or something. I constantly feel like they’re hitting on me.

L: I know! They think we’re impressionable. They want to conquer us and buy us plastic surgery.

A: We’re not just impressionable. We’re physically malleable.