Tag Archives: Friends

Some Thoughts on (Possible) Love

Hello, everyone. I’m sorry it’s been a while, but I have two excuses.

One, I just decided to start a big writing project that will require a strong exercise of discipline, and I am not very good at exercising discipline at all, and if I am ever going to exercise discipline successfully, I can only concentrate said discipline on one thing.

Two, for the first time since I started blogging, I am in a relationship. A real relationship. As in there is a person who I can introduce as “my boyfriend” without panicking that he will race immediately from the room/board the next available flight to Panama/think that I’m crazy.

(I was fairly sure that this was the case, but, for the record, did wait for D to initiate the gesture by introducing me as “his girlfriend” before I began to reciprocate. I hear Panama is lovely this time of year.)

Now, as I’ve told you, at the outset D made the very thoughtful gesture of offering not to keep reading my blog. (I don’t mean to classify it as heroic for someone to deny themselves the pleasure of my writing–though he does like reading it–but, well, you get my drift.)

What I have not told you is that I promptly sabotaged his generosity by informing him that there would be some posts he could read–thereby putting myself in the awkward position of having to determine whether each entry is or isn’t “D-friendly.”

(For reasons that may be no more complicated than ego, I have an oddly fierce desire for people–like my parents, and now boyfriend–for whom reading my blog is a distinctly perilous endeavor, to read it anyhow.)

But I digress. The point is that D, thanks to my ego/idiocy, may or may not be reading this. And so I hesitate to write, well, anything. But especially this.

What I lack in discipline, though, I make up for in fecklessness. So here we go.

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True Confessions

Okay, folks. I’ve been trying really hard–I’m not sure why–to resist telling you something and I no longer can.

One thing I’ve learned teaching beginning writers is that, often, we withhold information for vague reasons that range from the misguided to the sadistic. Either of which this may be. (It’s hard for me to say–as you know, I’m generally not one to withhold.)

Anyhow, here it is: I’m dating a fireman.

I tell you this not only in order to tell you that I started a fire in his house on our second date–though it’s true that I did, in his oven, and it’s also true that he put it out, and it may also be true that this story in and of itself is justification enough.

Nor do I tell you this for the simple, gratuitous sake of telling you that I’m dating a fireman–though it is sort of the point that that, too would be understandable.

No, I tell you this because I need to share just how hilarious it is to tell people that you’re dating a fireman.

A sampling:

From M, when I first told him: “Is he, like a strapping, like, fireman?” (Yes.)

From my father, regularly: “Have you told him about the Inkspots song yet? (singing, now) I don’t wanna set the world, on fire…” (No.)

In conversation with my mother, when I first told her:

“He’s very cute.”

“Well if he’s a fireman he has to be handsome.”

“He’s not at all flakey.”

“Well of course he can’t be flakey, he’s a fireman.”

From every woman I’ve told: “Really???”

Okay, so I admit, the first time I met D I, too, had the “really???” response. As in: “Wait. He’s good-looking, intelligent, highly educated and he’s a fucking fireman?”

But then I got to know him, you know, in three non-stereotypical dimensions. And the work that he does came to be just that: the work that he does.

I learned the details: like the fact that being a fireman involves not so much fighting fires as waking up cranky old ladies whose neighbors thought may have been dead but who were really just, in fact, napping.

And that, while D fits the stereotype of the handsome, “strapping,” muscular fireman–many of his coworkers don’t. Most, it seems, fit better the mold of the short, stocky Northern New Mexican guy who tease him relentlessly for his attempts at Mexican cooking and for looking like every other white guy in the department.

Also, thanks to my friend J’s hopeful inquiry last weekend, I’ve learned that there aren’t even firepoles. (Apparently, it’s been realized, not the most efficient way of descending a building at three in the morning when Grandma may or may not be taking a nap.)

So by the time we did get together and I started telling people about him and getting these wacky reactions–it caught me off guard.

But it shouldn’t have: D had warned me.

“It’s kind if amusing how people react when you tell them you’re a fireman,” he’d said. It’s true–he does find it funny. As do I.

And, secretly–or, for some of us, not so secretly–I’m gonna guess that both of us kinda like it a little bit too.

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Getting Over the “Princess Fantasy.” Slowly.

On Thursday D, as he frequently does, made dinner for me and a few of his college friends.

One of them has gone on a few dates with a girl that he likes, and all week had planned to call her the following night–Friday–in order to see her over the weekend.

The rest of us, myself in particular, took umbrage at this strategy.

“So if you want to hang out with someone during the weekend, when would you call them?” I asked the group.

“Thursday” was the immediate, obvious consensus. This suggestion provoked a response so aggravated, so extreme that even the guy in question couldn’t help but be amused–at which point the conversation turned comic.

“I don’t just think you should call her,” one guy chimed in. “I think you should marry the girl. Might as well propose.”

“You’re compatible, you’re physically attracted,” he continued, his wife making salad a few feet away. “That’s all you need. The rest you’ve got to work for anyhow. There’s no such thing as ‘the one.'”

This is a theory with which, in the abstract, I completely agree. There are lots of people one could find happy partnership with. With any of them, there would be persistent challenges. Different ones, perhaps, but challenges all the same. Sharing a life is never easy.

In other words, intellectually I know he’s right: the myth of “the one” is just that–a myth.

Emotionally, though, I’m not sure I do.

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On Pet Names and (Not) Taking Things Slowly

Note: Folks, it is not lost on me that, while my “lessons from 2010” included the decisive conclusion that I cannot write about relationships while in them, it is January and I am already doing just that. Go figure. By way of explanation, I’ll share that D (the new guy) made the (entirely voluntary) decision to stop reading–which renders mostly moot the motivations behind said conclusion. Also, it’s 2011. Times change 🙂

As may have come across in my last post, in this current, very new relationship I haven’t exactly heeded that lesson I’ve repeatedly learned (and keep, repeatedly, learning) not to move too fast.

No one was quicker to make this observation than my mom–who, like all good concerned mothers, can always be relied upon to internalize whatever caution I don’t.

“It sounds like it’s too late for me to say this,” she intoned,” but I’m going to say it anyway: try and take things slowly.”

I did my best to patiently receive her advice, refraining from any commentary about how she might keep such anxieties to herself while, perhaps, making some effort to share in my enthusiasm.

Instead, I offered a small plea of self-defense.

“The thing is, Mom,” I told her, “if I’m not excited now, I’m not ever gonna get excited.”

Gamely, she laughed. Both of us know this may well be the case. But, true or not, such facts don’t change my impressive track record of rushing into things with an open heart that, sooner than later, gets crushed.

For knowing this history–for having, wittingly if often with great discomfort, read about it online–I must forgive my mother’s skepticism.

As for everyone else, I’m not sure how to go about extricating myself from the foxhole I share with the boy who cried wolf. All I can ask is that you humor me whilst I assure you that this time is different.

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On Over (and under) Thinking Happiness

For our final class, my nonfiction professor invited all his over for for a potluck, a book swap, and the (required) opportunity to deposit with him six essay-filled envelopes that he would, the following day, ceremoniously send to literary magazines on our behalf.

Also in attendance (and, presumably, relieved of the above-mentioned duties) were his wife and two young sons: aged eight and ten.

While the rest of us ate dinner–taquitos, calabicitas, salad and pita pizza–I glimpsed the eight-year old, straddling the back of the living room couch with a pile of three Garfield books in his lap. The expression of pure, unadultered, consuming joy I saw–not just in his face but in his whole, lanky little-boy body–awed me. I made eye contact with my professor and gestured with my chin.

“I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen anyone that genuinely, completely happy,” I said. My professor nodded.

“That one’s kind of an old soul, “ he said.

That moment has been on my mind for the past twenty-four hours, as I’ve walked around Washington DC with an expression not very dissimilar from that ecstatic boy’s.

Last night, snuggling fireside with my friend L on our friend A’s couch, my insides humming with childlike warmth and orange rye punch, I had a doubting moment—the first, it would seem, of several.

“Is it wrong that this feels worth flying across the country for?” I asked, weaving my fingers in and out of his, interrupting a conversation about our latest reading material.

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The Blind Spot(s)

When, the other day, my friend A asked if she was crazy for going after a guy she knew wasn’t interested, there was another question implicit.

It was this: why should she, a rational thirty-something with strong sense of self, a lithe torso and a respectable distance from her last serious relationship allow herself to get hung up on a prospect she knows is unrealistic?

On the phone, I dodged that one. But the answer became more clear in conversation with another friend earlier this week.

“Don’t you have a blind spot?” she asked, over beers at a local bar.

Out of context I would have had no clue what she was talking about. But, as it happened, she’d just finished telling an anecdote about kissing an otherwise involved former co-worker she felt inordinately attracted to while she herself was semi-seeing someone else–a minor betrayal that neither she nor I would ever predict.

“You know, don’t you have that someone who you would just be with, at the drop of a hat, no matter what, if they said the word?”

I started to nod.

“Yeah,” I said. “I guess I do.”

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On Keeping Up Friendships, Far and Farther Apart

A few months ago D, one of my closest friends from Washington, told me that he was moving to Boston: he’d gotten a new job, one that he was incredibly excited about and perfectly matched the professional criteria he’d spent years looking for.

Part of me was thrilled for him: D had been desperate to leave his then-position for a long time. But another part of me felt disappointed–genuinely sad to hear that he would be leaving DC.

Aside from being incredibly selfish, this reaction does not make much rational sense. I don’t live in Washington. In fact, I live several thousand miles and two time zones away, in New Mexico. Whether he’s in DC or Boston shouldn’t affect me at all; If D had told me he was moving to Sarasota or Bhutan it would not have meant that much more in terms of how often I’ll see him.

But. But the reason it made me a bit melancholy is that, even though I spent most of my time in Washington whining about it–the transience, the smallness, the salmon-colored whale pants–ever since I left the city I’ve loved going back.

I appreciate now things that were lost on me when I lived there: the walkability, the music scene, the free and fantastic museums.

Most of all–and forgive me the sentimentality I am about to indulge–I appreciate the family of friends that I, eventually, made there.

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