Last night I went on a final prospective apartment visit (which was fine but I’m still going with WH) and then afterward I went to the grocery store to buy my favorite iced tea and I’m not sure what happened but I somehow managed to drop the tea in the middle of the store and a piece of the plastic lid broke off. Nothing spilled or exploded but everyone was looking at me and everyone had to get in their two cents about the damn thing and I didn’t know whether to start crying or yelling at everyone or maybe a combination of both but what I actually wound up doing was just quietly putting the tea back and leaving with nothing.
Maybe it’s stupid to say but yesterday was the dawning of the realization that I’ll never be able to live like I used to. And by that, I’m referring to living with people who know who I am and what I’m like and have known me for some time and get me. No strangers. Just friends. All of my friends are getting married or have been married for some time now. A few days ago I spoke with one of my best girlfriends from college who just got engaged. She invited me to her wedding next year and I felt so happy for her because I know she’ll be a beautiful bride and she’ll rock it at married life but also sad at the same time for reasons I’m not even totally sure of.
It’s almost like a maturity thing, y’know? Most of my inner circle is the same age as me - mid 20’s - and in a few months I’m going to be on the warmer to 30 side of the twentysomething spectrum experience. I’ll (most likely) be single on that side too. I feel like society wants to tie in maturing and growing up with marriage and having children far too often. Like if you reach a certain age, then you should have been married at that point. SUPPOSEDLY you should have had a steady long-term relationship with someone by then. But conversely we look at people who had children when they are still quite young and see them as being irresponsible. Or couples who get married at a young age as not knowing what they really want and being foolish in love.
Several years ago, I found out that my mother was actually my dad’s second wife. He had been married before to another woman and the marriage ended quickly, no kids included. This surprised me when I found it out but I guess the reason why he married her was the most surprising if not depressing aspect of the whole thing - my dad was lonely. He told me never to marry a person if you feel that way and that always stuck with me. I’ve always been really good at being my own best friend and taking what people refer to as loneliness and just making it my own quiet times to enjoy. It’s not something that everyone can easily do though. Takes years of practice and yeah, sometimes you do feel like questioning everything around you when people start to pair off. A little like being in grade school and having to make a presentation and having your last name be so close to the end of the alphabet that you worry if there will be time to get to you and if anyone is still sticking around to hear what you have to say. Sometimes the teacher switches it up a little bit and has letters Z-A go instead. But it’s not all that often. I have a lifetime of experience in that department. And I like to think that the right person will still be in that room and listening.
Sometimes I am resentful that for xyz years to come I’m going to be bouncing from place to place constantly. Room to room, apartment to apartment, house to house. Living out of a suitcase lyfe. Keep your bags packed timez. Avoiding purchases that are too heavy to carry on the go like living room furniture and mirrors and artwork. A lot of other people will be settled in, settled down, and having something still and concrete to hold onto. I’m resentful of the bounce factor but it also makes me nervous thinking about attempting to embody a still life. But I do want some portions of it. Mostly I want the holidays bit - being able to come home and eat my almond crescent cookies and watch Love Actually and have a cute dress on and ugh, maybe crying a little because that movie is too much with the Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson storyline. This year I have to go travel during the holidays. Like, must get out of the house because I don’t want to get invited to crash the owner’s Christmas party in the next room. Too much awkward for everyone. I’ve done the whole “go to people’s places during holidays” thing before and it always ends the same way: I go shopping and get confused when the family doesn’t expect me to come out of my room modeling the outfit I bought, they all think there’s something wrong with me when I nap for three hours post-turkey at Thanksgiving.
It’s funny because no matter whether you settle down or not, you always crave the vicarious life. We’re all doing a pretty damn good job at making our lives look incredible these days. Surface smooth and filtered just right. But it’s what underneath the surface that never gets discussed and that’s a shame because that’s the good stuff right there. The good and the bad and the real all mashed up into one.
I rewatched The Mindy Project again last night, a few weeks after Hulu leaked the pilot episode which, as with most TV pilots, I had lukewarm feelings about. I enjoyed it a little better the second time around, two weeks later, probably because I didn’t have it playing in the background while I was at work as I typically multitask my TV watching with some form of additional working involved. After reading a few reviews from all of the usual suspects (Vulture, EW, NPR) it seems like the interwebz is in unison that the pilot was promising, the jokes were good, the heroine not perfect and fairly realistic (she can’t run in heels to the hospital so she takes them off and makes a barefoot dash in the streets during rush hour!) and hopefully the show stays golden, ponyboy.
In the show, Mindy is a doctor in her early 30’s who makes poor decisions when it comes to men. She is aware of this too, but slow to change. She desperately wants a romcom meet cute to happen which does in the form of Bill Hader, her boyfriend until they break up and he gets married to the hospital bagel girl and invites Mindy to the wedding. Mindy then uses the wedding to get drunk, use the toast as a moment to vent out her broken relationship anger, and rides her bike home, shouting out that she is Sandra Bullock and falling into someone’s pool where a Barbie doll at the bottom of the pool mocks her lack of a relationship "At least I have a boyfriend!" (Barbie, Barbie Barbie, Ken don’t count don’t you know that already.)
I liked this scene because it went there. Any other single TV heroine would have stayed at home with a close girlfriend on FaceTime, crying into some Ben & Jerry’s while still keeping her makeup intact. Not Mindy. The way Mindy behaved reminded me on varying levels of college Heather who drank more and exercised poor judgment in men. I might not have gotten arrested for being drunk in someone’s pool convinced that their toy doll was judging me, but I’ve had my moments. Shit happens and then it’s done and you go back to your work life and move on. Being single may get a bad rap from everyone from Mother Nature to your grandmother but being single while having a career is not a bad thing at all. Lots of pros work in your corner for it. Observe:
- First off, being single is not going to last forever. It’s not. Just because you aren’t engaged the moment you graduate from college at 22 or doing that whole “ring before spring!” bullshit does not mean that you won’t get engaged ever. The important thing is not to get engaged or married because you feel pressured to. Same goes with relationships. This is not popular advice, but don’t date people based on the loneliness principle. I get a lot of shit from people for not dating dud guys I know simply so I can hold that Facebook title “in a relationship with xyz person.” I am all or nothing when it comes to relationships and only date guys that I do genuinely like a lot and care for. Which to date has not been many, but so what? I’d rather do it this way than string a person along that less than 50% of me likes.
- You get to do your own thing! Go out of town on the weekends, head to the movies after work, sleep in on a Saturday, do some online shopping with a bellini in hand, and flirt with guys at Starbucks. You don’t have to report back to somebody or rush home to be with the kids or anything. Treasure this shit as your expiration date for it is fast approaching. Once upon a time when I was in grade school, my dad went to go see Congo at the movies after work and didn’t tell my mother where he was at. He typically came home at 5:30 PM and arrived back at about 8 PM that night. As this was in the time before the iPhone, my mom was furious at him for not letting her know where he was and yelled a lot. I felt bad for my dad and understood his plight. It was one time and a movie about radioactive gorillas. How could you pass that opportunity up?
- Here’s a major bone to pick with you relationship people: set ups and/or knowing what is best for your single friends. Your concern is cute, but please stop the set ups because I’m starting to get the distinct feeling that you think I’ll go out with pretty much anyone so long as he has a penis at this point. Are there no evaluations going into play here? No pre-recs or Google background checks? Why doesn’t the guy have a job? Why is he still living in his mother’s basement and playing Guitar Hero? And why doesn’t he at least TRY to dress up around me?
To date, I have only had one good blind date ever and it was with a hot Mormon guy who was hilarious and attractive and well dressed and incredible on way too many levels and I can’t remember his name and damnit he had to leave the country to go on his mission because I would have been so down to be a sister wife you don’t even know. The person who set us up? One of my best friends. She told me beforehand, “Girl, I would never set you up with somebody I myself wouldn’t date.” THAT’S A FRIEND LADIES. Find yourself a girlfriend in a relationship who gets that and you’re solid.
- Every day, hundreds of single professional women are left with the prospect of taking the easy road out of singledom and straight into engagement with the ultimate trapping device: the nice guy. He’s harmless and sweet and wouldn’t hurt a fly or you and looks good on paper and he’s single and you’re single so hey why not get hitched but fuck it, he has no backbone. That backbone matters. You can’t get hot and bothered for a guy who treats you too gently 24/7 like you’re a little lamb about to run away from the pasture to the big bad wolf. Or at least I can’t.
- We know what we want and what we’re looking for. In finding the right match for myself, I would like a guy with the following traits:
1) Funny and can make me laugh and smile as much as possible. That’s non-negotiable. My levels of happiness are connected directly to my funny bone.
2) Chemistry. Think of a car ride together. You want the comfortable silences and relaxed feeling in the air, not the urge to throw open the car door and roll on out on the 101 freeway instead because that would be less painful and awkward.
3) Well read. Aware of pop culture and cultural events globally. We should be able to sit together for 5+ hours at the bookstore and not feel like we need to be anywhere else.
4) Established. This is a tricky one because I feel like it automatically translates to “having money.” Money is a very fluid thing that comes and goes, but the idea is that the guy would have a good career or a career in the works. I am not on board with the Peter Pans of the world.
5) You need nice grown man clothes. They don’t have to cost a fortune. I can help with this.
7) Feeling beautiful around you, even if I’m in my yoga pants without any makeup on. (Does that not look like a Taylor Swift song lyric or what? But it’s true. And knowing that you’ll be beautiful to me no matter what also.)
8) Patience, trust, kindness, spontaneity (of the flower bringing kind, not “hey we’re going kayaking today - take the afternoon off of work!”), comfort in tough times, and love at arm’s length where you can be close but not to a smothering point.
Clearly I know what I want.
-Final pro from my corner: the ability to take a super long nap on a day off and not face any judgment from it. Maybe some light teasing from my roommates, but… you know what there really should never be judgment for napping ever no matter what kind of relationship you’re in. Naps rejuvenate you. Don’t date someone who thinks a nap is stupid or pointless. They’re probably the same kind of people who don’t want to tell you about that weird dream you had the other night where you were in New York City making friends with homeless bums and picking up the trash off of the ground and throwing it away either.
I have this one Facebook friend who is hardcore pushing for getting married to her BF by the end of the year/as soon as humanly possible. Every single day, we’ve got a new status related to love and marriage. Goddamn. Slow your roll, will ya? This is not a race. YOU GUYS HAVEN’T EVEN BEEN TOGETHER FOR A YEAR YET. But we all have a friend like this on Facebook, yes? Multiples even? Yes.
Meanwhile, there’s me. Alternating between being a busy businesswoman by day and laughing/crying in the shower about my student loans by night. Imma dream girl.
*Ever have one of those days where you work so hard on every possible writing genre but fiction and it literally consumes your soul in being all that you want to do? Me, today. This is a follow-up to From A Distance. I switched over to first person in Abby’s voice. When we last left her, Abby was totally hungover and about to have lunch with the guy she used to date who broke up with her. Bad move, Abby, bad move…*
It wasn’t the exact same table where he broke up with me because the actual table was really a countertop in his parents’ home. It wasn’t the exact same restaurant because we had been inside of his kitchen where I was kneading dough. I had wanted to make a pizza that night. It was a meal I made whenever I felt most at home, most comfortable, and I knew for a fact that his family rarely ate pizza outside of his father so I really wanted to have them try my cooking specialty. In retrospect, I could have slapped that blissful smile right off of my face, the ponytail braided so tightly up on my head, the fact that little warning signs were bouncing off of me left and right and I did nothing to heed them. All I did was focus on making that chunky pile of yeasty dough smooth and flat. That, and admire my diamond ring glittering in the overhead lighting.
Marc is sitting very straight across from me at the lunch table, his posture stiff, his salad so put together it looks almost fake. He is smiling at me. He is trying to smile at me. There is something right behind his light brown eyes that looks at me as though he wants to try to like me again but is leery of how I might respond and weary of trying to figure out if I will either behave normally or like I’m batshit insane. And since I’m still dressed in the outfit I wore while downing 16 shots last night during the Shot-Off and haven’t eaten in 24 hours, the likelihood of it being the latter is about 89% right now. And counting.
“So, uh, you look… you look…” Mr. Polo Prep is nervous, but masks it underneath a laugh and hides his chin in his hand, “Lazy Saturday huh?”
A woman at the table next to me is digging into a grapefruit with a spoon. I want nothing more than to have the juice squirt everywhere into his eyes. “Not really,” I reply back, bringing my legs to my chest and hugging them there, “It’s laundry day.”
Abby that was a nice reply- no sarcasm! My brain gives me a thunderous roar of applause instead of patting me on the back though either action would still make me throw up a little in my mouth. My cheeks puff up like a chipmunk and I turn my head and quickly, forcibly, swallow my own vomit. It tastes like shot number 9 from last night is making its way back up and out- Abbie’s French Kiss.
“It’s perfect for you,” slurred the guy who bought it for me (Stu? Roger?), “because it’s your name and I wanna make out with you later.”
“Are you okay Abby?” Marc asks me and I turn back around and nod, “Uh huh. Just the hiccups.”
Then he does the thing I kind of knew he would do because anytime I used to get sick, he always did it. He reaches out and takes my hand and softly places it in between his own two hands. Then he gives it a quick massage. It’s soothing. For the first time all morning, I don’t feel like I’m going to be sick. The sky is no longer a gash of bright blue paint thrown in the air and the sun isn’t scorching my hair to bits. The ocean is calm and beguiling and holy hell, I can actually think of and use that word to describe something after a night of intense, almost stomach pump inducing drinking! Everything is hushed around us because that stupid thing is happening again like it did when we first met. When it was like we were the universe all of a sudden and every day and night only existed because we made it so. Some people call it love. Others call it soulmates. My parents used to call him “the one.” His parents used to call me “perfect.”
I don’t know what he ever called it because he broke up with me before he said those three words or any other assorted three words to me. The three words I call it now are these: “the empty finger.” He cradles the hand that once wore the diamond he gave me when he proposed that required four simple words, but somehow, those three words I thought I’d be hearing I didn’t.
Instead I got saddled with these five, two months later. “We need to break up.” Five more words, enough to fit onto one hand.
I lean forward and reach out to smooth my left hand against his stubbly face and push back his shaggy hair. Christ, not again. Does the boy not own a pair of scissors? I tilt my head to the side and flutter my lashes at him and sweetly murmur, “Oh, Marc.”
He tightens his grip on my right hand and I let my left hand trail down his face until it drops. His eyes are shut, “I’ve missed this so much. Oh, Abby. My mother was right.”
“Right about what?” My hand draws back.
“Your fingers are pretty fat. You should really see someone about that.”
BOOM! My hand sails through the air and instead of slapping him; I have made a fist and punched him in the left eye. Marc tumbles out of his chair and since my hand is still in his, I go down with him, screaming and grabbing the table for support but only bringing down the tablecloth, salad, water, and silverware with me. In a show of how much the universe is laughing at me, the salad lands on top of my head. Ranch dressing pools down my cheeks, hiding my tears. I wear the bowl like a hat.
“Jesus Christ!” Marc stands up, his eyelid all mottled pink, and I rip my hand free of his. “Oh Abby, your hair.” He chokes back a laugh, “You have a cucumber in your ear.” He can’t choke it back anymore; the boy breaks down chuckling like I’m someone who should be laughed at.
“Fuck you!” I shout and an audible gasp at my swearing fills the air at the restaurant, “Fuck you and your nasty greasy ass hair and your fucking stepmother and your degree in finance and your stupid, preppy sweater vests and for breaking up with me when I was wearing that ring! Why did you do it, Marc, huh? Why did you break up with me when you wanted to marry me? When we were engaged? Why?”
The cucumber is making it hard to hear so I pull it out and place it on the bare table. He looks at the ground and then back at me, “Let’s not do this here. Please Abby.”
“Why the hell not? Why is here any different from your parents’ kitchen huh? What, you afraid somebody might hear and hold it against you?”
“Well, with my family name, you never know-”
I cannot believe he just said that, “You mean your stepmother’s family name you fool!” I turn to the waitress behind me who is on her knees cleaning up the mess, “Excuse me miss, did you know that Marc here is related to a woman who is the fourth removed cousin of Lady Diana Spencer, better known as Princess Diana? Oh no? That’s because that ain’t even true! Your stepmother is a liar. A. Grade. A. Liar.”
“Are you through making a mess out of yourself?” Marc shouts at me to which I grin in reply at. Oh goody, my batshit insane is getting a rise out of him.
“Just tell me why you did it. Why did you dump me? I’m not someone who gets dumped, I’m not. I’m special Marc. I know… I know I am.” I tell him and stumble slightly toward him. Damn this hangover. By now more waitstaff have appeared and any minute now I’ll be sacked away from the public eye. Deep down, I don’t like this. I’m not an embarrassment. I’m not the hungover drunk I appear to be right now dressed like I fell out of the juniors section of Forever 21. I’ve worked in PR for seven years. I graduated Summa Cum Laude in college. I have a relatively grown-up closet and I pay my bills on time and I will buy yogurt instead of ice cream at the grocery store. But whenever I’m around Marc, it’s like a different me shows up. I like her because she’s different, but I hate her for the same reason. She’s never just right. She’s either too abrasive or too sweet or too quiet or too something else I don’t even know I can become but I do. Right now she’s just nobody I know which makes it easier for the real me to step outside of her and just watch it unfold. I’m alone in that respect. People aren’t sticking around to watch any more of my saucy lip. The outdoor portion of the restaurant is clearing out and I don’t blame them.
“Tell me-“Then it happens.
I throw up all over him. All over his sweater vest. And his leather Oxfords and distressed denim jeans. Marc smells like Three Wise Men now. Shot number 14.
“Oh! I’m so sorry,” I look down and then begin to tear up. I quickly look up, “That was-“
The only thing I see is his backside going into indoor part of the restaurant to the men’s restroom. All I hear him say is quietly echoed back, “I can’t deal with this shit anymore. No more.”
“… an accident. It was an accident.” I fold my arms together and sit down on the open chair. I pull the bowl off of my head. Almost immediately, a bird swoops down and bites at my scalp, “OWWWW!!” I scream and begin batting the leftovers off of my head. Pieces of shrimp land all around me. Of course he ordered a seafood salad.
So much for a beautiful pizza pie marriage.
I need a Sprite. Now.