Boys and bars

Friday night found me at the local pub with three of my guy friends. When I get together with this group, our topic of conversation usually revolves around dating. We’re all single (for the most part) and I like hearing their insight on dating and relationships.

It usually works something like this. I pose a hypothetical question that parallels my life quite nicely, as they dig into their brains and pull out loads of crap…er…helpful information to share. It usually winds up with me being just as perplexed as I was before our conversation began, but I enjoy deciphering the inner workings of single guy’s minds.

This particular night, we were discussing picking people up at bars. Before we’d gone out, I told the boys that I’d give them each $20 if they could bring a girl home. I knew I wouldn’t have to shell out any money because these guys are actually really decent and don’t sleep around, but I still like to give them a little challenge.

We sat around a table in the back of the bar having drinks that were way too strong and eating burnt nachos. “Boys should go up to girls. That’s the way it’s supposed to work,” I pointed my finger knowingly, pursed my lips and narrowed my eyes into little slits. Apparently somewhere between the third rum and coke and second helping of nachos, I had become a dating know-it-all.

“Why? Why is that the way it is supposed to work?” one of my guy friends, R, asked me.

“Because, that’s just how it’s happened for hundreds of years! Men are the hunters. They’re supposed to seek out their prey. Boys have gotten far too lazy. In the olden days, guys would go up to girls, start a conversation and possibly ask them on a date. Now, guys say that girls should go up to them. Talk to them. Ask them on dates. Just when, I’d like to know, did guys lose their balls?” I stuffed a jalapeno into my mouth and then greatly regretted my decision to do so.

However, I had just made a stink about boys having no balls, so I had to suck it up and take it like a man…although…I am a girl so I’m not really sure why it should have mattered.

“But if I go up to a girl in a bar, chances are I look like a creeper,” he retorted.

I shook my head. “Not at all. You’d look confident and like you know what you want. That’s sexy!”

“So, if I was to go up to you in a bar and say ‘Hello there’ you wouldn’t think I was a weirdo?” R said ‘hello’ in a voice that sounded eerily like Hannibal Lecter and raised his eyebrows as he did so.

“Well, if you said it like that! Don’t be such a creeper!” I exclaimed as I hit him playfully. “Do you see any girls here you like?”

“That one’s pretty,” he responded. “She’s little, and shaking her ass. Actually, I haven’t even seen her face but…that’s good enough for me.”

“OK, so go up to her!”

“It’s not that easy,” he replied as we watched a group of people go up to the girl.

As the night went on I realized that it isn’t that easy to just go up to someone in a bar. People go out with friends, making it pretty awkward for a someone to just start talking to them out of the blue. And, in my experience, the guys that do usually either have terrible social skills or body odor that would put Pepe Le Pew to shame.

I accepted defeat three-quarters of the way into the night, as our people-watching had us witnessing everything from complete brush-offs to random, slobbery make out sessions. Maybe bars aren’t necessarily the way to go when you want to meet someone to have a real relationship with. But, then again, I know several people who have met their significant others, and even spouses, during a night at their favorite watering hole.

All I know is that I’ve got to keep trucking. Going out. Meeting people.

Because maybe, someday, I’ll get some balls.

My second truth

Day 02 – Something you love about yourself.

I’m silly. Some may call it quirky. Others may refer to me as a blonde in disguise. But, I just like to say “silly.” I feel like if you’re silly, you are in touch with your inner child. And, a little bit of childishness now and then isn’t a bad thing!

So, I love my silliness. Not much more to say than that!

My truth

I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and write the truth. Well, my truth, that is. For 30 days, I’ll be following this list and writing whatever comes to my mind. Will it be life-changing? Will I discover things about myself I never knew? Who knows. I can’t promise it’ll be entertaining, but I can promise that it’ll be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Topic 1: Something you hate about yourself.

I despise using the word “hate” to describe anything. I feel that “hate” is way too final for someone as indecisive as myself. However, there is one thing that I can, without a shadow of a doubt, say that I hate about myself.

I am a people pleaser.

Now, maybe this doesn’t really seem like such a big deal to you, but when you spend your life trying to make other people happy, the person that ultimately loses out, is yourself.  I hate that I feel like I always have to bend to other people’s wishes and achieve other people’s expectations of myself, in order to live a fulfilled life. I let (a few) people walk all over me in an attempt to get them to, what? Like me? I forgive people that have harmed me without respecting myself enough to say when enough is enough.

Some other random things that I don’t particularly like about myself? My bumpy nose, my baby hairs, my indecisiveness, the fact that I’m apathetic about a lot of topics that are important and matter, my scars (I don’t know where most of them come from), my half-removed tattoo, my ability to wrack up money on a credit card like nobody’s business, and my inability to easily let things (namely, certain people) go.

I swear.

Learning lessons.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.
– Maya Angelou

When I was a freshman in high school, there was a boy who would turn around in class and stare at me with a vicious look in his eye. He’d make fun of my clothes, my bushy eyebrows, my curly hair. Anything that he could think to rudely comment on, he would. My best friend N was my savior. He picked on her too, but she had no trouble standing up for herself and protecting me. She’d yell and scream at him; she didn’t care who heard or what they thought of her. I’ve always envied people like that. I’ve never been one of them.

I’ve never been the girl that can completely and totally stand up for herself. I believe it may, at least in part, stem from the fact that I’m an only child. I do not have siblings that will always be there for me through all of my stumbles, falls, foolish tears and broken hearts. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got an amazingly supportive family, but not having brothers or sisters has made me learn to rely on my friends a great deal. It has also led me to fear that the people I choose to have in my life will, undoubtedly, leave me. And I’ll be all alone.

So, I hold on.

I hold on, but not too tight for fear of suffocation. And suffocation can scare people away.

I hold on, despite the fact that I probably shouldn’t even be gripped to some of them in the first place.

I hold on to everything and everyone I’ve got, even if they’re treating me in a way that I should not be treated. Because…they are there.

In this holding on to things that should be let go, I’ve done nothing but hurt myself. I’m learning my lessons, but I’m learning them at a snail’s pace.

I’m slowly learning that, in order to be taken seriously, I really need to start sticking up for myself. I need to stop worrying about who is going to leave if I speak my mind. Because the people that leave, are the people that shouldn’t even be there in the first place.

I’m slowly learning that, it’s not okay to forgive someone who hasn’t apologized from the bottom of their heart.

I’m slowly learning that people need to earn my trust and respect, and if they don’t want to put in the effort or time, they’re not worth mine.

I’m slowly learning that I can’t make people change, and I shouldn’t want them to. That would mean I am wishing for them to be someone else. And, if I want them to be someone else, there’s no reason to want them in the first place.

I’m slowly learning that it’s not okay to intentionally hurt someone’s feelings.

I’m slowly learning that I’m stronger than I think I am and that I deserve so much more than I settle for.

I’m slowly learning that you, and you, and you, and you are not worth a single, solitary tear.

So I won’t cry for you.

Ever again.

Back to where I was (The Fling: Part 2)

“Hey, it’s The Fling. This is my new number. How have you been?”

I stared down at my phone and blinked hard a few times, sure that I could not possibly be seeing this text message on the screen of my phone. My heart instantly began beating harder, faster. I could feel my pulse throbbing out of every pore of my body.

I needed to stand up, walk around, wrap my head around the fact that after a month of no contact…the silence was broken. Just like that. So easily. Like nothing had ever happened. Like I hadn’t sat up with my girl friends for hours during the night analyzing the how’s and why’s of his disappearance.

I walked past my friend’s cubicle, not even stopping when she called out a “hello.”

I strode past the bathroom, down the steps and out the front door of the building I work in.

A few minutes of pacing and several very deep breaths later, I marched back up to my desk and looked down at my phone. It blinked red with several other messages and e-mails, but this was the one that needed all, and none, of my attention.

I couldn’t not respond. It’s not in my nature. The only comparison that I can make between myself and Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” is that, for all intents and purposes, I’m a good girl.

Oh, and I love my momma.

I stewed over my response for a good 45 minutes before I typed it out. “Hey…thanks. I’ve been good.”

Then I took out the ellipsis.

Then I put it back.

Then I took it out and replaced it with a comma.

Then I took out the comma, added a period and capitalized the “T” in “Thanks.”

Send.

It was straight, to the point, and didn’t require a response from him. If he wanted to continue the conversation, he would. Not that he’d want to. He probably actually texted me by mistake because I know he has other friends named Amanda. He probably meant to text the person below me in his phone. There’s no way he’d have the balls to —

Red light flashes as phone vibrates.

Damnit.

“I’ve been good. A lot less stressed. And I’m working a lot now. How are you?”

I hadn’t asked him how he was. He always did that. Answered a question I didn’t pose and asked me a question that he’d already presented.

I realized that I’d missed it.

I’d missed him.

I tried to end it, I swear to you I did. But there’s just something about him that makes me throw all caution to the wind. Before I even knew what I was doing, I was back to square one.

Here was the playful banter I’d missed so much. Here was the silliness and humor.

It was like it had always been…but, different. There was a cloud hanging over the conversation. I had to let him know that I wasn’t exactly happy with the way he’d disappeared.

“So, does this mean you’re trying to be my friend again?”

“When weren’t we friends?”

My brain hurt. Literally, pained me. Was he being serious? Was he that dense?

“Ummm…you know…when you poofed? Friends don’t poof.”

He explained that he thought I’d wanted him to poof.

He misunderstood.

He missed me.

Do I buy it?

Nah…not for a second.

But those moments between texts, when I hit send and waited semi-patiently for my phone to light up with a clever, yet poorly spelled response? Those are the moments that brought me right back to where I was before.

And I just can’t be that girl anymore.

The Island Boy.

Who said one- (well, technically two-) night stands couldn’t be a little romantic?

~~~

We swung gently in a hammock at the back of the beach, the palm trees sheltering us from the rain that had begun to fall. The ocean waves crashed with a force much stronger than I ever thought was possible in the Caribbean. A storm was brewing, but I had no intention of moving.

I don’t think I could if I tried.

With my head on his chest and his arm hung easily around me, I felt more alive than I had in 365 days.

I realized then that it had been a year ago to the day I’d last seen the one. And despite the fact that there was still a tug on my heart strings when my thoughts inadvertently drifted back to him, I felt liberated. It seemed rather empowering that I could lay here, on a tropical island, with someone I had met less than 48 hours ago, and feel the same ease that I’d felt with him.

He told me about his life and his hopes for the future. He disclosed a rough time his family was going through.

I didn’t pry.

I felt wanted and appreciated, just for being there. Just for lending my ear.

I didn’t want the night to end.

So, I listened.

“I never talk this much,” he confessed. “I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this.”

I craned my neck to look up at him. He was a boy of 22. I was a woman of 25. Yet, in that moment, there was no age difference. We were just two people, enjoying each others company and giving each other what we needed. He, an ear to listen; I, a body to hold. I pushed a piece of his shaggy hair out of his face and shrugged.

“I’m a good listener, or so I’m told. Keep going.”

And just like that, there was nothing left to say.

~~~

He walked me back to my hotel room, hours later. His fingers brushed down my arm to find my hand. I opened my fingers and wrapped them around his, looking over and giving him a tight-lipped smile. So much had happened that night that it felt like we’d known each other  longer than the last two days.

“When do you leave tomorrow?” he questioned me as we walked up the stairs to my hotel room.

“Our flight leaves at two,” I told him.

“Maybe I’ll come up to New York sometime soon,” he suggested. I stopped walking and turned to face him.

“I had a really nice time with you,” I began. “But, I understand if this was all it was.”

He said nothing and we continued to walk up the stairs. When we got to the door of my room, I turned to him and put my hands on his shoulders.

We stayed outside for a few minutes, clinging to the little bit of time we had left together.

Finally, I pulled away.

I kissed him lightly and turned towards the door, looking back before I opened it.

“Thank you,” I said, entering the room before he had a chance to ask what I meant.

I shut the door, leaned against it, and hugged my arms around myself as I saw my two friends fast asleep on their beds. It was so late at night that it was early in the morning, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Grabbing my camera, I walked out to the balcony and began to take photos as the sun rose over the ocean.

Here were friends and beauty, serenity and love…

He’d given me what I wanted, but I realized that what I needed, I’d had all along.

The one.

Everyone has that “one” person, right? Some refer to them as “the one that got away.” I’m not sure that I really like that term, as that implies that I somehow could have made him stay. There was nothing I could have done, so I’ll just forever remember him as “The One.”

~~~

I leaned against him as we sat in the back of a stretch limousine. The hilarity of it all was not lost on me. I hadn’t meant to pick him up from the airport in a fancy car, with champagne in the cooler and a driver that looked like he just stepped off the set of The Sopranos. It just sort of happened.

I thought I would have been flustered, uncomfortable, nervous. I was each one of those things the second before I spotted him. And in the instant he walked around the bend and I raised my hand to wave to him, those feelings vanished and were replaced by serenity and excitement. I knew that this was the time I’d been waiting all of these months for. And I had to make it count.

As we sat in that limo, talking about how good it was to see each other after such a long time apart, I turned around to face him. It was now or never. We looked into each others eyes and there was a knowing that in the next minute, everything would change. It would be more real than we could have ever imagined.

We leaned in to each other as we passed over the George Washington Bridge. Our lips touched and every thought rushed out of my head. This was it. And it was perfect.

~~~

We stood on the ferry, the bitter January wind whipping around us. He held me tightly and I shivered as my head fit neatly under his arm. “This is our Titanic moment, gorgeous,” he smiled down at me as his kissed my forehead.

We both gazed up at the Statue of Liberty standing before us. I’d seen it dozens of times, but this was his first and I wanted him to be impressed. I’m not sure why, as I obviously had not built it and had no rights to it, but we were on my home turf and I wanted him to love everything about it. He grabbed my hand and led me to the railing as he took out his camera and snapped a photo of us together in front of the statue. I kissed his cheek right before the camera flashed.

I’ve never seen that picture. I wonder if he ever developed it.

~~~

“What’s wrong?” he asked me as I lay sprawled out on top of him. My finger toyed with the button of his shirt. I was trying desperately to hide my emotions, but he saw through me like a transparency. I squirmed uncomfortably and let out a long sigh.

“Nothing, I swear. I just…” my voice trailed off as I tried to formulate in my head what I wanted to say. What I needed to say. What I didn’t even know I had to say. Why was I suddenly so confused? How come the peace and certainty I’d felt a week ago, a day ago, an hour ago, vanished and was replaced by sheer and utter terror?

“You just…what? Tell me.”

I couldn’t answer because I had no idea what I was attempting to say. I was being such a girl, and I hated it. He brushed a hair out of my face as he turned me over. He propped his head up on his hand and looked down at me, putting his other hand by my waist. “Do you remember,” he began “when I first said goodbye to you?”

I nodded. Of course I remembered. How could I ever forget?

“I hugged you and kissed you, and grabbed you right here,” he squeezed my waist. “In that moment I thought to myself…uh-oh.”

I exhaled loudly. There was never a doubt in my mind that he had felt it, but to hear him say it…this had to mean something. To know that it wasn’t just in my head was relieving. Amazing. There was an electricity between us that could not be ignored. If two people felt such a thing, I thought, they should grab it and hold on. And never let go. We’d never let it go. That was the way it worked in the movies, right?

I grabbed him and brought his lips down to mine. “Yes,” I murmured. “I felt it too. Of course I felt it too.”

And in that instant, I was calm again.

~~~

It was the most amazing guitar shop I’d ever seen. Not that I’d seen hundreds of guitar shops before this one, but my breath was taken away. Beautiful instruments were all around me and I didn’t know where to look first. His eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store and I let go of his hand. He needed to play.

He went from room to room and I trailed behind, unsure of my place, but honored to be there with him. We finally settled in a room full of gorgeous acoustic guitars with prices on them that made me thankful that I didn’t know how to play. He strummed one lightly and closed his eyes, a soft smile playing on his face as he began to move his fingers over the strings. I’d never heard anything so beautiful in all of my life.

He played songs he knew I loved. This was something we shared, our love of music. I sang along with no hesitation as the owner of the shop walked in. He waited until we were finished and clapped lightly.

“That was brilliant,” the owner said to him. “I’d love to play with you sometime.”

My eyes twinkled. This was the most amazingly talented man I’d ever met.

For that moment in time, he was mine.

~~~

“So,” I shifted from foot to foot. “I guess this is it.”

He put down his luggage and hugged me tightly. “Look at me,” he pulled my chin up. “We’ll see each other again soon.”

He kissed me three times as I prayed that he’d change his mind. That he’d tell me he couldn’t go back home without me. He’d made me promises, but something inside me told me different. Something told me that this was the end of our road. He’d changed.

“I’ll call you when I get home,” he picked up his suitcase and I bit my lip, holding back tears that I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop once he walked out of view.

I nodded as he kissed me one last time. Our clasped hands drew apart and my heart sank. He turned around and walked to the escalator, looking down at me and blowing a kiss as he faded out of view. Tears streamed down my eyes and I didn’t have the strength to brush them away.

Or, maybe, I just wasn’t ready for it to end yet.

And then I finally knew. This is what it felt like to be a girl.

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