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He narrowly escaped getting punched for the second time today. The first time he escaped from it was after I offhandedly asked if he were coming over tonight (a Monday, I know!), and I had been inwardly seething that he hadn't called at all—it was beginning to get late. And then he said he'd hold me as soon as I could open the door for him. The second time, he was pretending to sleep beside me when my eyes flew over his written lines many times. Marriage. The word I've been dreading and desiring. I wanted to punch him.
The aroma of spices and pepper and food particularly Indian wafted in the air to make my stomach growl, but I couldn't think about it too long, for in the next moment, Anjali grabbed my arm and introduced me to her friends. Surrounded by a sea of jovial brown faces, I settled back to watch the dancing begin. Girls with saris of jade and lavender and plum and crimson began to sway and step to exotic harmonies of sitar and santur. And then my mouth was on fire. "Whoops, that must've not been the mild curry." Anjali laughs at my watering eyes.
The distinctive colors of the two parties peppered the sidewalks all over the university on this last day of the presidential run-off. The results had been too close last Tuesday for a fair win. The only way to escape being accosted was to not come out of your room. "Hey, have you ladies had the chance to vote today?" was the standard query of smiling campaigners who stopped me with every step. Yes, I voted. "Have you ladies—" COULDN'T YOU SEE YOUR FRIENDS ASKING ME TWO FEET AWAY? "Well, thank you, and you ladies have a right nice day."
Alex thought he was being charming, but I couldn't stand him. He embodies the bad habits and obnoxious mannerisms of many boys I've met before. In his mind, he's a regular Casanova; a gift to all women (can't pinpoint that to one guy). He oozes confidence and sarcasm…a little like Warren, but with Petar's voice. He isn't gracious with knowledge, but is more like James where he's irritated that no one else knows it. When he doesn't know the answer, he leeches off the work of others like Andy always did. …And he unforgivably looks like the ex from behind.
He and I were alone on the floor tonight. It was cozy, yet eerily creepy. Sure, there were no neighbors to offend or floormates to ignore, but behind every closed door tonight came no music, no light-hearted (or raucously drunken) chattering, and no definite sounds of the television. It wasn't only on this floor, but almost every floor above us. Everybody had gone home, and I almost wanted to be away from it. But this was our last night together in sweet privacy, he and I, because we see less of each other at home than when we're up here.
Home again. It *almost* didn't happen because it took a great self-will to tear me from the comforts of bed and him and get us moving for the ride home. Home. Its definition changes all the time. I remember once last semester I said I was going home, unintentionally referring to my dorm. Mom took it hard: "Isn't this your home anymore?" And sometimes I can say that home for me is wherever he is. Waking up while wrapped in his arms…nothing can beat that. He held my hand lightly in his, and the drive was not long at all.
And even sometimes, when I'm napping on the couch and my dog is tucked under my arm like a teddy bear with his nose pointing to my ear, do I sleepily smile to myself and think that one of his brothers is twelve miles away, curled up with my blond boy. Because she would most likely punch me if I tell her this, I kept this little notion private from my sister, but it makes me feel closer to him, in an in-lawish sort of way, and I give Iceman an extra scratch behind the ears and drift to sleep.
I watched him watching me. He let drip slowly from his fingertips one, two, three, four droplets of water on my knee until a giant drop quivered and surrendered to gravity, and it slid down my leg. I watched his concentration over such an insignificant act, which was entirely too sensual for comfort. My eyes half-closed in a lazy drowsiness that was brought about by the hot water. In heat like that, I barely wanted to breathe let alone move. Idly, he let his touch dance on my skin, and we lingered in the water until our fingers became prunes.
On the way home from Tampa, Jenny and I shared another pint of Ben & Jerry's between us, the flavor now being Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Another pint of ice cream marked the end of another predicament. A few months before, she came into my room. I looked up from my disaster-stricken floor and helplessly said, "I can't do this." She was armed with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and two spoons, and the world was suddenly a better place. Ben & Jerry's should be proud to be implemented in fostering relationships and providing fat-filled therapy in times of distress.
My sisters and I stared curiously from the car. A large crowd of teachers, parents, and small elementary school kids clustered by the high school, and a charter bus occupied the front drive. I waited for the celebrities to emerge. When the high school boys' basketball team leapt from the bus, children screamed outrageously and jumped up and down. They extended their hands for high fives and a chorus of "Good luck!" and "We love you!" came from little voices. Infected with energy, the boys had genuine looks of appreciation on their faces. We all need our small town heroes.
I knew, when Jenny and Bryan lugged me over the fountain and Katy was taking pictures on the side and everyone ignored my protestations, that everything was ok. The sinking feeling I had when Bryan was shunted to the side at dinner was gone; he was accepted as one of the girls for the night, if only for my sake. ((He was a sweetheart.)) While we didn't have the clubbing, we drove all over the city and walked around the "downtown" looking incomparably hot, and one or two juicy little tidbits unintentionally slipped out. At least they didn't hear
It was Katy's turn to read the next few pieces of "100 Ways to Make Your Man Wild." Jenny and I agreed or disagreed or dragged out another story for it. Three years ago, I would not have seen Katy, Jenny, and I sharing a civil conversation because I was sure then Katy and Jenny would not get over a certain…issue. But it was as picture perfect as it could be: the three of us at really good points in our lives, lounging in Katy's driveway on a summery morning. It was just the way it should have always been.
While I was in Kumamoto, I lifted my face to falling cherry blossoms. Nursing my first Guinness, I listened to the locals chatter away at the Hairy Lemon Pub in Dublin City. I watched a burning red giant set on Ayers Rock and watched it rise over the islands of the Galapagos. I shopped in the crowded bazaars of Medina and haggled with ornery street vendors of Prague's Gypsy Circle. I strolled through Saint-Rémy and saw Van Gogh's stars swirling above my head until Mom called. The books were placed back on the shelf, and I went home for dinner.
My mother's hands are strangers to being pampered, which is not to say that they've never pampered. She's too busy to ever think of her hands, scoffing when I mention a manicure. Like mine, they are small and quick and expressive, but unlike mine, they're browned from the sun and toughened from the work of running a household that never sleeps. A very long time ago, she told me once that she works so that my hands will never be like hers, but her hands are still beautiful when she touches her children's faces and puts her babies to bed.
I'm not addicted to coffee. I'M NOT. So don't say that I am. I like it for its wonderful taste. I do. Really. It's become one of the morning rituals to go into the dining hall for my half a waffle, bowl of fruit, and cup of coffee. Some nights, when the Roommate and I are burning the midnight oil, out comes the coffee pot, and you can smell the aroma all the way down the hall. It's all psychological, you see, this so-called effect of caffeine, because it has no effect on me. Beware the heart murmurs, says Mother.
The women of the 1950s had curves. I heard that comment somewhere today, and it struck me as true. Curves are being phased out like peasant-style clothing; small breasts have come parading in this health conscious, gym concentrated era, with smaller arses on narrower waists. As the decades passed, the bodies of women changed; as a result, expectations were adjusted, too. Marilyn Monroe, our blond bombshell, would not have a chance in New York today—too much meat on her. Honestly, the so-called beautiful women on today's magazines have bodies like boys. Where, oh where, has the hourglass figure gone?
Today is Saint Patrick's Day. If I didn't have an exam, you'd see me getting ready for the festivities downtown because I've been a wild rover for many a year, and I spent all my money on whiskey and beer (but though I'm a rambler, I'm not a gambler). I'd go deal with Delaney's pesky donkey and meet up with that hussy Molly Malone in Dublin. I'd take my shillelagh under my arm and a "too-la-roo-la-rai" to be off to Tipperary ‘til I met up with a pair of smiling Irish eyes because it's a great day for the Irish.
Somewhat reminiscent of those gender-divided scenes from a middle school dance, the girls stood on one side of the room and our partners, now much taller than us, stood uncertainly facing us on the other side. Dan, my partner for four weeks, shot me another toothy grin. The petite Señora Alvarez herself of Maria Alvarez Imperial Studio of Dance floated between the lines to demonstrate our first dancing steps, and then trilled out, "Get your partner!" Hands met waists, and palms connected. Twenty four mouths silently mouthed the steps and hoped that their partners' toes were safe from a misstep.
Procrastination raises its ugly head to once again, bite me in the ass. I should've been more productive, but now I just want the weekend. I do wish sometimes that I could more nights like last night (see also: six girls crammed in one tiny dorm room singing along and dancing to the new Outkast CD) because I gladly forget about everything. There comes a point (like early this morning) where I will sit down and look at the paper and accept that I don't know how to do it. The panic subsides; apathy sets in. And I. Don't. Care.
Sheeny, silky, soft, and shiny, there is a dress out there that transforms the most ordinary scullery maid into a Cinderella. My time for that is over, and to reconcile myself with the loss, I relive the search for That Dress through my sisters. You want the dress that makes you stop and give the small sigh of love at first sight. When the folds and lines fall neatly into place, you feel a little more feminine, a little sassier, and a little more beautiful. I saw that look on their faces...they looked gorgeous.
Part Two: help find that prince.
So there in the canoe sat two little, slightly bored, boys and an older girl who tried to soak in the sun without drawing attention from her dermatologically inclined boyfriend, who at that moment, was wading in water above his knees and held a gigantic net with which he would catch their bait. He looks very ridiculous, in a cute kind of way, thought the girl. Why isn't there anything swimming in the river? thought her boyfriend. I really wanted to go fishing, thought her brother. Are you there fish? Lemme lean more over the side—thought her younger brother.
I haven't been alive long enough to have been really wounded. Still, I think that no matter how old I become, I'm inclined to think that I would never erase anyone from my memory. When a person influences you that much, that person becomes a part of you, if only just to serve as a warning for the future. And even if what I saw made me cry for the relationships that are past, present and in my future, I'll be a little masochistic and staunchly declare that I won't give them up. You take your bad with your good.
Lying on the floor, he grasped the empty air where she had been in front of him, and he pleaded to the oblivion to keep that one, just that one. But it was gone. If you would ever have me erased from your thoughts, what one memory of me would you keep? What event would you choose to be the sole reminder of my existence to you? I wonder what you would choose to be the remembrance that defined you, me, and what we were to each other. Will it be the same one that I would keep of you?
Cell phone snippets, part II: "I guess screwing the TA helps sometimes." "Not only that, her hair looked like dog shit, but I said it was cute anyways." "Sleeping around doesn't automatically make you a whore. You're weighing your options." "Dude, Asians are hot." "Sorry, I couldn't hear you; I was passing the Jesuses in Turlington." "…so wasted last night, she totally made out with [insert girl's name here]." "No, I love you more, so shut the hell up!" "We went to Georgia last night for the hell of it." "Call me Trojan Man." "I can't believe you said that."
And there are nights when I want to shake it into him: "No, it's ROCK step cha-cha-CHA, ROCK-back, cha-cha-CHA." I don't have a right to be so frustrated with Dan because he *is* just learning, but dear lord! I can't teach the boy everything. He committed every dancing sin known to man tonight, limp elbows, no rhythm and all. His saving grace is his unbelievable enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Poor Gary on my right had the look of a martyr on his face when executing a basic swing step with his domineering wife. You know he was probably threatened.
From the first rollicking notes of the acoustic banjo, the proclaimed "Guinness-soaked musical body blow" was everything I hoped, despite my slight unease earlier that evening. Truth be told, it wasn't my scene, seeing as I donned neither the orange-dyed hair with a saucily yellow and black pleated miniskirt nor the black eyeliner and tiny nose piercing befitting a punk fan. But as the show went on, no matter who you were, you stomped your foot as hard as anyone else during "Drunken Lullabies" while hollering the lyrics until you lost your voice with the rummy half-drunk kid beside you.
Seeing as we had nothing planned for the day, I suggested lunch on the lake. I had the urge to go out on the water, but that didn't happen (I envied the people in the sailboats). A flawless afternoon like that could never be a waste, though, and besides, I was in good company. Leaning against the base of a palm tree, he settled back with Ovid, and lying on the grass, I rested my head on his lap, curling up with a book of my own. So with the two great loves of my life, the afternoon passed placidly.
But what's different? You said it yourself: we feel more real, more so than ever. I thrilled to that feeling. Yet when the last light is flicked off for the night, it's easier for the words that don't fit the daylight to come. I can scarcely make out your facial lines to match your wide-ranging tonal expressions when we talk into the wee hours of the morning. I'm here, babe, and I am not going anywhere. There are times when that sentiment could only be expressed in an embrace that transcends any poetic phrases that could come from my mouth.
When you're hard up for money, caution is thrown to the winds, and the Not-so-Sensible You scours the newspaper for quick cash. Forget finding a real job: dental students need patients for the boards: $200. If you've no fear of needles, there's the plasma center (free cheese and crackers!). Shady "modeling" jobs attached to 800 numbers are yours, as well as "middle-aged millionaires seeking partners for rapidly expanding business." And finally, according to Roommate, lemonade stands may have sufficed in your youth, but you've graduated to the big guns: kissing booths on Frat Row. Now there's where the dough lies.
If my attention had wandered for a few moments during
, it came back once the countertenor opened his mouth to sing. I wasn't the only one with raised eyebrows: John choked back a laugh to my side, Patrick froze in his fidgeting. I had no idea men could sing like that. In fact, I only associated male sopranos with the castrati of the early 1800s. There is something eerily strange about a voice that sounds like a woman's but emerges from the lungs of a hefty, broad-shouldered man that looks like he could carelessly snap me in two.
For a long time, I thought I was going to be a writer. I don't think I was mistaken, enough people were reasonably encouraging. The parents did give their support. Publish your book, said Dad. Get your words on paper, said Mom, who was convinced I was comparable to Alcott and Austen. Writing is a tricky business, especially when those ideas never got past the opening sentences. To be successful takes genius, that extra Something, which I can't seem to find in me. But I still like to write. And I'll still dream about seeing my name in the byline.
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