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I am stealing this line from Marni: coming to London feels like going home. After dinner I left Paula and tubed to Oxford Circus to meet with Maria and her boyfriend. Three Hobokenites hanging out in London! We somehow ended up at Failte, my favorite bar in Covent Garden. Some British ladies there loved us, and we danced to Springsteen just for them. Then Maria took some questionable photos, which have not yet surfaced, luckily. I had an early flight into Sri Lanka the next morning, so when the pub closed at 11, I tubed it back to the Waldorf.
When did it become so easy for me to travel here, to catch a cab to Paddington and grab a Heathrow Express so naturally? I am moving dreamlike today. I am leaving for Sri Lanka with a team of strangers from my company and I'm on my way to the airport like I am walking to my NJ Transit bus in the States. I will arrive last, and immediately be comforted by Bernie from LA who knows my name already, like many staff in the US do. We'll be seated together on the plane, both in disbelief that we're here.
The nights out are so different from our days at the worksite. My posse reforms slightly, so it is Jon, Philip, Gro, Buraq, Sally, Hayden and me - the young ones, minus the Bangalore contingency. Philip just makes us laugh all the time - Gro and I only need glance at each other once he speaks before breaking up, fat tears wetting my face every time. Jon and I always save each other seats, compare tans, talk business and writing and dreams and love. Buraq rubs my shoulders, we link arms. The Lion beer flows, the moon rises, the Indian Ocean sings.
During the days, though, the city sounds different. Already at 7am it is hot like July, and our sunburned skin aches. We eat a continental breakfast at the hotel. Only the States can cook eggs correctly, I've realized. Philipp is my breakfast buddy, since Jon likes to stroll in last minute. At the worksite we break often, sipping sweet, hot tea with the homeowners, learning Singalese vocabulary words and resting our sore arms. Lunch is always delicious and welcome. I am proud of this home we're building, the time taken to perfect the plastering. Ingrid snaps photos, and Alberto videotapes.
Last day on site was the hardest and hottest. I almost cried when I was shoveling cement and just couldn't get it right, the twist and flip of the shovel, the way the local masons require. Jon noticed and said, it's ok, we got your back, girl. Before lunch we took a break, sipping from fresh coconuts. An impromptu game of cricket began. We posed for pictures. I was standing with Bernie in the sun, exhausted, when I turned and saw Jon sitting in the shade. He winked and patted the seat next to him, and I fell into place.
Underneath a waning moon we sat on the ledge of the bar, silent. There is too much to think about tonight, this last night here. The fact that we are all here together; that this trip has changed us all; that we will never be as close as we are right now. So instead of thinking I am watching: the look of triumph in Czech Peter's eyes. The smirk on Buraq's mouth. The thatched roofs and surfboards lining this bar, reminding me of LBI. I am taking it all in one last time, because I will never be here again.
We had a twenty minute break halfway up the coast. I was talking to Gro as we headed to the ladies' when Jon turned around looking for me, carrying his newspaper. I'll be right there in that shade, he said. Come over. After my turn, I did. I love how he waits for me like this; I love the lush greenery against our tan faces. I love that he has a wife he is crazy about, and can still think of me first when we are here. From Day 1 we were a team, but now we are going home.
The bus ride was bumpy, and we all fell silent and looked out the windows as a ravaged coastline -- indistinct, really, from the rest of the island - blurred by. How many times this week have I looked at that Buddhist temple in the water, and realized how perfect it was in its simplicity? At least twice a day. And now as I pass it a final time, part of me doesn't want this painful ride to end, even though I am nauseous and sad and close to tears because I know, I've always known, that this week cannot last.
The flight back to London was rough. I saw with strangers and couldn't stomach the food - even now, a month later, the thought of curry makes me physically uncomfortable. I could see the top of Jon's head in front of me, several rows up. Gro was cushioned next to him, her head resting on his shoulder to sleep. They did not turn around to see where I was. Have I been forgotten already? It strikes me as odd that the only time I've been disoriented on this trip is now, when I am on my way home. Flight is late.
And I almost missed my flight back to JFK. I caught up with my team on our way to baggage claim, and though I was anxious about my flight there was nothing I could do but wait. Finally my green luggage turned up, and I began saying my goodbyes. I purposely saved Jon for last, and we hugged and double kissed and sealed the moment. I adore these people and even though I was leaving first, I felt like I was abandoning them. The Heathrow staff let me cut to the front so I could make my flight. Long journey.
Back in New York I can finally process what happened, who I've become. Two weeks without contact from certain British boys I couldn't wait to get away from has left me feeling renewed. Things were getting too intense, but the distance has brought me a freedom I desperately needed. I am home and am feeling fresh and new. Well-scrubbed, beautiful. He wants to know how it was, wants to see photos. I will put him off one night, then want him the next. A month will pass and things will be the same, mostly. Except for me, who is different.
We're trying to reconnect electronically, but the ebb and flow between us is, naturally, gone. I reached out to you to see if it was still there, if we could still sync up when we were so far apart. Instead you spent twenty minutes moaning and I couldn't believe this was our first real conversation since Sri Lanka. The next day, though, you joked about it, and things were back to normal. Amazingly, we do still have something. I wonder when I will be in London next, so I can see what we're like in a new city. Hopefully soon.
Gina and I were always friendly but lately have become really close. Back in August when I first started hanging with this crowd, digital Pete told me Gina was obsessed with me. She was there, and concurred. I'd forgotten about that until tonight when Leigh mentioned how she's picked up on the vibe, and how Pete says things to her about it. So strange how Pete tries to liaise between me and Leigh - we are roommates and close friends, after all, so I don't know why he thinks he knows more about our lives than we know about each other.
What was I expecting, really? A message from Dennis? A dinner invitation? A late night text from british Danny inviting me over? Something, I suppose, that would mark the day, make it seem like magical and romantic things can indeed happen. Instead Dan makes fun of me. Dennis ignores me, which seems to be his thing this week. And I pick up Sam's flower delivery because she's out to lunch. Tonight is Diana's birthday dinner, where at least there will be no pressure. I sit next to Jen, who I have more in common with than she knows, and Chris.
This is the first time we've really seen each other out since our hookup. It is Denise's surprise birthday dinner, and in this group of 15 we are seated far apart and only sporadically making eye contact. Digital Pete is bothering me, but I'm talking with Liz and Kelly, trying to seem engaged and not preoccupied with him. Why is he talking to Jen so much? Once the booze settles in, I feel braver. At BXL he turns to leave, grabs me, says "I don't want things to be awkward,"then kisses me on the mouth in front of everyone.
I walked home alone, hearing the sound of snow melting and thick black Wellies pounding against a wet sidewalk. Dinner was good, bonding with the girls, but always in the back of my mind, it is Dennis. It is not so cold tonight, and I wonder whether winters will ever be consistent again. Our relationship mirrors this season: one day hot, one day cold, uncertainty abounding. Do I wear a scarf or not? Do you think about me, or cringe when my name is mentioned? I came indoors, home at last, and dreamed of you. I want to survive winter.
Since I don't feel like I like you that strongly, I don't know why this has become such an obsession of mine. You are on my mind each hour of the day. I see you at breakfast and you wink and I alternate between loathe and desire. Last night I was all set for the gym, ready to leave at 7pm. Then at 6:30 you IM and ask if I fancy a quick drink. My curiosity got the better of me. And I shook a bit, and was nervous, and I don't know why you are doing this to me.
I need to remember how it felt to hear Gina tell me that, to see the hesitance on her face as the words hovered over our lunches. I need to remember so I don't get swayed by him again. British Dan is not just seeing me. I am officially not the only one. I am, I guess, officially, a scorned woman. These feelings are tricky, because it's been so up and down and hot and cold between us, so to have it confirmed that I should not be involving myself with him again is partly refreshing and partly genuinely heartbreaking.
I am in a war with Dennis. A joke war, a flirt war, a distraction-from-work war, call it what you will. Since he got back from Brazil, he has twice accused me of stealing things from his office - his exacto knives, a stapler. Leigh and Kate agree that he is flirting with me. So to retaliate, I took the mug-o-pens from his desk and am now holding them ransom. After several hours of no contact, British Kate had a meeting with him. On her way out, she asked to borrow a pen, since she knows I stole the mug. When
she got back to her desk he was already RMing, accusing her of being in on it with me and saying he is a man of incredible patience and an exceptional schemer, and that he will get us back. So now we have taped a nametag to his mug-o-pens, which says "Hello my name is Dennis: an exceptional schemer; possessor of patience; natural-born surfer; long-time employee."We are still working on our strategy, but rest assured, when - and if - Dennis gets his mug back, it will be funny. And I am sure there will be hell to pay. Can't wait.
Is "pretty sure"enough in love? I came to pick up Peter for our building walk-through and of course you are there, and of course I am melting. I am fairly confident I love you. I don't know you much, but what I know, I love. Is that enough? I love the stretch of your thumbnail; the faded black socks; the light blue lighting up of the eyes when you tell me a story. Is this enough? Is it even relevant, since you took the nametag I made for you off your mug of pens? And surely that means something.
I am either in my head too much today, or not enough. I am feeling desperate and I don't know why. It began last night, and today I am not on my game and mostly feel like I have no place to go. I'm desperate enough to RM Danny right now...but I can't and I won't and I need to retain at least a little bit of pride. Digital Pete just RMed me "you're lucky"and that is what I am trying to hang on to. I am lucky. Look at everything I have, look at the life I live.
I don't want the month of February to be about him. Did I mention I think I love him? Yeah, that feels awesome right now. Where do you go once that has been determined? I've made a public play for him and it seems to have failed. Although two days ago I thought it had worked, so maybe I am just wrong or imagining things or have no idea what I'm feeling or wanting. And then jerkface RMs me and throws everything into a spin again, like my heart is being run through the rinse cycle. What do I want?
Since Tuesday I have lost myself, and as Friday sets I'm counting on my rejuvenation. Desperate is a dramatic word, but it's what I'm feeling now. Between Danny and Dennis, and then an unexpected message from Dave, I am so unclear as to what I'm doing. I want Danny to want me simply because I'm angry that I wanted him. I want Dennis to want me because I'm a little afraid this is more than a crush. I want Dave to think about me at off times, the way I do of him, because he is my oldest boy friend.
I wanted it to be autumn today. It felt a bit like it, and as I stood on the 30th floor, getting vertigo from the views but remembering the rush of working here, the skyline just looked sharp and old-fashioned and futuristic all at once, and I wanted it all, I wanted to be forever a part of this city, somehow etched in its walls or spilled into the cement below us or dripping from the umbrellas we carry around. Today it is February 17, I am alone in my office at 7pm on a Friday. But I am here.
Do not, do not, do not look at me like this anymore. You are across the room, I am busy with my other friends, and they are beginning to notice. Tomorrow I will be sat down by more than one person who is wondering whether I know that you are in love with me. Why do you let them see it? I know I am using your kindness indiscriminately, and soon there might not be any left. But I can't take the love, I don't want it from you. You are offering it nonverbally and I am refusing out loud.
You are so predictable! On Friday morning when you approach me I know what's going to happen later. You will RM, flirt and invite me over tonight. At 7pm I am waiting for Leigh, still in my office, when a text comes: "offer still stands."I ruminate, and half an hour later send back "oh, are your other girlfriends out of town?"Then at 11:30pm I am feeling guilty, because really I don't have any right to be angry, and I send another: "I was only partly kidding."Saturday you respond with "I hear ya, just seemed a little harsh...bygones.-
The shortest month of the year has been nothing if not long. I don't feel like wrapping up this month in 100 words. Even on a bad day, or bad month, I realize there are plenty of things that happen each day that I can smile about. And I do. I am smiling all the time, smiling through the nausea induced by bus, plane, and boys; smiling through the knowledge that I am not his sole focus; smiling through a sick grandmother and loney parents. Life is too short, I guess, to not find the fun in the daily minutia.
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