Sunday, November 28, 2010

Too Much Sh*t in My Purse

Nearly two years ago when Mr. Wonderful and I took our first big, long vacation together to Italy and Greece, we discovered that my capacity for load-bearing is severely lacking. If I have too much sh*t in my purse, I lose it. Not like I lose the sh*t in my purse—I lose MY sh*t.

Despite the fact that I'm a backpacker who has ferried 30+ pounds of gear on my back into the desert and the mountains, I cannot handle having a heavy coat, a purse and a duffel bag hanging off my body. I might have thrown a duffel bag several feet in LAX at an early hour when we were departing for that Greece/Italy trip. I might also have thrown several temper tantrums because I had two cameras, a mini tripod, maps, a wallet and many other items in my purse while sightseeing throughout Europe. It seems that I am just not made for carrying loads over a certain weight.

Knowing this, it wasn't a huge surprise that I came within inches of a full-blown meltdown Tuesday night. For the past several weeks, I have been carrying not only physically heavy loads—back and forth from my house to Mr. W's—but hefty mental cargo, in the form of to-do lists and continual planning and transition emotions. You see, last weekend I moved into his place.

My apartment of 8 years was packed into a million boxes and bags (some of which landed in the trash and Goodwill). My car became a mini moving van, seeming constantly filled with stuff that needed to be relocated somewhere. My routine and normalcy were hit by a tornado. It all felt very, very heavy to me. Too much to do. Too many ends to tie up. Too many things to find spaces for in this new life. Too little time for it all. Tuesday night, I wanted to strip it all away, strip off my clothes, and go running into the night with nothing weighing me down.

But I didn't. Instead, I came to my new home and told Mr. W that I was so DONE with the moving process I wanted to cry. And he hugged me and told me that it really was done—I had cleaned the last traces of my life out of my apartment that night. I had only one home to bear, not two. Things were going to get lighter. His hug was like helium.

I don't know if I'll ever adjust to having baggage and belongings and burdens pressing down on me. I might have a lifetime of meltdowns in my future. But at least I know there'll be someone there to scrape me off the pavement and throw my purse over his shoulder. Even if it's overflowing with sh*t.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ode to My Apartment, Part 3

When I turned 28, I remember thinking I was getting old. Almost 30. I was single, unhappy in my job and in much need of a wild night out with girlfriends. So I wrangled about half a dozen of them and we headed out to Hollywood's Beauty Bar for an evening of martinis and manicures.

The problem with this idea was that I wasn't a martini drinker.

The bar offers a variety of fruity doozies disguised as martinis. They go down like liquid Jolly Ranchers. I remember I had a bad farmer's sunburn from hiking that morning, and the martinis took the sting off in no time.

Not being a martini drinker, I didn't know that it wasn't a smart idea to consume them like the water cups they give you at marathons. One at every mile.

My college roommate was with us that night and I hadn't seen her forever and it would have been rude to turn away a drink she purchased to celebrate my birthday. So I downed them left and right until I was smiley and slurry and making friends with guys named Sven.

I woke up fully clothed on my couch at 3:30 a.m. It was Easter and I knew I'd have to meet my family in the early afternoon. I thought I had it in the bag. I drank a little water and retreated to my bed to "sleep it off."

When I got up several hours later, my college roommate called to check on me. She wanted to come by to show me her recent wedding pictures. I sat at my dining room table with her, spinning and sweaty as she thumbed through the album. Finally, I excused myself and retreated into my adorable mint green 1950's bathroom to puke.

Yaking when you're in your later 20s is so much harder than when you're in your early 20s. I remember thinking I was going to have to call an ambulance. Surely, I was dying. My poor roommate came and brought me a glass of water. Which, of course, made me vomit again. I apologized profusely and told her I probably needed to lie down. Or go to the emergency room.

I didn't get up for about 5 more hours when it was time to go to my Grandma's house for Easter. I looked like I had crawled out of the sewer. Thankfully, a little honey baked ham and Hawaiian rolls did me right. I was back to my old self by bedtime.

But I haven't had a martini since. And I think every now and then I could hear my bathroom murmuring, "Thank you."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ode to My Apartment, Part 2

In 2003 when I got laid off from my advertising job, there were some days when I never left my apartment. Maybe it was because I was depressed. Maybe it was because there was really no need for me to go outside other than to collect the mail from my front porch. During my 4 months of unemployment, my house became a cocoon of comfort for me.

I would sit at the table, at my desk, on the couch, on the floor, pounding away at my laptop keyboard, pouring my heart into a novel attempt. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I remember thinking, "Wow THIS is what it could be like if I became a real writer." I could just wake up in the morning and start working on my book. I wouldn't even have to put on clean underwear. But I wouldn't have any human interaction, either. And despite the days that I spent willingly avoiding contact, that was the thing I missed most about being employed.

I did a lot of cleaning during that time. And rearranging of knickknacks. When you spend that much time in one space, you can't help but want to spruce. I refused to paint, though, because I was convinced I'd fall in love and move on before the paint job really became worthwhile. Here we are, 7.5 years later...

My sweet living room has gotten me through a lot of rough patches. The carpet in it has been a soft landing place for me many times. Its electrical outlets have powered my writing and reading and online dating. And even though its walls stayed a bland shade of off-white, they also kept me safe and sheltered, in career sickness and in health.

I am 100% sure there will be nights that I miss this little place.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

1095 Days

Three years ago today, a wonderful romance started over a pot of fondue and a couple glasses of wine. We started with cheese, in four months we'll end with cheers. I guess it'll be more of a beginning than an end, but you get where I'm going.

I had forgotten until I went back and read this post that Mr. Wonderful made a joke about us being married on our first date. So last night, as a friend of ours was talking about how he may have met the girl he's going to marry, I asked Mr. W when he knew that I was The One.

"Was it after our trip to San Francisco?" I guessed.

That was our first weekend away together—to a wine festival in the city. We'd been dating two and a half months by that point and I was 100% sure I was crazy about him. Even though he knew he might be falling for me, he wouldn't say the words for another six months.

"Yeah, I think I knew because you didn't bug me," he replied.

Ah yes, that's what love is. The winning recipe for an engagement ring: don't bug them. You don't have to be witty or pretty or interesting. Just refrain from bugging.

Good thing he was nice to me when he took me out for a schmancy dinner at Spago Monday night...

Happy 3rd Anniversary to my other half. :* :* :*

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Favorite Mistake

Funny things happen when you get engaged. (Or maybe it's just me.) In addition to having surges of fear, you sort of find yourself cataloging your life up to this point. You think back on all the past loves that led you to this one. Sometimes you smile at the memories. Sometimes you cringe. Sometimes you thank the heavens for the lessons.

As I've thought through my modest list of relationships, one guy clearly stands out to me as my favorite mis-match. He's the perfect combination of timing and learning and endearment.

I met Patric (no k) when I was 29. I had just started my current job, had just come out of a failed attempt to rekindle things with my college boyfriend, and was itching to have a carefree, hot summer romance.

Patric was only 26, the coworker of my best friend's husband, and a month away from moving to New York City. He asked me out after we spent a day at the beach with my best friend's family. I told him I wasn't sure if it was a good idea—he was leaving the state in 30 days, after all. But he was cute and charming and it was summertime. So I caved.

On our first date, I got a nice dose of Patric's dramatic side. I made a joke about how my voice sounds like a muppet's and he reached across the table, taking my hand (my best friend likes to think that he pressed one finger against my lips and shushed me, but I don't think that's how it went) and said in a sultry, whispery voice, "Don't talk like that." That moment pretty much set the tone for the next few months. Intensity. Theatrics. And of course, entertainment. I don't think I've ever written so much poetry as I did that summer.

His NY move date got pushed by several weeks, which meant we had more time to cultivate our tumultuous relationship. I saw Patric cry in Target. I laughed hysterically with him over inside jokes we made. I found myself, on more than one occasion, feeling like the only girl in the room—or the universe. He knew how to cast a spell, that boy.

There were plenty of things I didn't like about him, but knowing I might only have him for a short time prompted me to try to appreciate every moment. What a great lesson that was.

Before he left, I gave him a wooden box filled with pictures and poems and other things to remember me by. I decoupaged a page from the Thomas Guide with my neighborhood on it so he could think of me across the U.S. whenever he saw it.

When he told me he couldn't handle the long distance, I was heartbroken. Even though, on some level I knew it was for the best. He wasn't the right fit.

The wooden box appeared on my doorstep a couple years ago with one poem still inside it. I appreciated that he returned it. I even called to thank him, but never heard back. Lack of response adds to his drama. I've stalked him a little on Facebook and I'm glad to see he's happily married now. I'm also glad that he gave me that one summer.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ode to My Apartment, Part 1

We finally closed on the house. Which means a whole lot of change is going to be upon me soon.

Last night, I got a little nostalgic knowing that it would be my last time voting at the poll I've been going to for years. My parents' address is still on my driver's license, so I get to go vote at my elementary school. As I walked out of the auditorium last night, I paused to look at the lunch tables. I remember sitting there, awkward and skinny, not wanting to eat my sandwiches. It made me a little sad that I won't have a reason to go back for visits anymore.

As part of this whole packing-up-and-moving-on process, I'm feeling compelled to write posts honoring the apartment that has housed me for the last 8 years. I never thought I would be there so long. I remember talking myself out of painting and making changes many times because I thought, "I'll probably move soon anyway." Oh, how time flies.

The little yellow 1950's masterpiece below is my kitchen. It's a place that I have loved and hated through the years. Loved its extensive storage space, its warmth, its ability to provide me with what I need to prepare great meals. Hated it for being the place that forces me to do dishes. I cannot wait to have a dishwasher.

It's also the place where Mr. Wonderful cooked for me the very first time.

Before he and I met in person, we teased each other back and forth online about who would cook for whom first. Naturally, the gourmet won.

He showed up to my house with chocolate soufflé batter in a Tupperware container, a bottle of wine and all the fixings for chicken Marsala. He was wearing a brown and turquoise striped shirt and I remember being excited because I was wearing the same colors. A sign, perhaps.

He seemed a little nervous as he found his way around my kitchen utensils and pans. I sat on the counter and watched him, thinking his awkwardness was adorable. Maybe he was just thrown by my olive green 70's stove...

After we ate his delicious soufflé and polished off the bottle of wine, we sat side-by-side on the couch looking at vacation pictures on his iphone. I was enthralled in the images of Italy when he grabbed the phone from my hand, took me by the shoulders and kissed me. The rest is a post for another time...and maybe another website...

Thank you, Kitchen, for helping facilitate that first kiss.