Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What I Can't Say

I say all sorts of things that I shouldn't.  I know I've hurt people's feelings (probably most often my mother's) with careless and callous words, but even so, what I probably regret more than anything are the times when I should've said something or wanted to say something and I just didn't. 

The other day a friend introduced me to the Daily Mission Project (which in itself is really fun to read), and in my browsing, I came across April 19th's mission: "Think of one person in your life you wish you had said something, anything to. Track them down and say it."

When I read that, I knew exactly who I'd track down if it were my mission.  Luckily, it's not.  I don't know that I would ever actually send this to him, but if I did, it would go something like this:

Dear ____________,

A while ago, a guy that I really liked broke up with me. I was so blind-sided by it that I didn't even know what to say at the time.  I made some lame joke so we could laugh away the awkwardness and brushed it off as though he had just told me that he couldn't get tickets to see Avatar in 3D and not that he had just told me that he couldn't see us working out in the long-term.  When I got home, it still hadn't registered; I was simply stunned.  What just happened?  I started to wonder if part of the reason he had ended things was because I had been too emotionally distant with him.  Had it even been clear to him that I liked him?  I wasn't sure.  I couldn't sleep, so I wrote him an email in the wee hours of the morning, telling him how I felt and explaining to him that the only reason I was even bothering to tell him any of this at all was because the one thing I regretted the most about my past relationships was not telling this one person how I felt about him at the time.

That one person is you.  For whatever reason, that regret - not telling you how I felt about you at the time - has managed to resurface from time to time in the last few years.  It bubbles up most often when I'm feeling particularly alone or when yet another potential relationship has gone awry or when I meet someone who even remotely reminds me of you.  The puzzling thing is that I don't know why it's a feeling of regret.  There's no "what if?" trailing that feeling.  It's not as though I think, or even wish, that things could have turned out differently.  Circumstances are circumstances, and to me it seems fated that you and I were only meant to cross paths for a short period of time.  Regardless, I still wish you had known how I felt about you at the time.  How much I liked you.  How uncharacteristically emotional I was when I had to leave you.  My friends have all said, "Well I'm sure he knew on some level how much you liked him."  But did you?  I guess sometimes I worry that you think I only dated you because it was convenient.  Because you were there at the right place and the right time.  But if that really is what you think, then you're wrong.  You were there at the right place and at the right time but you were also the right person.  The right person for me.

If life is all about timing, then our timing could not have been more or less perfect.

Without regrets,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Never Go to Bed Angry

So you know how they say never let the sun go down on your anger or whatever?  Well I was a little annoyed last night with 'F' but didn't care to do anything about it so I just went to bed.  I didn't think I was that mad, but apparently I was, because I ended up dreaming about him.

I dreamt that I was at some dinner theater (yes, dinner theater, I dream about dinner theater...) thing with a few girlfriends and apparently 'F' was on the board of directors of the theater group.  So before the play starts, the person announcing the play says, "Is 'F' here yet?" And of course, I'm like, oh shit, 'F' is going to be here?  Apparently I was already mad at him in my dream.

So he's not there yet, and the play begins, and he comes in, rudely late and looking kind of sloppy, like he's already had a few drinks.  He sits at the table near us with some guys and I whisper not so discreetly to my girlfriends, "That's him.  My 8 o'clock.  That's 'F'."  They all turn to look just as he is similarly whispering to his friend and pointing at me.  Our eyes meet, we stop for a split second, and turn immediately away, pretending like we didn't just see each other.

And then he says something passive-aggressive to his friend about me, clearly raising his voice so I hear what he says.  Without even looking at him, I respond in kind.  Soon enough it escalates into a full-on screaming match.  In public.  At some point I look at him and say, "Oh my god, stop it.  We're in public."

And then I hear someone snicker in the backround, "Ah couples and their fighting."  And I look over, astonished, and sputter, "But...but...we're not EVEN DATING!!!!"

This is about when I woke up.

So I went to bed only slightly annoyed with 'F' but I woke up so completely and totally angry at him.  I could even feel the tension in my back and really wished I had a giant punching bag in my apartment.  It was like 6am.  He wakes up early.  So I texted him a totally angry message.  He apologized but his response infuriated me even more!  So I responded with an even angrier text.  He apologized again.

I feel a little silly that my really stupid dream prompted me to action, but man, oh man.  It sure does feel good to get even just that little bit of anger out there and off my chest.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


My mom has been wanting grandchildren...probably since I was born.  Eight years ago, we were at Harrod's in London buying a gift for my cousin's first baby.  I picked out this cute little stuffed bear.  And then my mom decides to buy two of them - one for my cousin's kid and one...to save for her first grandchild.  I was 18.  Eighteen!  That bear has probably been shoved so far back into a corner of my mother's closet that by the time the day comes when my mother becomes a grandmother, it'll probably be easier to fly back to London and buy a new bear than to try and find the old one.  Actually, I bet by then my mom will have completely forgotten that she ever bought that bear in the first place.

So, a little while ago, I was thinking about expectations, and my mom's in particular, and decided it would be in her best interest if I told my mother NOW that I didn't think I wanted kids.  Truthfully, I'm pretty indifferent to the kid issue, and I imagine I will probably end up wanting them at some point, BUT the truth wasn't the goal of this exercise.  The goal was to start tempering my mother's expectations; I just wanted her to be prepared for the possibility that she may never have grandkids to spoil.  I confess that I also thought it might be kind of fun to see her reaction.  I'm a bad daughter, I know.  I wasn't sure if her jaw would drop to the ground or if she would cry or if she'd try to convince me what a joy it is to be a parent (until the day your kids become sick and twisted and tell you that you may never be a grandmother just to see your reaction).  So one day, I decided to just drop the bomb completely out of the blue.  The conversation went something like this.

Mom:  Do you want to come with me to the grocery store?
Me, casually:  I don't think I want to have kids.
Mom, without missing a beat:  Well that's okay.  Some women are more into their careers.
Me: ................

Well that back-fired.  Instead of shocking her, she completely shocked me.  She shocked me into complete and utter silence.  I couldn't believe she was so okay with the idea of me not having kids!  Her!  My mom!  The woman who bought a stuffed animal for her first grandchild when her daughter was 18!  And then I went, wait.  What?  Does she really think I don't want kids because I want to focus on my career?

But...but...I don't even like my present job.  I certainly have no plans to make it my lifelong career.  When I think about how I've conducted my life over the course of the last 10 years though, it does seem like every decision I've made has been in furtherance of some fuzzy dream of professional success.  It is also true that when my high school classmates got married at 22, followed their husbands to wherever they (the husbands) found jobs and then started popping out babies, I absolutely judged them.  These were smart girls, and I couldn't help but wonder what happened to all of their youthful ambitions of becoming somebody, apart from just somebody's wife.  I distinctly remember one girl whose goal was to be the first female President of the United States.  She was one of the ones who got married at 22 and has never lived further than 10 miles from where we grew up.  Now, I know that when she tied the knot, it didn't mean she couldn't still become the first female President of the U.S.  But in my mind, it did.  Marriage meant failure, while getting far away from the town where we grew up meant success. 

The thing is, I'm relatively happy with the straws I've drawn in life, but still, sometimes, in some ways, I envy their lives.  I envy the fact that they have a family of their own that they can call their number one priority.  When someone asks them what the most important thing in their life is, they can definitively say, "My baby and my husband."

And then I look at myself.  I've never made having a family, or being in a relationship for that matter, a priority.  Actually, I actively avoided it.  I've always kind of thought, well, what's the point in getting emotionally invested in someone when we're just going to have to break up at the end of the high school/college/graduate school/summer?  I feared that I would fall in love with someone and then have to rearrange my life around him and give up a dream job for a lesser one just so that we could be together.  I didn't want love to hold me back from achieving whatever it was I thought I needed to achieve.

So if I haven't chosen to make love and a family my number one priority, does that make my career my number one priority by default?   Are those the only options?  I tried to think about what might appear at the top of other twenty-somethings' priority lists if not their family/relationship or career.  Faith?  Charitable works?  Drinking?  Blogging?  Traveling?  Coffee breaks?  City league sports?  Mere survival?

I guess the most important thing in my life right now is figuring out what the most important thing in my life is right now.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Maybe Honesty Really is the Best Policy

So after spending the week kind of responding to texts and emails from 'F' and kind of flat-out ignoring them, I saw him again.  At some point, out of the blue, he turned to me and said, "So why have you been so mad at me this week?"

I didn't even hesitate.  "Well, do you want me to start from the beginning?"  And then I laid it out for him.  You can't cancel on me and just totally get away with it.

Now had this occurred pre-Springtime Resolution, I would've denied being mad.  I would've shrugged it off.  I would've pretended that he was just being silly.  "Me?!  Mad?  Oh no.  I wasn't intentionally not responding to your emails - work was just really busy."  Actually, pre-Springtime Resolution, such a question would never even have been posed because he wouldn't have known that I was mad at him in the first place.  I would never have let it show so clearly that I was peeved at being cancelled on.  I would've just pretended that it wasn't a big deal at all or said something to make him feel less guilty.  "Oh, no worries.  I ended up having to work late that night anyway."  I've always preferred that guys view me as a calm, collected, easy-going, rational girl.  Because who wants to date the crazy bitch who spazzes out at you all the time?

So when I did "spaz" out at 'F', I think it may have been the most honest I've been with a guy about my feelings in a while, maybe ever.  Rather ironic, considering I don't see this as a long-term thing.  But maybe that's just it.  I wasn't worried that he would think I was acting crazy if I told him I was mad.  I wasn't concerned that things might end if I showed some emotion.   I could be honest with him because I wasn't caught up in trying to turn us into a relationship.

The result?  Things didn't end because I got mad at him.  And that feeling of not holding things back was actually liberating.  

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I am totally 100% guilty of playing games right now.  With 'F', the boy I met at a bar and who inspired my Springtime Resolution.

Now, I'd say that generally, while I play the game, but I don't really play games.  The distinction?  Yes, I screen calls and I'll wait a few hours before responding to an email even if I read it 20 seconds after it popped into my inbox. But I don't do those somewhat mean little things that girls do to make boys wonder if the girl really likes him.  I try to be clear or at least consistent in my signals.  Well.  I suppose a few boys from my past might disagree with that last statement.  Whatever.  I'm working on it.

Although not right now, and definitely not with 'F'.  So the whole point of the Springtime Resolution was not to read too much into things and just kind of enjoy the ride, right?  Which worked out just fine until 'F' and I had plans last night and he cancelled on me.  At the last minute.  For no reason.  Now, I'm no stranger to cancellations, and well, frankly, it just kind of sucks.  Now, it was a Monday night, and it's not as though I had alternative plans.  But I was still annoyed.  And then I got annoyed that I was annoyed!  I mean, things were supposed to be carefree and easy with 'F'.  If I was trying not to really care about him, then why would I care that he cancelled?  The more I thought about it, the more I became enraged.  It was almost worse that I was trying to view things casually and he still managed to be the one calling the shots.  Which of course got me thinking that clearly this whole casual don't-think-about-it-too-much approach isn't much better than the is-this-my-future-husband approach.  It's the same game, just without the hope of marriage at the end of the tunnel to make the game worth it in the end.

Well, so much for my Springtime Resolution.  I guess I will just go back to trying to find a good ol' fashioned boyfriend.  Eventually.  Once this little game with 'F' ends.