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Oct 2011 27

by Laurelin

I have a tattoo on my arm. Well, I have a lot of tattoos on my arm, but the focal point of the whole thing is a portrait of Anne Boleyn. People always ask me, “Why her? Didn’t she get her head chopped off?” Indeed, she did. But that’s not why I have it. Back in the 16th century in England women were expected to be beautiful and ladylike at all times, they were supposed to dance, sing, stitch, and take their place next to their husbands quietly, never betraying emotion, only smiling sweetly even during the worst pain. Anne is a constant reminder of that very behavior. She changed the course of history by never allowing her king to see weakness in spirit. Even after he sentenced her to death she still kept her head high. When I want to cry, I smile sweetly and never betray my feelings. Even when my heart is breaking or when I’m terrified, no one will ever know; I know my place and it’s to never falter.

I’ve always been a fan of the phrase “fake it ’til you make it.” If you act like you know what the hell is going, on people are more likely to think that you do. This can be applied to most any area of your life — most recently for me at work; a promotion at my music club in Boston finds me off the bar and in a brand spanking new manager role which leaves me terrified daily. I have no idea what I’m doing; all these fancy bands and employees now answer to me — I have never been in charge in my life! I just fake it. Act like I know what I’m doing, and it will all fall into place and one day I won’t have to act anymore, one day I really will be this boss lady.

This mantra can be applied to relationships as well. A recent breakup (yes, I know, another one) has left me slightly damaged. I don’t know exactly where it went wrong, but somewhere during our summer in the city we lost something, and it was too far gone to be repaired. Somehow the nights of drinking hadn’t led to those talks that bring people closer together, and instead of trying to fix it, we both allowed the rope to fray until finally, something snapped. We didn’t even have time to heal; working together only a day after the breakup was like rubbing salt into an open wound. I wanted to scream in everyone’s face as I smiled sweetly and took their drink order, “Do you know what this is doing to me?!” Never once did I stumble, and neither did he.

I don’t know if it’s hard for him to see me, and I wonder if he knows that every time I smile or laugh or even talk to him that it’s all an act, every move rehearsed, planned, like a puppet on a stage. I don’t hang out at our bar as much on my nights off, but when I do, every minute spent trying not to look at him feels like an hour. Whatever guy I’m talking to might as well be speaking French, that’s how much I’m paying attention. The room is nothing but a dull roar in the background of my mind, and all I am thinking is “don’t fall.”

There’s something to be said about the way I go about things. Maybe it’s not healthy, maybe it’s avoidance, running away, a sham. Who knows? Maybe this isn’t easy on him either, and watching me just go back to my single life is equally as trying on his shot nerves. I have no way of ever knowing. All I know is that every other time I have built this wall, one day, I wake up and I’m fine. By forcing this immediate friendship I am diving headfirst into daily trauma, but I am laying the groundwork for a normal future. I have no room in my life for hate, so even if I am bursting with anger he’ll never see it.

I know one day, just like all the rest of my ex’s, I will be able to call him a friend. One day I’ll be able to look at him and not have to fake a smile that will tug at the corners of lifeless eyes. One day I will walk into my music club and not shake after I interview an employee or ask a tour manager to please pay attention and sign this contract. Maybe this is life beyond the bar scene after all, being in control and in charge of work and my emotions even though I feel like running to the bathroom in tears. Maybe this is just growing up, accepting this feeling of being scared and alone but powering though because there is no other choice but to go on, no choice but to hold your head high and conquer anything because in this life failure is not an option.

[..]

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Oct 2011 13

by Laurelin

I was sitting at the bar tonight with a few friends, waiting for my boyfriend, like always. He said he might come out, but I knew he wouldn’t. It was his birthday, and he wasn’t coming. We had had a great night out the night before, but still, I always said a relationship can be measured by the amount of time I spend looking towards the door, waiting for you to walk through it. With him, I do it a lot. In the beginning he would always come, now, not so much. I’m lonely a lot; I spend most nights alone, missing him.

It’s always the nights that you’re most vulnerable that something odd happens, and tonight was no different. My ex boyfriend walked though that door and I could have cried. All I have been thinking lately is how even though he and I were wrong for one another, he was still always there for me. Every night he eagerly came home, and, even after we knew we weren’t in love with one another anymore, he still came home and held me, still wanted to be around me all the time. We were best friends. Part of us will always be just that, no matter how much time goes by.

He had been drinking, I could tell the second he motioned me to join him at a table for two. He hugged me for a little too long and then leaned over. “I’m leaving soon, —-” he said, calling me by our pet name for one another. “I’m moving to LA, and I’m going this week. I’m not telling anyone but you, because you’re the only person I’ve ever cared about.”

A million things run through my mind before I can answer. I can’t imagine this bar scene without him. It’s true, I have created my own name in Boston, especially in the past year, but parts of him linger everywhere I go. “Bittersweet,” I think. We don’t talk much anymore, he and I. But I know that I will miss him impossibly once I know he’s gone.

He grabs my hand and leads me to the jukebox; he always wants to monopolize the music when he’s been drinking. “What do you want to hear?” he asks, and starts punching in letters before I can even answer. “I know,” he says. He plays Pearl Jam’s “Black,” Tom Petty’s “Even the Losers,” Adele’s “Right As Rain,” and Eddie Vedder’s “Hard Sun.” My songs. I look towards the door and glance at my cell phone one last time, knowing my boyfriend isn’t coming, wondering about this guy I’m with who knows me better than I know myself. I know I’ll walk home alone and sleep alone again tonight, and I know my ex has nowhere to stay until he leaves for L.A. I wait until the last of the songs play, and I go to leave.

“This might be the last time we’re out together,” my ex says.

I manage a smile. “Don’t say that,” I say. “I’ll come see you.”

“I hope so,” he says, his hand resting on my waist for just a moment. “Goodbye.”

I leave, alone, and don’t look back. I walk home slowly, and I linger on the pedestrian footbridge overlooking the city lights. Boston is glowing, and everything falls silent. I want to cry but no tears come; I don’t know how I got here, or where to go next. I could stand here and watch the skyline for hours, but I don’t. My cell phone buzzes in my pocket. It’s my boyfriend, saying he’s going to bed. “I’m sorry,” he says, for what seems like the 100th time.

“I’m sorry too,” I think, before turning away from the city lights and heading for home.

[..]

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Sep 2011 26

by Laurelin

God damn this blinking cursor in front of me, mocking me. Usually a blank page sits in front of me and I feel calm, able to take a deep breath and start over with a refined touch and total control over my words. But not lately. Now I feel so much anger and hurt that I can’t even see anything besides a black swirl, all my words pouring jumbled out of my bloodshot eyes. I’m tired. I’m tired of working six nights a week and two days, sometimes having a day off here and there to fulfill an obligation to someone else rather than myself. Rushing to the train, rushing to the next state, rushing to meet a deadline when all I want to do is collapse. I am just exhausted. And no one is here to catch me as I’m falling to sleep. No one is there when I wake up. How can someone be in a relationship and still feel so alone?

I always tell my friends that as happy as I am with this new guy, I can’t help but have this sinking feeling that it’s just going in a really odd direction. I spend a lot more time feeling alone, lonely and missing him, than I do happily next to him. Working at the bar doesn’t really allow much time for dating. We got to know one another at work. We talk about bartending. We talk about booze. We drink beer. We stay up late and drink. I wonder what would happen if someone removed beer and the bar. We would have…Nothing. Which means that essentially, we have nothing to stand on — it’s just liquid to stand in. It’s horrible to even type, but it’s been filling my head lately that what I have is simply nothing at all.

I got drunk the other night after my shift while he was working and with a little bit of liquid courage down the hatch I gave him a quick quiz. “We’ve been dating for three months,” I said. “What’s my favorite color?” He looked confused.

“Uh… red?” He said.

“No. It’s pink. But I guess you wouldn’t know that,” I said, turning up my nose. He looked baffled for a minute and then wandered off. I dropped the subject.

I try, I really do. What days off do we both have this week? Maybe we can fit in lunch one day before we go to work. For some reason, nothing ever seems to work besides work. How is it possible that one person in a relationship can be happy with only sharing smirks over a beer tap or holding hands after I finish day bar in the brief time before he comes on to work the night shift? Don’t people need to have sex, sleep in, go see movies, go to dinner, meet each other’s families? I can feel myself getting weaker, becoming someone who chases after someone else, and I can taste bile rising in the back of my throat — that girl makes me sick. I shouldn’t have to chase after anyone to spend time with me, especially someone who calls themselves my boyfriend. How did this happen? How did I become this person and how do I get rid of it? Make her go AWAY. This girl is not me.

Part of me just has to laugh about all of this. I was in a relationship and not the happiest. I got dumped, I was sad. I found the silver lining, started dating, met idiots. Met an idiot that I liked. Thought he was different, new relationship, new problems, not the happiest. Damn you bar scene, damn you. My head is spinning, and I keep thinking back to a few weeks ago when my roommate and I went to go see a psychic. I don’t really believe in that junk –– fate, dead spirits and energies and all that –– but I don’t exactly not believe in it either. So, if for $30 someone can talk to me about stuff I don’t understand, sure, let’s have at it.

The psychic was probably just over 30, a few years older than me. She said I was creative, and that I spent too much time dwelling on past relationships and that I needed to learn to let things go. (Who doesn’t that apply to.) Then she said she didn’t really understand my current relationship. She looked confused for a minute and said, “He doesn’t know you. He thinks he does, and he thinks you’re great. And you ARE great. But…he doesn’t really know why you’re great. It’s not going to last. You’re going to end it, and you’re going to say, ‘You’re not even going to miss ME,’ and he’s going to be so upset, but you’re right.”

I hate to base my argument on why a relationship should end on something a psychic told me. But it’s like…this stranger just added a strange validation to my argument. Nothing solid to stand on, only our bar scene. Beer. Late nights. Liquid. I don’t chase after anyone, it’s not my style. Running however, that’s right up my alley, and luckily, nothing runs better than liquid.

[..]

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