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Jul 2013 14

by Laurelin

Disappointment is a part of life, there’s no doubt about that. It takes many forms; it can be predicable, it can surprise you, it can be laughable, and other times it can be enough to bring you to your knees. In some form or another I think we feel at least a little twinge of disappointment every day. Maybe not the kind that catches your breath like a lump in your throat, but the kind that’s just enough to make you crinkle your nose. Like when the coffee shop on the corner of Harvard and Brighton Ave is closed by the time I walk home from work on Sunday and I have to get an iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts instead of a loose leaf iced green tea.

Disappointment goes hand in hand with people letting you down and you yourself letting down others. The look in that boys’ eyes as I told him I didn’t want to be with him, having to shout it because we were in a crowded bar and there was a band playing. His brown eyes usually danced, turned up at the corners with his big smile. But as I shouted they crinkled and the weight of my words changed him. Part of me screamed, “You’re making a mistake, this boy would love you.” The other part told that part to shut up even though I was so sad: I knew I was making the right choice. But still, I was disappointed for letting the nice boy go. I always let the nice boys go.

I was disappointed in the one I did choose, a disaster of a human being who intrigued me more than anything. I willingly walked into some strange dark forest, the trees so thick they blocked out the sun, and I know I will willingly stumble through this darkness until I’m so broken I have no choice but to fight to get out in one piece. I can’t bring myself to smile as I type this even thinking about the mess I’ve gotten myself into, but I know I will continue to wait for his name to pop up on my cell phone, and when it does I will see just that one ray of light through the trees, and I will think it’s enough. It won’t be.

Disappointment can crush a person or inspire them to do better next time. Long term it can break your spirit, short term it can ruin your day. Either way, it’s a part of life, and sadly, a part that people come to expect even when they shouldn’t. Right now I’m disappointed in my job; I am sitting behind an empty bar at 12:30 PM on a Sunday afternoon in the city. While it’s nice to be able to get some work done I would much rather be at the beach or down by the waterfront drinking sangria. Over in the corner my cell phone buzzes and I run over to see if it’s him. It’s not, and all alone I don’t have to hide my disappointment.

[..]

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Jun 2013 27

by Laurelin

There comes a time in everyone’s life when there has just been too much work and not enough play. This is usually not a problem in my life, no matter how many places I’m working I always seem to find the perfect thing to do on a night off. In that one night, it’s all been worth it: every last long hour and late night is wonderfully and sometimes painfully perfect. Some nights are relaxing and help you recharge your drained batteries, and other nights are not like that at all. Some nights you just know that a storm is brewing; the perfect storm.

I don’t know what it is about Faneuil Hall in Boston that just makes you wild. I think it’s just that foreign concept of having weekends off. I don’t usually have them, so when I do it’s like this whole other world can be seen, a world I usually only see from behind the bar. This Friday was like that. We could be those people, the ones who go out with no abandon, who rack up a hundred dollar tab that’s just a couple beers and a million Washington apple shots. We could be the loud ones, the crazy ones, the dancers, the wild.

The cover band might as well have been Guns n’ Roses in the flesh and the friendly faces behind the bar telling me this round was on the house soon led to things starting to blur. The guys I was with all started looking like dinner and then dessert, and with a wink and a smile we gallivanted off to the bar next door for one more shot and then to yet another bar where I realized that I was in trouble. Things were happening in slow motion. I pulled down my friend’s dress while she danced against her guy with her underwear hanging out, watching a conversation between two people I don’t know. Not being able to shift my gaze, I came to an all too slow realization that my roommate has gone home in a cab by herself and it was my own voice that told her I wasn’t going with her.

The next morning, as I am frantically searching for very new and very lost earrings in a sea of wrinkled sheets and bad, bad decisions, I can’t help but think that none of this is really my fault. Faneuil Hall and having a weekend night off is what’s to blame here. I just get too excited, too thirsty, and at the time nothing seems as bad as it is as that first sliver of light is hitting your face through the shades. It all starts coming back, like a giant wave cresting and crashing against my lifeless hungover body, and I close my eyes as the waves of nausea roll over me, just another repercussion of last night’s perfect storm.

[..]

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Jun 2013 05

by Laurelin

I still think about him all the time. His name is still often on my lips although we don’t speak much these days. At first every time my cell phone lit up I would imagine his name being in the center of my screen and sometimes it was, and my heart would leap. He doesn’t reach out so much anymore, and I don’t expect it. It was silly, what we had. It wasn’t real; he wasn’t real and neither was I.

He hid things. I pretended not to know things about him and whenever I wanted to ask, I would open my mouth and something different would come out. He often left me speechless, breathless, weak in the knees, yet somehow, I was sure of myself with him until he was gone. With his absence suddenly those feelings turned to powerlessness; I was unsure of the world around me. The world was hazy, veiled.

I wore color contacts; he will never even know the real color of my eyes. Going out with a different guy the other night for drinks I had to laugh, because when I caught him staring at me I felt the words finally bubbling to the surface, a string of the many things I had never said. “Green,” I almost shouted, “my eyes are green.”

“Okay….” The new guy said, and it didn’t matter, but I felt better, almost.

Going home that night I knew that maybe it was best for me to be by myself for a little while. The cobwebs in my head needed shaking, I needed a reality check, not someone else to lean on.

Still, I think about him all the time. Some people come and go like a summer breeze, and others leave wreckage in their wake, loving and leaving like a storm whipped up off the ocean back home in Rhode Island. The sky turns black as night and flashes with lightning, splintering the sky like cracks in ice just before it breaks. The thunder is so loud you can feel it in your chest; you can breath it in. The storms are over as quickly as they began and when the clouds clear you are acutely aware that while it felt like time stopped, it in fact, did not.

Whoever I was with this guy doesn’t matter now. The clouds have scattered and time has left him only in my memory. The only thing that’s clear after this storm is that going forward from here, I can’t settle for anything less than total devastation.

[..]

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May 2013 05

by Laurelin

I’ve never really thought of myself as a tough chick. I don’t know why exactly, because when I think about it, I’ve always wanted to run wild with the boys. In elementary school my best friend Stephen and I would run around the school yard pretending we were Indiana Jones, swinging sticks as whips and tumbling. The girls played hopscotch. I never did.

When I was a little older I remember watching my neighbors Robert and Anthony wrestling on the playground. I said, “hit me!” but no one would. I yelled at Robert until I was blue in the face and all he said was, “My mother says I can’t hit a girl.” I was enraged. The boys could play rough, why couldn’t I? I ran around outside and turned brown in the sun, had skinned knees and collected salamanders from underneath rocks. I played with matchbox cars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But I was never one of the boys.

This was always my mindset growing up as a tall girl. I wasn’t one of the boys, but I wasn’t one of the girls either. When I was younger, I didn’t notice, but when junior high and high school started people were cruel. Until I developed the confidence to rock my height I was pitifully self-conscious. I tried to hide it, but I cried whenever the girls in the hall in school called me a man. I had never worn make-up or pretty clothes but suddenly I found myself wishing I owned anything besides flannel shirts and baggy jeans; for once I wanted to be girly and it seemed like no matter what happened I couldn’t find my place.

I almost wish now that my parents had pushed me into sports. I was a weird kid with not many friends, and at six feet tall in high school I had the track, volleyball and basketball coaches foaming at the mouth to get me to try out. But the kids at school broke my spirit. I wore black, moped around, and listened to Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine. I didn’t think my height served a purpose being a magnet for other people’s insults and ridicule.

***

It’s been well over a decade since those days…As I slip into the wrestling ring and square up with my opponent he pushes me off almost immediately. “Do it again, Laurelin,” he says. “You’re taller than almost everyone here and you’re supposed to be scary. Stand strong, stand tall, you’re bigger than me. Do it again.” We square up again and grapple, arms wrapped around one another’s necks and I stand tall and look my opponent in the eye. “Good,” he says. “Again, then hit me.”

I hit him, but not hard enough. “Again,” he says, and I hit him once more. “No,” he says. “Like this,” and CRACK, right across my back he hits me. The wind is knocked from my lungs but it doesn’t hurt, exactly. I think of my younger self, screaming at Robert on the playground, “HIT ME!” I don’t flinch and I stand tall, facing my opponent again. I nod and tell him I understand and he takes the hit and I toss him out of the ring. He ducks back in, smiling. “Good,” he says. “Again.”

Waking up the next morning I am so sore I can barely move. I swing my legs out of bed and I stare at them, black and swollen with mat burn. My elbows, purple and scraped, my shoulders and knees, back and hips the same. My cheek is tender from a ring rope snapping back in my face and my upper inner thighs are whipped with rope burn.

I’ll wear these bruises until they fade, badges of honor for finally feeling like I’m able to live up to my height. I don’t play volleyball, I don’t play basketball, I don’t run track. I don’t model. I am the only female in a men’s professional wrestling school, and I don’t get treated any differently because I wear eyeliner in the ring. I stand tall and take hits.

I guess I can be a pretty tough chick after all.

[..]

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Apr 2013 12

by Laurelin

Throughout my life I have prided myself in being an individual. I know most people think that of themselves and it is true. There are also those who change with their surroundings, chameleons in the light of day who will adapt and like what you like for the sake of being agreeable. These people have a mind of their own, buried somewhere beneath the need to fit in. I tend to scoff at these people, because even with their blending they stand out simply for being… lost. I see myself in these people sometimes, and it makes me want to cry.

In high school Zack rode BMX bikes and my girlfriends and I decided that we wanted to do that too. I saved up $200 and bought a Gary Fischer bike, and we would ride with the boys after school. I wasn’t good at it, but it made him happy and I wanted that. I fell and bruised my tailbone going down a half pipe once, mainly because I had no business even attempting that shit. Zack rode bikes down half pipes, not me.

After him it was John. John loved house and trance music. I didn’t really get it in the beginning, but when he held my hand and kissed me for the first time at Crobar in New York City at a Tiesto show I was hooked. I listened to everything I could get my hands on, and even after he was long gone I still craved that beat, breathing in the music like it was a drug. I’ve got Tiesto lyrics painted in ink and needles on my left ankle, so I never forget that the music was beautiful, the best thing to come out of what John and I had.

John also wore a lot of black. He had spiked black bracelets on his right wrist and black jelly bracelets on his left. He had metal 10-gauged earrings that clinked together when I touched his face, and for years after him I wore the same bracelets. To this day my 10 gauged metal earrings clink when anyone touches my face.

JC and Ryan both played the drums and they were gone I took a few drums lessons. I wore a skirt to my first one and my teacher laughed and laughed. We made it work and as the weeks went on, I realized I couldn’t hold a steady beat to save my life.

Then there was Dave…he loved professional wrestling. We watched Monday Night Raw every week and I would sit with his roommate’s girlfriend staring blankly at the TV, not quite understanding what was going on. As time went on, I started figuring it out. I started recognizing people week to week, learning their entrance music and being able to say, “I like that guy! He does flips.” Dave struggled to get me to like it, and by the end I would admit to only tolerating it mildly.

However, that mild tolerating came in handy when I met a guy who actually does that stuff — I wound up being able to catch a live pro wrestling event while visiting some friends from college in Washington DC and I was hooked. The crowd, the bright lights, I was just captivated. When Dave found out what I was getting into he couldn’t hide his annoyance: “I tried to get you into this for years and you wouldn’t have it: you meet one guy who DOES it and you change your tune?”

In my defense, it’s a lot cooler up close and way more fun when you can cheer for someone you know is a good dude who loves his job.

I also wasn’t aware of how much athleticism is involved, and as someone who is constantly looking for ways to make working out interesting, this fascinated me. This was a whole world I had never even really been open to, but all of a sudden it was all consuming. A local women’s wrestling group took me in almost immediately, saying they had had their eye on me through a friend of a friend for a while and I could just start coming to practice. After my first one, I was hooked.

A few months later I was approached by a local independent men’s wrestling group who wanted to start having women wrestle for them; I was familiar with them and immediately said yes. I start training at their pro-wrestling facility next week. I couldn’t be any more excited, but I can’t help but look back and wonder whose life it belongs to. If you were to have asked me last year if I’d consider taking up wrestling, I would have laughed and called you crazy. Now I’m wearing shiny gold spandex, body slamming and dropping microphones. And I’m not bad at it!

I guess I’ve always been a little wild, a little boy crazy. When these boys leave I have parts of them with me even if I don’t mean to and that’s a hard thing to admit. I wonder if they carry any pieces of me with them. And I wonder if they ever feel lost…

[..]

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Mar 2013 25

by Laurelin

Friendships are funny sometimes. I feel like there are so many different kinds of friendships; some strengthen and grow constructively while others fade and eventually cease to exist, even if no event in particular caused them to do so. There are a few different kinds of friends you find while immersed in the bar scene. Those you trust, and those you do not. You learn quickly that sometimes what you choose to tell someone in confidence isn’t in fact in confidence at all. If someone is always telling you secrets about other people, chances are, they are not keeping yours.

The lines and circles between bar scene friends and real friends are only slightly blurred in my world. I have a handful of people I call when I’m down and need to cry, a bigger handful of people I am comfortable talking about general life with, and an even bigger circle of people who I call every time I just want to have fun –– and even those people I know I could talk to about mostly anything. The circles blend, overlap, people often change positioning as friendships strengthen and others fall back. One thing is for sure: real friends tell the truth, even when it’s the last thing you want to hear.

I remember once in college my three best friends sat me down and told me they couldn’t listen to me talk about my ex boyfriend anymore. It had been over a year since we had broken up, I was actively participating in allowing him to cheat on his girlfriend who replaced me and I was in a constant state of upset over it.

“This is YOUR bad choice, you know where we stand,” they said. “We hate to see you getting hurt but when you’re not doing the right thing what do you think is going to happen? You can’t change if you don’t want to.”

That was a wake up call. Hard to hear, but they wanted what was best for me and I should want that too.

I’ve had similar talks with friends over the years, people who I have listened to for far too long dealing with things I knew should be different but weren’t because the person chose to be blind. As friends it is our duty to stand by and be a helping hand when someone is going through a hard time, and every so often we have to reach a little farther and help pull someone up out of hell. It’s exhausting, watching someone fall deeper and deeper into a situation; all you can do is be there for them and hope that the same will be done for you when it’s your turn to stumble.

Last night a friend (after a few drinks) dropped a bomb on me. While chattering about one of the few guys who are currently taking up some space in my mind, my guy friend set his hand on mind and told me to stop talking about it. “I can’t listen to this anymore,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense, it’s not going anywhere and you always do this, wrap your mind up in a fairy tale. This isn’t real, none of this is really happening the way you think it is,” he blurted out.

I froze, wanting to cry. Did I make a mistake, put my trust in talking about something with the wrong person? Has he always felt this way? I listen to him talk about his ex-girlfriend on a daily basis, sometimes wanting to shake him because the things he said or did were so insane, but I never did. I let him rest his head on my shoulder and I said things like, “I know what you’re going through,” because I remember what it’s like to hurt so badly. Now, in one jumbled up sentence every word of encouragement and support I had lent him died on my lips. I felt stupid.

“This isn’t real, none of this is happening the way you think it is…”

I managed a smile, sipped my beer and changed the subject. The night for me, was over.

[..]

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Mar 2013 03

by Laurelin

I remember back when I was 23 years old, sitting on my ex boyfriend’s couch and talking about the future. Back then 30 seemed like something that was unimaginably far away; we would certainly be different people with different lives by the time we were 30. It was frightening and fascinating at the same time. We giggled and promised that if by some bizarre act of God we weren’t already hitched by the time we were 30, we would get married. He and I were broken up by the time we turned 25 but we were still the best of friends for years afterwards and at that time the thought of spending the rest of my life with him after 30 seemed totally plausible.

As we crept closer and closer to 30 we both realized that time went a lot faster than we had ever expected. 30 was almost here and once again, we sheepishly laughed about the future and said, “maybe when we’re 35.” The days seemed to drip by slowly like melting wax and all of a sudden the candle was gone –– the flame flickered and eventually went out. People change; we had changed

30 came and went and he and I don’t even speak anymore. It’s been about a year since I last saw him, and I know he’s not married and neither am I. We were always different: him, willing to settle so he never had to sleep alone, and me, never settling and spending many a dark night on my own wondering what would happen if I had. His subsequent girlfriends were meek and mild mannered, nothing like me, and I spent a lot of time wondering if I should’ve changed, if I should have quietened down and acted like a lady. I never did.

That being said, the concept of still being single at the age of 30 isn’t as horrifying now as it was back when I was 23. Okay, maybe it is. I guess I should feel good about someone asking, “How are YOU still single?” Thanks. How? I don’t know, it just happened, I just am.

Everywhere I look people are paired. Most of my high school and college friends are married with multiple children, some divorced and re-married, and all the while I’ve been maintaining this wild child image, living the kind of life that most abandoned right after college.

“We wish we still had your life,” they gush, commenting on my wild blog posts and magazine articles, silly photos and last minute travel plans made possible by my bizarre schedule. I sometimes wish I had their lives, but not always.

A couple of years back I sat at the bar with a few friends “celebrating” a close friend’s recently finalized divorce. We shot Jameson with his wedding ring sunk to the bottom of the shot glass, spitting the gold ring out onto the sticky bar top afterwards, and I had never been so happy to walk home that night alone.

So bring it on. Bring on the meatheads and gym rats, the musicians, the lawyers, the occasional professional sports bro/celebrities, the grad students… and bring on the bartenders.

It’s been 30 years, I’ve kissed a lot of frogs and I’m not afraid to keep going till I find my bar scene prince. For crying out loud, I’ve pretty much seen it all. I know myself and what I’m up for; there’s not a lot that scares me. I’m always up for a challenge: don’t fucking threaten me with a good time.

[..]

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