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Dec 2012 21

by Laurelin

One of the perks of having an online column is literally being able to go back in time. Exactly a week, month, and year to the date your words are still there and you can instantly remember what was going on in that moment. So many times those memories are just… lost, and I realize suddenly how lucky I am to write the truth, to write with honesty and more often than not, pain, because I can look back see how I’ve progressed. Tonight I look for last year’s post, and I am a bit squeamish. I have a sinking suspicion that nothing has changed. I don’t feel different. I feel… used up and empty. To quote Bilbo Baggins, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

On this day last year I wrote “Life Beyond the Bar Scene: Winter is Coming.” I was clearly not over my ex and I was using other people in an attempt to replace him. It wasn’t working. I remember feeling lost, confused, alone. Fast forward one year, and I have managed to actually get over the ex I was writing about. He and I didn’t speak for about six months, and while I think part of me will always look at him as the one that got away, they were the best and most needed six months of my life. Erased. Deleted from everything, hidden from Facebook, he quit working at my bar, simply… gone. I ached, and then one day I didn’t. Life goes on, what do you know!

He walked into the bar two months ago, after all that time, and I remember stopping dead in my tracks. I had almost forgotten what he looked like and that moment of recognition hit me like a wave crashing into a small vessel in a storm. I hugged him and said I was happy to see him, and for once, I was.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call you on your birthday,” he said. And I knew he had remembered it and had not called because it really didn’t matter.

“That’s okay,” I said. “I didn’t call you on yours either,” and my lower lip didn’t tremble when I turned away. I couldn’t believe it. I smiled, and when he left I waved, turned back to my bar and carried on. He was never really far from my mind, but it was almost like he had finally found a place in the archives, a place that didn’t hurt.

A new year is coming and I don’t feel any different, but I am. I think I only feel used up because I think I should feel that way. Looking back I’m suddenly pretty sure I just lived the best year of my life. I went on a ten day Caribbean cruise in January. I scuba dived shipwrecks, got over my fear of karaoke, and held baby monkeys in diapers. I danced like no one was watching even when everyone was watching and I screamed “Discount Double Check” and did Aaron Rodger’s touchdown move zip lining across the rainforest in Antigua.

I dated. I discovered dating was not for me and I discovered that while men can be mean and break my heart, I can be mean and break their hearts. And I was sorry, sometimes more than others. I got up on stage and I read stories naked for the first time in March and again in October. The first time I was so scared I could have just peed right there on stage and the second time I walked with confidence, read with pride, and now I can’t wait to do it again.

In April I ran my first Tough Mudder and it was a ten mile muddy uphill journey of insanity. I didn’t train much and when I got back, that was it. I started running. I joined a Crossfit gym and I vowed that I would no longer blame every aspect of my hectic life for the wobbly parts of my body I didn’t care for.

I got promoted at all of my jobs, I turned 30, my friends are brilliant and I still find time for the little things: cat naps, cuddling with pets, reading, movies, martinis, and the occasional misstep into romance, which as my readers know has yet to work out. Used up and empty is often a result of this; but it’s not all I am. It can’t be.

When you think about it, each day since that post one year ago is just that: one day. It’s just another ordinary day, when added up makes an ordinary week, ordinary month, and yet somehow… a totally extraordinary year.

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Dec 2012 05

by Laurelin

I hung his picture last week. I hung it in the kitchen above the stove, the space was perfect and as I pounded the nail into the wall I wondered if this was the right thing to do. It had been shoved in the back of my closet for one year and two months and today I hung it up, finally ready to not vomit when I looked at it. It’s a nice picture. It’s not a photograph: the kid fucking painted it. It’s hands down, the best gift I have ever received in my whole life, and for one year and two months after my 29th birthday the only creature that saw it was my cat when she tried to climb the vertical plastic shoe rack from Target in the back of my closet.

So, last week I hung the picture. I hung it, and when I walked in to the kitchen today to make tacos there it was above the stove as I sautéed the onions. I made tacos. I ate the tacos at the black and silver high top 50s diner style table in my kitchen and they were delicious. The painting watched, and when I was done I smiled and I knew that I had finally done the right thing. That chapter of my life was in plain sight and finally over.

It’s weird not having anything to harp on. Not having that nagging feeling of heartbreak, not having that sinking feeling as I lock the house and head to work or to the bar I hang out at. This feeling of freedom, to see these men and actually be happy to see them, to no longer have to fake it till I make it. My smile is genuine, my invites to events aren’t because I want to win them over but because once we were all friends and finally I am not a fucking idiot, and I can take this for what it always should have been: friends, co-workers, anything but what it was.

It’s like a veil has been lifted from my eyes and I can finally see, and I pray that I can constructively move forward. What did I learn from that last relationship? What did I learn from the last bartenders who broke my heart and what did I learn from the bartenders whose hearts I know I broke? As much as we think we can’t, we always put the pieces back together. We are able to one day not make the same mistakes over again, finally able to look at the bigger picture. And one day, hopefully, we can take that picture out of the closet and hang it in the perfect spot in the kitchen, right above the stove.

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Nov 2012 15

by Laurelin

I sit here in bed, the television muted, my iTunes silenced. I sit here in bed with my cell phone on vibrate; my hands ready to receive at any moment. All night, my hands, waiting. Waiting for him to say something, anything, but he doesn’t. I almost welcome that familiar twinge, that feeling that leaves me so full of emptiness. I remember I heard once that you’re never more alive than when your heart is breaking. Mine is already broken, and apparently I like nothing more than to make the same mistakes twice.

I almost don’t even know who “he” is. At this point there are so many people who could fill that void that I feel stupid, because while there are so many, there are in fact, so few.

My ex, who I haven’t spoken to in months, says he’s on his way to the bar. I miss him, but I don’t really, and when he doesn’t show tonight I feel better for not having put the picture he painted me for my birthday back on the wall. I keep thinking, “One day I can hang it,” but it’s been one year and it’s still stuffed in the back of my closet next to the framed photo of the ex that used to hit me and the clothing I wore when I would wrestle bachelors for money at the strip club in hot oil and whipped cream. I don’t know why I even think I can stand to look at it, and for one fleeting moment it’s clear as day and I don’t know why I haven’t burned it.

I find myself sitting here, wishing for anything. The last guy I liked had my friends in absolute giggles; comparing the new guy to the old one, leaving me a little bewildered because this new one was honest and sweet… at least in the beginning. So he wasn’t as muscular or tall. And then, just like all the rest, he was suddenly gone, and I was left with nothing. In the beginning we had laughed over how cold we both seemed (we weren’t really). In the beginning I had thought, “He’s not cold at all,” but in the end I thought, “He was right,” though I never cried.

I never cried. There are some guys who make you think; some who make who question your very essence. There are some guys who make you feel like nothing will ever be the same. The ones who break you, day after day, month after month, year after year. There are those guys that no matter how many times you tell yourself they’re going to stay buried they always seem to surface just when you’re at your most vulnerable. There are the guys that never call; and those are the ones who are made for nothing more than heart breaking and other lies.

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Nov 2012 01

by Laurelin

There are moments in life when nothing has changed, yet all of a sudden everything is perfect. As I walk down the street from my house – the same street I walk every day with my head down – I suddenly look up and notice the leaves have changed colors and the sky is perfect. The wind blows and a single leaf falls into my outstretched hand, Tori Amos’s “Gold Dust” is playing on my iPhone, and I feel silly for being upset about such simple things when there is so much beauty in the world (“and then you’ll understand, we held gold dust in our hands…”). There are some songs you just remember, the songs you equate with moments, the songs that from that time forward will always remind you of autumn.

Taylor Swift’s “Enchanted” came through my ear buds on the way home from the bar one night two years ago on Boylston Street. I had met someone, our eyes connecting from across the bar, and after flickering away and back again a few times we wound up chatting; At the end of the night I had a new phone number in my phone and a smile on my face. She sang, “All I can say is it was enchanting to meet you, this night is sparkling, don’t you let it go, I’m wonderstruck, blushing all the way home.” And I was so hopeful, proudly wearing my newly blushing cheeks.

Ellie Goulding’s “Guns and Horses” reminds me of a year old summer fling, a boy who I would have done anything for after we broke up, even though I knew he and I never should have worked in the first place. He got a new girlfriend not long after our relationship ended, and I was devastated. His new girlfriend eventually broke up with him and it was his turn to be sad, and that’s probably why he and I started sleeping together again. I clung to those drunken nights with him, and always on the way home alone the next morning Ellie sang, “But I wish I could feel it all for you, I wish I could be it all for you, if I could erase the pain maybe you’d feel the same, I’d do it all for you, I would.” I wished so badly that he would choose me. He never did.

Oceanlab’s “Satellite,” while an upbeat electronic song, still makes me impossibly sad. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting to find different results. After being left not once, not twice, but three times by this abusive punk rock loser, I finally pulled what was left of my own self from the wreckage and managed to walk away with some shreds of my own personality and dignity left to cultivate and finally nurse back to full health. Each time I hear that beat and “You’re half a world away, but in my mind I whisper every single word you say,” I can’t help but cringe and remember the eight years when every day was spent feeling so hopeless and alone I could have just ceased to exist.

Taylor Swift’s “I Almost Do” has been on repeat as of late, and in my current state of mind I find myself reaching for the phone, wanting to reach out to someone and then remembering that I shouldn’t waste my time on people who don’t care. I delete his number and I feel foolish for wasting my time, silly for believing the things that came out of his mouth when I was as disposable as a Styrofoam coffee cup, only useful until you’ve sucked the last drop from the depths. It starts after I lock up the bar at 3 AM and I’m walking home alone as the city sleeps. “I bet this time of night you’re still up, I bet you’re tired from a long hard week, I bet you’re sitting in your chair by the window looking out at the city and I bet sometimes you wonder about me. And I just want to tell you it takes everything in me not to call you… every time I don’t, I almost do..”

I almost do. But I don’t, and I quicken my pace and I tuck the leaf that fell into my palm in the pocket of my black leather jacket. The wind picks up and I turn my head back towards the ground.

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Oct 2012 18

by Laurelin

“And it’s electric: the neon hurt inside your phone call…”
~Something Corporate

There are few things in life I love and hate more than the glow and vibrating of a cell phone when you’re expecting something big. I use the term “big” loosely; 9 times out of 10 I’ve just said something to a guy and I’m not sure what he’s going to say: minutes crawl by like hours and then (as though I had been holding my breath the whole time) there it is, the reassuring buzz and glow. When that buzz is never returned however, we enter the moments where you become acutely aware you had been holding your breath, and you make that conscious decision to slowly exhale or simply pass out.

I remember one relationship in particular; one where when I woke up one morning he was just… gone. He had left me, I knew it, but when something so drastic happens you don’t just process it and know to move on. Your world is rocked, your foundation shaken to the core and everything you trusted – especially yourself – is betrayed. A year went by and everyday seemed the same, but in reality, a year is a year, and I suppose I was healing.

I remember I was at a party and I wasn’t even thinking about him. I was in a tube top that kept falling down and I stepped outside to the front step where no one inside would see me so I could tug it up. Mid tug my cell phone buzzed, and in the darkness of that October night I saw his name glowing. I literally felt my heart stop and I put my hand out to steady myself against the front door. I answered the call, and what happened after that is now insignificant and trite, but I will never forget that feeling; the wind knocked out of me with just a small glow in the dark.

Fast forward to now and I’m realizing that once again, I have made a mistake and started to let someone in, when really they had no business in my life in the first place. This isn’t a time stopping event, probably not even worth writing about, but I know I am and I probably will again. His texts, now few and far between, still managed to ruin my dinner when I looked down over a plate of crab rangoon and saw his name glowing in the gloom. Suddenly I wasn’t hungry and I wanted to dunk my iPhone into the giant bowl of duck sauce.

Earlier that day it had been a text from a married ex. “Saw this and thought of you,” he had said, sending a photo of a CD that played our song. Another one had stopped by the bar the night before and hugged me. “I’m sorry, I’m an ass and I didn’t call you on your birthday,” he said. “It’s okay,” I mumbled. “I didn’t call you on yours either.” He tells me to call him sometime, and I say I will although I know I won’t because I deleted his phone number when I was finally able to delete him from my life. I don’t expect to hear from him anytime soon.

I realize that I’m drifting off into my egg drop soup and I snap back to reality, tucking my cell phone into my purse and deciding to not look at it for the next hour. Suddenly it buzzes and I glance down just one last time. My defeated face turns into a bright grin, my cheeks turning red and my friends start to giggle and ask to see pictures when I show them who it is. Those boys… they know just the right moment to pop up and say hi. I make a conscious decision to leave my phone out of the duck sauce after all.

***

Laurelin is running the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for breast cancer research and awareness on Saturday, October 20th; every donation counts and is greatly appreciated.

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