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Sep 2013 13

by Laurelin

I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. As tough as I make myself out to be, when it comes down to it, I have always believed in the concept of love really being all you need in life. I have never been able to understand women who married for money or notoriety; how can you look yourself in the mirror every day? Growing up I loved fairy tales; I always listened, unable to sleep until happily ever after. I suppose I still believe that’s a thing, happily ever after. Or is it?

As my 31st birthday approaches I am acutely aware that I am not where I thought I would be by this age. I am not married, I don’t own a house, I don’t have kids, I don’t have money saved – hell, I don’t even have a boyfriend. Am I broken? Has believing in something perfect turned me off to something realistic?

As the minutes tick by and turn to hours that turn to weeks that turn to years, I’m wondering, does that fairy tale still exist? Is love all you really need, or is stability something that I should be looking for as well? I have always found comfort in looking back on my dating history. I have loved so many types of people: tall, short, fat, hairy, bald, muscular… Some have been drop dead gorgeous, other have left my friends wondering if I had gone temporarily blind. Either way, I have always loved every single one of those men. I don’t care one way or another what they looked like or what they had to offer besides their love – and I have never, ever been sorry.

Are things different now? Should I be worried if someone I care for isn’t perfect on paper? Is love really just… enough? My favorite love story of all time is Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. For those who haven’t read it, it’s about a boy who falls in love with a girl at a young age. She is everything to him, and she eventually breaks his heart, and he is ruined. The story takes you through his whole life with her, without her, his life thinking of her, getting over her, running into her years later (just like we all run into ex’s), and in the end, they somehow wind up together. Years pass, lives change, marriages happen and decay, children, jobs, family… Life happens. And in the end, they just knew it was love the whole time. It’s perfect. Is that the way it could all be? Or is it just that, a tale woven by an author in the 1860s?

It doesn’t matter either way. I find that no matter what I tell myself, no matter what I feel like I should do, my heart is always going to lead the way. I don’t care if you don’t have any money, I don’t care if you don’t have the perfect job. I don’t care if you’re a 30-year-old bartender, a broke ass writer, or a fancy pants pro-wrestler on TV. When it comes to matters of the heart, I will always be that hopeless romantic.

As black hearted as I feel sometimes there is always that hope, that faith that love is simply enough. I am lucky to have loved deeply in my life, and I know what it is, and what it’s capable of. As 31 approaches, I don’t feel lost in love at all. I feel in control, like I won’t settle for anything but head over heels, totally blind, never ever looking back love. And that is anything but hopeless.

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Aug 2013 21

by Laurelin

There are defining moments in everyone’s life, milestones that we’ll never forget: Births, deaths, epic parties, love or love lost. These are moments in time you’ll have imprinted in your memory forever. Whatever that moment was, it changed you as a person and it changed the path of your life. Sometimes the second it happens you know right away, and other times it takes a while. Sometimes it needs to soak until finally something clicks and you think, “Wow, that was really something.”

It all seems to fall into place when you look back on it; hours that turn to days that turns to months, and all the while you’re changing but you never know exactly how or when. We scoff at the years past, our clothing or our significant others, our fights and friendships. We know that where we are right now we are the most enlightened, we have learned from our prior mistakes and we feel invincible. And then suddenly, a year later everything has changed again. The time frame moves forward and still we are unsure of how exactly we got to this place.

I remember seeing him walk into the room almost a year ago. I remember the date, the event, what I was wearing, the way I wore my hair (the same way I wear it now). I remember what I was drinking (white wine) and that it went down like tacks because it was my 30th birthday and I was so hungover from my party the night before. I remember that I almost didn’t go. When he walked in the air rushed out of the room and out of my lungs, and as we shook hands and said hello I had no idea what I was getting myself into. If someone had flashed the next year of my life before my eyes at that moment, I would have believed it to be a dream, someone else’s life, certainly not mine.

Looking back, that handshake and smile was one of those defining moments, that one-second in time where unbeknownst to you, you have actually changed your future, altered your own fate. He still has no idea; the choices I’ve made since then, how right he was about some things and how wrong he was about others. He as a whole might have been all wrong for me, but one year later I look at who I am as I write this, and I know that my life was forever changed the second I laid eyes on him. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say thank you, but I am grateful for the new path he has shown me.

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Aug 2013 14

by Laurelin

There are lies that we tell ourselves to keep our minds from wrapping around the truth. In our heart of hearts I genuinely feel like we always know what is right and what is wrong. When we make a tough decision and someone is hurt, a lot of the time the pain is manageable because you know it was the right thing to do. Whatever pain you or the other person is going through, it’s okay because you made the right choice. Other choices we make because they are easy or because they are fun. Some choices that we make will be wrong.

When it comes to the people you spend your time with you would think the choice would be easy, and always right. That’s not always the case. Lies come easier than one would think and sometimes the wrong people get a little too close. I know I can’t be with anybody right now because my mind is elsewhere. I made that choice. I push away the people who want to get close to me, but I still want them by my side every day. They are the shoulders I want to cry on. They are the ones I want to call when something amazing happens. They are the ones who I will miss once they open their eyes and realize I am a broken mess and they deserve better.

What I gravitate towards is something to fill the right now; the men who are on the road year round who stop and see me when they’re in the area and who make me feel so special that I am happy while they’re gone. I find that I like men who appear to have other lives, and I tell myself that they’re just busy (like me). But really, they have girlfriends or wives. I find that I don’t care, and I hate myself for it. Eventually they all disappear and I comfort myself by telling myself that next time I’ll choose the good guy, though I never do.

I like to think I find the good in people. That guy on the road with the girlfriend, he does amazing things for people, he changes people’s lives and he changed mine. I don’t think I could ever believe that he is a bad person, but he’s still a liar, a cheater, a mean boy. The alcoholic, the drug addict, the steroid user, the married guys, they are all broken and I suppose part of me thought I could fix them. Part of me thinks I don’t deserve any better and the other part of me literally can’t stand the thought of someone getting so close. I lie and tell myself I love the broken ones because they know just when to leave; just before it gets real.

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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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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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