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Aug 2012 09

by Laurelin

“Those guys, they just want to fuck you,” Jason had said, his finger jabbing into my shoulder again and again. I was so mad I could have broken it clean off.

“You don’t even know them,” I hissed back, making him even angrier. He scared me when he was angry, but he never hit me, although as the years went by I would come to find out that he would hit others that came after me. But even standing my ground he scared me; he had this power over me and for some strange reason, I couldn’t stand the thought of losing him. He kept me close, like a dog chained in a dirt yard on a run, allowed to run sometimes but ultimately, never allowed to leave the yard.

He made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world, and I remember thinking that I could die right there in his arms and be happy with everything I never did. But there was always the issue of my friends. While I was in college I became closer with all the men in the fraternity up the street, some even more so than my own sorority sisters. In the beginning of my relationship they were happy for me – I talked about Jason and I glowed, and they were shocked that someone had finally tamed me. Jason didn’t feel the same way about the guys I called my brothers. He knew how wild we all were, and he was convinced they all had ulterior motives.

“Those guys are NOT your friends, Laurelin. They want to have sex with you. Get it through your head, you are NOT spending anymore time with them,” he had said, and while I always fought back I eventually quieted, and instead of driving back home I always stayed with Jason. Soon my friends started calling, each call or text making Jason angry. They missed me, was I ever coming home? Why was I ignoring their calls? When could they meet Jason? But he wouldn’t meet them; a firm believer that guys and girls could never be just friends.

In the end, Jason didn’t last, thank god. When I finally broke away from him my friends were so glad, and I saw what it was like when a relationship takes over and a girl turns a blind eye to friendships in favor of a man. All these years later these boys are still my brothers, platonic, the best friends I have ever had through thick and thin, and Jason’s name hardly ever crosses my lips.

One of my closest friends in Boston is also a guy; he’s usually the first person I talk to in the morning and the last person I talk to at night before I fall asleep around 5 AM. We go to dinner, get drinks, go to movies, he thinks my last boyfriend was the dumbest guy on the face of the planet and when I was having trouble getting over it no one helped like he did:

“Laurelin, the kid is a loser. Do you really want people meeting your guys to be like, ‘Man, that chick is the coolest girl ever, but her boyfriend is a fucking tool.’ Stop crying, Jesus, pull it together.”

My friends and co-workers seem to think otherwise.

“You’re going to marry him,” they tease, and I think of Jason, his mouth set in a line, always so angry at the preposterous idea that not every guy just wants to bang me. I’ve quit trying to explain to everyone that sometimes, just sometimes…we really are just friends.

[..]

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Jul 2012 19

by Laurelin

Last night, sitting in a barstool while sipping my Sam Adams Summer Ale, I seriously wished that I were anywhere else. My mind wandered: I thought of going on vacation, I wondered what everyone was doing at my bar, if it was busy, I wondered about my bed, and what would be on TV when I got home. I wondered if it was going to rain tomorrow, if I would sleep in or if I would get up and go for a run. I wondered if I would be hungover. Probably not.

It’s another Tuesday, and the most excitement I’ve had all night is tracing the outline of the snakeskin print leather barstool. My two friends sitting next to each other are squawking about their relationships and I am trying not to fall over out of sheer boredom. We’ve been out since 7 PM. It was 1 AM. My brain had officially turned to relationship mush.

“He doesn’t touch me anymore,” one says. “I go home, he ignores me, he wakes up, goes to work, I know he doesn’t love me.” The other shakes her head vigorously in agreement.

“I KNOW,” she says. “Mine doesn’t love me either. I said I love you to him and he didn’t say it back. Laurelin, what do you think?” She says, turning towards me and asking for advice that I know she’ll never take.

“I think I’m going to stab myself in the throat,” I say absentmindedly. The two girls look at me, horrified. I totally didn’t mean to say that out loud. What I meant to say, and what I had been saying all night is this: How can two beautiful, amazing, once independent woman stay in these loveless relationships simply because they don’t want to be alone?

“We live together,” one says. “

We work together,” says the other. I’ve been down both of those roads, and you know what? You do right by you. You make the important decisions and you trust that one day, you will meet someone who is right for you. Some day you will find your best friend, that one guy who wants you to come home and crawl into bed even if it’s late, the one who won’t leave you sobbing in the street after telling you you’re “lucky” he came home because he totally could have banged that chick at the bar.

These poor women; They often look at me with sadness in their eyes because when I ask them to go out a lot of the time they can’t – they’re with their boyfriends. “Aren’t you lonely?” they ask, the question dripping with pity. Yes. The answer is yes, I am so lonely that sometimes it’s all I can do not to just fling myself into bed at the end of each long day, praying to never wake up. I am so lonely sometimes that I call my ex-boyfriend and tell him to come over when I know he’s been drinking, just so I can listen to him snore and remember what it’s like to sleep next to a warm body.

But I am not so lonely that I would ever do what these girls are doing. Love is hard and relationships need to be worked on. But these, these have been dead for a long time and that type of lonely, well that is something I don’t have. My lonely can be solved with the simple concept of hope. I haven’t met someone yet. I will. I always do. With every sunrise and sunset I never know what’s around the corner, but these girls, they do, and it makes me so sad and bored for them that I could just die.

We walk home later, and one of them is crying. “I can’t do this anymore,” she says. I hug her and tell her to do the right thing, whatever that is. I fall asleep alone, and I know she’s drying her eyes before her boyfriend sees that she’s been crying.

I text her the next day, “How’d it go?” and she writes back like nothing ever happened. “Fine,” she says, “I was just being silly. He went golfing. We’re going to the movies later.”

I’d rather go alone.

***

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Jul 2012 05

by Laurelin

I enter this week with a heavy heart. Usually I have something to look forward to, some great event that with the passing of each shift at work I can say that I’m one day closer to. I enter this week with a heavy heart because I have no one, no increased heartbeat when my cell phone lights up on the end of the bar because it might be him. There is no him. I enter this week with a heavy heart because when I look ahead I see only the same thing day after day; I see only what I feel the majority of the world sees: plain and boring monotony. My heart is heavy, and it’s crushing me.

This week is my chance to shine at work. With my boss on vacation for one week I am the next in line, so this building and everyone in it is mine to run. My walls, my liquor, my beer taps and kegs, my neon lights and my whole staff. Seven straight days of bartending to make sure nothing goes wrong, to make sure this place looks better than when it was left this past Monday. But with no days off to look forward to I can’t help but feel like I’m in a war zone. No Boston waterfront for the fourth of July, no sunshine in my face at the beach, my tan lines fade and my eyes lose their spark as I adjust to sixty-three hours indoors. Even breathing becomes boring.

I fight the sinking realization that this means for one week I am left alone with my own head, my own abilities or inabilities. I have no time to drink with friends until it’s all numb, until I can only laugh about everything that right now seems so overwhelming. I have only time to wonder if I am really upset about working so much, or if I am upset about being able to drink too little. I know it’s only one week; after this weekend my schedule is back to normal, but for some reason the days seep by slowly like spilled molasses.

To make a change one must desire change and create change. I desire change. I also desire sunshine. I desire men, and I desire sangria. Instead, this week, I get sixty-three hours. This week I get discipline, ruling others, and myself. This week I bitch slap my liver and other neglected body parts so they don’t fall into misuse. This week, it will take everything in me not to fade to dust…

***

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Jun 2012 21

by Laurelin

I promised I would never write about him again, and it’s amazing how easy that promise has been to keep. (This totally doesn’t count.) I haven’t wanted to, needed to. I’ve had nothing to say worth even remotely remembering. I remember this feeling before, just like all the others. That slow creeping suspicion that you feel fine, that he’s on your mind but not as close to the surface as he was the day before. With it comes this really stupid lost feeling: like, what am I going to DO now that I’m not thinking about it all the time? The answer is very simple: anything I fucking want.

I find myself smiling for no reason throughout the day because all of a sudden I’m no longer trapped in my own mind. I’m acutely aware of the sunlight shining off the top of the Prudential Center and how my city is so beautifully illuminated in the summer even in the midst of concrete. The Charles River glistens as I listen to the sound of my own feet slapping against the sidewalk and I’m running for me, not because he’ll only like me if I’m thin like all the other girls. I feel almost like this was a test, to see if I could pull myself out of the quicksand and be all the better for it.

Granted I haven’t been tested yet. I’m dreading the moment I run into him somewhere. I can imagine my blood turning to ice and my stomach turning. That’s one thing that never changed, feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut every time I see him. One can only hope that whatever dreams he chooses to chase take him far away from where I’ve already found mine.

It’s cloudy in Boston today, and I’m shivering writing this on my porch on my day off. I’m planning my usual Tuesday night city waterfront sangria crawl and I have a new phone number in my phone and the memory of smiling last night at my bar, my heart pounding as I’m pouring this guy a drink and inviting him to come out –– someone new. I’ll go to the same spots and do the same things, but it will be different. Maybe tonight’s the night I’ll stop looking for him every time the door opens.

“What do you guys think?” I ask the waitresses once he finishes his drink and walks out.

“So. Hot,” they say, and I smile.

Outside on my porch, the clouds roll in as the wind picks up. It’s getting colder but I don’t care. For once it’s beautiful, not gray to match my mood. I could sit out here all day.

[..]

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May 2012 31

by Laurelin

I had this post written over a week ago. I had just walked home from his house for what I knew would be the last time. I was so sad that I could have cried, but I didn’t. I sat down and I wrote about it. When I woke up later and re-read what I had written, I knew it could never see the light of day. He didn’t deserve those words, like he didn’t deserve me. Words help me remember, and I desperately need to forget.

I had written something like it before: ten years ago sitting in an ex-boyfriend’s house in Providence. He was going to leave me, I knew it, so while he slept I would look around. I memorized the way the black curtains fell across the dirty cracked window pane, the way I could see the black bars of the fire escape over the setting sun and Providence skyline. I memorized every poster: Marilyn Manson, The Crow, the black and white kissing girls. I memorized the way it smelled, like Yankee Candle’s Moonlight Path mixed with the shavings from the snake and iguana cages. But most of all I would look at him.

The way his two metal gauged hoop earrings clinked together when I touched his face. (Years later I would buy the same earrings just to hear that sound.) My fingers had traced every outline of his body and just watching him sleep was enough to make me want to cry. Because I knew he was going to leave me, and I wanted to remember. I didn’t want to ever forget a single thing.

And when he did leave me, I wrote it all down. I said that the sky would never be as beautiful as it looked though his window. I was foolish; that that one didn’t deserve those words either. But I always treasured them. I remember being caught scribbling by one of my sorority sisters, and when she asked me to read her something I had written I hesitated before deciding to read her that essay. I got about halfway though when I noticed she had tears streaming down her face. When I was done she grabbed my hand and told me that I should never stop writing. We cried, but I was happy to have finally shared him with someone.

Last Friday after creeping in from his apartment I decided that enough was enough. I would never again notice how leaving the bar drunk my hand slides so easily into his. I would never again get so drunk that I would try to not feel ashamed for winding up in his arms, knowing he was only holding me because he had no one better. Last Friday I wrote my final piece about loving him, and I said goodbye.

I had traced his every outline, but his feeling will fade, and in time so will this sharp feeling of total loss. I might run into him again down the line, and hopefully by then I will be able to genuinely smile. Hopefully by then I won’t have to turn away so he won’t see my lower lip trembling. I write to remember, but some things need to be forgotten, erased. Hopefully one day I can come back to this and remember how last Friday was the start of something worth remembering.

[..]

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May 2012 10

by Laurelin

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I’ve been in a serious rut lately. I don’t know if it has to do with my approaching 30th birthday, my increased responsibility at work, my lack of any romantic interest in anyone besides an ex that I just want out of my head, or a lethal combination of all of these things. Either way, I haven’t been very happy lately, and I really don’t feel like myself. I feel…lost. Sad. Alone. Rejected. Like I’m standing in a crowded room screaming — and no one can hear me, or the ones who can just don’t care.

I know it is nothing more than a temporary hiccup in an otherwise smooth existence, so I have been dealing with this the best way I know how: drinking, reading, working out, whatever. I’m choosing one night a week to do something really fun and taking it to the next level in a vain attempt to forget that for one second, when I go home, I will probably just start to cry about the same thing over and over again.

The one constant in my recent fall from my ever-perfect life is my ex-boyfriend from a few years ago. He was the person who inspired me to start writing this column; first in anger, then as time went on in friendship and in unwavering support. He moved to Los Angeles about five months ago. His leaving made me feel like a part of my life was seriously over. I felt conflicted; devastated and happy at the same time. This city eats bartenders alive, and he was ready for a change. We always said we would go together, and when we broke up I was the one dead set on leaving… but I wound up staying, and months later, he left, and I cried.

He knows me better than most of my girlfriends, and when I call him drunk and crying about another guy at 4 AM, he always answers and he always knows just what to say. Just hearing his voice on the other end of the line is like being thrown a rope, something to keep me hanging on for just a little bit longer.

“You were crying about birthday cake,” he said the other morning, “it was cute, and sad.” Birthday cake, the one that I had custom made for a guy who never showed up for his party I helped plan in Boston, and who shut off his phone when I called to ask what was going on. Instead, I carted the cake home to my apartment and my roommates and we tore it apart; ate half of it and threw the rest in the trash. And I got drunk and I cried, because I was an idiot to care about someone who never cared for me, again.

And then, a few weeks ago, my ex called from LA to say he was coming home. He had had enough of California, and for once, I didn’t cry. He was coming home and finally, maybe, things could get back to normal. He’s been back for two days, and when I woke up this morning I was tangled up in him and for once, I didn’t feel lost.

I woke up, I took his clothes and I washed them with mine. I pulled his old dusty Tupperware container out of the closet and got him new socks and underwear and one of his T-shirts. I made coffee while he slept, and when he woke up he rubbed my back because I had run twelve miles in the rain the day before and I was cold and sore, and we were happy.

We might not be together anymore, and I don’t want to be, to be honest. We’re clearly both lost, but we take care of each other, for now. Sometimes, when you’re in a rut it’s nice to have someone throw you a rope. Other times it’s nice to have someone climb down and sit there with you until you’re ready to muster the strength to get out on your own.

[..]

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Apr 2012 26

by Laurelin

It’s been a long time since I’ve done this. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday, a once sharp pain now only a memory that makes me cringe only because of the way I almost remember feeling. It’s faded now, the sharp feeling of loss from so long ago to be replaced with this new experience, one that’s a bit more bittersweet and almost entirely silly.

I remember the first time. I was standing at the Ocean Mist in Rhode Island at an all ages rock show. The bar was perfect; on stilts that went into the ocean so when you looked away from the crowded stage and sticker covered walls you could see only the blue of the ocean. The windows were open in the summer and you could taste the salt on your tongue while you breathed in the bass from the speakers. As a teenager, it was heaven.

I had had a crush on this guy forever, and I had decided that while we were all out that night I was finally going to tell him how I felt. The music faded to a dull pounding in my brain as I walked over to him, and my stomach flipped somersaults. I somehow managed to spit it out, not remembering exactly what I said but distinctly remembering his face, his blank expression that told me that I was wrong, he would never like me back, and I turned and ran. Later a friend told me that he was embarrassed, that I was too tall, disproportionate. I wanted to die.

All these years later, finally comfortable with who I am, how tall I am, my life and my choices. All these years later still struggling with the truth and just finally giving up and telling someone I still have feelings for them even though I know nothing good will come of it. I don’t know why I said it. I don’t know why I felt the need to tell him, it’s not like I couldn’t sleep or live without finally getting this off my chest. I know it was stupid and it does nothing but makes things awkward. (All these years later that still hasn’t changed.)

I don’t feel better. I don’t know if I feel worse. I don’t think things can be the same, but they shouldn’t have to be different. I imagine that in the grand scheme of my life, this is going to be something I look back on and laugh at. A psychic once held my hand and said, “You have already been so lucky, you’ve had two great loves and two great heartbreaks. This thing you hold, this is neither. So why can’t you move on?”

It’s something that now, I can remedy with calling other ex-boyfriends and drinking with girlfriends, where as back then I cried myself to sleep for days. This time, only a train ride home with a bit of smudged mascara, a woeful realization that I’m not as tough as I make myself out to be. I feel bad for myself. I feel bad for making him struggle to find the right words to not hurt my feelings. I feel bad for the past three guys I’ve dated, because I have kicked them all to the curb with a handful of lies and half truths once we hit the one month period. Better off alone until I figure this out, don’t like to be alone so I start things I can’t finish.

“It’s okay, because you know this is silly,” my roommate says as I’m trying not to let anyone at the bar see me cry. “I know,” I mumble, and I DO know. I don’t even notice the guy walking up behind me and ordering shots. “Two please,” he says and passes one to me with a kind smile. My eyes dry almost instantly, and I know how stupid I must look. We cheers and the shot goes down like fire, but I seem to have found my coy smile, and this guy is kind of cute.

“Rough night?” he asks.

“It’s nothing,” I say smoothly, and the lie spreads like butter on warm toast, so well that I almost believe it. Almost.

[..]

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