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Apr 2012 06

by Laurelin

The old woman cupped my hand in hers. Narrowing her eyes and making a clicking noise in the back of her throat she looked up and smiled warmly. “You are untrusting in love,” she said. “Why? What is there to worry about, you have had two great heartbreaks in your life and they are over, it’s time to put the past behind you. I look in your eyes and see such warmth, too bad you cannot speak with your eyes.” She lets my hand go and it falls into my lap. I guess that lady gets paid to say those things, but at 2 AM in New York City it suddenly seems so real, and I walk back through Times Square to my hotel wondering about what she said. Was she right? Was I totally untrusting?

I went on a date the other night with a bartender from a trendy bar downtown. He wasn’t anything like me, and while once that would have really frightened me, now it seems really appealing, challenging, intriguing. I had a great time, and at the end of the night back home at my apartment I found myself smiling stupidly, wishing my roommate was home so I could talk her ear off about it. I never heard from that guy again, and it was a bit unsettling for a few days. What did I do wrong? This was so typical.

After a few days of not hearing back I moved on; not everyone gets an explanation as to why something doesn’t work out. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself a little bit — here I was wondering why everything seemed to click when it didn’t really. Who does that? “You do that,” my roommate points out. “You do that all the time. Have a great time and then freak out and run away and never tell the guy why. That’s like, your favorite thing to do!” I think about it and I can’t help but laugh, at myself, at the poor guys I have dated in the past five months, and at the whole situation in general. She’s right, I have an inability to tell the truth when it comes to wanting to end something before it really starts; I just slither back to my bar scene life and immerse myself in work. One can always trust the reliability of a 45 hour work week. Does that make me untrusting? Easily bored? Non committal?

I have always considered trust in relationships to be something that is created over time once you find someone who doesn’t drive you nuts. All of a sudden I realize that I’m looking at the cell phone you left on my nightstand when you were rushing to work and I roll over and go back to bed – instead of flipping through your texts. I’m left alone in your apartment and your computer is right there with your e-mail up on the screen, and I sign out and into mine without even a second glance. You want to go out with your friends to the strip club with an eight ball of cocaine in your pocket? Sure, have a good time. I trust you. See? I can be trusting.

That old lady was wrong. I have trust in a lot of things. I trust that my friends will get me through anything. I trust that I’m a good judge of character, and that even if something doesn’t work out that I chose that person or that path because I saw something good in it, because I thought that it would make me a better person. I trust that I will not always do the right thing but that I will know the difference between the two, and that I will do better next time, be stronger and able to learn from my mistakes. I might be untrusting in love, but that is only because a lot of times the way it’s ended up for me has left me feeling like I trusted something that wasn’t real, or that was only real for a little while and that is devastating. I was never mislead, nor was I ever misleading to anyone I ever called mine. If I mislead you, you were never mine, nor I yours.

Untrusting in love seems normal to me to an extent; it’s good to be cautious with your heart after you have spent so long learning to trust yourself. I’ll open up when the time is right. For now, the only trust I need is from the bartender shaking my martini or muddling my mojito. It’s almost summer time, and I smell some really poor life choices on the horizon. If there’s one thing I can trust in, it’s that.

[..]

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Mar 2012 15

by Laurelin

Change over time is a strange thing; it’s so gradual and so fast at the same time. One day you open your eyes and you’re like, wow, where did the time go? How did I get here in this apartment with all this stuff, with this job and this… life.

That’s how I felt high school and college were, and then all the years after that –– a montage of years blending, flickering in my memory like old movies, set to the most beautiful music. It all seemed to be only an exhale in a series of breaths, and all the breaths gone with only the slightest breeze before I’m even aware I’ve drawn another. It was forever and no time at all at the same time, and when it was finally over I couldn’t place how I had changed, or when; I just knew that somehow, I had. Looking back on the past month of my life I am finally able to look at something and know that without a doubt, this instance was when everything changed. This moment was mine.

I have always coasted though life with minimal responsibilities. At almost 30 I have to say I have the best and worst of it all: I have worked hard for every penny I’ve earned. I’ve always paid my own way. I fell into bartending because it paid my bills and still allowed me to party. This was a community where I could drink and stay up late and have a family, and a home away from home. I watched every friend I ever had in high school and then college settle and get married, start families, buy houses. And I stayed the same. I don’t think I ever had a problem, but I certainly never had any solutions. I never thought of it as a career, but it all of a sudden was mine, and while others turned up their noses I decided to make it my own. I never thought that anyone else would imagine me as being able to run a bar on my own; it was always someone else’s job. But then all of a sudden, there it was. An offer for this place to be mine –– really, actually mine.

Being offered a management position in an industry that has always allowed me to coast through life with minimal responsibilities seemed at first frightening. I can’t do this! Other people do this! It was scary, knowing that someone saw something in me, someone thinks I could run the show. What if I’m not good at it? What if I let everyone down? A chance to shine is also a chance to fail, and I always ran from responsibility in fear of failing. Mulling over my fate clutching my usual pint of beer, I consciously make a choice. This job I’ve chosen might not be what “everyone else” is doing, but it can be a career, it’s always been mine. I took a week to think about it and when I was finally ready to say “yes,” I knew that my life would never be the same. This was one of those moments where you take control and literally steer your life down one path. Mentally, I strap on my seatbelt and brace for impact.

My new manager pants seem to be fitting alright, but at the same time I am still so lost; working amongst friends and ex-boyfriends, trying to find my voice of authority while also trying to remain one of the gang. I have no idea who this person is who is supposed to be in charge. I feel like I haven’t found my voice. I can’t even control the color of my cheeks around my ex, how can I control the bar? I may not feel like I can find that voice of authority, but I have always had MY voice, and sometimes I hear that person I want to be stepping forward and speaking, as though someone else is finally accepting a role, and it takes a minute to realize that that person really is me.

I’m settling in in my own way, piece by piece. I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, there really isn’t a life beyond the bar scene. Some people were created just for this; born of late nights, shaken cocktails, of phone numbers and thoughts scribbled on cocktail napkins and spilt beer. I like to think that I didn’t just fall into this because it was easy. That’s how it started, sure. But it’s not how it’s going to end.

[..]

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Mar 2012 01

by Laurelin

People always think that as a bartender I must be always surrounded by men. Flirting with the bartender is just what people do, it’s true. I’m going to be honest though — besides the occasional coworker, in my years behind the bar I have never once met and wound up hooking up with or dating a guy I’ve met while working. I am friendly, but I am not one of those girls who bats her eyelashes for tips. I would rather impress you with my knowledge of beer selection than with my boobs (although I do have a pretty perky rack).

That being said, let’s move on to something a little on the girly side: hair. I have spent the majority of my life as a faux ginger. My hair is naturally mousy brown, and in high school (without my parents permission of course) I started dying it auburn. With the exception of a few years of rebellion with crazy haircuts and experimenting with pinks, blues, and purples, I have always had long, red hair. I woke up one morning about a month ago with a new idea in my head. Blonde. I wonder…Not an hour later I found myself in a salon chair covered in foils, and an hour after that, I was a different person. I looked in the mirror and couldn’t believe it. Could I touch it? Is this me?

I didn’t think anyone would care, but as the days went by I started to notice a serious difference in the way men talked to me. People held doors, bought me drinks, smiled more. Is this for real? Maybe it was in the way I held myself; I had just received two promotions at both my jobs and I admit to having a bit more pep in my step as of late. Either way, people always say blondes have more fun, and I’m starting to think they weren’t kidding. My bar shifts end in multiple phone numbers written on napkins and bar receipts. Guys hang around a little past closing and ask what I’m doing after work, I need to shove them out the door and try not to laugh. People whistle in the streets and I’m wondering, was I invisible as a red head? Seriously?

The other night at a charity event I met this guy who on paper, seemed perfect. We chatted, I wasn’t exactly interested but I wasn’t not interested. He wound up having too much to drink and in ordering us a round of beers he made a snide comment, purposely insulting the bartender. I was horrified, but I thanked him for the chat and went to find my friends. I could feel his eyes on me for the rest of the night, and I wished I had anywhere else to be.

One week later, I’d just started a shift at work. Before I can even take off my coat, I look up and there he is, the guy from the charity event. My cheeks burn and I open my mouth to speak but nothing comes out.

“Do you remember me?” he asks.

“Yes…” I say.

“I can’t stop thinking about you,” he says. “I can’t believe I didn’t get your number. Please, go out with me.” I look around, wondering if anyone else is hearing this. The coat I have taken only halfway off suddenly feels like a million pounds of wool, and I start sweating.

“Um, I’m flattered, but I’m kind of seeing someone…” I manage to stammer.

“I don’t care,” he says. “One coffee date.” Whelp, that’s it for me. The scent of desperation on anyone makes bile rise in my throat but at the same time I feel so bad for this guy that I can barely stand it.

“You should go,” I say. He doesn’t go, he stares at me, and as the other bartender walks up I hold my hand up in a half wave, and he finally gets it. He leaves, and I start my shift shaking.

Fucking blonde hair, seriously. I’m in trouble.

[..]

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Feb 2012 15

by Laurelin

I have always felt a little indifferent about Valentine’s Day. It seems cliché to hate it, stupid to love it, and all in all, just another day of the week. I don’t think I have ever had a spectacular Valentine’s Day even when I was in a relationship. In college, my boyfriend at the time told me we were supposed to go to dinner and then he wound up not being able to afford it. I was crushed. But I remember one other day, in the middle of the summer when he left a single red rose under my windshield wipers, and he hid so when I looked around the parking lot I didn’t see him until when I turned around, he was right there kissing me. It was one of the most romantic moments of my life, and it was also just another day.

A few Valentine’s days ago my boyfriend at the time and I went to a romantic dinner at a candlelit historic restaurant in Boston’s Beacon Hill district. The tables were so close together and we were both so tall that we looked like bulls in a china shop trying to be classy and quiet amidst normal sized couples. We wound up eating so much food and dessert that we couldn’t even make room for drinks afterwards, and we were both massively uncomfortable for the rest of the evening. Sexy.

I feel like Valentine’s Day is just one of those days that winds up making people feel bad, so I usually just do what I always do on every other day: hit the bars. If anyone is out at a bar in Boston on Valentine’s Day chances are they’re single. The odds of running into a guy lying about having a girlfriend on Valentine’s Day are slim to none, so I look forward every year to some guilt free bar scene action.

One year ago today I was with four single friends. One guy had just been dumped (they got back together), one had just been snubbed my by best friend and was nursing a bruised ego (he is now happily in a relationship), and then there was me and my friend Lindsay, two girls who can’t seem to be tamed. We were drinking twenty three ounce Harpoon UFO drafts and knocking back shots of Jameson when I glanced up and happened to meet eyes with a guy standing across the bar. I leaned into my friend Jay not-so-stealthily, “he’s CUTE!” I whispered, quickly looking away, my cheeks burning.

Not two seconds later I had a shot of Patron placed in front of me, and the bartender gestured towards that guy across the bar. “It’s on him,” the bartender said. I looked up and the guy was holding a shot as well, and I knew that there was no turning back now, I had to rip this shot and act like tequila didn’t make me throw up in my mouth. Turning down salt and lime, I got the shot down the hatch and stood up to go say thanks. I flashed my best smile and held out my hand, and I met Dan.

I remember leaving the bar that night with a smile stuck to my face. Who goes to a bar and meets a guy on Valentine’s Day? It was perfect, so sappy, so lame, and oh my god, why couldn’t I stop smiling? That night was the start of something that wound up being silly, tumultuous, fun and pretty important. Dan has become a staple in my life, someone I call when I need advice, need a drinking partner, need a pep talk on getting over an ex. We just got back from an 11 day cruise with a few other friends, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime with whom to spend that time in paradise with. Looking back one year later I can’t help but still have a smile stuck on my face.

It’s funny, how life works out. I always thought that Valentine’s Day was just another day, and it is — but you never know when life is going to hand you someone special — and as always, extra points when that someone special is holding a shot of tequila with your name on it.

[..]

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Feb 2012 02

by Laurelin

There are a lot of things I remember about certain people, and a lot of things I’m sure I forget. A lot of the things I remember I wish I didn’t, some things make me smile, things remind me that I’m human, that things change, people change. I remember tracing outlines, wanting my fingertips to remember every dimple, every muscle line, every tattoo. I remember smells, sounds, songs playing before I drift off to sleep, songs playing in clubs when our eyes meet across the dance floor and I can just breathe in a beat. But always with these memories, I remember that things change.

I feel like I have already lived a lifetime of change when it comes to my friend Ben. I remember the first time I ever saw him, a fleeting moment of eye contact in a filthy frat house and I thought, “who is THAT…” and he was gone, and it didn’t matter because whoever he was, this was my boyfriend’s frat house. Ben and I wouldn’t talk much that summer, but I always remembered him.

Fast-forward to a year later, long after my boyfriend and I had broken up, and I was turning 21. It was a Tuesday night, and as the lights flashed for last call at my first bar my best friend Lisa ran up to me. I was drunker than I’d ever been before, and she was smiling as she gestured towards the door.

“I found him,” she said, “for your birthday. I found him, that guy from the frat house.” And there he was, she had found him somehow, and that was the beginning. It was a fairy tale in a sense, a sorority girl in a pink lettered sweatshirt and a smirking sarcastic guy with tattoos, something that didn’t make such sense but would be all and none of the sense I knew from then on.

It seems so far off now, but all those year ago I did love him, or I thought I did. We dated, we were inseparable, we would hit a rough patch and take a break. We would fight, like really fight; screaming and crying, nights where I would just want to die if he wouldn’t speak to me again. I did things that I haven’t done since and will never do again, things I can’t even say out loud let alone type. I am the most ambitious person I know, but I remember I wrote him a letter, saying that I could lay with him forever and be happy with everything I never did. Time stood still and moved like liquid at the same time. It wasn’t right, perfect to no one else but me. Then one day, he was gone.

When I say gone, I mean gone. Years together and then just gone, disappeared, fallen off the planet. It was one year almost to the day until I heard from him again. I can’t say what happened in that year; but finally, after indescribable hurt, I was eventually healing. Everything that’s happened to me since that moment has seemed like nothing I can’t conquer, every break up since then has been tough, but almost laughable. It was the longest year of my life, and then one day, it was over. 12 months later I looked down at the glow of my flip phone and recognized his number. I should have known better than to answer it I’m sure, but the apology on the other end of the phone was really a long time coming.

Add a few more years, a lot of bad choices (meeting his father for the first time while I was drunk at work at a strip club in a naughty nurse uniform), and a few good choices (endless concerts, dancing all night, swimming at the beach by moonlight, traveling to Ireland together) and we somehow found ourselves over the worst, over the on and off dating and finally, just plain friends. I don’t know when I stopped loving him, but somewhere along the line I finally found ME, and I realized that while I had always thought there was no me without him, that wasn’t the case at all.

Ten years later he would have the perfect description of what happened to us between now and then: “You moved to Boston, you found this life, this strong personality and you stopped being that small town girl from Rhode Island, that girl who just wanted someone to love her.” Our strong personalities clash, and one afternoon a few weeks ago I made a call, and he must have recognized my number. Ten years later, after yet another year of not speaking, I’m finally looking at him from across my bar. We’re both smirking with tattoos now, and I see our life together in a blur of colors, sounds, hurt feelings, songs and traced outlines. We order a round of shots and I rest my head on his shoulder, finally with my best friend again after all this time.

“How do you guys know each other?” my friend asks, pulling up a bar stool. Ben and I look at each other.

“It’s a long story,” I say, smiling.

[..]

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Jan 2012 12

by Laurelin

It’s a weird thing, a girl’s heart. I like to think that no matter what my brain says, I can always make the right choice if I use both organs. Speak with your brain, think with your heart. As much as I wanted to open my mouth and protest as the last two important guys in my life let me go, I didn’t, because my heart told my brain that what they were doing was right, that we weren’t right, and it was time to be on my own again. I trust that my heart will always guide me, even if it sometimes gets lost. And I trust that even when I have to hurt someone else, I am only doing what’s right for me, and that’s what’s most important.

It was this situation I found myself in recently, and I still can’t help but feel so guilty for actually not feeling anything at all. I’m not sure when I arrived at the decision that I wasn’t exactly over my ex, but somewhere along the lines he crept back into my mind and there is nothing worse than a girl who can’t think straight who’s become involved with someone else. My “someone else” was another bartender, a fit and cocky guy who fit my unfortunate type perfectly. We had gone out a few times and what I thought was going to be something slow and fun quickly took a turn — this guy seemed to want to get serious almost immediately. I froze, unable to see his smiling face through the red flags that suddenly clouded my vision.

My brain started going a mile a minute. Was I scared to commit? If I didn’t want to be in relationship with this guy, why were we dating in the first place? Am I not ready to date? Or did I just know in my heart that he wasn’t the one for me? Was I just using these recent thoughts about my ex as a crutch to not have to feel anything for anyone right now? I was feeling overwhelmed and guilty almost immediately, even though I guess the point of dating is to get to know someone. If it wasn’t working out for me, all I had to do was end it. All I could do was tell the truth.

They weren’t kidding when they say the truth hurts. I kept faltering, stuttering, unable to find the words to say what I was feeling, unable to make this guy really understand why I couldn’t see him anymore. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, and it did not go well. All I kept thinking was that at least I was being honest, but it’s never easy to hurt someone, even if you have only just started seeing them. I wasn’t ready for this, I had to clear my own head and heart before I was willing to let someone else into either of them.

The amount of relief I felt when it was finally over was so great that I could have jumped for joy, and at the same time I could have burst into tears. Knowing that someone out there was so hurt and angry with me was like a punch in the gut. I’m so used to being the one who gets hurt that I forgot what it was like to do the hurting; it isn’t any easier.

So now I’m back to just me; my usual lingering unwelcome thoughts about the ex, back to sleeping with the cat and brewing only one cup of coffee in the morning. I kind of like it; my choice to be alone rather than be with someone who wasn’t right for me just for the sake of being with someone. I always did sleep better alone, and it’s a sound sleep, knowing that my heart and brain were on the same page and for once, did the right thing.

[..]

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Dec 2011 22

by Laurelin

Winter is coming. Maybe I have been way too involved in reading the Game of Thrones series, but that phrase has been running the show these past few months. Winter is coming, cold weather, boyfriend season. It’s time to stockpile your nuts in anticipation of frozen ground, time to find some people to hibernate with, someone to snuggle with to save money on that heat bill. Whatever the reason, winter IS coming… and so far I think my stockroom is looking alright.

My best friend looked at me the other day and cautiously asked if she could tell me something. I said of course, and she slowly said, “I don’t think you’re over your ex-boyfriend.”

I laughed. “What was your first clue?” I said.

“Thank God,” she replied. “Well, you never came out and said it, so I didn’t want to bring it up.”

She’s right, although I feel like I always bring it up. For some reason lately his name has never been far from my mind, and even now, months later, I feel almost worse off than when it had just happened. It doesn’t make sense to me; it’s not like we had this incredible connection that I felt left a hole in my life. I have managed to maintain a normal work relationship with him, I have managed to keep calm when I need to and to keep a smile on my face. But I guess I never really had that healing ‘out of sight out of mind’ time period, and for some reason my mind is starting to play tricks on me, making me think I made a mistake. Making me wish that things hadn’t ended.

It’s not like I haven’t been dating and trying to move on. I went on a coffee date with a stranger, I’ve marched into the bar across the street and given my number to a bartender that I’ve always thought was cute. He called, and we’ve been meeting for drinks here and there, but in the back of my mind I think I’m doing it just for the challenge. When I go out with any of these guys I truly am looking for a connection. I don’t want to randomly hook up. I don’t even mean to stockpile for winter, it’s not nice. But all of a sudden I’m feeling wishy-washy, and for whatever reason on the first date we’re holding hands, and I’m smiling sweetly but really, I’m screaming, “WHO DOES THAT? GET ME OUTTA HERE!”

The other night after getting drinks with one guy (and a ride home from another) I decided to return a phone call from a far off ex-boyfriend, he had been calling during the date and I kept pushing him to voicemail.

“How was your date?” he asked.

“It was alright,” I say. “I miss you,” and I mean it. This guy and I are strictly friends now, and he moved to Los Angeles recently. We talk on the phone often, but he is greatly missed.

“Get in a cab and come to the Park Plaza hotel,” he says. “I’m in Boston.” Two minutes later I am back in a cab and heading downtown at two a.m., certain the cab driver thinks I’m a hooker. I pull up outside the hotel and walk through the doors into the most beautiful lobby I have ever seen. Crystal chandeliers hang from cathedral ceilings and music plays softly, drifting around the biggest Christmas tree I have ever seen. I walk to the tree and look around until I hear him call my name, and we just hug for a few minutes. I feel like I’m in a movie, a good holiday heartwarming moment. He was someone who left a hole in my life when he left, and sometimes a hug from a friend at two a.m. in front of a fancy hotel Christmas tree is just what you need to feel whole again.

I spend the night, but we just talk and fall asleep. I laugh to myself going over the day in my head, a full shift at work, a burlesque ballet performance, drinks with one guy, a lift home from another, back in a cab to meet another at a hotel at three a.m. My best friend’s words echo in my head and I say them out loud to my friend and he nods knowingly. I’m not over my ex. I feel like I’m taking a huge step backwards. I shouldn’t have gone out with any of these guys, it’s not fair to them. I’m not really giving them a chance, I’m just trying to fill a space where something is missing. I sigh and snuggle up, the hotel room is cold, and winter is coming.

[..]

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