Call This Girl

Once upon a time on a Saturday night in New York, four brunettes met in the East Village for champagne, whiskey sours and tequila. The foursome knew better than to mix their alcohol – they were all past the age of 21 – but they danced and laughed and accepted free drinks as they were presented.

(They would regret that choice in 12 hours over coffee and bagels, but that’s neither here-or-there.)

Off they went into the irresistible New York night, wearing black but painting the town red with their lips and their winter-burned cheeks. A cab was hailed, a fair was paid, and this Upper West Side lady stepped out into this unfamiliar land that she avoids past- 8 p.m. on the weekends because the commute is just far too strenuous. But the clock almost stroke 12 by the time she left the chill to embrace the warmth of a beer hall…

… in Brooklyn.

A place she frequents more often as her friends flee Manhattan for bigger apartments and smaller rents, who leave the familiarity of the west and the east, midtown and downtown, to explore the industrial, artistic ruins of another borough.

She knew the train ride home would be more than an hour, but when in Brooklyn, one might as well embrace the grunge and order a beer. So in her mini and heels with a blue plunging neckline – looking damned out of place among checkered-shirts and Vans – she wiggled into a table, thinking that as we all get older, so will girls’ nights out, picking the comfortable locations instead of the sparkling ones. Three years ago, they probably wouldn’t have stepped foot in such an establishment, but the atmosphere is calm and mature, sharp and smart, and she felt more relaxed than she would have pinned up against a wall with loud, blaring music, charging $15 a drink.

Maybe it’s just the place she could meet a mate.

A Pilsner pint later, she managed to leave the table – in a somewhat ladylike fashion while straddling a bench- to find the nearest restroom…. quickly. But in her mad-dash in her tall boots, she rushed right past four or five tables, weaved in between giggling girls and ran smack dab into a guy.

A tall, handsome, blue-eyed man with a nice button-up and a nicer smile.

But before she could flash her own pearly whites or say something witty, he beat her to get the first words out: “Wow.  You’re intimidating.”

She gave him a confused look with a half-laugh, anticipating a punch line, and when he just repeated himself, she formed a rebuttal: “I’m not. Not really. I’m very sweet.”

“No, you’re intimidating.”

“Why?”

“I mean, look at you. I’m at a loss. You’re so intimidating,” he said, yet again. And with that, she gave him her best playful grin and tried to walk casually into what she thought was the bathroom door.

It wasn’t.

It was a painted door next to the Ladies Room. (Whoever decided that must have wanted to watch tipsy girls, like herself, attempt to walk through an imaginary door. Naturally, only in Brooklyn would the irony be appreciated.)

A few minutes later, the Lady of Intimidation forgot all about the tall stranger who labeled her a vixen before meeting her, but he didn’t forget: as she headed back to her friends, he was standing waiting for another encounter. After some clever banter and the exchange of the basics (what neighborhood, where are you from originally, what do you do), he inquired about the lady’s number.

And though it was almost 1 a.m., she couldn’t exactly recall his name and she didn’t intend to date another guy who lived across the east river, she decided if he really thought she was intimidating, she’d live up to it.

“You’re not going to remember this conversation tomorrow or me, you know.”

“How could I possibly forget?”

“I think beers number 4, 5 and 6 will probably contribute to the downfall of your memory.”

“See, intimidating.”

“But I’ll give it a shot, give me your phone.”

Then, even though it’s not quite her personality to be so incredibly forward, she saved her phone number under the name, “Call This Girl.”

“So all you have to do is read it and well, follow instructions.”

“I like that. I really like that. I won’t forget.”

And then the girl with her liquid courage, curly locks and flushed cheeks, stood on the tip-of-her-toes, kissed him, turned and returned to her friends, feeling empowered, happy and more like herself than she’s felt in a long while. The next day as she described the brief encounter to her friends and roommates, she discovered that she didn’t really care if she heard from Mr. Tall Drunk Man or not.

She didn’t care if he actually looked at his phone the next day and decided to take a chance on cheeky girl he found a bit foxy (or Tigar-y?). She didn’t overanalyze if she said the right thing or didn’t, if she came on too strong or if not sassy enough. She didn’t hover over her phone (or turn it off), waiting for a text message from a stranger she worked up in her head to be more.

Instead, she just savored one very small, yet one very, very important thing: she got her dating mojo back.

It might have taken more than a year, a few too many cocktails, dozens (upon dozens) of terrible dates, wasted tears and angry Gchats – but on a chilly January night in all places — Brooklyn — she teased the next chapter of dating in New York… and it flirted right with her. 

And perhaps, when the lady tells the city to call her, it might just remember her number.

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Oh, The Impossibilities

As soon as I ordered the Mac N’ Cheese with bacon at 9 p.m., I instantly regretted it. But I was starving. Mr. Possibility and I returned home from an outing with his family and I was still exhausted from the night before, so I took a nap while he ran errands. It was a restless rest though – my mind was somewhere else. Mainly, it was wondering what I should do and coming up with every excuse to do nothing at all.

He returned to find me freshly showered, my hair curling unpredictably as it always does, on his computer probably writing something for this blog, and wanted to get a drink and some grub before calling it a night. It was Sunday but during my two weeks off before I started my new job, and so against my better judgment, I threw on a cotton black mini and a t-shirt to head outside.

It was raining but Mr. Possibility has something against umbrellas, so I walked slower under the evening shower as he hurried along, trying to find us a place to relax. After considering a few menus and turning our noses away, we settled on a lodge-like establishment just a block away from his Brooklyn apartment.

We’re the only ones here, I whispered as we were seated, feeling guilty for keeping the wait staff here any longer than they had to be. Should we ask when they close? I asked eagerly, hoping Mr. P shared the same blame I did. He shook his head, motioning to some newcomers at the bar. I turned, saw them and sighed. Guess I’m not getting out of this, I concluded silently.

We were nestled indoors but without anything separating us from the outside and my toes could feel the cool water running underneath them. I watched the rain paint abstract shadows in the streetlights while couples held hands underneath printed umbrellas and wore matching Columbia jackets. I counted at least a dozen pairs of Hunter boots and made a mental note to invest in some black ones this winter. I longingly lusted after the cabs that came in perpendicular directions, moving traffic along with their impatience and taking their passenger far, far away from this borough. I wanted to jump up from the table, throw some money for the bill, run to the corner even though it was down-pouring, and wave my hand in desperation until a yellow chariot came to my rescue.

But I never carry cash, I already ordered and I really could never do that to Mr. P – regardless of how impossible he is. Or how impossible we had become. And though I had put off expressing how I felt for some time, it was now near impossible for me to hide how I was feeling anymore. Especially when I picked up the pitcher of water and instead of pouring it into the mason jar of water I was drinking out of, I poured it on the candle that was lighting our table.

Linds? Why did you water the candle? Mr. P asked kindly, half-smirking, half-confused to my agitation. I laughed, nervously apologized and said, for the 100th time that I was tired. He continued to talk about something – which is never just something to me. He used to inspire me – he engaged me with captivating stories of the life he led. And though he has always been some sort of lost soul, I always had faith he’d find his way home, he’d find his future and within that, he’d find how those things put together create…me.

You’re so quiet baby, I’m not used to you being like this. What’s wrong? He asked and cradled my hand, squeezing my fingertips sharply. What’s wrong? I wondered, avoiding his blues, again. What should I tell him that’s wrong?

I could talk about New York. About how it is everything and nothing as I expected. That it makes me remarkably happy and bitterly disappointed all at the same time, but I always resort back to loving it. I could talk about me. How I’m getting ready to start this brilliant, beautiful chapter of my life, finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do. How I finally feel so proud of myself and like I have landed on my own two feet, without any help at all. I could talk about him. How I want to rescue him, how I want to be kind and understanding enough to pull him through anything. How I want him to fall in love with me in a way that I’ve never experienced before. How I worry about him, constantly. Or I could sum it all up and talk about how all those things are as inconsistent as the traffic patterns outside. And that they have been for a while now.

Over the last year, he’s been my tourguide, my confidant, my protector, and my very best friend. I found peace in his arms, a safety in his Cartier-heavy wrist wrapped around my waist, and more than anything, I felt like I belonged in this city when I was with him. But he is eight years my senior, and it is increasingly impossible to ignore the age difference, even if the possibilities of what we could be always seemed to be quite endless. Until I realized how drenched they were in the residue of the past. He chronicled his failures in the way I collected my successes – placed on mental bookshelves, collecting dust and more despair, only to be pulled out in the moments where he needed a reminder of what he was. Or at least, what he thought he was.

And while we created a friendship based on passed grievances, I had moved forward and past the pain I felt and I was now ready for the future. Sitting across from me, talking about something new that’s causing him grief, I couldn’t shake the certainty I felt that he was stuck somewhere between the guy he’s been the last ten years, the man he hopes to become and the stagnant existence he has now.

But what I’m really afraid of is being stranded in the Land of Impossibility with him. I know what I want, he knows what I deserve and we both know that the main thing holding up our relationship is me. He’s been so timid of the word that it takes every bit of courage inside of him to even admit that I’m his girlfriend, regardless of how much love he professes when we’re alone. He’s been up and down, hot and cold, seeing the possibilities and highlighting the impossible the last six months of our exclusivity, and it’s just now, as my life comes together, as I find true happiness and content apart from him…that I find myself afraid of staying. But I’m scared of leaving too. Say something or he’s going to notice something is wrong, I snap myself back into the moment but the moment had already passed.

Linds? Baby? Want to go back? His eyes now glossed over in sincerity, unsure of what to expect from me. I turned my head to the side, grinned at him and finished the last of my locally-brewed beer and sat up straight. How could I put this in words? My job is to put things in words, why can’t I say the right thing here? What is wrong? What am I feeling? Do I want to go back to his apartment? The apartment I have a key to? Back with the man I love but I fear will never love me as I desire? As I need him to?

Silently, without fuss, without causing my cheeks to flush, without causing much of a disruption at all, I felt tears start to stream down my face, paving the way for me to say the only thing that I could. There in that corner restaurant, on that dreary August evening, I confessed to the only man I’ve truly loved: I’m not happy, Mr. P. You don’t make me happy anymore. I don’t want to feel this way, what do you want to do?

A month later, I’m still waiting for that impossible answer.


The Design of the Universe

Last night, the moon was the closest to the Earth it has been in the last 18 years.

And according to my astrological mother, it fell at 29 degrees Virgo, and because that’s my sun sign…that’s a good sign. The next two weeks as the universe twists and turns as it always does, the people I meet, the opportunities I’m given, the decisions I’ll make, and the places I’ll go will dramatically influence my life. It will be a time where I’m forced to the front of the stage, put on the chopping table, made to change my tune, and turn toward the light. The next fourteen days are the most important dates of 2011, so far, for me, specifically.

No pressure, or anything.

I’m not sure how much I buy into astrology but it has always been up for discussion at the house that built me. I don’t know if it is part of the materials that have made me into a person or if I really trust the stars with my destiny – however, sometimes it has merit I can’t deny. Maybe because she’s my mother or because she’s an astrologer with a sixth sense, but my mom is rarely wrong about my life.

More often than not, she’s completely right. Even if at the time, I don’t want to admit it or walk away from the guy she says is bursting with red flags. Her first question when I meet someone is never about his name, what he does, what he looks like, or how I met him. It is always: “When’s his birthday?” She often pesters for the exact time (on a birth certificate) because astrology in its technical state isn’t accurate without it, but I continue to remind her it’s a little awkward to ask a guy such a personal (and odd) question on the third date.

Astrology is far more complex than reading your horoscope in the paper or signing up for an email newsletter that’ll let you know if the planets endorse a major investment or a trip to Brazil. While we all know our main sign, if you believe in astrology (or are entertained by it), you will know you have a handful of other signs that make up the pieces of who you are. For example – my sun is in Virgo and the sun represents the essence of who I am. However, my Venus is in Leo and Venus represents how I am when I’m in love and when I’m in the home. So really, if I wanted to “predict”  love-to-be by reading horoscopes, I should read Leo instead of Virgo. The rest of the planets all represent different faucets of life too – like Mars is indicative of my career and my sex drive, and Mercury is higher learning and travels.

Bear with me – I realize this sounds crazy.

My mom says adults don’t come into their charts fully until the reach 25 – an age where I guess, everything just falls together. Up until then, we may not relate to the planets or buy-in to how they transition our lives day-in and day-out. I don’t lead my life on the principles of astrology but I’ll agree with mama that I have reached a place where I identify more with the ways of the universe than I ever have before.

But for me, the beauty in the zodiac isn’t in reading something that’ll make me relax about a situation or be fearful of a planet that’s in retrograde (I’ve yet to figure out what this means exactly), but it’s the idea that really, nothing is completely explainable. Even with the the compartments of the solar system all representing different things and ideologies, my mom and all of her friends will always emphasize the strength of free will and that astrology is merely a guide. It’s an outline, but not the whole story.

The universe is specifically designed but so are we.

When a relationship ends or when we’re passed by for a job that we were certain was perfect for us, or friends grow apart – we can blame it on the tides turning or the sickening slow rotation of the planets. Some of us may blame it on fate – though I’ve yet to determine where I stand on the validity of “supposed to” or “meant to” be. A vast majority often blame it on other people, outside sources, and sometimes, in a blue moon (or a very close one), they may even take the responsibility themselves.

But what I decided, while walking through Williamsburg, keeping an eye on the sky that apparently, was created for me for the next two weeks – was to live. To realize that not everything has an answer or a reason – in fact most things don’t. To know that the path I picked may not be the right one or the one to bring me the most happiness – but there is always a chance to take a right. Or a left. To understand that who I am right now, in this instant, typing this blog, and preparing for the day ahead, is not who I will be a few months from now or a few years.

And regardless if I’m in a city where seeing the stars is rare or surrounded by an illuminated and dotted sky in the South or maybe in the Middle East, they don’t all shine for me. Or for you. But they glow as a reminder to all who look up only to close their eyes and make a wish, that all is moving . All is growing, changing, and adapting – no matter if the planets are in Virgo or Taurus or Pisces. The stars let us know the world is alive.

And so are we.