Monday, May 24, 2010

Eating and Loving - At Least I'm Good at Something

Have you ever read Eat, Pray, Love? It's a beautiful, inspiring, moving book. It's personal and also universal, as the author so eloquently described today on Oprah.

I read it three years ago right before I started grad school. I think I breezed through it, read it too fast, and I picked it up again today in anticipation for the movie, which stars Julia Roberts and comes out in August. Go with your best girl friend! And have wine after!

The author wrote the book after she traveled to Italy, India and Bali the year after her divorce. It's about her journey out of that loss and into loving herself again, finding herself again. But it's also about stopping in the hustle and bustle of life to take time for yourself, to take time to appreciate life's little joys and to always strive for inner peace.

The first section is about Italy, and all the beauty and rich food that goes with that. Italy is my favorite place. I've been lucky enough to see it twice and pray I'm lucky enough to go again. One of my close friends, Z, mentioned a few months ago that it'd be fun to go to Tuscany for cooking classes, and one day, I'm going to make sure we take that trip. Hell, or just go to Tuscany! I love the food and the wine and the art - it's in the air and embraces you with every breath. I secretly hope MG proposes there, though I realize I'm not in a romantic comedy, nor is he a rich, famous celebrity like Tom Cruise.

Italy I get. I get pleasure. I get taking time to smell the roses (or the ragu as the case may be). And love (what she finds in Bali) I get in many ways. I love my friends and when I love anyone, I love as the verb - I love with my actions. I don't know exactly what happened to me when I was mourning my grandfather that made me ready, finally ready, for meeting the love of my life. I know that for the first time ever, I truly wanted it. I realized that I can go through anything alone, I am strong and I always survive, but that I don't want to be alone. I want someone to be in the trenches with me and I don't want to cry alone anymore. And maybe that's it, maybe that's all it took.

What I struggle with most, I think, is peace (India). My aunt and my mom told me once they believed I moved around so much from place to place because I was like a cork floating in a river, just bouncing along and moving wherever the currents take me. They were wrong, and I knew it even at the time. It didn't make sense to them to live in places like New York or DC. But I moved around so much because I wanted to, not because I was some victim of life, not thinking about or planning my next step, but just being tossed and bullied from this way to that.

I will admit that I sometimes feel a little like that cork, though. When people hurt me or things get tough, I feel like I'm in a boat, paddling along on my course, but I get knocked and pushed around, sometimes off course if even for a moment, from the force of the hurt or stress. It's hard to shake, it's hard to get back on course.

That is what I need to work on. I need to find my own power to stay on course and hold onto peace. And I think Elizabeth Gilbert is right - giving into little pleasures and immersing in love are crucial to finding inner power and inner peace. Enjoying, no, not just enjoying but reveling in life's pleasures and in love's power and presence are the things that can keep me on course and keep that peace within me strong if I focus on them rather than the weight bearing down on me. It's good to indulge in extra servings and extra hugs.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Concerted Efforts

When I stumbled back onto this blog tonight, I read my last post, which I wrote shortly after MG and I went to DC for a friend's birthday party. At the party, I mentioned running into the brother of a guy I briefly dated a few years ago. I always wanted to blog about him, but never did because he read my blog. But I haven't talked to him in a year or more so I figure it's safe to assume he no longer reads my blog.

Have you ever known someone who thought you were waaay into them, but you really weren't? It's the most annoying thing because you want to correct the misunderstanding but can't without sounding like an ass. "Uh, dude, you're not that awesome." That was the situation with this guy.

I broke up with The X a week or two before I met Captain Confidence (a friend named him that a couple years'll see why). And we'd been dating off and on for three years. It was the most serious relationship I'd ever had at that point and the only time I'd been in love. No way was I over it. I just happened to be in a different city for my rebound.

Captain Confidence was just that - confident. And confidence is sexy, man. He was confident but not at all in a dick way. It was actually more awkward, he took himself very seriously, and suffice it to say, it was cute and it worked. He looked at me like I was a Christmas tree all lit up, exactly what a girl needs to get over a break-up.

He was fun, never asked me anything about myself so it was easy to keep things light. We had so much flippin' fun, lots of laughs and one great date (GREAT!) that ended with a walk through downtown DC to the Capitol building. We dated for 3 weeks, I think it was, 4 maybe? Not long. Ha. About half a second compared to the mucho-serious relationship I had just ended.

The other thing going on with me that summer was that I knew my grandfather had only a few months left to live. I knew I was going to spend a lot of time with him at the end and that things were about to get tougher than anything I'd ever dealt with. So I basked in that fun, I soaked it up because I knew every moment was like the ticking of a timebomb, every second was a tick-tock closer to something really hard and awful.

I've heard some pretty hilarious things from guys in my life. A guy broke up with me when I was 15 because he said he wanted "to date the whole world." Some too-cool-for-school guy at a party in New York once told me my "soul is real." Whatever that means, it's not a good pickup line, and it didn't work.

When I left DC that summer, I knew things weren't going anywhere with Captain Confidence because, of course, I knew all along they weren't - that's exactly the beauty of light and fun. But I really liked him as a person and hoped we'd be good friends. Anyway, as we were saying goodbye the morning I left, he told me, "I'll make a concerted effort to email you." It was on this quote board my guy friends have in Atlanta that same night...where it stayed until this past November because they had a party and I erased it. Guess they liked that one. (It is pretty funny!)

Needless to say, we kept in contact, you know, through concerted efforts and all. It was actualy great to have him to talk to sometimes because I knew he didn't know me well at all, and for some reason, when I was mourning my grandfather, that was comforting. It felt like an escape. Like a good conversation with a stranger at a bar. He didn't know me so he didn't know how bad I was hurting or how it impacted and changed me, which allowed me to forget all of that for a brief time. We just shared some small talk every now and then.

But, like these things often do, it all blew up in my face. I was going up to DC for Halloween and invited him out with my friends. He was wishy-washy, and then just stopped responding so I got annoyed and sent him a terse email...which opened the floodgates. Evidently, all the time I thought we were friends, he thought I was super into him and was just tolerating my advances. It's not like I was blowing up the guy's phone with texts and calls - I'm scared of commitment, my crazy is on the other end of that spectrum.

But apparently, all it took to give him this impression was to email once a week or once every other week. What else could that mean but that I wanted him baaad? He said he couldn't meet me out because he was dating a new girl and couldn't make out with me which is what I, of course, wanted. And he couldn't introduce her to me because I would be wearing a "sexy" costume...also I guess that meant I wanted him?

That email earned him the Captain Confidence nickname because I forwarded it to one of my friends. I know it sounds snarky to forward an email, but I was sincerely confused and wanted to understand what I did wrong. Instead of getting advice, I got laughter and lots of, "It's not you - it's him!" She thought it was hilarious and showed it to her husband, who said he sounded like the most confident person in the world, i.e. Captain Confidence.

Again, I couldn't say, "Dude, you're not that awesome," so I just told him the truth - I thought we were friends, I want to be friends, I don't have feelings for you. But it's pretty hard to convince someone you're not into them when they think you are. And things were awkward after that. If I email him, will he think it's because I find him irresistible? If I don't email him, will he think it's because I find him irresistible? If I tell him I'm dating someone, will he think I invented a fictional boyfriend to make him jealous? It all just got too ridiculous, and like I said, it's not like he knew me well anyway so I just stopped making a concerted effort to email.

The thing is, he really was a great guy. Kind and smart, all good things. We never built that friendship, but I did get a few good stories and a great new line to use. "I'll make a concerted effort to email you." I did say he looked like McFee from NCIS! Doesn't it sound like something he would say? McGee?

But besides giving me a few laughs, he served an important purpose at a very difficult time in my life. He helped me get over The X and gave a tiny escape from the hell of mourning. Sometimes people come into our world at certain times for certain purposes. And sometimes they leave our world because that purpose is complete. All we can expect from anyone during the brief moment they're in our lives is a concerted effort, right?

Moving On Up

Ugh. It's 2:24 a.m. and I can't sleep! I always have that problem when I'm super stressed, and man, am I super stressed right now. The worst is my sweet fella is in the next room sleeping like a baby all curled up with my dog. No fair!

So I figured I'd blab to you nice people! Things are still great with my guy...I still don't know what to call him on my blog...My Guy? MG? MG is short and sweet. Alright. So things are going great! I still can't believe my luck. We get along so well and have so much damn fun together. I know I've gushed about him enough in the past year and a half so I'll skip the gushing tonight. We signed a lease together a couple weeks ago...eek!

Pretty huge step for a mega commitment-phobe like me, but it didn't even make me nervous. Just excited! Not only do I get to see my favorite person even more than I already do, but it's also an important next step for us as a couple, and, honestly, for me as a person. But that's not all...

Some time in the next few months, we're getting engaged, and he's not moving in until we are. The excuse is that my mom wouldn't approve unless we were engaged, which is true, but also, it's important to me. I want that next step to really mean something big and to be a serious step forward for our relationship.

I never wanted to be one of those girls that gives her guy an ultimatum or a timeline. We had been talking about moving in together once we were engaged, and I had also been talking about wanting a bigger place so I'm not writing my dissertation on my bed. My lease is up at the first of July so at first I was picking out places that suited my budget and what I was looking for in a place...then MG had all these opinions, and I realized he thought I was picking out a place for the both of us. We talked, and it seems that his timeline for proposing somehow sorta kinda maybe lines up with when I need to move. So we picked out a place together and signed a lease.

It's a little funny because I, of course, have no idea when he's proposing, which means I also have no idea when he's moving into the new apartment. Whenever he talks about furniture or painting the walls, I like to remind him it's my apartment cuz I'm moving into it first. That is important because, as I mentioned, he has opinions, but if I'm in it first, I get to decorate! Although...who knows...

Life is crazy. And I can't stop grinning.

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