Tag Archives: girls

“Beggin’, Beggin’ You-Ooh-Ooh: Put Your Lovin’ Hand Out, Baby!”

“Night flight to San Francisco; chase the moon across America…” *

Well, actually, it’s more like a flight to San Francisco, at the break of dawn — and I’m chasing my insomnia.

As I’ve done often, especially when transient, I’m watching other women, collecting the evidence on how they wear their skin; on what it must have been like to be them — to be not me.  To be unlike me.

I haven’t had many women in my earlier childhood to run my life by:  Thrown into a nomadic lifestyle early on by my father’s profession, I didn’t get to keep my girlfriends for long.  And motha?  Well, motha was too young to be a mother; so she would eventually become my girlfriend — but not until I myself was ready for it.  (That last one had to happen on my own terms.  Sorry, motha.)  At first, I would start to strut a little bit ahead of her, increasingly more on my own, more decisively; until she would take the lead no longer.

And so, while I’m chasing my insomnia at the break of this particular dawn, peaking through the sliding door of LAX, I watch the girls and women en route to their journeys.  Some are traveling on the arms of their beloveds:

—  Like the little girl sleeping in the most reassuring embrace of her father, with a dog furry like a golden retriever in place of a pillow.  Soak it up, you little one:  It’s going to be tough for other men to measure up.  Little girls born to good fathers end up married to their high expectations for a really long time.  I should know.  But for now, you do have this.  So, soak it up, my little one.

The young girl with a tired smile of someone that has traveled a lot:  You’re walking ahead of a woman that looks like your mother, and I already see the impatience that inspires you to lead the way.  And that’s wonderful.  But don’t forget to look back, my young girl.  Just on occasion, do look back at the one that you seem to despise the most, at times.  She does know you the best — and she knows the best and the worst of you, while hopefully still sticking by you, unconditionally — and for all of that, you despise her at times.

You, beautiful girls, traveling in couplings:  I pray your companions are worthy of your beauty.  But more over, I hope your kindness is worth even more.  They let you take the lead:  these good men of yours volunteering their life to the impossible task of measuring up to your fathers.  So, do look back at them, at times.  They’re just doing their best.

The frail women accompanied by their grown children:  Your life has been a success.  And the equally frail women looked after by the uniformed staff of the airport:  That’s alright, too.

“Your laptop should be in a tray by itself!  Your shoes — placed directly on the conveyer belt!  Do NOT place your keys inside the shoes!”

She is very tired: The security woman regurgitating the same information to my fellow travelers in line.  We are all tired, of course; but the ones she finds herself serving, for the rest of her life — or for now, at least — at least, we are going somewhere.  She, however, gets to stay behind and look over the safety of our journeys.  It must be hard to do this much looking over, on the daily basis, for the rest of her life.  Or for now, at least.  And those that are leaving are often impatient, tried by circumstances; and they are sometimes unkind and so ungrateful.  (Don’t they know she has their safety in mind?)  To look over them — is her job, not necessarily her dream.  And she is so tired of it, for now, at least.

“Does anybody have a nail file?  ANYBODY?  LADIES?!”

This one is standing in the middle of the waiting area by my gate.  She, too, seems tired, but hopped-up on something.  A few younger girls have been jolted by her aggression already.  She has even shaken one of them awake from her tired sleep, and the young one has opened her eyes and smiled with that smile of someone that has traveled a lot.

The hopped-up creature carries on.  She now jolts the lovely hippie with Jolie-esque lips who is listening her headphones and shooting impatient, concerned gazes at Gate 37B.  (We are the only ones without a monitor, so the gurgled announcement by our tired stewardess is the only source of information.  The Jolie-esque hippie can’t hear them, of course; so she jolts herself to remember to pay attention.)

The aggressive female passenger, however, is too hopped-up on something to notice the annoyance she is arousing in the youthful creature:

“Broke a nail!  LOOK!” she shoves her hand under the Jolie-esque lips.  The lovely hippie jumps, readjusts, and as kindly as her tiredness allows — excuses herself.

“Um.  Anyone?  LADIES!  REALLY?!”

“I think I might,” I finally step up to the plate.

The hopped-up female leaps toward me and, while I put away my writing and rummage through my bag for my tired memories as to where I could’ve stored that darn thing, she looms above me.  We are all chasing insomnia right now, on this San Francisco flight at dawn; but she may be chasing something else.

After the mission is accomplished she offers to buy me a drink:  Kindness by affliction.

“Thank you:  I don’t drink,” I say.

“Sorry, what?  WHAT?!” Just like that, she switches off any tired niceness, dismissing the possibility for gratitude and takes offense.  She gets offensive.  “I can’t understand you?!  Do you have an accent?”

Yep:  Definitely, hopped-up on something.  Perhaps, its tiredness she can no longer handle without an affliction.

I excuse myself to the bathroom:  We’re done here, sister!  The Jolie-esque lips shoot me a compassionate smile.  I don’t look back.

“Flight VX (gurgle-gurgle) to San Francisco is now boarding at (gurgle-gurgle).”

The handsome Latin woman with perfectly glossed lips and a tired gaze has finally come out to announce the clearing skies up north.  She has been so tormented by the impatience of those of us going somewhere.  We tend to be so unkind, sometimes; so ungrateful.

But the important thing is:  The San Francisco skies have cleared, at dawn; and each woman can carry on with her own journey.  We can go now, and hopefully, most of us cannot wait to land.  And as we board the aircraft to chase our mutual insomnia, I look back at the handsome Latin woman behind:

Here is my gratitude, love — and my very tired kindness.

* Kushner, Tony.  Angels in America.

“Don’t Need That Money When You Look Like That: Do Ya, Honey?”

You girls in sensual summer dresses:

You forever rob me of the reluctant negotiation with my parting sleep; and every morning, you remind me that beauty — is always worth waking up to.

I just saw one of you, from behind the opened shades of my bedroom window, walking your dog along my sleepy street.  It is still that lovely hour of the morning before Angelinos, obliged to obey their hideous parking regulations, start crawling out of their beds to grumpily tend to their vehicles.  The traffic has not wound up the common vibration of annoyance in this city’s air.  Not yet.  The sounds of perpetual Los Angeles constructions and Mexican leaf-blowers are yet to jolt us all with reminders of other people’s harder jobs and more strenuous existences.  The ice-cream man:  He knows better than to taunt my neighborhood’s children with his tunes, because the adults have not finished resting yet.  Not yet.  And the laughter and the thrilled yelps of those same children splashing around in blown-up pools in their asphalted backyards have not lightened my forehead from frowning.  Not yet.

But you, my curvaceous messenger of beauty — you are already doing your part.  Clothed in a single layer of a red-and-white halter top cotton dress, you are, if not teasing, then politely suggesting for my eyes to remain open.

And you are, most certainly, worth waking up to!

Your hair clipped-up into a romantic disarray on the back of your head is revealing a neck that could resurrect Modigliani from his own eternal sleep.  And oh no!  Your back’s porcelain skin should not be exposed to the already aggressive summer rays and equally aggressive elements from perpetual Los Angeles constructions and Mexican leaf-blowers.  But I am surely grateful for it:  That skin is so evenly white that the bleached sheets on the old Armenian’s clothesline at a nearby cottage fade in comparison, when you pass them.  The high waist of your frock ends somewhere around your diaphragm, glueing and undoing its seams at your every breath.  And the skirt balancing on your hips, like the starched Easter dresses on tiny baby-girls with frilly ankle socks, ends at a diplomatic distance beneath your behind.  It’s long enough to warn me about your boundaries, but short enough to question my own.

Or, you, the spunky creature of last night, who served me and my partner with sushi and and all-you-can-feast of your healthy bod peaking from underneath the littlelest of the Little Black Dresses I’ve ever seen.  I myself have been living in a body of an athlete; because with age, there surely must come more perfection.  I’ve insisted on it!  I’ve had to upgrade!  So, I’ve peeled on the tight muscles of my calves and biceps; doubled the size of my thighs and demanded some upright dignity from my back ‘n’ spine.  But on you, physical activity sits with ease and a little bit of a give.  You are still all woman, unless you are the young girl — the teenage waitress on roller blades with a summer gig at a vintage diner — when you slide past our booth and make either silly or nonchalant faces that make me whack the table with my giant ring and scream out, every time:

“I love her!”

You stick your silly-lovely-nonchalant face back into our booth and quickly tap me with:  “Settle down there, buster!”

Your joy, your youth, your hysterical ambition (for, surely, you got here to dream a little better, and maybe even to better belong) — they are contagious to the rest of us.  That includes the blonde, aging waitress who could so easily be bitter and crass, had you not started the outright obnoxious Karaoke to the Madonna mix blasting above our heads.  And the unhappy woman in a coupling squished against the wall would much rather complain about the iciness of her iced tea or the rawness her raw salmon, had it not been for the series of your familiar leans against her table while doing your job with flying colors:  She’s got nothing on you; nothing on your joy, your youth, or your hysterical ambition!  The lonesome Japanese chef forced to work on a national holiday could probably be disgruntled, or stoic, in the least.  But you have cracked enough jokes with him — and a couple of bottles of Jamaican beer — that to him, to all of us, this is suddenly the perfect coordinate for a celebration.

And the boho-chic brunette shifting the hangers on the outside clothing rack of a Berkeley-esque boutique store:  Is that a striped feather in your hair, or an earring?  And is that a toe ring sparkling in between the leather straps of your Athenian sandals, or a fallen down star?  And how is this long, thick-belted skirt, long enough for you to throw over your bent arm — how is it constructed so perfectly for your mixture of Zooey Deschanel and the young Kate Winslet?  Or is it all — just another layer, your second skin?

The Caribbean import in a lavender slip-on who, like me, didn’t think twice about throwing on a bra:  For it is so bloody hot around here, tonight and always!  You are so perfect in your skin, glistening from the balmy night, that when you pass me, I pay you a compliment, up front:  just to thank you for letting me stare at you as if I myself were thinking you up on a canvas.  And thank you, by the by, for the self-assured smile you pay me back — just another detail of you-ness to splash with my brush, once I take you home.

You lovely creatures of my half of the race:

You heal and restore, nurture the resigned and the reluctant back to the living. You give without knowing, leave behind without minding.  You resurrect, inspire, even if with a promise that is never meant to be kept.

You lovely girls in sensual summer dresses:  Yet again, this morning — and always! — you are worth waking up to!

“Hey, Pretty! Don’t You Wanna Take a Ride with Me?”

I had a beautiful girl in my car the other night, and I could’ve driven like that — forever!

‘Cause here is the thing:  I like it when people ask me for help.  Nope, scratch that:  I like it when MY people ask me for help. Because just like me, my people are self-sufficient and competent; so proud, so beautiful — quite the badasses of the human race! — and they act as if they’re permanently alright.  The fact that youth and ambition is still on our side makes that last illusion believable.  We still have that strut of the young, their health, endurance and strength; so even if life serves us up some uncertainty, we lap it up like a juicy, slightly sandy oyster:

“Slurp!  Delicious!”

Some of my people — blossom in uncertainty.  They are the most fearless of the bunch, dwelling in a higher dimension, yet mercifully extending their hand from up there when I am ready to expand yet again, to grow.  But even if I’m not ready — it’s alright, they reassure me.  Really:  It is!  Go at your own pace and don’t try to become anyone else but yourself.  Because there are enough lies in life, so you better be in control of your own fiction.

For others, uncertainty may set off some emotional white noises:  doubt, lack of confidence, and very rarely, a sliver of self-pity.  And I get it:  I ain’t judgin’!  Because my people have had an earful of my own bullshit, yet they have loved — and even worshiped — me despite of it.  So, they bitch and moan for a lil’ bit; and we all go to sleep, eventually, tangled up in each other’s limbs.  Early in the morning though, I wake up next to empty pillows with imprints of their beloved heads — and they will already be onto the next thing:  Gone.  To the next, higher dimension!  They are so self-sufficient and proud, permanently alright; forever beautiful.  Such — are my people!

So, when under the influence of an impulse, one of them suddenly turns and says:

“Hey, V?  Can you give me a lift?”

“FUCK YEAH!” I go.  “I thought you’d never ask.”

And so, they get in.

I don’t often get passengers:  It is the style of this city to be more solitary in larger spaces.  The larger the space — the more solitary you find yourself.  Yet, we demand space around here, get blue in the face when we don’t get it; and Shiva forbid a boundary gets crossed — we foam at our mouths, outraged at such a crime!  But the geography is large enough to accommodate us all (us, our egos, what we think we deserve or have been robbed of — and all that personal space!).

Most, however, are still solitary when driving:  So solitary they forget that the rest of us can see them through the bubbles of their glass walls.  As if invisible, they insist on negotiating with ambiguous gestures:  honking or revving up the engine, or flipping their version of a “fuck you” once they are at a safe distance apart from their often unknowing offender.  And it would all be quite funny, if it weren’t so dangerous.  Because that’s how isolation is — dangerous.  And sad.

And so, they get in — my people — taking over my space.  Willingly, breathlessly, I surrender:  I always have too much of it — this fucking space, in this fucking city!  My people get in, buckle up, adjust their seats.

My boys are always taller than me.  They need more room for those athletic legs I would rather be wearing around my belt line.  So, they shift back and around, get comfortable and buzzy with excitement, like 5-year-olds after a camping trip.  They start opening my compartments and examining into my corners.  And if they ask me too many questions, I laugh and kiss them — on those tense foreheads, or directly on their dry lips.  I dig out my car’s never-studied manual and thump it against their athletic legs:

“Here is a bedtime story for you!  Happy?”

While the girls — those lovely kittens that smell like lavender and honey — they curl up, with their feet tucked under; some even recline and attempt to go to sleep.  Others, the more statuesque or the ones who are freer in their bodies, stretch out, putting their prettily pedicured toes onto my dashboard, and they roll down their windows.   And, oh, how I love when they take their hair down, releasing more lavender and honey into the air!  And it flips and flies around in the wind, like a firebird flapping its magical wings.

So, when the beautiful girl of the other night had climbed inside, I was immediately breathless with attention.  She smelled like a drawer of essential oils and exotic spices.  Being one of those brown types — blunt and beautiful, so strong! — her sex tempted me with myths from a very foreign continent.  Because where she came from, women — survive.  They are capable.  Capable of carrying their men on their backs, across deserts and blistering rocks.  Capable of surviving wars, to live and tell the horrors with their skin.  Capable of outrunning, outdoing, outhunting, outsmarting.  And when they happen to surrender under their men’s care, they merely humor the rules written centuries before them.

And so, she got in:  adjusted her seat, paid a compliment to my space.  (Take it:  All this fucking space, in this fucking city!)  Readily, she began laughing at my flippancy and temper; sighing when finding me poetic or poignant.  A couple of times, she sharply exhaled at my mercurial driving habits.

“Ow!  I didn’t realize we’d be doing this!” she chuckled in that teasing manner that only women from her very foreign continent can do.

So, I started a joke:  Three minutes or five blocks before each turn, I would shoot her a gaze habitual for the women of my own foreign continent and say:

“So…  Um, we’ll be making a right turn — eventually.  Get ready!”

And she would laugh.  Oh, how she would laugh, suddenly getting lighter from having to carry her man on her back, across deserts and blistering rocks; from having to survive!  She would tease me, so quick with her comebacks; and not even know that, in that hour, I too was asking for help.

“So…  Um, we’ll be making a left — eventually.  Are you ready?”

That night, we didn’t need to tell the tales of each other’s suffering.

We could’ve just driven like that, forever:  self-sufficient and competent — so proud, so beautiful, so strong! — and permanently alright. 

“A Miss is as Good… as a Mister”

(This is being published from JFK, despite the ungodly hour of the morning and the painfully inconvenient commute that got me here.  What’s that, haters?!  V can’t hear you!):

As I depart from the significant New York loves of my insignificant life and return to my younger affairs on the West Coast, I dedicate my words to those that will come after:  the young girls (whether I know them or not) that have intertwined their tiny, merely transparent fingers with the arteries of my heart and the female offspring of my strictly selected Club of Comrades.  To the East Indian girl child that, at the first second of our meeting in NY’s capital, became my shadow; invaded my writing space—unaware that a woman could claim that—and watched my every keyboard tap; then ran off to get her own paper and a red crayon.  To the adored blondie born to my feminist mentor in New Jersey whose Happily Ever After happened with a woman; and who by her mere existence, gave me the courage to write my own love stories.  And to the unfamiliar brown girl with snowflakes in her curls who followed her mother that leapt into a random elevator ride in Manhattan; who then persevered past the awkward silence inside, examined the crowd and exclaimed:

“Oh gosh!  It’s like all girls in here!” making the rest of the women—some radically young, others aged past their youthful anxiety—laugh and yelp and howl; uncensored and relieved, if just for a minute.

"Blessed Art Thou among Women" by Gertrude Kasebier, 1899

First, to my brown god-daughter back in Albany:  May your path be filled with obvious choices that lead you to your better self.  May your soul be fueled by the gods of the old country, but your mind—by those of the new.  May your mother’s unconditional love open paths for you that were never possible in her own youth; but may you always be exposed to the confidence a woman is granted when persevering through conflicts.  You will be my next Jhumpa Lahiri, or M.I.A., or Sonia Gandhi.  May you become whoever and whatever you desire; but when asked what that is, may you be able to say, “Why not?” rather than “May I?”  I pray the world is made out of non-existent doorways for you and walkways paved with “YES”; and that sometimes, you will tread with me (I—in my Siberian coat, you—with stubborn rainbow colors on your mittens and henna on your hands) to show me your future world, as I show the aged yet unexhausted one of mine.

To the sporty, curious, poignant Irish-Jewish cherub in the City of Angels (and the author of this blog’s title):  Because your parents have suffered enough to fulfill your own life’s quota, may it never get in the way of your possibilities.  May you never lose the insatiable need to repeat a question, or to touch another woman’s skin just to understand what it’s like to be in it.  NEVER apologize for your art!  As the multitude of imperfect adults guards your life from repeating their mistakes, I shall gladly lead you past my own.  I’ll tell you the tales of my survival and show that a woman may stand by her failed choices, because overcoming them makes a soul light enough to soar.  So, may you soar, my strong youngster, sometimes in step with me, but mostly ahead.  If ever gravity gets a hold of you, I shall catch you from falling—if you let me.  But this I ask of you regardless (because you shall always remain exceptional, I’m sure)—teach me about the ways I have not seen and the tricks my wings have yet to try.

To the tomboy born to a woman of tremendous kindness:  May you always be ahead of your time!  When asked by your teachers, may you tag yourself however, but always understand yourself as “special.”  May you continue to climb, much faster and more capable than your parents.  Upward, my darling heart, always upward; even though gravity may insist otherwise.  Never cry when you fall down, neither in a playground nor in an office full of suits; and always celebrate the pain, for in those very seconds, you learn to shift gears.  May you always outrun and outsmart your own age group and leave me scratching my head with your riddles.