Tag Archives: single

“She Works Hard for the Money! So Hard for It, Honey!”

“I am… um… parent.  Every-thing changes.”

She stands at about my height.  I rarely see much difference between me and other women, though:  And unless they’re tall enough to grace the covers of beauty magazines — or the streets of Manhattan — I consider them pretty much my height.

Although born on the coast of Mexico, her skin bears the same caramel color as mine.  Her face, I can tell, used to be very pretty, even doll-like.  Her formerly black hair is snow streaked with gray highlights; and it is gathered in the back of her head into a thick ponytail of luscious curls.  Rich women would kill for thick hair like that!

I catch myself wondering how much she would have aged — had her life not been so hard.

I bet there is an encyclopedia of domestic tricks up this woman’s sleeve:  Washing her hair with egg yolks, making masks out of avocado and honey, moisturizing her heels with Bengay.  I’ve seen my own motha invent a few of those.  We are immigrants:  We get crafty, in survival.  For life is relentless:  It takes a toll on all of us all, but it’s most unforgiving — to us, women.

“I come herre… twenty fah-yv jears,” she formulates her words slowly.  “I am… um… sixteen jears.”

“Me too!” I say, and I begin nodding and smiling aggressively:  Just anything to make her feel understood.  “I was sixteen too!”

I want to tell her to switch to her native language, because I am pretty sure I get the gist of her already.  Despite the difference between our birth coasts, we seem to speak of the same tales.

But then again, maybe not:

I keep flaunting my American education in order to impress employers with gigs at a higher rate.  She — cleans houses for a living.  I tend to get hired to work the phones and to organize the lives of others that have gotten cluttered with too many demands.  She — creates order in other people’s homes, with her no longer soft, but womanly hands.  Besides the existences of my bosses, I am responsible primarily for myself.  She — has three kids to take care of, and a boyish husband.

“You?  No marr-rried?” she asks me.

The importance of family defines happiness in her culture; so, I get slightly embarrassed for a moment.  Despite the difference between our birth coasts, I so very much want us to be alike.  Is it this woman’s approval that I’m striving for; or just her empathy?

In one breath, I deliver:  “NoIamnotmarried.”

“In a couple more years, you’ll be middle-aged,” a man has declared the other day.

This woman’s arms are cradling a tiny dog; and in the folds of her stomach, he easily goes to sleep.  Her figure belongs to a mother:  She is fuller, curvier than my boyish frame.  Her hands are more sure and seemingly more knowing than mine.

“Is good you no married so soon,” she says.  She must’ve picked up on my embarrassment.  “Life more hard.  I am… um… parent.  Every-thing more hard.”

I ask her about her kids:  She nods and smiles when describing each of the three:  a two-year old baby-girl and a little boy.  Her oldest daughter wants to be a nurse.  When she speaks of her husband, she averts her eyes; and despite the slow manner of her chosen worlds, she quickly switches the topic to his job.

“Is good…” she concludes.  “Warehouse.  Down.  Town.  Is good!”

The little dog shifts on her stomach and extends his fluffy paws toward me. I take them and rub the un-callused pillows on the bottom.  She laughs and teases the bangs above his eyes; and when her hand brushes against mine, I notice that her skin is tougher than the one I’m rubbing in between my fingers.

“You…  work?” she asks me.

“Of course,” I say and begin listing my gigs.  This is the first time I doubt she understands me.  To my own ears, I begin sounding busy, and slightly fussy.  So, I stop.

I interrupt my list.  “Everybody works here,” I conclude; and the woman begins nodding and smiling aggressively.  She is getting the gist of me.

I study her eyes:  She stands at my level, and most definitely — at my height!  But then she leaves for work; and I reluctantly begin mine.  It’s life — at work; and in its working, it is especially unforgiving to us, women.

“She Never Stumbles — She’s Got No Place To Fall. She’s Nobody’s Child. The Law Can’t Touch Her At All.”

It is truly fucking amazing, but for the very first time in my life, being single does not seem like a social ineptness — a disease of which I am a carrier.

So, as I stand in front of an overwhelmed ticket cashier at my fancy local movie theater, I no longer feel awkwardly apologetic when I say:

“One — for Crazy, Stupid, Love, please.”

The chubby, stressed-out girl in an ill-fitted penguin-like uniform looks up at me.  It’s the weekend, but I had just come from a day of hard work.  My hair is pulled back.  I’m exhausted, not in a self-pitying way of someone burdened by survival; but in a relaxed, proud manner of someone making her own way in the world.

“Was that:  One?” she repeats.

I thought I spoke clearly.  I usually do, with strangers, subjecting only my beloveds to my habit of speaking in code.

“Yes,” I say, and I smile as kindly as my tired, non-pretty face allows.

The girl purses her lips and flips her computer screen toward me:

“Where would you like to sit?” she says.

I don’t really know how it happens in the lives of other young girls, but in my own adolescence, I’ve never been taught how to get myself successfully paired up.  There is nothing my father wanted more, of course, than for me to get married and settle down, always in close proximity to his house.  He somehow hoped I would figure it out on my own and — magically! — end up with a decent guy (which by Russian definition meant someone who could hold his liquor and was good at fishing).  I would end up with someone my father could trust enough to pass me into his care.

At the same time though, he never talked to me about dating.  It made him uncomfortable — this idea of my inching my way toward the problems of adulthood, day after day.  And the sequence of my father’s glottal sounds while he sat on the edge of my bed one night and tried to talk to me about sex would make Bill Murray want to take notes:  It was so uncomfortably funny.

“Um, P?” I had to interrupt him, because I wanted to remember my father as a hero, NOT as a man incapable of uttering the word “sex” while blushing like a teenager.  “It’s past midnight and I’ve got an English final in the morning.”

I was in tenth grade.

Not kidding.  Dad — or “P”, as I called him, lovingly, in my habit of speaking in code — had always been delusional about my sexual development.  I wasn’t even sure he knew I had gotten my period four years prior.  Most of the time, we just talked about my studies.  Because all my life, I had been an exemplary student, earning my way into the best private school in our city; and my education — was the biggest of my own concerns anyway.

“You just gotta be careful…” he mumbled that night, and once he got up, he would fumble with the seam of his thermal shirt and blink rapidly to avoid my stare.  “That’s all I’m saying.”

“I am, P.  Good night,” and I smiled at him as kindly as my tired face would allow.

And that was it.  That was the only time P chose to suffer through that topic.  Not even after my parents’ divorce would either of them invest any time in explaining the complexity of human relationships to me:  the work that it took to be successfully paired up, and the amount of self-awareness; the amount of commitment.

Whatever I learned about dating I would learn from my contemporaries.  Boys would be the main topic in the cafeteria of my college, to which I had arrived on a full scholarship.  Again, in my 20s, education would remain the biggest of my concerns.  By the end of our studies, many of my classmates would be engaged, or married; or moving back home where they were awaited by their families and boyfriends.  I, however, was en route to graduate school, hustling my way to earn more scholarships.

In our rendezvous to the City, we would occasionally meet up — my college contemporaries and I — and they would purse their lips at my awkwardly apologetic answer:

“Yes.  I’m still (insert a shrug) — single.”

In my dating life, I would feel clumsy and uncertain.  By the example of my contemporaries, before each date, I would dress myself up into what seemed to be a better, prettier version of me:  And during the date itself, I would often gain a headache.  Because by the end of it, I couldn’t keep track of all the omissions and alterations I would manufacture.  And when I wouldn’t hear from my dates for weeks, I would throw myself back into my studies.

Something would change of course, with time.  Somewhere during the pursuit of my dreams, I would begin to sit in my skin a bit more comfortably.  There would be a slew of reckless relationships and even a failed marriage; but I would begin to learn about dating, by trial and error.  And the one thing that eventually became obvious was this:

I was NOT like most of my contemporaries.  I was someone paving her own way in the world since a very young age, via her education.  I was also an immigrant who had to work twice as hard as her contemporaries in order to be their equal.  So, there was no way I could use someone else’s skills and opinions in order to pair myself up, successfully.

Because I am no longer willing to mold myself into a better, prettier version of me, I am beginning to find that the version of me already in existence — is pretty fucking amazing.  And that very version, however tired or un-pretty, I now carry into my dates; and I surprise myself that the men I choose seem to be more comfortable with me as well.  They are more confident, more fun.

And then I move on, to more adventures and dreams, in the pursuit of which I don’t really need to be paired up — UNLESS successfully.

“Um, miss?” the penguin-girl appears even more stressed out since meeting me.  “Where would you like to sit?  We’re almost sold out, but since you’re single…”

I smile.  I choose the best seat in the house, buy myself a single latte and wandering through the lobby’s bookshop, in a relaxed, proud manner of someone who can afford herself these tiny privileges, in life.

I am someone — making her own way in the world.  And I’m pretty fucking amazing!

I’ve Got All My Love — to Live!

I love break-ups!

Nyet, seriously, my darlings, I am not being flippant here.

Well, okay, maybe just a lil’.  Because no matter the number of departures I’ve survived, every time it seems to hurt like a mother fucker!  You’d think I’d learn to deal, yet every time one of the participants goes, “I’m out!,” the words hit my heart like a mean defibrillator, and I feel like doubling over.

But then, as I’ve said before:  I’m Russian, eh?  We prefer to think of life as an endless series of shocks straight to the heart anyway.

As a matter of fact, I am quite sure I got myself a free one, at birth, when motha brought to register my newborn body at some local bureaucrat’s office back on some god-foresaken coast of my Motha Land.

“Oh, you’re two hours old?” the greedy and lazy government official said, accepting the bribe of vodka from my motha in exchange for my birth certificate (Stoli — is an official currency of my homeland, dontcha know?  It gets shit done o’er there.)  “Well, how about a freebie then?” — and the fucker attached the electrodes to my tiny heart.  Happy fuckin‘ birthday, bitch!

The only way we know how to deal with pain, as a nation — a nation full of tortured, exhausted hearts addicted to shock therapy — is to laugh.  Or to chuckle at least.  For me, this recent bye-bye by a beloved has caused me a few laughing sessions (mostly at my own expense though).  As for my witnesses and life-long keepers of my secrets, they tend to find me absolutely hilarious during times of loss.  And truth be told, in their tear-jerking, breath-taking laughter, I find myself again — while the heart resumes beating at its healthier pace.  So, this week, I’ve been very busy, you see:  taking my stand-up routine around town and groveling for the healing powers of laughter by my beloveds.

But that’s not really the reason for my recent love of break-ups.

I’ve noticed that if I behold long enough after the initial heart-shocker, there always comes a moment of clarity; and that’s exactly the one I am starting to adore.  Now, the messier the relationship and the more chaotic of a break-up, chances are this clarity will take years to sweep over (if ever).  So, it must be some odd joke I’m currently living through, but just like the relationship itself, this break-up has been… well, kinda great.   Because that’s just the thing:  If during a love, the participants agree to behave according to their personal graces (as my recently beloved and I have), at the end of it, there is no room for guilt or self-defense to suffer through; making the process of healing much quicker.  All along, my lover and I remained kind and generous, so besides an occasional self-delusion on both of our parts, there has been no injustice committed upon each other.  So, in comes forgiveness. 

(Want a little personal secret?  “Forgiveness” was the first one-word message from my beloved that I’ve archived, until recently.  Are you smirking?  That’s bloody irony for ya!  Yourr velkom.)

But here is V’s newest discovery.  Had I been on Oprah, she would’ve called it an Aha Moment.  (What?!  Shut up!  I don’t watch Oprah!)  So forgive me, my darlings, if I go a little New-Agey / SoCal-Hippie on your pretty booties.  I promise soon enough I’ll be back to ranty-cuntry — and we’ll share a laugh again.  But this time around, my Aha Moment is so fragile, I hurry to commemorate it; because tomorrow I might wake up in so much pain, I’ll have reach for the defibrillator myself.  So, let me cradle my tired lil’ heart for a while — a heart that, thank Shiva, has so obviously refused to give up on loving, even after its recent shocker.  Let me cradle my heart and whisper it to a steadier rhythm with the help of a humbling insight:

It’s part of it, my darlings!  It is ALL part of it. 

The loss, the pain, the tragedy; the mourning and disappointment; the bitterness and the letting go — they are equal components of love, just as happiness and lightness.  I am not sure where and how we’ve learned to misinterpret love as only its collective moments of elation.  They are, of course, a part of it.  Or rather they are part of falling in love.  But the actual state of being in love — or BEING LOVE — encompasses every possible emotion, except for the destructive ones.  Why not the destructive?  Because (oh, boy:  I’m about to let it rip!):  Love — is life.  And if one is gripped by emotions that are meant to damage and to destroy oneself or another person, then the story becomes about the pursuit of death.  A thousand little deaths that get one closer to the state of non-living; non-being.  Non-loving.

(Do you hate me yet?  It’s okay, babies, I promise I’ll get nice and angry tomorrow and overcompensate with a cunty lil’ rant.)

“We are meant to live a life of love.  When we’re not in love, something is the matter.” 

These are the first words from a book gifted to me by my dear departed boo (my baby-boy, my kitten; and my big, strong man); a book titled Zen and the Art of Falling in Love.  It has been my go-to during this most gracefully-executed romantic relationship of my life, and although I still have kilometers upon kilometers to go in search of my personal Zen, I feel that with this fleeting realization — that life is not just synonymous to love, but IS love — I am ever so closer.  So, even as I find myself newly single — lashing out on occasion, to earn the laughter of my permanently beloved — I have not fallen out of love.  I carry on loving life itself — loving you — and what’s most difficult, yet rewarding, loving myself.

Oh-kay!  That’s enough!

As my love used to say in our phone chats:

“Hey, Eckhart!  Give the phone back to V.”