Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The easy path

I was having lunch with a friend the other day and the chit chat quickly turned to her favorite topic – her boyfriend and all the many things their relationship is lacking. Those of you who have been with me awhile know that I caution against constant bf-bashing. A caution that comes from personal experience I might add. I often wondered in my younger days why my friends hated my boyfriend so much when really all they had to go on was what I told them of how he treated me and I never shared the good things only the bad. Because when you are happy you don’t have a cause to call your girlfriends at all hours to share and dissect every meaning. You just are happy. But when things go wrong… Break out the speed dial.

For this particular friend, however much I would normally discourage this sort of conversation, I really feel for her and the situation she is in. She loves this man, he is for all intents and purposes, a good man. He isn’t mean, he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t gawk at other women… He’s what I would call “a nice guy”. But she isn’t happy. He doesn’t support her the way she wishes he would, he isn’t affectionate, rarely says I love you. They are the best of friends and very close but there is something missing.

She has spent countless hours agonizing over this. He’s a good man, she loves him, he treats her well, but… There is always a but isn’t there? I honestly don’t know what the best course of action is for her, I would never presume to interfere in someone’s relationship. I did that once in college and it backfired. Big time. But that’s a story for another day. All I could do was listen and support her, tell her all the things she already knows.

But on my way back to the office from lunch I found myself still thinking about her and her situation, about how sad and discouraged she looked talking about it to me. I kept wishing I had the cahones to tell her that she should never feel ashamed of what she needs, if she needs affection she should be able to get it and not feel guilty about it. I wish I could tell her that she shouldn’t settle for what she’s being given just because it isn’t terrible and because she thinks it should be enough. The truth is that, for her, it isn’t enough. She shouldn’t be afraid to be who she is, to ask for what she wants, and to share what she is feeling wholeheartedly with her boyfriend and not feel like she is being judged for it. To be told that she’s just “being a girl” and overreacting. Don’t even get me started on how much I hate that particular little misogynistic saying.

And yet, in her situation, would I stand up for myself? Or would I take the easy path? It’s an interesting dynamic… And I can’t stop wondering…

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Song Remembers When

You know how a song can trigger memories? Certain songs will always put me in the company of certain friends, recalling memories long forgotten, remind me of the person I was. Mostly these memories are good, sometimes not, but all remind me of a piece of me. I think this is the hazard of having my iPod on random shuffle at the gym. The other night I mentally traveled over a dozen years or more…

First to come on in the memory rotation was Insensitive by Jann Arden . Ahhh… High School. My friend Kelly and I used to blare this song any time it came on the radio. In her room, in my car… where ever. The latest boy being serenaded about “vagueness in your eyes and casual good-byes” by us at the top of our lungs. High School boys being insensitive by nature, I thought I would never feel the heartbreak I thought I felt then. I was wrong. I wonder sometimes about Kelly also, my friend that I shared so much happiness and heartache with. I hear through the grapevine that she’s working, still living locally, and yet I find it hard to reach out to her. I suppose I am uncertain of my welcome, ah the drama of youthful misunderstandings.

Up next, the song that has been so often played over the last year you’d think I would remove it from my iPod entirely, Rhianna’s Umbrella. I apologize now if anyone gets that chorus stuck in their head from this post. Umbrella, eh, eh, eh. Back when the song was new(ish) my friend Cate and I had gone to a Chili Cook-Off with TheBoy. We heard the song on the way to the event and that was it – instant repeat. A bajillion cups of chili and way too many beers later, the song came on again, on the car ride home. Cate and I were drunkenly singing along when TheBoy informed us that we were crazy… There was no “umbrella” in that song. I believe he thought the lyrics were something along the lines of “you can stand under my arm forever”. Foolish Boy. Of course we then proceeded to find the song on his iPod and play it on repeat the entire 25 minute ride home, being sure to emphasize every time the word umbrella was mentioned. I’m sure looking back we were highly annoying but after a few beers? Eh… good times!

What About by Janet Jackson.. This album got me through my first year of college. I danced with a company at the local junior college and several of these songs were featured in the show. It was my “get ready to go out with the girls” album. Every song meant something to me. Especially What About. At the time I was dating my high school sweetheart still. Things were rocky and I knew he didn’t love me. Like a foolish girl I couldn’t seem to let go. Until I realized the truth of the words in this song. “What about the times you lied to me, What about the times you said no one would want me, What about all the shit you've done to me, What about that? What about the times you yelled at me, What about the times I cried, You wouldn't even hold me, What about those things? What about that?” I’d like to say I found the courage to leave him from this song. Sadly, that day didn’t come for several more years.

And then the infamous Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard. This song was my car’s anthem y’all. I would go flying around downtown, top down, sunglasses on, blaring this song at full volume and singing along at the top of my lungs. I wonder sometimes what people thought as a drove by, young blonde woman, hair flying, screaming about “pour some sugar on me, in the name of love!” Ah youth. I’m not saying I still don’t squeal like a girl and drag my friends out on the dance floor anytime it comes on… But I don’t play it quite as loud in my car any longer. No need for the neighbors to know exactly when I come and go. And that car has lasted me almost 8 years. We have a LOT of memories together.

Of course other songs played during my stint on the treadmill, these are the few that I am still remembering days later. It almost makes me look forward to going to a run again tonight. Where will I travel down memory lane? Will I be happy, nostalgic, angry at myself or at someone else?

What songs carry memories for you?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I heard that you called recently. I knew by the halting way she said “you’ll never guess who called me” almost as if she wasn’t sure she should tell me. I felt the bile rise in my throat, body heat seeming to simultaneously drain from my face and leave my chest burning, the unwelcome (unnecessary) tears spring to my eyes, all before I ever heard who, you, had called.

I hate that news of you still affects me that way. How just the thought of you, rising unbidden to the forefront of my mind can make me feel… unhappy, insignificant, unloved. The grown woman in me knows that I am none of those things and yet… I am. I hate that I am the poster child for how a woman can grow up to be relatively well adjusted without the influence of a father. I hate that people come to me for comfort when their own fathers fail in to live up to their expectations. I had no expectations. And somehow you failed to live up even to that.

So I’m getting married. I know you now know. I was relieved that you didn’t ask for details (knowing I wouldn’t, or couldn’t, have you there) and at the same time bitterly disappointed. I’m not sure what I expected. I certainly had no intention of inviting you, a complete stranger, to share in one of the happiest and most intimate days of my life. And yet, I feel the lack of your presence – if not of your presence in particular than a missing element.

You should know I don’t grieve for your absence the way I once did. It’s become more of an ache, something that lingers under the surface, barely noticed for the most part. You should also know that while I have not had the proper love of a father, I have had other men who love me as a daughter and express their joy in having me in their lives. You should know that I still miss you. You should know that I want you to stay gone.

I am relieved to be ridding myself of your name. I’ve been your daughter in name alone for longer than you ever were a father to me. Maybe then, once I no longer have that last lingering tie to you, I will feel free. Maybe then I will cease to think of you, to wonder about your life. The life you chose in place of me.

I found your address on the internet. In a moment of weakness I looked. I’ve had it for almost a year. I have debated about sending you a letter, wondering alternately if it would have any impact other than making your new family angry at the reminder of my presence. Sometimes I want to do it just to make them angry, to share some of this hurt with them. I’ve fanaticized about flying out there, of driving by your house, of having you glimpse me from a distance. Would you know me? Or would there be only something vaguely familiar, something you can’t quite put your finger on?

I resent that you still call her. I know you explained to me how she was the love of your life, how you regret getting divorced, how you were glad to have me as a last link to her. I know that you told me those things but know that I do not, or can not, accept them. Because believing those words you spoke so long ago only enforces what I am to you, nothing.