Monday, December 11, 2017

It's Happening

It's been 54 days.
And I can feel it happening.

It's in the small things.
Like the pint of key lime gelato I randomly bought for you.
Because it's your favorite.
Because our late night routine often included eating gelato and bitching about work.

Well, I guess I would bitch. You would just hold me and laugh with me and tell me it's not a big deal and that I'm the best little waitress ever. And then I'd bitch about how I wish we still worked together because we worked brilliantly together and having you there made everything better. It meant I got guaranteed time with you where we were working towards a common goal. Even if that goal was just turning the tables. We were never more in-sync than we were during a busy service and we made an awesome team.

So I have this pint of gelato still in my freezer.
Key lime isn't my favorite.
But I can't bring myself to throw away perfectly good gelato.
There's obviously more to it than my fear of wasting gelato.
Whatever it is,
It's starting to creep out.
Because every time I have opened the freezer for the past 54 days,
You're there.
You're in my freezer.

I've been so good.
I've been pushing forward.
Now I look around and start seeing you in places I forgot.
It's happening.

We never made a huge deal out of Christmas. I remember the night we celebrated our first Christmas. December 18, 2015. I only know the date because I took a picture of you trying on the coat I'd given you. It was the first picture I'd ever taken of you even though we'd been dating for a few months and it is still my favorite. I sent it to my parents and made it your contact photo. If you ever call me, this is the picture that will pop up on my screen because I haven't gotten around to deleting your contact yet. And while my gift was purely practical, I remember your gift was much more sentimental. It was a West Elm piggy bank. At work, everyone called me a truffle pig because I sold white truffles on the reg. I thought it was the most perfect thing and when I read the card that came with it I cried. I hadn't cried opening a gift since I got an iPod when I was nine.

So that piggy bank is sitting on my desk next to my bed.
I still keep it there because I still use it.
Because I can't bring myself to throw away a perfectly good piggy bank.
There's obviously more to it than the issue of relocating all my loose change.
Whatever it is,
It's trying to break out of me.
Because today, after 54 days, I look at that stupid piggy bank
And I see you.
You're there.

I've been thinking about you.
I miss you.
Is that ok.
I just miss you.
But I think it's happening.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Time and Space

Time is not sacred. 
They say Time is money. 
But money is not sacred.
Time has no real value to me. 

Not like Space.
Space is different.
Space is precious. 
Space is sacred. 

I pick and choose who and what I make Space for.

I picked you.
I chose you.
I decided to make Space for you.

I held back no part of me.
You saw it all.
The good, the bad, the ugly.
The past, the present, the future.
The attractive, the absurd, the insecure.

You took it all.
You kept taking it.
And I kept giving because to me, giving is loving.
But after a while,
I had nothing left to give you
Because you never loved me in the way I deserved.

You gave me Time.
You made Time for me.
I mistook Time for Space.
I took whatever I could get from you
Because I was so wrapped up in you.

You held back from me.
I only saw what you wanted me to.
And no matter how many times I tried,
You would not let me see it all. 

Maybe he just doesn't have as much Space to give as you do.
Maybe he speaks a different love language.
Maybe he really is trying the best he can.
Maybe you should stick it out just a little longer.
Maybe you should just give him Time.
Maybe this is what people mean when they say a relationship is work.

I tried being patient.
I tried kicking.
I tried screaming.
I tried begging.
I tried manipulating.
I tried guilting.
I tried blowing it all up.
I tried loving.

I loved you so hard.

By the end,
I had become someone that was so lost.
I was so lost in you.
I was killing myself trying to breathe life into something that was already dead.
I was so afraid that without us, I would have nothing.
I was terrified of the empty Space that you would leave behind.

And it was terrifying.
But only for a moment.

Now, here I am.

I am taking back my Space.

Friday, November 3, 2017

My Cocktail Server Experiment

I was trying to put a fussy 6-month old down for a nap in a chic Williamsburg apartment that I will never be able to afford myself when I get a text from my manager.

Hey, wanna play cocktail server tonight? 
You can wear all black.

I hate my work uniform and the idea of getting to look good at work was exciting.

Our clientele like their cocktail servers just the way you'd expect. 
Young, thin, beautiful and dressed like sex on a stick.

I knew exactly what I was signing up for.

Time to break out that little black dress.
The one that's just short enough. 
The one that's tight in all the right places.
The one that says, "Look, I'm getting over you."

Lucky for me that I had done my hair that morning. 
All I had to do was wash out the baby spit-up.

I always say my hair is my best feature.

I kept my makeup simple. 
Eyeliner, highlight, blush. 
I'd add my standard red lip right before service.

War paint.

I looked good. 

And I knew it.
When you know it, 
The world becomes a different place.

Hello, world.
It's been a while.

I got to work and the heads start turning. 

Any woman who says she dresses for the approval of other women is lying to herself. 
We dress for men. 
Or at least my shiny, newly single ass does.

My coworkers were all seeing me in a new light.
They couldn't stop staring.

It was like the way he looked at me that first time.

The night picked up steadily. 
We were well into service, 
When a group of 4 middle aged men find their way into my section.
The very first thing they say to me,
"Do we need to sign a permission slip for you to be serving us?" 

It takes me 3 seconds to size up these guys.
I determine that they are a non-threat.
Whatever that means.
I laughed off their stupid remark and threw it back in their goddamn faces. 

"I'm not telling you how old I am but wanna know what I'm dressing up as for Halloween?"

"Tell us!"

"Jailbait. So watch yourself."

In that moment, I decided cocktail serving isn't for me.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Last Night

Last night I went out.

It's been a while. 
No agenda, no strings. 
No one to answer to. 
No one to come home to.

Last night I put on a tight black dress.

You never saw this dress. 
It's an attention seeking dress.
It's a "Fuck you, I'm fabulous" dress.

Last night I let my hair go.

No primping, no fussing.
The way you liked it.
It always looked best after rolling around with you.

Last night I flirted in the elevator.

It was harmless.
But it was empowering. 
And it was liberating. 
And it was fun.

Last night I drank negronis on a rooftop.

I made new friends.
We closed down the bar.

Last night I walked into a wine bar just before last call.

What do I see?
Champagne magnums and a cute somm.
My dream.

Last night I got giddy over a glass of wine.

That cute somm saw me sitting by myself.
Everyone else was out smoking.
He poured me a taste.
It was electric.
I loved it.
I made a witty observation.
There was laughter.
It was the exact type of exchange you and I used to have.
But it wasn't you.
It's not you anymore.

Last night I took a step away from you.

Everything I did reminded me of you.
Of us.
I couldn't stop thinking about you.
But something shifted.

Last night I started to let you go.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Parting Gifts

You texted me late last night and I didn't respond for a whole six hours.

I wasn't sure I wanted to see you. 

But in usual form, I responded. The exchange that followed went on as if nothing was wrong. 

I can't resist you no matter how hard I try. 
We do this. 
We fight and we move on. 
Like it never happened. 
Maybe there's something to be said for that.

I haven't told people I've been seeing you again. It's my secret. My secret source of joy and sadness all wrapped up in one. I derive pleasure out of being tortured and it's all the more sweeter because it's not supposed to be. 

Everybody says don't. 
But I'm not listening. 
I'm not listening to them. 
I'm listening to me.

I'm in rehearsal all day. I am focused. I am present. But somewhere in the back of my mind I wonder what you're planning.

You love having a plan.
I love trying to figure out the plan. 
If I ask enough questions or catch you off guard, you'll cave. 
You can't resist me either. 
At least the lack of resistance goes both ways.

A few hours and I've worn you down. You tell me we're going to the fried chicken place down the street from my apartment.

Come again?

This was our first "date night" in a while. I knew you had plans later on in the night so it made sense that we weren't doing anything crazy but I was hoping we'd at least go somewhere that I don't order delivery from on a regular basis. Alas, I love fried chicken so I try to get on board with it.

We decide to meet there. I time my arrival so I'll be the second one there but you still haven't figured out which trains stop where so you're a little behind. At this point, I'm ravenous. I take myself for a walk around the block and buy Reese's peanut butter cups at the closest Duane Reade. Because that makes sense.

You catch me crossing the street eating said peanut butter cup. You smile and starting laughing. You look at me and say, "What are you doing? You're ridiculous. I love you."

And just like that, you melted my heart. 
The one that I have been steeling against you. 
You put your arm around my waist. 
You hold the door. 
I didn't stand a chance.

You order a bottle of rosé and give back the food menus. The rosé is confusing. It's dark and fruity but light. An unexpected combination. Like us. The lack of food happening is also confusing. 

I thought we were having dinner? 
I'm fucking starving.

We finish half the bottle and you're pulling out your phone to call for a car to take us somewhere else. 

So now it's around 4:45pm and I haven't had a proper meal all day. That rosé hits me fast and now I'm chatting idly about nothing important. You just listen. 

I can feel you smiling. 
You sit close to me. 
You put your arm around me. 
You pull me closer. 
You press your nose to the side of my face. 
It feels right.
It feels so damn good.

And now I care less about what's coming next. I stop trying to figure it out. I just want to live in this moment of us. I don't want to think about what's best for me or what the future looks like or what everyone else says.

We get out of the car and start walking. You tell me we're going to Shake Shack. Cute! I love burgers and I love fries and I love you. But you steer me past the start of the line. We walk across the park and stop in front of a building I don't recognize.

I look up and we're standing in front of the best restaurant in the world.

It's Eleven Madison Park.

"We're having dinner here??"

I look at your face. You are very pleased with my reaction. You got me good.

I'm so surprised. 
I can't believe it.
I'm not confused anymore.
I'm so happy I could cry.
This is exactly where I want to be.

There is a small group of people waiting outside the restaurant. We are all waiting for the doors to open. Bar seats are limited and a hot commodity. It's also the last week of service before they close for the summer.

The doors open. We walk in and grab two seats at the end of the bar. I spend the next five minutes turned around in my barstool trying to take it all in. The dining room is stunning. The massive windows look out on the park and the tall ceilings make the whole space feel grand as hell. The army of a staff is circled in the back of the dining room. They're doing their pre-shift meeting. A manager walks into the circle, says something, and the entire staff calls back, "Good evening."

Holy shit.

The meal is a dream. It's a retrospective tasting menu of the most iconic dishes of years past. Each course is a knockout. Every plate, every bite, every sip is perfect. 

Before dessert, I decide I want bubbles. I opt for the cheapest sparkling option. The bartender pours me a taste and before the glass touches my lips you ask him if I can also taste the one of the champagnes.

A few seconds later, I'm sipping a very fine, very expensive glass of champagne.

Like all good things, the meal eventually ends. You don't even let me see the check, which is probably for the best because I might have gone into a state of shock. On the way out, perhaps to soften the blow from how much money you just spent, each guest is thanked profusely and given a small gift- a jar of granola for breakfast the next day. 

I love fine dining.

We get to the train and you go your own way. 

My heart sinks a little when you leave.
Is that silly?
I never want this night to end.
I want to do it all over again.

It's a beautiful evening so I decide to walk home. 
Somewhere between the Flatiron building and my apartment I make a decision.

Everybody says don't. 
But I'm not listening.
I'm not listening to them.
I'm listening to me.
I will surrender to love. 

I ate that granola for breakfast every morning for the next few days. 
Never have I loved a jar of granola more.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Things Are Different Now

Remember that bar? 

The one where you first saw me? I mean really saw me.  
I haven't been back to that place in almost two years. 
I can't hear the name of it without think about us.

Well tonight, they wouldn't let me in. 

When's the last time I went somewhere that asked for my I.D.?!
My usual Saturday night is spent running around the dining room trying not to kill someone.
The funny thing is I knew they were going to be carding. 
The funnier thing is I knew I wasn't going to get in. 
The funniest thing is I didn't even want to get in.

After a rejection I was fully prepared for, I opted for Plan B.
After a quick walk through the Lower East Side, I got to where I wanted to be.
 The look on your face when you saw me was a rejection I wasn't prepared for.

In the beginning, your face would light up when I walked in.
I took extra time getting ready if I knew you'd be there.
I was a secret.
Things are different now.

I make a quick excuse for why I'm there.
It's a restaurant in New York City.
I don't need a fucking excuse to be there.

Bartender asks if anyone is joining me. 
Nope- just me. 
Bartender asks if I have allergies or aversions. 
Yup- I hate raw celery.

Part of me wonders if they're asking because they want to send extras.
I want to believe they know I'm special. 
We don't always get what we want.
Things are different now.

I try to catch your eye as you float around the room.
I try to connect for just a moment.

Remember when I was the only one you could see?
Now it's like you'd rather do anything else than see me.
It's like you're looking past me, through me, around me.
Things are different now.

I hate this.
I hate everyone around me.
I hate that they're getting the best of you.
I hate that I'm getting none of you.
And I hate hearing your laugh.

You can hear it from across the room.
It's the most genuine, goofy sound.
It used to be one of my favorite sounds.
Things are different now.

I tell myself, 
"Don't look eager. 
Don't look lonely. 
Don't look desperate.
Don't let your disappointment show."

I try to hide.
I try to make no fuss.
I try to stop the waves of nostalgia.
Another bite of food. 
Another sip of sherry. 
It's not working.

Once late at night you said that you feel like I'm spying on you when I surprise you at work. 
It's the last thing I expected to hear.
It seemed like such a strange thing to say.
Things are different now.

Bartender strikes up a conversation.
He's nice.
He's handsome. 
He's worldly.
He's good at his job.

A good bartender is a dangerous thing.

Now I'm smiling.
Now I'm laughing.
Now I'm catching your eye.
Now I'm trying to hurt you too.

I really thought we could change.
I really thought we might have a chance.
That things could be different.

I leave without caring if you see me or not.
On my way home I hear a subway musician singing, 
"Oh Darling, please believe me. I'll never do you no harm."  
I want to believe it.
But I can't.

Everything is different now. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Most Romantic Thing

Remember that date night last November?

We tried to have date night once a week. Working a full-time front of house schedule didn't always allow for that. Getting the same night off was like winning the lotto, landing on the jackpot. And not every single one was amazing. Most of them were pretty ordinary.  But then there the ones that nothing will compare to. Those nights felt like pure magic. 

So, do I remember that night? 
Si, claro. 

It was right after I had spent Thanksgiving with his immediate family and even though I'd met everyone before this was different. This was on a holiday. We brought wine from "us" even though he was the one that had picked it up (and paid for it). He chose well though. There was a bottle of Arnot-Roberts Trousseau in the mix. It's one of those bottles that I have a nostalgic attachment to because it was on the list at the restaurant where we met. I remember tasting it for the first time at line-up and listening to him describe it. He sounded so smart and was so excited about it. It was perfectly charming and attractive. I had such a crush. When I took a sip that first sip, it lit me up. It was unlike anything I'd ever tasted. Delicate yet firm. Whimsical yet structured. It was delicious. Every time I see that bottle in a shop, I buy it. I just bought it yesterday.

I had on a perfect dress. It is one of those dresses you only pull out for holidays or other special occasions. 

He always teased me about my clothes. I always teased him with my clothes- a short skirt, a backless dress, a plunging neckline- because that's what great clothes are for, no?

I took a cab and timed my arrival perfectly. I knew he would already be seated and have to watch me walk in. 

He was always early. 

He would have to stand up, give me a kiss and pull out my chair for me before anyone else could. When I walked in the hostess immediately recognized me and gestured to the table where he was waiting. 

His face was almost one of surprise when he saw me. 

Spoiler alert. My appearance is not regularly glamorous but I made the effort and pulled out the stops that night- I put on a great dress, I did my hair, I took time to put on makeup, I even wore heels. And the look on his face when I walked in made it well worth the effort.

Three of us from work all got along and by chance had a night off together so we made a reservation to go to dinner. It was in the middle of July. It was hot as hell. I had about a million bobby pins in my hair all working to keep my crown braid secure as I navigated the subway stairs in my wedges. I wore black shorts and a bright blue blouse with a bright yellow statement necklace. Naturally, we couldn't show up to our reservation on time so we planned to meet at a bar around the corner for drinks. He was there on time. I was late. When he saw me walk in, it was like he was seeing me for the first time. Watching him watch me walk in was thrilling. I wanted him to look at me like that all the time. By the time our friend got there, I'd decided my crush was full-blown. He spent the next few days returning bobby pins to me.  

We were seated in a corner booth so there was no chair to pull out but you know he got up and pulled out the entire table so I could slide gracefully into the booth. 
Fine dining, man. 
There is nothing like it.

The next few moments are a blur. 
There are the standard restaurant greetings, "Hello, how are you this evening? May I start you with sparkling or still?"
"He likes sparkling, I'll take still." 
"So nice to see you, you look beautiful." 
"Thank you so much. I'm excited to finally sit down for dinner."
A few of the people who are close to him stop by and say hi or are introduced to me for the first time.

He had brought his parents, his brother, even his roommates before I got a proper sit-down dinner. Sure, we came in for champagne and dessert at the bar for my birthday. But that was different. We stopped by early in the evening before service really got going. The restaurant was empty. I had since been coming in on my own or with friends for basically the same thing on a fairly regular basis. Partly for the delicious champagne and dessert but mostly to see him.

Before we even have a chance to think about drinks, there's a bottle of Shaman Margeut Rosé Champagne being presented to me and I'm poured a taste. 

When we were working together, he would save me tastes of different bottles that he sold. We had a spot where we kept glasses lined up. Everyone knew those were his prize tastes and off limits but not for me. They were little treats for me to enjoy throughout the night. But whenever he sold champagne, he would find me and make sure I got a taste right then and there because nothing is as good as freshly opened champagne. 

I accept the taste because it's delicious and as the server is pouring, he notices that it's a bottle that was already open. Maybe from the night before? He gives the server a look and says, "Hey, man. Can you open a new bottle?" And it wasn't in a way that made him sound annoyed or angry. It was a voice where the subtext was, to me at least, "Hey man, help me impress this girl. She deserves the best. She's special. Please open a new bottle of champagne."

 I still think it's the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me.