I love you.
They are touted as those three little words. Three little syllables. They don't feel little right now.
Sometimes I look at Abraham and I think those three little words, and I think I would have already said them had it not be the longest sentence in the history of the world.
If it was just "I," it would have squeaked out by now. That's simple enough to say. "I." It could even escape accidentally.
I love you.
You can just feel the cavernous space and gravity between each word, dragging you into the land of no return. It doesn't escape from your lips accidentally. There's no "Just kidding" or "I'm just playing."
There are times when he stares at me and I just think that he's thinking those three little words too. He watches me in the early morning as I struggle awake. Trying to coax it out of him, I ask, "What are you thinking?"
He shakes his head that he doesn't have a thought to give. Then, almost as an afterthought, he quietly murmurs, "You look pretty when you smile" or "You look pretty with your head on the pillow like that."
You know when you're watching a movie with your parents and it cuts to a graphic sex scene, and everybody in the room freezes into an uncomfortable silence? No one even chuckles or laughs or acknowledges the scene? That's become us with scenes in which the characters declare their love for each other.
We went away to the beach this weekend. We were drinking out of the back of a friend's car. I was drinking gin. He was drinking rum. We were standing on the dock at the back of a very long line to order fresh seafood. Somewhere between refill 3 and 4 of our plastic cups, we both got hammered.
He stood behind me in line and wrapped his arms around me. "Do you like me when I'm drunk?" he asked.
"Are you kidding me? I love drunk Abe."
Despite the statement being true, I felt like I'd swallowed a fireball. Anxiety rose up in my chest, radiating a burning heat. I said "love." It wasn't "I love you," but it was still too close for comfort.
"Careful," he lightheartedly warned. "You said the L word."
I decided to play it off. I turned around and laughed at him. I twirled my dress and modeled for him. "Do you like my dress? Or do you LOVE my dress?" I giggled. Then I leaned in to him and purred, "Do you like blow jobs? Or do you LOVE blow jobs?"
He laughed at my drunken silliness. "I see what you're doing. I'm on to you."
All of a sudden I find myself afraid. The girl who claims that she would rather love messily than not at all is finally silenced. Because I have finally found it, and I have something to lose. Although the argument that if he doesn't feel the same way means I never had him is perfectly valid.
I gave him the green light for the relationship. I gave him my phone number and told him to call me. I wonder if there shouldn't be a balance of power to relationships. What if I made myself available to him and then declared my love for him? Would it make the relationship unbalanced in his favor? Would he have all the power? But the funny thing is if I said that thought out loud to him, he would laugh and tell me it never crossed his mind.
I love you.
I think I would just be so torn up if he didn't say it back.
~Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I love you.
Love, Sarah at 11:23 AM|
~Monday, May 21, 2012
Saturday Abraham and I had our day planned from the first minute to the last minute. We packed up our things and headed to the park so I could play my kickball game while he watched from the comfort of the shade. I had lucked out in that neither Clemson nor Statham had decided to play this season, making my weekends decidedly less dramatic. We were left with a handful of really good players and we had a great time together. I strengthened a lot of friendships during our Saturdays at the park.
After the game (we shut out the other team!) Abraham and I raced back to his place so I could change from my sweaty t-shirt into a maxi dress. I slicked back my kickball ponytail with gel and used powder to even out my face that was red from working out in the sun. Within 10 minutes we were back in the car and heading to the local brewery to meet up with his friends.
I didn't know these friends very well, but it was important that I get to know them since we're all going to Florida in a couple of weeks. I pressed my lips together as we joined them with our empty pint glasses ready for the sampling tap: they brought their toddlers. To a brewery. Not a bar with things like food and chairs. A brewery. The only things there are kegs and half-filled pint glasses.
I don't know what I expected. I guess it would have been silly to hire a babysitter. There were friends from out of town visiting and the entire gang was present. It wouldn't be in the spirit of community for one to stay at home with the kids. Besides, the children seemed fine playing with their toys on the brick patio.
Abraham and his friends have a few years on me. This must be the life of the thirty-something. This is a world I've never much experienced: one with kids. I never babysat. None of my close friends have kids. My older brother is just now expecting his first. Young children make me anxious because I don't know what to do with them.
Abraham has had lots of experience. He knew the toddlers well, having been present for their entire lives. They trusted him and called him uncle. He scooped them up and make kid-appropriate jokes. My mind was blown; he was a damned genius. I never would have thought to make that joke with the kids.
The children never learned my name. Instead they called me "that lady," which made me about 112 years old. Fortunately they were surrounded by so many doting adults that they didn't require much attention from me, save for one instance of one of them darting into a crowd and me stopping mid-sentence to go retrieve him. So at least I have that instinct.
A couple of other thirty-somethings wheeled out their stroller on the brick patio, and the parents took turns introducing their kids the same way that I would introduce my dog at the dog park. But we were at a brewery! Was this not strange to anyone else?
Afterward we headed to the parents' home where more parents and more kids appeared. So many grown-ups. I sipped my margarita and sat quietly next to Abraham and monitored my dog running through the backyard with the other dogs. She had a penchant for going into the kid's playhouse and digging a hole.
The mom sat down next to us. She moved the Femme Fatale's leather leash in the process. "Is this a Coach leash?" She asked incredulously.
"Yeah. It matches her collar."
"Abraham!" she exclaimed. "She's rich!"
Not really. But I have been working for enough years to enjoy a disposable income, all of which I can spend on myself. I don't have to buy diapers and day care. I can buy the nice boots. Or the Coach collar. For the record, Abraham uses his disposable income to vacation. We all have our things. (And seriously. It was a $30 collar I got on sale at the Coach outlet. And the dog is 11 years old, bringing the price down to $2.72 a year and counting.)
She leaned into me. "Isn't Abraham great with kids?" She asked like this was a selling point.
I grew wide-eyed. "He is! It's intimidating." But she doesn't have to sell my boyfriend to me. I feel like I'm the one who's flawed and needs the talking up.
"He's had a lot of practice," she explained. "My husband is the same way. I was never around kids until I had them. He's a third-grade teacher, so he's naturally great with them."
She shifted in her seat. "My little girl asked if you were going to be at Abraham's house this morning," she continued. "I told her you got up early and went to visit. We have to be role models now. That's why when we go to the beach, we'll be in one condo and you [and the other couple] will be in the other condo."
She didn't intend it, but in that moment I felt bad about my life. I didn't know I wasn't living a kid-friendly life. I don't break the law. I go to work and earn a living and support myself. I have sleepovers with my boyfriend, as does every other adult. I didn't realize it was something to hide. It's not that I disagreed with her decision; I guess it was just something I never considered.
We broke for dinner. I sat on the stairs and ate my burrito while it was warm. The parents chased their kids through the kitchen chanting "Just eat the tomatoes" or "Finish your plate." It was exhausting just to watch. Only when the kids finished eating and ran off the play again did the parents get to eat.
I faded fast. It was a long day spent in the sun. We'd been drinking for seven hours. Those kids never stopped running.
I sank my head on Abraham's shoulder and he put his arm around me. "I know. I'm tired too. But we can't leave first. How big a wuss would that make us? We don't have children. We'll go when the families start leaving."
By 10pm, only one family had left. There were still three- and four-year olds playing at full steam. Abraham finally stood up and said our goodbyes.
In his house, we crawled directly into bed.
"I'm so tired." I was reduced to whining like a four-year old. "It's 10:30 on a Saturday night and we're in bed and I don't even care. How do those people do that every day?"
"Baby, we are big wusses."
"Mmmhmmm. Could you imagine three kids like that one family?" he noted.
Two toddlers. G-ddamn. Abraham and I talked about having two kids. Due to the length of our fledgling relationship and my age, we would have to have them close together and have two toddlers just like today.
I even named our kids once. I was drunk and he had laughed and we danced to the jukebox and now I have no idea what I said. I've already forgotten the names of our hypothetical children.* I am so unfit for motherhood. I whimpered. In that moment I loved my life of working 9 to 5 and drinking on patios and wearing expensive shoes.
"They had Crocs on," he said. "I would break up with you if you ever wore Crocs."
"It's not like you have them all at once." I found myself justifying a decision that felt so wrong after today. "You don't wake up and have two mobile children. You have one and that one cries, but at least it doesn't move around, right?"
Abraham was already asleep.
*Three days after writing this, I remembered the name. Rory Gilmore Abraham. I am definitely unfit.
~Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Abraham pulled the sheets down and started getting out of bed early one Saturday morning. I lunged forward, grabbed him by the waist and pulled him back into bed with me.
"I lo-- like you when you're naked in bed with me!"
"You stumbled there."
And so it begins.
~Friday, May 11, 2012
"I'm going to my first singles' event," my mom tells me as we walk into the Chinese buffet for Easter dinner. We're finally doing the holidays my style—by completely ignoring them.
I guess her statement is true. The last time she was truly single was when she was in her late thirties with braces on her teeth and two small children on her hip. After she divorced her second husband, she dated a family friend very casually for about a year. Now she's in her early sixties and starting over yet again.
She's always said she's done with dating, that she's giving up. She says she'll never marry again. I suspect otherwise. I think she has the same eternal hope that I do. Maybe next time will be better...
"I don't have anything to talk to men about," she complained as she dipped her shrimp in tartar sauce. "I don't want to talk about work."
"Tell them about your landscaping," I offered.
"I don't want to sound masculine," she countered.
"Tell them about your wildly successful children," I winked.
She said nothing. My mother wants to be something other than a mother. She doesn't want to talk about family and how ours got broken.
I shuffled my lo mein around my plate. I was running out of ideas. Me, the professional dater. I made a mental list of things I ask when I meet someone:
- Are you a local? This question probably doesn't fit the more established, older generation.
- Where did you go to college? See above.
- What do you do for a living? My mom doesn't want to talk about her job.
- What do you do for fun? My mom goes to dinner with a few girlfriends in what is, in my opinion, a Bitter Betty Club. She likes to shop. She also spends an inordinate amount of time working in her yard, which she also doesn't want to talk about.
"Get drunk and be funny," I finally shrugged. That's my backup plan.
My mother laughed for the first time. "There's probably only going to be one man there anyway, and he'll talk about his grandmother's china."
"Then just hang out and talk and make friends. Next time you'll know them and be more relaxed. You'll have a rapport to build upon."
My mother nodded.
Being in this situation with my mother is unusual. She's supposed to be the wise advice giver. She's supposed to have the stable relationship from which I learn. We're not supposed to figure this stuff out together.
I think about the mistakes my mother has made that ended with two failed marriages. Two. Both ending the same way: with the husband cheating. My mother always had a soft spot for my father and took him back time and time again until my father finally admitted “A leopard doesn’t change his spots.” The second one was just an all-around bad person.
I picked up a lot of bad habits watching that relationship. Forgiving men who lie probably being the foremost. Thinking it’s the woman’s job to stand idly by while the man does whatever he wants coming in a close second. I thought we as women were supposed to be silent sufferers. Stoic.
My mother and her brother got into a fight the other week. As she’s describing the fight to me, the hair stood on the back of my neck and I became agitated. The fight sounded exactly like one she would have with my step-father, exactly like one I would have with S. She could have changed the name of my uncle with the name of either of those men and I would have been none the wiser.
I think I’ve broken the cycle from the environment in which I grew up. I did. I went to therapy and dumped the newest loser boyfriend and spent the next year completing my 30 before 30 list. A list of everything I’ve ever said I wanted to do but hadn’t. I met Valdosta and learned how a good man feels. Looking back, it was the happiest year of my life.
My mom never went to therapy, and no doubt the damage done to her was greater than the damage done to me, despite the fact that my damage was in the form of bruises and scratches. In the same way my mom is not quite ready to give up hope and give up the singles’ groups, I’m not ready to give up on her either. I’m not ready to tell her she gave it a good run. That she should lay down and die.
There’s a popular story about when I was an infant. I was a newborn and screaming and wailing and thrashing as my mother tried to change my diaper. I was angry at the world and let everyone know, just as I do today. My father looked over her shoulder and muttered, “She’s got the [family] gene. She’s a fighter.”
The family gene my father specified was my mother’s side. We’re fighters. Because of that I know she’ll never give up. And neither will I.
~Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Abraham had purposely told me he would talk to me in a week when the boat docked, but he knew he wouldn’t wait that long. Before he left town, he emailed Harvey without me knowing and asked for my apartment number so he could mail me a card to open on my birthday. (“I know I walk by your apartment number at least twice a week,” he later told me, “But I just look for the second door on the left, never the number.”) Whereas on my Valentine’s Day card he had scribbled a short joke, he left a lengthier message in my birthday card telling me he missed me and he was sorry he couldn’t be there with me. He included a gift card to Barnes and Noble because he knew I loved to read and thought it might occupy my time while he was away.
On my actual birthday, he turned on his phone in international waters and paid one million dollars to send me a dorky picture of him holding that day’s newspaper, pointing to the date and smiling. He was wearing the t-shirt I had bought for his birthday; I knew it wasn’t coincidental. In his hand was a fistful of gambling chips. He called me his lucky charm.
He turned on his phone the following day and paid another million dollars to tell me that the stars were beautiful and he needed me with him.
The next day he sent me a drunk video from a bar. They can’t all be overtures.
When he got home he gave me a bottle of nice gin—the good stuff—and I had a gin and tonic or six, and I told him he did everything right. He missed this big thing in my life, my first birthday with him, and he did everything he possibly could to make me feel special. Only I was crossing the line into sloppy drunk, so I rambled, to which he laughed at me and told me I was cute when I was drunk and telling him that he was perfect. Well he isn’t perfect, what he did was perfect, and you get the idea about the rambling.
I love this man.
~Friday, May 04, 2012
"I just played 20 questions about Sarah with my sister," Abraham told me over the phone. We were both out of of town. I was in Dallas visiting my family, and he was in Miami about to disembark on a cruise with his family.
He had decided to wait until this trip to break the news to his family that he's dating a goyim. Another family member broke his own girlfriend news during Passover and consequently was bombarded with questions by the entire extended family. Abraham had leaned to his cousin and laughed at him for announcing it in that large, invasive setting. Quiet Abraham wanted to tell his immediate family first.
"She's already Facebook stalked you," he added.
"Thank God I changed my profile picture from the ridiculous one of me eating a hot dog. Did she ask if I was Jewish?"
"She did, but it wasn't the first question."
"Was it top 5? What was the first question?"
"I don't remember."
Guys are so lousy at remembering details of a conversation. If I had asked South Carolina Bestie that question, she'd be able to tell me the exact order of the questions, what the sister was wearing at the time, the expression on her face and her body language. With Abraham, I get "I don't remember."
I huffed, "You are such a guy."
"Guilty as charged," he laughed.
"Well what did she say?"
"She was happy. She wants me to tell my mom."
We had previously talked about his parents' reaction. His parents had already told him they just want him to be happy, even if that meant settling with a non-Jewish girl. It's his Bubbie that he's more conscious of.
"I think your mom will be happy, Abraham," I said.
"That's what my sister said. My mom is already making little snippets about finding me a girlfriend."
"When are you going to tell her?"
"When I get really, really drunk.”
"Probably," he laughed. "What's that noise?"
I was in one of those trendy nature shops when he called. The kind that sells $80.00 organic flip flops and educational children toys. Some kids had just crashed into wind chimes. "Just a wind chime store," I answered him. I was not going to waste these precious few minutes I had with him describing the store filled with something called "17 Countries, 1 Bra." As soon as his boat left, we would be without total contact for a week.
We filled the conversation talking about his trip and my trip and him telling his family and me being happy about it.
This time I heard noises in the background of his line. The boat was leaving.
"I guess I better go," he said solemnly.
I immediately choked on a sob. It didn't matter that I was in Dallas and he was in Miami and we were already 1,300 miles apart. It didn't matter that I wasn't home. He was leaving.
"You're going to have a good birthday," he said. He meant well, but it felt like a stab to my heart. The trip was planned with his family last year, before we were serious, before he even knew when my birthday was.
"Yeah," I cried. "We're going to have hibachi at the restaurant that is inside a train car. It's going to be fun." The words were forced and didn't match the tone of my voice.
"Are you crying in a wind chime store?" he asked incredulously.
Tears streamed down my face. "Yes."
"You're such a girl."
"Guilty as charged."
"I miss you," he told me seriously.
I cried harder. This isn't me. I don't normally cry when my heart's touched or when a boyfriend leaves town for a week, but I do with him.
I stood in that stupid nature store with unstoppable tears. My brother and my father stood at the exit and waved at me. I shushed them away. Knowing my history, they probably thought I was fighting.
"Okay well you have a good time," I choked out.
"I'll text you one last time before I'm out of range," he promised. "I miss you."
Five minutes later, as I was sitting in the backseat of my brother's car with sunglasses protecting my insides, I received it. Bye forever! An inside joke.
Be safe, have fun and miss me tons, I typed back. I wanted him to leave on a positive note.
Will do x 3.
~Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Post-kickball, post-bar beers Abraham and I were tucked in his couch watching New Girl. Despite it being April, I draped a blanket over me and shivered. The show's current storyline revolves around Mr. Fancyman, played by Dermot Mulroney, who I've had a crush on since 1993 when he was in The Thing Called Love. I love these episodes.
In the current one Mr. (Sexy) Fancyman and Zoey Deschanel have their first fight. She'd been holding back since Mr. Fancyman said that's all he did with his ex-wife. But they finally fought and made up quickly and declared their relationship "real" because they were able to fight.
The whole scenario made me uneasy. It's an idea that had been rolling around in my head for the past couple of weeks. Abraham and I don't fight. We've never really come close. He's the world's most easygoing person, and his actions make me feel secure so I don't freak out on him.
But still. We don't fight. I tried to think back to what we talk about. Is it all superficial? I don’t think so.
I looked up at Abraham and asked him why we didn’t fight. “Do you think our relationship isn’t real?” I asked, referencing the episode.
He looked at me strangely, like this was the most ridiculous thing I've ever said. “You’re listening to TV. Stop listening to TV.”
I think it was more than that though. Someone once told me, “You equate tearing you down with love. If it's not a battle, you don't think it's real because it's too easy.” And I think I still have a flicker of that mentality. At least I realize it’s there and it’s unhealthy.
He offered to fight with me if it would make me feel better.
I imagined fighting with Abraham, and it was like all my previous fights: yelling, the tension, not speaking to each other, not knowing where we stood. I didn’t like it. Just the idea made me sick with anxiety.
“I don’t want to fight,” I announced to him. I shrank into the curve of his body.
Abraham dismissively laughed at me.
“We went seven months without one. Do you think we can go seven more?”
Abraham shrugged. To go 14 months without a fight would be nothing short of historic in my world. The only other boyfriend I went this long without fighting was my first love, and I think it was the fact we were protected in the college bubble and he drove up to see me on the weekends that kept us worry-free.
I have to trust that when we do inevitably fight, Abraham won’t back me up against the wall and physically intimidate me, like S. He won’t be incredibly immature and call me a bitch and declare “I don’t love girls; girls are stupid,” like Christopher. I doubt Abe would even raise his voice (I do. You aren’t listening to me so I am going to TALK LOUDER.) I have to trust Abraham and trust that we are healthy enough to work things out without escalation.
But I can still cross my fingers for seven more uninterrupted months, right?