Sunday, September 23, 2007

about face

I've gotten to the point where I can be honest with myself. Most of the time I can be honest with people around me too, even when it would be easier in the moment to smooth things over. I used to do that to save face or save feelings; mostly feelings.

I've always been a bit of a hot-head, but now if I feel slighted, instead of internalizing it or displacing it on some innocent bystander, I usually say something, albeit diplomaticallly. Usually. But sometimes I just can't be bothered and I think that's honest in another way.

Two examples:

First, one of my dream destinations is Morocco. Lana knows that very well. I've talked about it a number of times. Recently she was invited to travel to Chile with a group of girls. Since that trip she is talking about doing Morocco with the same girls, Even though she's heard me talk about it a million times she never thinks to invite me along.

Second, recently Harry showed up at my birthday dinner like he was doing me a big favour, making sure I knew he had to cancel his hockey game to come and had to leave early to go to practice etc... He arrived with a birthday card that had a photo on the front of a naked man with a massive erection. The card read, 'something to remind you of me'. You probably know me well enough to know I'm all for cock jokes, but when I opened it at a table with 12 of my friends, I had to force myself to laugh about it. Cocks don't offend me but my heart is still a little tender from being stomped on. I felt he was kind of rubbing it in my face, for lack of a better description.

I do believe that there are times you need to pick your battles. Is that really honest, you might ask? Well, I think it is; honest to my own needs. Rather than hang on to a relationship that doesn't truly exist or rather than try to turn Lana into the person I want her to be, I can let it go. When I'm honest with myself, I don't need to stick it out and I don't need to displace the hurt feelings.

I think Harry and I are coming to the end and I think Lana needs to be a follower. It's so much easier for her to go along with other people; to be one of the group. She isn't comfortable initiating anything. I still love her and except her, strengths and weaknesses included. Besides, I don't really want Morocco in that way. I always imagined I would go there with a strong, handsome man and I would have to pretend he was my husband so we could share the same hotel room and then we'd have scandalous non-married sex.

So am I a coward for not giving people like Lana and Harry a piece of my mind? It's not about saving face as much as it is about saving my energy. If they asked me how I felt, I would tell them the truth, diplomatically, but without hesitation, but being honest doesn't mean fighting every battle. Sometimes it means asking myself a few strategic questions and then moving on.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

in the company of men

That guy I grew up with—the one I went sailing with a few weeks ago—called and left me a message before I went away, asking me if I wanted to get together. I had given him a copy of a mix cd I made this summer and he said he wanted to 'meet up to go over the playlist' so he 'could add the songs into itunes'.

Initially when he invited me sailing I was worried he would think it was a date. I'm not interested in going there with him. If I was I would have no problem making that clear. Not that there's anything wrong with him. In fact, maybe if I met him now, as an adult, I would be able to see him as the successful intelligent person he's become, but I only see him as that cute chunky goofy kid.

I meant to get back to him before I went away, but I was busy and then Lauren's Dad died. So when I got home I emailed him the playlist. He emailed back right away and told me he's leaving for some work in South America in a couple of weeks and asked if I would like to get together and catch a movie or a bite to eat before he goes.

The thing is, I would like to do that. I've always loved the company of guys. I was always the girl with two or three male best friends hanging around. I guess I like the testosterone. Lately Harry is pretty much off my list and Josh lives in North Toronto [which might as well be Quebec City for the frequency of visits]. All of the other friends I have in the city are girls. So many girls. Too many girls.

I have to remind myself that it's ok to hang out with someone who might have a feeling or two for me. Sometimes you just have to trust that people can take care of themselves. Sometimes you just have to do what you do.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

night call

The phone rang at 12:03 AM.

As a reward for cleaning the apartment spotless and getting my packing done I was sitting on the couch, watching Medium and taking my first bite of a dark chocolate bar. As soon as I saw her number, I knew something had happened.

I was leaving the next morning. Lauren and I had coordinated our trips home for the holidays this year. Originally she was thinking to come home for Yom Kippur but when I told her I already had my flight for Rosh Hashana booked she changed her plans. It was going to be like old times, we'd laughed.

But it wasn't going to be anything like old times.

"Rachel, my Daddy's dead!", she sobbed through the phone.

No, this isn't happening, I said to myself.

"My Daddy's dead! Rachel! He's dead. Oh, G-D, not my Daddy", she wailed.

Lauren is my oldest friend; my fourth grade 'bff'. It was only a few weeks ago that I went to Western New York for the weekend to meet her.

Lauren has many friends, but I am the one who pretty much grew up in that house. I am the friend who saw it first hand. Who knows how very much her father was her world and she, the apple of his eye.

When she got her period, it was her father she told first.

"He went right to the drugstore and bought me tampons", she told me proudly. I tried to imagine how it would be to have a father like that.

Or the time when Lauren woke up in the middle of the night with the stomach flu in university. It was her father she called.

"Daddy, I'm sick!", we could hear her on the phone in the next room.

Lauren's father was the kind of man you thought would go on forever. I see him cruising the stretch of sidewalk outside his office, buying homeless guys a coffee and a sandwich. If you were in the area you were sure to see him. He'd always have a sly grin and a joke.

"Did you hear the one about the rabbi and the priest..."

He was a fixture in the synagogue for as long as I have memories. He practically ran the place, walking the aisles, flashing Lauren and I dirty looks when we talked too much, which was pretty much always, or making us lead the congregation in Aleynu. Lauren's uncle told us he loved Jewish tradition so much that as a small child he would roll up a towel and pretend it was a Torah. Lauren's dad was 64.

So that was my vacation. It was heartbreaking. Now, one week later, here I am, back on my couch. I'm tired. I'm scared of the people I love dying. I'm scared of dying. I had to take an ativan to fly for the first time in a long time. It wasn't the flight so much as the fear that when I said goodbye to my family before going through security, it could be the last time. These moments make you forget how to live with that possibility.

What if my father dies and I have shut him out all of these years. How will I live with that? What if my mother dies? There are days when we barely tolerate each other even though I love her more than anything. How would I survive?

Lauren asked me over and over how she would ever feel ok again. For the first few days I wasn't so sure she would, but in her strong moments she has already begun to find meaning. I guess that is how it happens.

And here I am, home, on the couch, eating the chocolate I had been eating that night when the phone rang.

The chocolate I thought I would never want to taste again.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

least resistance

I would never do anything
That would put
Between us.
I've never been convinced
Anyone would
I've perfected
The technique of
Removing obstacles.
Greasing the way with
My dreams.
Making sure
I am the path
Of least resistance.

%$#%$# @#%$*&@!

Have you ever had insomnia, despite sleeping pills, straight vodka out of the bottle you keep in your freezer, hot flashes, an inability to sit still for more than 10 seconds, and a complete fucking temper tantrum after three hours of trying to sleep that had you throwing things and screaming words you could never begin to think about sharing on your blog?

Yeah, well...neither have I...

Monday, September 03, 2007

varsity view

Lately I've been craving sashimi. Or ceviche. I have this thing for raw fish.

Speaking of fish, I had a great time sailing today, although once we got around the island airport the water got choppy and it left me feeling a little queasy, but it was really fun. I steered the boat and pulled the sails up with the ropes. I did all kinds of things I barely understood, but I've always been good at following instructions.

Last night I met the argentinean for drinks and then we walked around Yorkville. Later we got coffee and I took him to sit at one of my favourite spots, outside varsity arena, overlooking the track with the University of Toronto and the city skyline in the background.

He brought me a belated birthday present; a mix cd of latin music, which I thought was very sweet. For two people from very different places in the world we have quite a bit in common. Of course there's the religion for one, but we both come from big families, we both have baby brothers exactly eleven years younger than us, and they even have the same name! Of course, these are all surface commonalities, but it makes the world feel smaller somehow.

Tonight I have another date, but this one's with a physiotherapist who works at the hospital. We are going for drinks in one of my favourite areas in the city; king and jarvis. That's one of the areas I would like to buy a condo.

I have a big day tomorrow. I'm running a meeting to wrap up the program I worked on all summer. After work a girlfriend and I are going for a run and dinner. Wednesday I have to take the day off to drive to a small town a couple of hours outside of the city for the funeral of my friend's father who died suddenly. She had to fly home from overseas. What a horrible long flight that would have been. I imagine those are some difficult hours.

Saturday I fly back to the coast for a vacation. There are going to be a lot of family gatherings and big dinners because it's Rosh Hashana. I just hope I can resist the tempation to eat my way through the holiday and I can keep up with the daily running. I haven't felt this physically fit...ever.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

never mine

In an email to Harry, I Freudian-typed "never mine" instead of "never mind". I mean seriously, no matter how I swing it, I am transparent. I used to get so angry at myself when I let my cover slip. Not that I really knew it was a cover in the moment, I was just angry that I was not who I wanted to be. But I have come to a degree of comfort with the truth. I am no longer frightened by the repercussions. What have I really got to lose outside of the dead weight I have carried around with me for no other reason but for old time's sake?

My therapist has been on vacation. Before he left, I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't coping, I was miserable, staying home too much, and avoiding my friends. My anxiety level was through the roof and I was starting to think it would never get any better. While I do not know that anything has fundamentally changed, it is like I have taken a vacation from myself right along with my therapist.

So far the only time I have even cried was this morning, watching Cold Case. It couldn't get much more cheese but I liken this particular cry to the chopping onion effect; a bit of a mechanical cry. The episode was about two secretly homosexual cops. One of them was killed and when the mystery was solved, the surviving police officer, now an old man, went back to the scene. The ghost of his dead partner appeared and they held hands for a moment before he disappeared again forever. It is the only time in the whole three weeks that I have shed a single tear and it hardly counts.

And no, I don't think the conclusion to be drawn is that therapy is not helpful. I do however think that it's nice to take a break from yourself.

So now we are into the long weekend. This guy I used to go to camp for years with just called me out of the blue the other day and invited me to go sailing. At first I was not sure. I do not know how to sail. One of the girls at work told me if I go I have to wear navy blue and white stripes and top-siders. I know so little about sailing I almost fell for it. Almost.

Normally I would decline the offer and end up going to the gym, maybe getting my nails done, cleaning my apartment, and then complaining that there is never anything going on, but instead I am going. It is a beautiful blue sky day; a Donnie Darko day. I do not even know how to find out if there is wind, but I would be happy just to float around.

The hospital wanted me to work tonight. That would have been seven days straight, so I said no, I am going sailing. So three days off! I am so excited. I will go to movies, do errands at a leisurely pace, enjoy the sun, run, play a little tennis. I even have a date with a very handsome and charming Argentinean.

Buenos tardes, mi amigos.