always the bridesmaid…

Today was the first day I had woken up alone, without a hangover, in my own bed, in nearly a week. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally drained. It felt amazing to sleep in my favorite flannel pajamas, sans makeup, hair a complete mess. I meandered to the kitchen and poured myself a tall glass of milk. I sat down, flipped through a magazine that my mother had left the last time she had visited. Upon leaving, I remember her running her long white finger along the windowsill, shaking her head disapprovingly. “I can get you a cleaning lady, you know.”

Visits with Mother. There was nothing like them in the world.

Still morningized, I rummaged through the fridge, gathered together a couple of brown eggs, mushrooms and mozzarella, and began to work on an omelet breakfast I had been missing out on for weeks. For some reason, I felt like a prisoner who had just earned a reprieve. I found myself intoxicated by the silence the entire apartment contained, although silence wasn’t something I lacked consistently.

I had just pulled out another frying pan and begun to cook some bacon when I heard the sound of the Clash singing “Janie Jones,” my ringtone of the moment. I hurried to my bedroom to answer it.

I looked down at my small, unassuming black phone. The name that was illuminated on it this time was G-Town, a name I had affectionately given Gina, my best friend of almost fifteen years. It was perfect; I had a day to myself, after all, to be lazy, cook a breakfast I could indulge in at a leisurely pace, read, write or do anything I wanted. I wasn’t going to call Drew and probably not Vincent; I didn’t have anyone to answer to, no work to prepare for, and nothing to do. Besides, I hadn’t talked to her in quite some time, so I answered it happily.

There are a few moments in your life that stick with you, not for any particular reason other than the fact that perhaps it might change your life forever. These three words, which were whispered like a secret of unholy nature, was a moment as such. “I’m getting married.”

If I didn’t worry about what other people thought as much as I did, I would have screamed and dropped the phone. I couldn’t believe it. Gina’s relationship, since she’d been widowed three years previously, had lasted only about a year and a half, and it seemed to have serious flaws, including fidelity issues. He was a parasite whom I trusted as far as I could throw.

But at that point, none of it mattered. I wasn’t even thinking about Gina, clad in white lace, walking down the aisle all over again. I wasn’t thinking of male strippers and apple manhattans sipped from straws shaped like penises. I wasn’t thinking about drunken toasts and limos written on with shaving cream. I was thinking about me, catching the bouquet four years ago and rolling through a series of endless, monotonous loops with men ever since.

“Congratulations,” I choked out, one tear falling, releasing the floodgates for the rest of his brothers behind him.

She sighed. “Crazy huh?”

“Crazy indeed.” I could taste the salt.

“We’ve got more time than last time.” She was referring to the fact that, four years ago, Chad only had a week after his tour in the army had gotten extended, so we had been forced to throw together a wedding in five days. Since I had been the maid of honor it was a lot of work. But it was beautiful and definitely worth it. Chad and Gina had loved each other since they were kids, and even though at the time it felt rushed and insane, it really had made sense. It definitely made more sense than this.

“How long?”

“A little over two months. We want to get married the first day of spring. A sign of good luck, don’t you think?”

I said nothing. She would need as much good luck as she could possibly get. And it was better than five days but it was still no small feat. But I didn’t even want to think about my future responsibilities, the ones that would soon be haunting me just around the corner, forcing me to celebrate something that seemed genuinely wrong and at the same time analyze my own present loneliness. I just wanted the freedom to eat some greasy meat and cry myself back to sleep.

“Okay. I’ll call you later. My bacon is burning.”

Thinking I might lose the blues and become inspired like last time, I indulged in another bubble bath. It was too hot. I lie down and let the water burn me, soothe me. I watched the bubbles surround my crimson skin, pop up from the sides of my arms, my legs, my hips. I looked down at my own breasts, the light pink nipples standing up beneath the foam. It made me think about sex. Calloused hands and wet lips, probing tongues, fingers, candlewax, ice. I thought about my history teacher in high school I had always fantasized about blowing under his desk. I thought about my first time with the first one, sweet but awkward, uncomfortable, tainted possibly by my own intense feelings and unreasonable expectations.

I thought of Jane, the girl I had teased mercilessly but eventually fallen for, and how it felt like I was making love to a warm mirror.

It had been a long time, but I remembered what it felt like to be in love. Wondered what it felt like to be in love now, more grown, evolved, no longer so idealistic and naïve. I wondered if I was still capable of producing those feelings. I wondered if I was still capable of instilling them in someone else. I thought about how much I had loved Johnny, how I felt like I would give up everything, my personality, my existence, my life for the best of him, the best of us. Had I really ever been so young? I laughed, thinking now I had trouble even compromising trivial issues. Further speculating, I decided I blamed him for my present stubbornness. I wondered if I had a right to.

I pondered the possibilities with Drew; wondered if he’d ever be more than he was now. Wondered if he ever wanted to be. I had asked once, in a haze of drink and sweat if he wanted to be with me. He had held my hand and said, “I am with you.” He had been slippery from day one; perhaps he would always be that way. He was me. And now that I had discovered that we were the same, I wanted to change him, probably like everyone had wanted to change me.

I thought about all the times I had met someone who had wanted something more. Cute, sweet or not, I would become scared off and more often than not completely self-destruct and sabotage the prospect. It was like a slapstick comedy. You just always knew it was coming.

Looking back on my own love life, dating now seemed to feel like one tattoo after another; a silly, pleasurable addiction that appeared to be more important than it really was. Sure, there were days that I tortured myself over Drew, but he was just a man. I didn’t need him. But I wanted some meaning in my life. I wanted something deeper.

And it was pathetic that it took my best friend deciding to take lifelong vows (for the second time) for me to even realize it. Did I really have such low self-esteem that I would give anybody who gave me attention half a chance? Or did it merely suit me to inflate my ego further? Was I constantly in search of one I could deem “the one,” failing miserably each time and not having the energy or the balls to completely cut off contact anyway? Or did I just crave sex and preferred to keep it solely among people I knew, trusted and found reasonably attractive?

In the past few years, I had experienced many nights of sitting at a bar, drinking at the expense of a gentleman caller, or strangers that admired the curvature of my form or the brightness of my smile, and the end of the evening would always go one of two ways. Either my gentleman caller and I would find ourselves tangled in one of our beds’ sheets (much to my chagrin the next morning), or I would return home, lonely, sad, hoping for a better tomorrow, wishing I had more motivation, stability. Hearing my mother’s voice saying “do something with yourself for chrissakes.” Kicking myself for not writing more, writing relentlessly, writing from my blood, my bones. For not forcing the world to read it.

Wishing I could open my eyes to someone who wanted to be there, someone who was happy that I was there, too; someone who was smart and stupid in the same ways I was. I was the typical female, the typical anti-female. Was it win-win or lose-lose?

The bath had run cold.


2 Responses to “always the bridesmaid…”

  1. January 13, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Many times we are the ship on the seas, battered and tossed by the wind and waves. We wonder why this could happen, but in reality it is necessary. What is a journey without struggle? What would the meaning be?

    Sometimes we are the sea, watching the ship tossed and battered, wondering ‘Why is this happening?’ when the whole time we could stop it. If only we knew how.

    Can you make a decent omelet? I tried this morning, and it was delicious but ugly. Then again, I’ve had prety omelets that aren’t tasty at all. What’s that tell ya about life?

    You know, I never really know what to say. I just spout out some metaphor or another and hope meaning is found or it at least sounds good. But I know you are a lovely lady. You seem to have a decent and kind heart, though I don’t you well, and that makes me believe that hope is not a lost cause. But hope is only half of the equation. Hope, yes, but also try and make your own movement to the things you want in life. With a little luck, the two come together.

  2. 2 B-Town
    May 7, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    ‘…dating now seemed to feel like one tattoo after another; a silly, pleasurable addiction that appeared to be more important than it really was.’

    G-Town? That’s funny.

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