Friday, November 30, 2007

brilliant trace #5

Running into you can only be described as magnetic.

It was the day after Christmas and we were both celebrating the holidays at a bar in our hometown. I didn't know you personally because you had graduated a year before me, but I knew of you.

You saw me drinking a pint of beer and said, "Casavant's Creative Corner," citing the title of the column I used to write for our high school newspaper.

You said you had always read my column and were now going to graduate school in Alaska for creative writing. I blushed thinking about the naivety and simplicity of my writing back then. But you assured me you had enjoyed it.

We instantly bonded over our Mason jar pints talking about the novel you were in the process of writing, and the acting career I was pursuing in New York. I ended up driving you home later that night and you politely asked if it was OK to kiss me.

I answered by saying, "I thought you were never going to ask."

We then made plans to hang out the following night, which led to a full-fledged romantic holiday affair. We were completely inseparable, and at one point you went up to my friend who worked at the bar and thanked her for pointing me out to you.

She later told me you said that I was "the most amazing girl you had ever met."

Three days later as our holiday romance grew toward a close we were both at a loss for how to end things. Luckily a blizzard blew into town and you were forced to delay your traveling plans of heading to Grand Forks and then Alaska.

Thinking you had already left town, I got an unexpected call from you late in the evening. You said you would have called sooner but had to spend the majority of the day tracking down my parents' unpublished phone number. I was flattered.

We played with my new puppy Izzy B until everyone in my parents' house had gone to bed. Then we lay on the floor of my parents' living room face-to-face with our bodies facing opposite directions. We talked about our goals in life, and then had the most amazing kiss I'd ever had at that point in my life. We continued laying there staring into each others' eyes until I looked down to giggle in embarrassment.

You asked me what I was laughing about, and I told you it was too embarrassing to tell.

Then I looked up into your adoring eyes and told you I finally understood the pain in Bob Seger's voice when he sang the song "We've Got Tonight."

You looked back into my eyes amazed and said you were thinking about the exact same thing.

After a brief moment of giggling between the two of us you started singing in a cheesy rocker voice:
I know it’s late.
I know you're weary.
I know your plans don't include me.
Still here we are, both of us lonely.
Longing for shelter from all that we see.
Then you grabbed my hand tighter, and in laughter and a few tears I joined you:
We've got tonight.
Who needs tomorrow?
Lets make it last, lets find a way.
Turn off the light.
Come take my hand now.
We've got tonight babe,
Why don't we stay?
We secretly spent the night together spooning on the cot in my mom's sewing room. We woke up in the morning hearing your mom's voice on my parents' answering machine asking where you were. We hadn't even realized that in the moments of our singing and sleeping the blizzard had cleared.

I did my best not to cry all day after dropping you off at your mom's house. However, the damn broke free when I heard you voice on the phone that evening. You said you were standing in the entryway of a K-Mart in Grand Forks. You'd just hiked about a mile in a blizzard trying to find a pay phone so you could hear my voice before going to sleep.

We continued our romance as I returned to New York and you started your long journey back to Alaska. One of our last dates was on the phone while you were waiting in the Seattle airport for your plane to Alaska.

We laughed at the fact that we were both making mixed CDs for each other. You also told me you were looking at graduate schools in New York, and I said that it would be nice to spend my spring vacation visiting you in Alaska.

Unfortunately none of what we'd talked about came true. Instead, I received an email from you on the same day I received your mixed CD package in the snail mail. The email read that things were moving too fast and you just "couldn't."

That was our last communication about us, and as I tried to reach you over the next few months I was left with nothing. No response, no explanation. Just nothing.

For months I spent my nights falling asleep to U2's "With or Without You" and waking up to Bob Seger's "You'll Accompany Me." I was searching for answers of what happened, and finally had to reside myself to the fact that I would never find them.

From you I learned to beware the fool-hearted romantic.

Current status of brilliant trace #5: In a relationship

brilliant trace #6

Friday, November 23, 2007

brilliant trace #4

It's strange that it took so long for us to find each other.

Not only had our families been friends for generations, but we were also the same age and had grown up in small towns where our love for music and art helped us escape the suffocating stillness of country life.

We were 23 and bright-eyed about what our futures could hold. I was living in New York and chasing my dreams of acting. You were in Omaha discovering your love for photography. We still had no idea the other existed.

Then one day, family members who thought we'd have a lot to talk about gave our email addresses to each other. It turns out they were right.

At first our conversations were short, mainly you asking me questions about New York. After awhile we started to share more with each other, especially after we were both dumped by our current mates.

After about a year of talking online, our emails had grown into two- to three- page letters that we would send once or twice a day. We finally decided it was time to meet and for you to explore New York.

I remember waiting for you to knock on my door. I was pacing back-and-forth in my apartment wondering if you'd look like the person I had imagined who was somewhat short and perhaps a bit scruffy. Later you told me that you were imagining me as a tall and lanky girl with red hair.

It makes me laugh to think how wrong both us were.

You were tall, clean-cut, and very dashing. I was short with dark brown hair. The only feature we both had right were our striking blue eyes.

It didn't even take a full hour for us connect in person. Before we knew it we were exploring Manhattan, laughing, talking, and staying up all night sharing our dreams with each other. It felt as if we'd known each other our whole lives.

You were the man who helped me put the pieces of my heart back together and restored my passion for life after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had claimed it.

You finally decided to move to New York after spending another week with me and I with you in Omaha. In between those visits were weekly phone conversations lasting between three and five hours. We joked that our phone companies would call to see if we were still alive after you moved in and our phone bills significantly decreased.

There are parts of me that wish I could go back to the first year of our relationship. It was so magical that I was too scared to ruin it by asking where we stood with each other. In hindsight, I should have faced my fears and asked the question because the ambiguity of it all is what ultimately destroyed us.
Lost My Breath
(Written May 11, 2003)

I can't and I won't pretend, love
comes slowly and patiently, painfully
walking on eggshells.

A whisper carries truth, tight
lips speak louder, hearts
break silently.

I hate you, I love, I hate you, I love you.
I found this poem the other day I had written in the leather-bound journal you gave me with the inscription, "For stories & poems, plays & rhymes. May your thoughts find a home between these lines."

I can still recall the exact conversation that put an end to us.

I had finally gotten the courage to ask where we stood, and I was smacked with the words that I'm "a little psycho" and "emotionally high maintenance" just like every other girl who had come into your life.

You later apologized for what you said, and admitted it was something you convinced yourself of so you could push me away because you were incapable of loving.

It was too late though to salvage anything, even a friendship, because I had seen the real side of you in those hurtful words. Not the ideal I had built in my head of a dashing blue-eyed artist who left his favorite CD on my pillow to keep me company while we were apart.

You set the stage for my pattern of falling for guys who become instantly enamored with me and then turn on me just as fast.

However, I did manage to learn from you to never be afraid to ask where I stand with someone. Despite how much it may hurt, it's better to know than live in ambiguity.

Status of brilliant trace #4: Married

brilliant trace #5

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Proverbs 26:11

I am interrupting my flow of brilliant traces to share a quote.

"As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
- Proverbs 26:11

I am not a religious person in the way most would interpret the word religious. However, I am a firm believer in karma, love, and the absence of love - otherwise known as indifference.

That said, when venting to a friend today about a rather recent frustration with a brilliant trace that has yet to heal, I was given this quote from the Bible.

I share it with you here, taken from my purple leather-bound Holy Bible: New International Version that I received when confirmed in the fact that I could recite the teachings of Martin Luther without fail.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

brilliant trace #3

We met while waiting tables together at a New York City restaurant. We were both 19, but from two completely different backgrounds.

I was a small-town girl chasing after her dreams in the big city, and you were an inner-city boy born in Ecuador and living in a small one-bedroom apartment in Queens with your padre, hermano, and little hermana.

We would spend afternoons talking about our future goals, for me it was acting and you it was taking care of your family and gaining citizenship. Then at night you'd teach me how to Salsa and Merengue in my dorm room so I could impress your padre at a summer barbecue where you were going to introduce me to your familia.

However, I never got to meet your padre because he died of cancer a few days before the barbecue. Instead of dancing, we spent that weekend at your father's funeral.

You tried to remain strong for your family, especially your little hermana, but you were only a kid. You would come to me at night and cry while I held you. Then one night you returned the favor when I received news from home that one of my best friends had died unexpectedly.

Over the next few months we tried to hold each other together, but it wasn't working. We started spending fewer and fewer nights together. You said it was because your abuela was moving in to take care of you and your siblings, but I knew the truth. Our sadness together was too much for a pair of kids to handle.

I decided to move to Queens so we could be closer to each other, and you could have more time with your familia. Your abuela made me laugh, instructing you to help me find a safe apartment because I was too innocent and pretty to find one myself. Your little hermana was also sweet, trying to teach me Spanish with homemade lessons scribbled in her school notebook.

I'm not sure when it was you started cheating on me with the hostess where we worked, but I'll always remember the day you left me for her. You were my first serious boyfriend who eventually crushed my heart to pieces and took away my innocence when it came to matters of love.

After more than a year of being forced to watch you and her carry on in front of me, I finally had enough experience as a waitress to get a new job. I was moving forward and moving on, putting the pieces of my heart back together. So when you called me out of the blue a year later I wasn't sure what to think.

We decided to meet at our coffee shop. I was expecting some sort of apology, and instead you offered me a small sum of money to marry you for a green card. You told me you had a whole plan worked out; that we would get divorced after four years so you could marry the girl you left me for and she could get her own green card.

You told me that you were asking me for this favor because you knew I was a good person who always wanted the best for everyone.

I was lucky you waited so long to propose, albeit not in the most romantic way, because it was long enough for me to see you for the selfish and despicable person you were. Instead of saying yes, I calmly told you to go to hell and left you sitting in our coffee shop.

From you I learned that there are people in this world who don't deserve my compassion, tears, or forgiveness. I also learned to never date a co-worker.

Current status of brilliant trace #3: Unknown

brilliant trace #4

brilliant trace #2

It was chemistry when we met, quite literally. We were paired together as lab partners, and a very unlikely friendship unfolded before our eyes.

You were on the fringe of the popular crowd, and I was on the fringe of the not-so-popular crowd.

We'd spend hours talking online before instant messaging was a common form of communication. It was the medium where we could tell each other anything except that we liked each other.

Our relationship and chemistry was this intangible thing that neither of us could explain nor understand. About a year out of high school we finally had the courage to tell each other how we felt, but it was too late.

We were living in different parts of the country - literally and figuratively.

From you I learned that people should never be afraid to utter the words, "I like you," because if we wait too long the moment might pass us by.

Current status of brilliant trace #2: Married

brilliant trace #3

brilliant trace #1

We met during drama club in high school. You were a senior and I was a freshman. Your cologne was subtle and would linger in a room for several seconds after you'd leave. Your laughter and smile would do the same.

You were my first crush to turn into a boyfriend. We'd spend hours sitting in your car in the dead of winter talking because it was the only place we could be alone.

You were there for me when no one else could be. You'd let me pour my heart out to you, whether it was about my grades in school or my mom lying in a hospital fighting for her life. You would listen, you would console, and then you'd do everything in your power to make me laugh.

The first time you broke up with me was the hardest. The second was also painful, and so was the third. I shouldn't have taken you back after that, but you had been my shoulder to cry on and my joker to laugh with for more than a year. I didn't know how to let that go.

Then after you broke my heart a fourth time I realized it was harder to be with you than without you.

From you I learned there are guys in this world who will be forever lost in trying to find themselves, and there isn't room for anyone in a heart that can't be found.

Current status of brilliant trace #1: Unknown

brilliant trace #2

It's complicated

I succumbed to joining Facebook last week, and I have to say I'm very pleased with my lack of will power.

The social-networking website is far superior to its competitors when it comes to being in tune with my generation. I could list a plethora of its features as proof of this, but my favorite is under the category of "relationship status" where there is an option to choose "it's complicated."

I don't think there's any word or phrase that could better describe my generation's experience when it comes to navigating all the variables that exist in today's relationships, causing many of us to become paralyzed with indecision.

We can travel faster and stay connected in ways no other generation has experienced. We can study, live, and work in three different places at the same time. We can instantly see captured memories with the click of a digital camera, and just as easily delete the ones we don't want to keep.

The world and all its infinitesimal opportunities continue to whirl around us faster and faster, and in all the chaos we seem to lose our ability, and sometimes common decency, in tending to matters of the heart.

When I started this blog I didn't intend to write anything too deeply personal about my romantic life, fearing that I would undo the stitches I've so delicately sewn my heart back together with over the years.

Then I remembered a monologue from the play Brilliant Traces by Cindy Lou Johnson that I had performed nearly a decade ago at the J. Beckson Studios.
Did you ever think that one time, a long time ago, when you were a little child, you were visited by extraterrestrials? They say that when you are visited by an extraterrestrial - after the visit, the extraterrestrial puts this spell on you so you cannot remember the encounter at all, and you wake up only with this sad kind of longing for something, but you don't know what. And you carry that sad longing with you all the rest of your life. And they say that if, by chance, you get hypnotized, then you reveal the encounter, under hypnosis and when you wake up, you remember it, and then, it is no longer a sad longing, but a real thing, which you know about, and even if people think you're crazy, talking all the time about your extraterrestrial encounter, that's OK, because in your heart you know what it was that had been locked up for so long and you are greatly relieved.
In Johnson's own words from a 1989 New York Times article, the play is about "people who were scarred but were trying to make something of value out of their pain."

So, even if you think I'm crazy, over the next 10 days I'll list the top 10 indelible and complicated "brilliant traces" left on my heart, and what I've learned from each boy who put them there.

No names will be mentioned, only experiences - and perhaps through this process I will finally find my own relief.

brilliant trace #1