Saturday, October 31, 2009

wild thing

I hadn't seen her in over a week, and we were so off track with her studies. It had been a painful process to get her to finish that research paper... disappointment, broken promises, frustration, late nights, excuses... and then she went on vacation. And then she came back and couldn't come in the next day since her mom was sick and couldn't bring her. And even though it was Friday of Halloween weekend, I was determined to get her in that day so we could get some momentum. I never do this, but I offered to pick her up. "That will work," she texted around 12:30. "Great, I'll see you at 2." I wrote back. I added on before I sent it, "you should be in costume, btw." Just to be fun and lighten the mood. It's better with us when the mood is light and she feels like things are okay.

At 2 I pulled up and texted that I was there, and she sent back that she'd be right down. The car was in park and I sat fiddling with my phone as I waited another couple minutes for her. I was still looking down at my phone as she came to the door, opened it and sat down, and I said hi and reached to put the car in drive before I looked up.

She was a Wild Thing. Furry goat-like costume, brown animal ears, face makeup, ripped tights and brown boots. Her sheepish anticipatory smile on top of it all, waiting for me to react. I burst out with laughter, genuine delight and surprise, and she started laughing too... I hadn't expected her to actually be in costume, and I don't think she had much reason to be for a couple hour tutoring session... She did it for fun. And, I think, to join me in wanting to lighten our mood.

The short car ride was fun and full of stories. Something about sitting side by side in a car lessens your boundaries and pushes you towards camaraderie. I wasn't in costume for work but I put on my short choppy black wig I'd had in the car once we got to the center. And then we had one of our best sessions ever.

Inside both of us, a young and younger Wild Thing, is hope. Keep your fingers crossed.

a beer maid's reflection

Best phrases from this past week:

"I have a thing for lions!"

"How can you not kiss me, I'm Superman!"

"You don't even want to know how much I spent on these legitimate Where's Waldo glasses."

"Ugghhhhh... well what color pterodactyl do you want to be?" (exasperated guy on phone behind me at craft store)

"I have a thing for sailors!"

"I just got the stink eye from the other beer maid at this party."

"I just started gluing feathers to clothes that I was wearing sometime around midnight last night. Yeah I'm super tired."

"I went to the Virgin Islands for vacation last week. Now they're just called the Islands." (Chuck Norris on State St.)

"I was sick all last week so I figured there was nothing else to do except make a Buzz Lightyear costume."

"You should probably not wear a mustache that matches your hair so perfectly again. It's frightening." (one girl to another girl)

"How does she even sit down? What if she meets someone she wants to hook up with?"
(bystander on State St. about girl in nothing but thick body paint all over a la Rebecca Romign in X Men)

"It's a $3 charge to get in if you're in costume. $30 if you're not, asshole."

"We should for sure play kickball in costume."

"Is she dressed as a cougar or is she just herself?"

"She was dressed like Pretty Woman, in the early part of the movie, and she was the least slutty girl there."

"Is that a real person?" "I'm not sure." (This dad I don't know and I look closely at the figure on the ground in front of a house while out with the kids trick or treating, we lean down closer to see breathing but it could be some prop connected to the blow up ghost right next to it) He says,"Poke him in the butt!" "YOU poke him in the butt!" I say. "I'm kinda scared. The legs are too skinny. He's not real." (the dad pokes him. no reaction, movement) "Feels lifelike, but could be fake, I don't know!"
Annoyed mom at doorstep, just noticing what's going on, "That's my son." "Oh sorry," we say and creep away. Weird.

"More importantly, however, is that we don't lose sight of what makes us human. Like waking up in an ivy patch off of Milpas wearing a Tarzan costume. Or trying to find a place to put your keys while wearing your French maid costume. There is no place." (on a Halloween party invite)

"Dear Principal: I would like to be a rollerskating waitress for Halloween this year. Can I please have permission to wear my rollerskates at school on Halloween Day? I promise I will be very careful. Thank you."
(This one is not from this week, it's from a letter I wrote to the Principal of my elementary school just after I turned nine in fourth grade. I got permission. That was the best day ever. My teacher even let me be the one to pass out papers in class just so I could skate up and down the aisles. Halloween is the best.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

monday my day

Mondays are quiet. I like them.

I'm usually still tired from a fun weekend, possibly sore from Saturday's soccer game. It's usually a day where I wash my hair, take time to cook dinner, catch up on the news, clean my place. Lately I've had a regular tutoring session with one of my favorite students from 6 to 7:30. This year she's in American History, so my Monday nights mean discussions about the Stamp Act, Samuel Adams, Ben Franklin, the shifting perspective of the colonists towards the Brits and vice versa after the French-Indian War, and how the Ivy League East Coast colleges were born in 1600s and 1700s. I love it. We pepper the hour and half with fun comments about our friends or our travels or short youtube videos that pertain to the history topic. I come home, have a drink with my neighbors...then I head back to my place and catch up on The Office or Gossip Girl.

It's the night that I'm most aware that I live alone. Every other night has some other regular social or sporty activity going on. But Mondays are just for me. They are serene, rejuvenating, certainly not a bad way to start the week.

I don't know what life will be like the day that I share the house with a partner and then kids who will want more from me than to let me be quiet on my sofa with the computer and some music and a tuna melt for dinner. I'm sure I'll love Mondays in a different way that day, but I like them just as they are for now.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Of course there were the fabulous moments, the ones that the pictures will show and that will come up first when asked about the weekend in the future:
Our surprised delight at being swept into the major clubs, escorted to private tables to enjoy free bottle service, dancing on catwalks and tables...
the laughter that followed our walk through the casino and hotel lobby and into the cab holding open champagne bottles and balancing on four inch heels...
the delicious tapas and sangria toasts for our main dinner together...
enjoying the perfect hot dry weather as we laid by the hotel's lazy river...
the magnificence of "O" at the Bellagio, where the world class acrobats, divers, dancers, and swimmers had us spellbound...

And then there were the ridiculously goofy moments that come when you combine six fun-loving girls with Vegas and alcohol and very little sleep:
Diving on the bed, trying for the perfect mid-air photo, during our elegant and mature hotel room preparty...
lipstick marks found on one girl's hair, that could only have come from one other girl's red pouty lips that night...
rolling over hotel walls into the planters, purposely, for reasons unexplained...
glasses dropped between dances moves on cement tables, and trying to take a turn in the flower petal laden bathtubs in the club...
trying to suppress the giggles as two of us ate everyone else's leftover chicken paella on the bathroom floor at 5:30 am while they slept...

But sometimes you have that one perfect moment, that one instant you didn't know was coming but completely collects the joy of your surroundings, friends by your side, and the promise of more greatness ahead. It's not necessarily better than any of those other moments, but will forever be more lucid and present in your mind than the rest.

We stood, as the sunset finished, in front of the lake at the Bellagio. Those breathtaking fountains and lights were performing to Time to Say Goodbye by Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli. The streams of water shot sky high, the music played loud, both serene and stirring, the moon shone down, and my heart swelled with gratitude. My 27th birthday, with friends old and new, could not be more amazing, and the water show was still more wonderful than I remembered. I was so completely and utterly full of happiness, I felt I could cry. As the show ended with a spectacular finale, I had the wish that my friends beside me who had never been to Las Vegas had loved the show like I always have. I had talked it up to them, said it was one of my favorite things in that town and anywhere. Hoping it had lived up to expectations, I looked at Emilia, and said with thinly veiled eagerness, "So, what did you think?"

She had tears in her eyes. "I loved it." Moment perfected.

27 was an unbelievably fabulous birthday. And as I told a fresh faced young guy we met at the club who turned 21 that weekend, life only gets better with every year. Believe it and it will be true.


The first thing I did that morning was wash dishes. I came out of the cabin, all bundled up, and joined the others at the eating area, and was assigned the job of cleaning those ubiquitous red bowls. Once I did that, I was then switched to a different station, to serve hot cocoa into said bowls for the thousands of European teens and twentysomethings that were barely awake and freezing early on this French October morning. It was a kinda fun job, actually. Then something magical happened... magical for me at least. It started snowing. Sweet little snowflakes, shy and infrequent, landed all around me... on the hair of the girls passing by, on the benches, and onto my hands as I scooped the cocoa. I laughed out loud at the surreal place I had found myself on my 21st birthday: an ecumenical community in the countryside of France, surrounded by youth seeking solace and affirmation in all matters of Faith and God, trying to keep warm in a cold like I've never known in my inadequate jackets.

It was a very memorable and beautiful day. The small group I was in with some earnest kind German girls gave me a birthday card, I frolicked in a field and watched the sunset with some of my dear friends that were on this European adventure with me from home, and during dinner had Happy Birthday sung to me in four different languages. And then that night our group gathered for our last night in this community and invited all the friends we'd met to meet us there to sing guitar songs and praises. Dozens and dozens came. I was pulled to the center to be by the guys playing guitar to help lead the songs. The lyrics to the songs our group knew so well from home were passed out to the young Germans, French, Polish, Dutch, and Italians.

And then we sang. We sang and sang. Some of our new friends sang along, some watched in awe, and some were crying. Some from our group had cheeks shining with tears too. It was truly, I would say again, magical. A better word would be heavenly.

By the next night we were in Paris. Some said to me that we could then celebrate my birthday in true 21 year old fashion. But I knew that I'd already had the most memorable 21st birthday anyone could ask for, and that I would remember it sweetly forever.


I dashed into the house, hurrying to change my clothes and throw on some make-up to head out for some frozen yogurt with my mom and brother and sister. I'd been in the same clothes all day, from school to watching the varsity boys' soccer game to a friend's house, so I couldn't wait to switch outfits. Running past my mom by the front door, promising to take only a minute before we could leave, I headed through the house to my bedroom. I had but one foot into the living room when-


A chorus of dozens of voices had aimed their shouting towards me, and I was startled to the depths of every cell. I jumped and had my hand over my mouth for the next five minutes, hardly able to believe what had happened and still dealing with the adrenaline rush from the shock. It was a couple days before my birthday and the last thing I'd expected on this typical schoolnight was to run into my house and collide with a huge party for me. Almost all of my good friends from my high school, various groups, different ages, some family mixed in... they were all standing in my house. On a Tuesday night. And there were streamers. Cake. Presents on a table. Cameras were flashing, capturing my joy and disbelief. It was the biggest gathering of my friends I'd ever had in my honor and at my house. The boy I had just started dating was standing back at first to let my best girl friends rush to give me hugs and bubble over with the story of how they pulled off the surprise, then came towards me with a sly smile and gave me the longest ilikeyou hug. A sign hung up on the wall declared:

Happy Sweet Sixteen.

Still one of the best birthdays of my life, and always will be.

Monday, October 19, 2009

forever young

Favorite scenes from the Westmont Class of '04 Five Year Reunion...

* a husband playing with his wife's ponytail as they chat with an old friend. they've been together for about seven years, married for four.

* a single fellow alumni guy gingerly holding a baby... the one that was born so premature, that so many prayed for and fretted over... he was finally seeing this little daughter of his good friend and had no idea how to give her a bottle, but did his best anyway because as we were all so aware, the world is so lucky that she made it and is healthy and flourishing and is here to be able to take a bottle at all.

* my conversation with a dear friend, one who lives in town, who i get to see all the time, about what three things we would tell our college selves. i thought at that moment that i was so very happy that because i chose to stay in this paradise town, i get to see more westmont friends regularly than so many others.

* the sunset as it put on a fantastic performance, sending plumes of pink and purple throughout the sky and complementing the glassy turquoise ocean. this and the hot weather made it seem that santa barbara was saying to everyone, "glad you are back, i missed you, and didn't you miss me?" and it seemed that the collective answer was Yes.

* seeing my freshman year roommate, now a doctor, with her lovely husband, also a doctor, and delighting in how they've realized their dream together that i watched hatch as they met each other nine years ago as freshmen and started studying together for their first pre-med course.

* the scattered little clusters of Europe Semester alumni, reminiscing about hikes on Scottish islands, injuries on the Acropolis, awkward moments with the professors... when we see each other there's still a tie that binds, a deep familiarity in each others' faces, from 3 1/2 months filled with a lifetime's worth of memories in faraway places.

* the football huddle the guys made, for reasons still unknown to the girls, reminding us that Westmont guys always were a mysterious and special breed, but we love them for it.

* how we stayed past the closing of the restaurant, for hours after dark, unable to cut off conversations with the friends that, for all the years that have passed, for all the wedding rings and babies that were present, for all the respective doctor or lawyer titles that have been earned, still look and seem young and fresh and like they still have the whole world in front of them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

you can see it in her eyes

Because it is a desire of my heart, I want for my friends to find it too, and I'm overjoyed when they do.

I want, for all of us, to find a love that, while imperfect, brings great joy and passion and depth to life. And it would be even greater if we all had what one of my dear friends has found in her love...


"You know what I didn't expect?" she said, coming to the end of her story, her eyes shining with happiness and emotion. "I didn't expect him to say all those amazing things, and in hearing them, to feel so completely known. He gets me, more than anyone ever has. It's more than I could ever ask for."

In so many years I'd never seen her like this. She was glowing. She was a woman not only deeply loved... but known. How absolutely fantastic.

Friday, October 16, 2009

i love you so

My love for the movie will probably always have more to do with the idea of it and the words describing it's vision than the film itself, as much as I loved it.

I was beside myself when I first saw the preview for Where the Wild Things Are. I didn't particularly love the book as a kid, but the preview was magical, mysterious, enchanting... especially, for me, the verbiage in it.

"Inside all of us is hope.
Inside all of us is fear.
Inside all of us is adventure.
Inside all of us is a wild thing."

You know I love that kind of talk. Well I waited and waited for the movie, and in the past couple months more interviews and then reviews came out about it. A deeper picture evolved of what I was waiting to see.

One reviewer was so poetic in his description, that I want to save some of his words forever...

"This is not a film defined by bits and bytes and the clicking of a thousand computer mice; it is a world of wood and wind and wave, of sunlight and stone. "Where the Wild Things Are" feels, for lack of a better or less ironic term, handcrafted, and that makes it something quiet and true, like a campfire song played on acoustic guitar."

"a world of wood and wind and wave, of sunlight and stone." I want that to describe my world. More natural, more handcrafted, more true. I couldn't wait to see the movie even more.

Then in a GQ article, an interview the Spike Jonze, the director, he had this to say about his realization of the concept he could center the movie around:

“It just hit me that wild things could be wild emotions,” says Jonze. “It was that simple of an idea. And all of a sudden, it seemed infinite where I could go from there.”

“As a kid, that was really scary and confusing—both the wild emotions in me and the wild emotions in the people around me,” he says. “Unpredictable emotions, positive or negative—you don’t know where they’re coming from, you don’t know what they mean. Especially negative emotions. Your own behavior—you don’t know why you’re acting a certain way and it scares you, or you don’t know why somebody else is acting a certain way and it scares you. Big emotions that are unexplained are really scary. At least to me. I guess it’s anger, or sadness, guilt—or guilt for being angry, you know."

He nailed it. Wild emotions... they are incredibly scary. My worst memories as a child are the confusion and sadness that came from the occasional intense and unpredictable emotions of the adults around me. My worst memories as an adult are moments of dealing with overwhelming sadness, loneliness, and despair... these emotions in great doses are terrifying. You cry and it's not better. You drive and yell and hit the steering wheel and it's not better.

How lucky are we that there are brilliant creative minds working who can put vision and art together in such a moving and beautiful format; a format that communicates to both children and adults everywhere the things we can't always express by ourselves. The movie, as promised, was lovely, mesmerizing, genuine, and very scary.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

this is how it happened.

a month or two previously the topic had come up as a few of us sat on stools by the outdoor bar built into his backyard.
"seriously stephen?" i asked. "new zealand is the next place i want to travel to as well. it's been on the top of my list for four years."
"really?" he replied with interest. "i haven't really ever traveled, and i just hear so many things i would like about that country so i want to go, for like a couple week trip or something."
"same," i said. "i've been saying i am going to plan it for over a year now, but i told myself a few months ago that in 2008 i would plan it or go for sure, maybe this winter while it's warm down there."
i really don't think there was much more said about it than that. maybe a casual joke thrown out by him a week or two later, something like "new zealand! let's do it!" between bottles of red stripe.
then one october sunday, a year ago, i was having a leisurely shopping day with some girlfriends. i think i was in the forever 21 dressing room when i got the text message.
"let's go to new zealand together. how about february, it will be their summer. let's make it happen." - stephen.
i read it and laughed in surprise. i got quiet and stared down at my phone. i just knew that he meant it. i knew that february would be great timing. i also realized that i'd been putting off booking the trip since i didn't know what that kind of adventure looked like as solo traveler, and i was hesitant to find out.

this was it. i got a flash of adrenaline and nervousness as i stood there with discarded dresses all around in the stall. i was going to go to new zealand. i had a friend to go with. not a close friend, but a friend who was fun and laidback and would follow-through. this is how it's supposed to happen. i'm going to new zealand, finally.

three weeks later we bought our plane tickets. three months after that, we were staring out the window of our bus as it rolled down the main streets in auckland after an early morning flight arrival, and we shared ipod earphones as stephen played band of horses to go along with our first views of the country we'd been dreaming about.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

a season on the fence

of course I have always loved October for being the month of my birthday. when your birthday is near the end of the month i feel like it's easier to feel like the whole month is yours, the anticipation stretches out from the first day you flip the calendar. growing up i loved that my birthday was where it was during the year for several reasons... close to halloween so i could have dress up party if i liked, enough into the school year so that i knew the kids in my class and that it wouldn't be awkward to bring cupcakes and be sung to, and not too close to the holidays.

one of my favorite reasons for having a late october birthday was/is this: this month, while containing the best of autumn in the form of pumpkin carving parties, nights by the fireplace, and the promise of holiday candy, could still act like a card-carrying member of the summer season, at least in california. the days are still often warm. you can still sport shorts and tank tops.

and that meant that my birthday parties could also be pool parties.

one of the greatest glories of my childhood was belonging to the local pool club. you had to live in the neighborhood or be friends with someone who did, so that meant that almost all of my middle school and junior high friends could go. for weeks after school started we could say after the last bell of the day, "see you at Treeview? in an hour and half?" and everyone would be there. we girls would stake out spots for our towels on the grass near the shallow end, so we could have the best view of all the action, and dip in and out for games of marco polo. i remember when one pieces started turning into two pieces by the end of one adolescent summer. these get-togethers were somehow more social than the summer ones as i recall, since many friends would be scattered over the vacation months with family or at camps. we would soak gloriously for a couple afternoon hours in the chlorine and the flirting that never culminated in much of anything, and head home for dinner and homework when we'd had enough. even if i was having an actual birthday party in some other form, it would still work out to casually rally the friends together for an afternoon of canon balls and underwater leapfrog that third week of october in honor of my birthday.

those wet days would end after halloween, not to be seen really til the spring. those times, where you could care less about your hair getting wet and maybe too much about what the boys were doing, and the chlorine would discolor your suit by the end of the year... they are something i miss the most about childhood.

Monday, October 12, 2009

for tomorrow...

She sat down, not wanting to look up at me. She knew she hadn't done the work she promised to do, had made excuses, and sat here now after a couple days of avoidance knowing that she'd disappointed me.

"Look at me." I said. She looked up then down again. "Look at me." I repeated. Once I held her gaze, I had to do everything I could to keep my voice from cracking, especially as I saw her start to tear up.

"You haven't done the work. We both know it. But I refuse to create an unhealthy dynamic between us. I care about you too much and I just will not stand for unhealthy relationships in any aspect of my life. We will have a good, straightforward, trusting relationship of client to tutor. I already know you want to do the work, that you want to get through this class, that you have good intentions. You have to know I know that. What we both know is that we need to get you to take more action. Don't be fearful that I will get mad at you when you don't get things done. You let that fear paralyze you from actually doing it. Just do it, and if you don't, let me know without excuses, and then start again the next day. I care about your success today, but mostly I care about your well-being ten years from now. I do not want you, in your mid-twenties, to not be where you want to be and still be wrestling with the devastation from your lack of self-discipline. I know what its like to be a procrastinator. I know what it's like to be a play-first-work-later type of person. Believe me. You will have to fight this. I am on your side, fighting with you. Fight now or the fight will be harder later. The consequences will not come from me, they will come from no high school diploma, they will come from having to enter the workforce with no skills of follow through or self-discipline. We're doing good, you and me, and don't let this huge paper create a dynamic of fear with us. There will be no element of mistrust or manipulation between us, I will not stand for it."

She nodded. "Look at me again," I said one last time. "Do you believe we can have the kind of relationship I'm talking about? Do you trust me? Can we move forward together, no fear?"

"Yes." She wiped a tear away and gave a half smile. "Wonderful," I said. "Let's get to work."

I think about her every day. I fear for her, for her present, for her future. I'm literally one of her last options for getting through high school. Her private, imaginative, bookish, passionate, procrastinating, achingly perfectionistic nature tied her to my heartstrings from the beginning, I could see myself in her strengths and weaknesses. But she has other things holding her back, things I didn't have, her issues are deeply rooted, and I can only hope and instruct and affirm. And hope some more.

This conversation was today. Cross your fingers for tomorrow.

always raspberry

I love being by myself. I'm compulsively social, but time alone energizes me and gives me some of my most memorable, creative, and peaceful moments.

One of the best alone days I've ever had, one that I will always vividly remember, was one early October day in Florence, Italy.

We arrived in the city as I was listening for the first time to John Mayer's Heavier Things album, which is still probably my favorite of his. The bus pulled up and it was lightly raining outside and I was charmed by our hotel by the river. It was maybe two days later that I got the chance to wander the city alone for a day that turned into an evening.

I was happy to be on the trip, with my friends, in Italy... but the dull ache of missing my boyfriend would often persist when I was alone, more than at other times. That day I didn't feel the ache, I slowed my usual fast pace to a saunter along the cobbled roads and delighted in the moment, in the sensations surrounding me, in my own solitude amidst a pulsating artsy breathtaking town. I went to the outdoor market and picked out silk scarves for my mom. I passed through quiet alleys and ended up in an old jewelry store, talking to the old owner who told me stories of all the famous people that had entered his doorway and touched his necklaces and rings. For a little while I sat in a cafe across the square from the Duomo Cathedral and was spellbound by the most phenomenal peoplewatching I'd ever encountered. I took a hike up to the Piazza Michelangelo and at the top bought two flavors of gelato, raspberry and lemon, a refreshing reward for all those stairs climbed. I walked down and walked along the Arno River, admiring the painters' canvases spread with flourishes of color as they stood and did their best to express the scene as they saw it from their easels. The sun set, I crossed the Ponte Vecchio bridge, and came upon a little handmade pizza eatery. It had mostly outdoor seating, was pretty empty, and looked like exactly the right place to sit down, eat, and write some postcards. So I did. And the most vivid part of the memory of this day is the sensational prosciutto and artichoke pizza I had there. It was just the right size, the crust was crispy and thin but not too thin, and the flavors were fresh and aggressive and amazing. I wrote family and friends postcards, truthfully telling them that I was having one of the best moments of my life in a little Florentine restaurant on a warm October night.

Then I walked home and on the way, got gelato again, raspberry and chocolate this time.

And after such a memorable and refreshing day alone, I was so happy to arrive back at the hotel, to a room full of the silver laughter of all the fun girls on the trip, and compare notes about our day in Italy and just how much gelato we'd each had, and how much more we planned to.

Friday, October 9, 2009

ears to hear, a heart to listen.

one of my students is deaf. he was born without any ability to hear whatsoever. this was discovered as he approached one year of age and was unable to make any coherent sounds and had issues with sleeping and other milestones. but at age two, he was set up with special hearing aids that allowed him to hear to some degree, and a couple years later received a cochlear implant. this is basically a bionic ear. he can hear and converse to a significant degree like a normal hearing person can, but there is evidence in his tonality and pronunciation that he isn't hearing things as clearly, and he can't always pick up on subtleties of speech in regards to tone or nuances as others might. still, its remarkable to think that without this technology he would be living a very different life. he participates in a regular classroom and has never had to learn sign language.

on the first day we worked together the topic of ancient sparta came up. it was related to what we were talking about in the novel "The Giver". he said he had recently learned that in sparta babies or toddlers who weren't functioning normally, who seemed weak or sickly or had developmental issues, were left to die in the wilderness or thrown off cliffs. we marveled for a silent moment and how outrageous that was. then he said, very matter-of-fact, "i suppose that i wouldn't have made it in sparta, i would have been a throwaway baby." i was startled by his thirteen year old insight, and easy observance of a heartbreaking realization. he was right, and tears stung my eyes. i hid them well, and responded back to him about how incredible it was that he was born in this time and place, where he has the opportunity to actually stay alive and thrive and hear and speak. as we got back into our work, i said to him, "keep proving the spartans wrong."

he had a latin test today and so yesterday as a study method he taught me all the vocab and lessons that he needed to know for the test. he made jokes about romulus and remus, mimicked a professor that paces back and forth in front of the class, and just generally blew me away.

i love my job.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

in like a lion

(during the lovely month of october, one of my favorite months of the year, i will write a series of short true stories, and try to do one every day, a maybe less committed version of my photographic july)

"Pardon me, can I persuade you to leave the dancefloor and step outside with me for a bit?" The voice was low in my ear, and startled me. I lowered my arms, I had literally been mid-dancemove. I said sure without really considering it, since for one I was so surprised by the bold request and also because I'd noticed him already, tall and dressed sharply, crossing the dancefloor a couple times earlier. We walked out to the patio, both comfortably confronted with one of those odd moments where you know the only reason you're speaking with someone is because of attraction and a bold move. With new drinks in hand we sat on a bench. Those conversations are fun... you gather a semblance of an understanding of this new person with personal and random questions. His accent was a proper British one, it seems he was a classic Oxford snob. I revealed myself as a local, and explained why I had been dancing with an assortment of Scandinavians and Germans. He has an older sister, "his best mate", and watches Gossip Girl on occasion with her. He likes Coldplay but not Phoenix, and works in banking. I was older than he guessed, and also the oldest sibling, which he also misguessed, and a fan of quite a bit of music that he wasn't.

"So are you just traveling through here or do you live here?" I asked. Was it really almost a year ago now that I posed the same question and got a very different answer in a very different accent? The Brit was only passing through, just one night to spend in this American Riviera.

After a few minutes he asked, "Had you seen see me hovering, pacing past your group, trying to decide if I was going to talk to you?"
"No," I lied.

A short time later we found ourselves wandering up State Street, I hadn't had my phone on me at closing time so I had lost my friends. His friends had seen us talking and lost him on purpose. We walked along, humored some people shouting at us from across the street, dashed into the plaza by the old Acapulco restaurant and played with the statues that sit there. He sat on Ben Franklin's lap and we posed the musician statues' movable arms in position to play their instruments. It was a carefree way to spend the first night of October, a mischievous month that never fails to be full of stories.

I asked where exactly in London he lived and he tried to explain to me which underground stop his flat is next to.
"I love the Underground!" I exclaimed. "I have a map of it framed in my house actually."
"Prove it." He said.
"Well I'm not falling for that," I laughed.
"You don't have to," he responded.

The wandering continued.