Sunday, January 30, 2011

Desire is the Mystery of a Stranger.

7:03 AM. Desperately, I reach for my phone trying to rid my ears of the terrible wailing that is my alarm. Eyes still closed, I curse the day and the start of yet another week. 7:19 AM. Emerging from the shower, I open my eyes for the first time and acknowledge my roommates presence with a simple head nod. It is far too early for words, let alone conversation and as I head back to my room I nearly trip over a pair of heels left on the floor from the previous Friday night out on the town. "UGH! I should've cleaned my room yesterday" I think as I scold myself and try to figure out what exactly I did with my weekend. 7:42 AM. "Coffee's ready" I hear from the other room and as I head to the kitchen I catch a glimpse of the sun rising over the the bare trees on our street. 7:51 AM. Finishing my cereal, I wave goodbye to my roommate as she heads out the door for work, "have a good day" she yells as the door closes behind her. 7:58 AM. Gathering my things and slipping on my shoes, I am just about out the door myself, until I realize my car keys are missing from my purse. Running back inside, I frantically scan my room only to find the missing sons of bitches on the floor under my nightstand of all places.

8:01 AM. Locking the door behind me I shove my lunch into my purse and when I look up my heart skips a beat. Catching my breath for a second I stare straight ahead, there he is. It is a rare occurrence to see him in the mornings. Walking down Hooker Street in his black peacoat, hair perfectly groomed and dark sunglasses which hide his mysterious eyes. "Hey" I say quietly forcing myself to maintain eye contact as I briefly pass him on the sidewalk. "Good morning" he replies with a smile as he continues on down the street. Bee-lining for my car, I am breathing heavily and my fingers may or may not be trembling as I dial my roommates number. "What did I forget today?" she asks as she picks up her phone. "I saw him" I say quickly, cutting her off. "What?! No way you are so lucky!" she whines, and as we converse about what he was wearing, how he looked and the words that were exchanged, I pull off of Hooker street and catch one last glimpse of him as he boards the city bus, briefcase in hand.

He was first discovered about a month after we moved into our house in Denver. My roommate was leaving for work at the exact moment that he was passing by. They exchanged short greetings and after she got into her car I immediately received a phone call, which seems to be the trend for us whenever he is spotted. After many weeks playing the guessing game about his career, his marital status and the exact location of his house, we decided to name him. It was a crisp fall day and we were walking home from picking up a loaf of bread at our local bakery when the subject of him came up. "What do you think his name is?" she asked as we turned the corner onto our block. Ten minutes and a whole lot of terrible ideas later, we settled on Jackson. Jack for short.
Since that initial first encounter he had with my roommate, the Jack run-ins have occurred five or six times, mostly in the mornings at almost exactly 8 AM (which actually works really well as inspiration to get out the door on time daily), but once I swear, I saw him in all his glory walking home from the bus stop shortly before 6 PM on a Wednesday.

"What do you think he thinks of us?" I asked my roommate the other night over dinner. "Do you think he wonders about our lives, the status of our relationships and guesses what our names could possibly be? I wonder if he thinks my name is something awful like Trudence?" Later that night as I was lying in bed Jack somehow made his way into my thoughts. I began pondering strangers and how many people you encounter daily that you really truly know nothing about. I thought of the mechanic who fixed my tail light and the woman I spoke with on the phone for thirty minutes regarding our cable bill, realizing that a great deal of our daily life is spent talking to, looking at and sitting next to strangers.

Take for example sitting next to someone on an airplane. On a recent flight to San Diego my roommate and I watched in disbelief as two complete strangers sitting in front of us engaged in not only small talk, but deep, raw and real conversation that ultimately led to the exchange of phone numbers at the end of our flight and what we are certain has become a "happily ever after story", all starting with two strangers in row 11 on flight number 608. On the other hand however, I remember junior year of high school and the stranger that I passed daily in the hallways between second and third period. He was new to the school, a transplant from Canada who was hired to play for the minor league hockey team in town and somehow sent by some evil force to absolutely torture me (or at least I like to believe so). I mean, I was in like, lust and love all at the same time and I didn't even know the first thing about him. He was my "perfect stranger", but being the naive teenager I was, I couldn't be happy leaving it at just that. After months of working my way into his social scene, sneaking out to too many late night hockey parties with my best friend and finally getting the chance to talk to him, to ask all the questions that I had been dying to have answered, I realized... he was terrible. He was dumb and miserable. An absolute jerk and someone I would not want to spend my any of my time with, let alone the rest of my life as I had so often dreamt about when he was still mysterious and unknown.

And thus, the beauty and the beast in getting to know a stranger, sometimes they can turn into your prince charming, your best friend or your greatest teacher. Yet other times you can be left empty, disappointed and feeling like the worst judge of character in the world. Hence the reason after much thought and internal debate, I have ultimately decided to keep Jack a stranger, the most perfect stranger. His mystery gives me something to contemplate, to get excited about and to look forward to on cold Monday mornings at 8AM. And as my roommate and I continue to wonder how long he rides the bus each morning before he reaches his stop, who if anyone he is going home to, and of course (though we find the one we came up with extremely fitting), what his real name is, we can only hope that he is wondering the same things about the two brunette girls living in the white house on Hooker Street.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rope and Ride

It was a western kind of weekend. One that was full of rodeos, stock shows and two country concerts for the books. Proving to me that everything truly is more fun when wearing boots and more importantly, that cowboys really do still exist.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Solamente Uno.

I smoked my first cigarette at the ripe age of twenty. It was finals week, I was stressed and my current roommate and I decided to take a break and drive to the beaches of La Jolla circa ten pm on a Tuesday night in an attempt to escape the library and our looming ten-page research papers. We drove straight to the beach and immediately ditched the car and our shoes, opting for the nearest lifeguard tower and the feeling of the sand beneath our toes. "I'm bringing these, just in case" she said with uncertainty while closing the car door behind her. I rolled my eyes as I shut my own door, watching her stuff the small package in her pocket.

"These" were a pack of parliament lights - pfunks as we call them and in a matter of minutes, my disapproving eye-roll turned into an "okay fine, but only one". Only one just felt right in that moment, and as I sat there staring at the dark ocean and bright stars, puffing on my one cigarette and feeling a nicotine rush for the very first time, my friend stared at me in disbelief and said "I cannot believe you just did that".

She wasn't the first to try to get me to smoke. There were many before her and for some reason or another I had literally been denying the existence of cigarettes for years, following the rules and listening to the warnings of health teachers, my parents and my Aunt Melaine whose voice sounded like some sort of evil villain on account of being a chain smoker for nearly thirty years. It is unclear what it was exactly on that cool night in May that allowed me to take the plunge and rid myself of the long-standing convictions I had about smoking, but I let it all go on that beach and smoked, one and only one.

Three years later, and more cigarette's then either of us would ever like to admit, my roommate and I find ourselves incorporating the "only one" philosophy into daily life, namely that of life on Wednesdays. Here in the "real world", Wednesdays are both good and bad. On one hand the work week is halfway over and the weekend is that much closer, but a lot of the time we have come to find that Wednesdays can be somewhat lack-luster and looking ahead to two more days in the work week can be a real downer. Fortunately for us, not too long after moving to the mile-high city we "accidentally" discovered that the night life here mid-week is not too shabby. That being said, through a bit of trial and error (error being a few really terrible Thursday mornings) we have perfected the act of going out on Wednesday nights and have decided to keep things simple.

Thus, we have implemented a system that not only cures the mid-week blues, but allows for morning-after efficiency and a fully functioning Thursday. Remembering back to that fateful night on the beach, we have developed the "only one" concept into a rule to live by on Wednesdays here in Denver. Whether it be one drink, one smoke, one dance or even one of each, we oftentimes find ourselves beep bopping through the city streets midweek, relieving stress, trying out new happy hour spots and mingling with other young professionals who are looking for the same break in the work week that we are. This Wednesday way of life has led us to flip nights, charity galas, dive bars and networking events and has been the saving grace in what could have been a very mundane post-college weekly routine. It is simple, it is easy and like that night on the beach in La Jolla, it just feels right.

"I can't believe I just did that either" I remember saying to her as we slowly drug our feet back to the car after an hour spent soaking in the stars on the beach and savoring every last puff of the p-funk. Heading back to campus and back to the late night glow of our computer screens in the library, I could have never guessed then that we would both be here in this city now, sharing a house, a routine and every once in a while sharing one drink, one dance, and occasionally, when it just feels right, one cigarette.

Too Short.

"She said she usually cried at least once a day, not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short. " - Brian Andreas

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Golden Years.

"I want to make a toast" she said standing in the middle of an extremely messy apartment. And as the six of us gathered around her, tripping over various articles of clothing and cracking open our first beers of the evening, there was no doubt that this one would be a real tear jerker. She began slowly, describing how much thinking she had done on the flight out to Denver and how much of it involved us girls. She listed the changes that had occurred in her life in the past two years and briefly touched on those changes that had occurred in the rest of ours, then concluded with a simple statement that really made the tears fall. "Through everything that has changed in our lives since we graduated, the one thing that has remained a constant, is our friendship".

The next morning after recapping the Nuggets game, more beers at my favorite dive bar and one too many rumple-mint shots, I sat in silence staring at my beautiful friends. As their conversation flowed from random make-outs to politics to travel plans and big dreams, I began remembering the toast from the night before, and lost myself in thought.

I remembered the first time I met each of them in college. Some, on the very first day in our sorority, others at random parties first semester freshman year, vying for both the attention and booze belonging to the football player of the week. We began our friendships over beer bongs and late nights on the beach, weary of each other's trust and probably unsure of our own loyalties as well. Through the years our friendships evolved and specific moments, breaking points if you will, brought us closer and cemented the bonds that had been forming over time. Whether it was on a beach while studying abroad, through the resolution of a major argument, or even an honest conversation at the nearest Starbucks, these moments left us in our rawest, realest state and it was in these moments that we let each other in. All the way in.

Then I recalled one of the last nights of college and another very important toast. Sitting around our dining room table with one bottle of champagne, a handful of pens and a sheet of paper for each of us. There we were intertwined in each other, sharing chairs, tickling arms, braiding hair, and practically reenacting the sleepover scene in Grease, minus the curlers. We wrote down our personal goals, we made predictions for the future, we answered questions and wrote notes to ourselves, then we bottled them up and put them away for safe keeping. And when it was all said and done we looked at each other through teary eyes and promised that in ten years we would re-open the bottle, during our golden years, while on a girls-only reunion trip somewhere tropical and warm. I so vividly remember the moment when the first person left the table that night. I didn't want it to end because I was scared that we would lose what we had in that moment, that we would lose each other to jobs, to boyfriends, to grad school, to life. I was scared that that second was as good as it would ever get for us and that the realness and rawness we felt, would fade in time.

Two years later, I found myself in my living room in Colorado staring at those same girls and feeling that same rawness. So much has changed, yet so much feels the exactly same. Through law school, job promotions, teacher of the year awards, stints abroad, parents divorces, parents re-marriages, the ownership of pets, the changing of boyfriends, and many many moves, the one thing that has truly remained the same in all our lives are our friendships with each other. Watching my friends lay together, playing with hair, tickling arms and making jokes that are far too inappropriate for anyone but our gross selves, I realized that our golden years are now and that they will continue for many years to come. That champagne bottle with our dreams in it continues to collect dust and will do so for the next eight years. But while we wait for the bottle to age, we will continue our reunions, our toasts, and our promises to remain close friends. Because as everything in life speeds by and changes us, the one constant that we can absolutely count on, is our friendship, and of course the never-ending inappropriate jokes.

Monday, January 3, 2011