Road Trip Part Three (Amore And More? Part Four)

Our story so far involves J dating again, and in response I planned a trip to meet a guy I’ve known a while but only online. As part of the trip, I figured I would stop in Edgewater, NJ so I could go to Mitsuwa Marketplace once again.

After my stop to the bookstore and the shop that sells almost everything else you would want from Japan, I headed into the supermarket. My goal was to only buy things I wanted or might need, things that I couldn’t easily get in Syracuse at one of the local Asian grocery stores, and since I was far from home I couldn’t get anything that required some kind of refrigeration.

I got some makings for okonomiyaki, such as the powdery nori (basically seaweed sprinkles) and fried flour bits (think of it as tiny batter drippings that are fried). The special okonomiyaki flour was about the same price as what I pay around here, so there was no point in buying more.

There are hard candies flavored like some of Suntory’s beverages such as Dekavita C and CC Lemon, which I first bought from Mitsuwa though I never tried looking for some of the other beverage flavors. I couldn’t buy any more CC Lemon while I was there, but I did get another bottle of Dekavita C, and I found the cherry drink and the honey and lemon drink that are also featured flavors of the hard candies. The cherry drink was good, but of course I enjoy the hard candy as well.

I found Hello Kitty Pasta! Unlike the Rilakuma spaghetti I’ve purchased previously (which I didn’t find this time), the Hello Kitty pasta is shaped like Hello Kitty and flowers. It was $4, and it’s not even a pound of pasta, so I’m not sure if I want to eat it or keep it around for looks.

About $75 later, once it was all back home and in the pantry and elsewhere, I was asking myself what I bought. And yet, it’s been two weeks and I still haven’t consumed all of it.

Before I got back to the car, I got myself something for lunch. Previously when I’ve visited Mitsuwa, I was in the mindset that I only lived about 40 minutes away so there was easily a next time and it could be sooner than I could imagine. With that mindset, it didn’t matter what I bought to eat for lunch, because I’d be back again to try something else. This time, since it had been over a year since the last time I was at Mitsowa (which is hard to believe that time really passed that quickly), I figured that I had to get something worth the visit. I paced from one eatery to the next, trying to figure what I wanted. I settled on ramen, but I went for the combo that included natto. Oh yes, I was going for natto.

From what I’ve gathered, natto is pretty much the Vegemite of Japan. It’s an acquired taste that is seldom enjoyed by foreigners. Let me put it this way: imagine you’re eating beans, like kidney beans, but they’re in a sauce that requires fermentation… oh, and the sauce looks like the thin, stringy slime they use in movies depicting alien lifeforms. Natto is supposed to have a strong scent, from what I’ve heard, but my natto served on rice and topped with green onions was rather mild in taste and aroma. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it, and ended up not finishing my ramen because I just couldn’t eat anything else.

But then I got dessert on my way out the door, most of which traveled back to Syracuse with me. I ate the coffee jelly when I got to the storage unit, which was dumb of me because it was topped with ice cream. I knew it was topped with ice cream. For whatever reason, my brain thought it would be fine to wait that long before eating it. The ice cream was soup, of course, but it didn’t make a mess and was quite tasty as anticipated.

At the storage unit, it was lightly raining. As I packed the car, it seemed like a lot of things I had in storage were affected by the moisture in the air, as boxes seemed slightly damp and such. Well, my goal is to empty out the storage unit by the end of this year, maybe, so aside from a  few things I desperately wanted to get out to make sure they survived, I just loaded up the car with whatever was nearby. Within an hour, I was back on the road, and this time I was heading for home.

The whole trip was exhausting, but exciting. And I did find love, as I had hoped.

It wasn’t for my date, which I’m sorry to say and yet I don’t regret it. Being around him feels like being around my exes, which is only a bad thing because I wouldn’t be giving him the chance that Mr Smith probably deserves. And yet, maybe it’s just my inner workings being hyper vigilant and trying to avoid a repeat of the past, a past where I wasn’t happy, where the relationship I had really wasn’t what I wanted.

If anything, the love I found was for myself. I focused on what I wanted and what I needed to do. I did what made me happy. And I told people about it, because I wanted them to know that I found something that made me happy and they might enjoy it as well. I did things so that I wouldn’t walk away with regrets, or at least that I could say I tried. I met Mr Smith, and I had been wanting to meet him for a while, but now I know I like him as a friend and I don’t want to lose that. I tried natto. Heck, I spoke three words of Japanese to a vendor, which always made me nervous because I never wanted to assume that any Asian person was Japanese or could speak Japanese (and yes, it was a positive experience, or so it seemed).

Maybe it’s for the best if J’s house is just my home base for now. I can’t imagine it’s going to help my love life, as potential suitors might think J and I already have some kind of relationship and they might decide to not invest much time with me. But maybe I’m not supposed to be in love with anyone here, not even J. Maybe J exists to keep me from feeling lonely, to get me back on my feet and figure out where my life should go from here.

And maybe there’s an adventure in my future, a trip to Japan and not just a Japanese restaurant or supermarket. Why do I feel like I’m being called there?

And why have I really been brought back here to Syracuse? Because I could do without living with an unrequited love while he dates someone else. I never would have remembered I had a thing for him if I hadn’t moved back here. But I do have a good environment now, where I can think critically about anyone in my life. I know that J isn’t perfect, Mr Smith isn’t perfect, even J’s date isn’t all that wonderful.

Since I do have love for J, I do want him to be happy, and if it’s with his date and not me, it might be for the best. After all, getting tied down with J would only keep me in Syracuse. If I’m meant to be in Japan, then I need to be ready and willing for the opportunity when it comes my way.

So that was February, or at least the major parts of it. My birthday comes at the end of this month, and hopefully something exciting will happen between now and then. If not, I’ll find something to get excited about. Mark my words.


Road Trip, Day One! (Amore And More? Part Two)

When we last left our heroes, J was dating, I was emotionally overwhelmed during his first date, and I wrote to an old friend who I haven’t yet met in person to see if he would like to meet. Unfortunately my friend said he was seeing someone, so I had to keep moving forward with life.

The next day, my friend (who we’ll call Mr Smith) wrote to me and said that he had called it off with the girl he was seeing. After that, we started making plans to meet.

Since the drive was so long, a stay in a hotel seemed like a good move for me. Actually, the long drive would put me fairly close to my storage unit in New Jersey, so the intelligent move was to not waste the distance I had traveled by just having a pleasure cruise. And as much as I’d have been grateful for the assistance, I had to turn down Mr Smith’s offer to help me load the car at the storage uni, mainly because I’d lose hauling capacity but I’d also have to go out of my way by a couple of hours to take him back home.

The week after I had first planned to visit, we were making plans for me to actually visit. However, I kept watching the weather, and the weather kept getting colder and snowier for my area. When the day came that I would have otherwise been heading out, the weather wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t bad. However, I was far from prepared because I had been anticipating precipitation, and opted not to pack or anything. He teased me and urged me to drive out anyway, asking what I really needed to bring with me. I kept my feet planted, because I knew if I rushed around to pack, I would definitely forget something.

I had another “weekend” the following week, and this was going to be my last chance, or so it seemed, because my days off were going to be separated again. Leading up to that date, I told Mr Smith that I had a little something happen to me, and asked if he could plan to not share the hotel room with me. He was fine with it, so while I knew that meant I’d have to foot the entire cost of the hotel, that also gave me flexibility as to where I wanted to stay.

And when I mapped out where I needed to be on this trip, the gears started turning. It was going to be an awesome trip, no matter what happened.

Thursday morning, the very day after Valentine’s Day, I set the alarm for and woke up at 6 am. I figured I would be cute and go down the servants stairs, but without any lighting, I missed the last step before the landing and, well, I landed on my knees. I’m still surprised I didn’t smack my face into the wall or land on my hands. I effortlessly got to my feet and continued down the stairs, but my thud was enough to make J ask if I was all right. I couldn’t be cute, or at least I couldn’t be quite as cute at that point.

I made him coffee, I made me coffee. I ate breakfast with him, catching a glimpse of the morning routine that I usually only heard from my room if I woke up before I wanted to be awake. Then I bid him farewell as he left for work, and I finished preparing for the two days I’d be away.

I was sure I had everything I needed. I had two pairs of jeans, despite the fact that I could have worn the same pair for both days and no one would have known. I had two shirts to choose from for Friday, or one could have been a spare if need be. I had at least three pairs of underwear, just in case my monthly visitor decided to riot against my toiletry of choice for such incidents. I had two or three pairs of socks packed, because who knows what could happen. I packed a bottle of sparkling apple juice, which I was going to share in the hotel to be cutesy and romantic, but the thought of just being fancy while I unwound for the night was equally appealing. I packed a can of pasta, a started bag of cheese curls, and two pudding cups, just in case I was hungry and needed to eat but didn’t want to spend money or didn’t want to put in the effort of finding food to buy. I packed a bottle of water, just in case I needed it for anything. I packed reusable shopping bags, in case I needed them when getting things out of storage. I grabbed my purse with my portable video game things, just in case I wanted to play on my Nintendo 3DS or my Sony PS Vita while in the hotel or something. I put everything by the door and took a picture of all the things I was taking with me for an overnight trip, and as I took that picture, I remembered I still had to grab a charging cable for my cell phone.

It was about 10 am when I was finally rolling out, so I told Mr Smith to expect me around 2. I stopped to the ATM to get cash for the trip, especially since I knew it would be so much easier to pay for gas. Oh, gas for the car, that would have been a brilliant idea. I had half of a tank full, so I figured I’d see how far I could get. I ended up having to stop in some place called Beaver Kill, where I put $20 in the tank and left before I could hear the banjos.

After I arrived, we talked for a bit, then we headed out for sushi. The place where we went to eat was empty, but in all fairness it was mid afternoon. We were served promptly, then we paid and headed into Connecticut. No, it wasn’t a long drive to Connecticut, it was like driving to the next town over. We played miniature golf at a place that was decorated with a monster theme and glowed in the dark. Since he had already told me it was glow in the dark golf, I prepared by wearing a shirt that has a design that appears when it glows. It was the perfect choice, and it made his day when he saw it. After that we walked around a nearby mall, but the later we stayed there, the more I could tell the coffee was wearing off and I had been awake for too long. I got him back to his house in one piece, and by that I mean I was in one piece, as it was dark and I couldn’t navigate the area as well as he could. When I had first arrived I got to meet his dad, and when I brought him back I got to meet his mom, and they’re both really nice people who probably think I’m insane for driving 4 hours to meet their son.

Maybe the insane thing I did involved driving through the outer part of the Bronx, then crossing the George Washington Bridge to get to my hotel. I could have stayed at a hotel where I would be 5 minutes away from my storage unit, but I chose a hotel that would be 5 minutes away from a stop I had to make because it was so close to my route. All I had to do was add the stop to my route.

Amour And More? Part One

Ah, February. I want to call it the month of love, but that seems obvious when you consider that Valentine’s Day is the midway point, it’s literally at the heart of the month. Hey, I rose to the occasion with the pun, and that one as well (rose? roses?).

Here in the Casa De J, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with us both getting a box of chocolates. I got him a tin that looked like Iron Man that was filled with chocolate, and since I wasn’t a fan of that brand of chocolate (regardless of the fact that they weren’t going to me), I bought him a bag of Valentine’s M&Ms as well. I got a Whitman’s Sampler box… from a Mr Smith, not from J. I didn’t get anything from J.

It’s been an interesting month, and I would have documented it sooner, but I’m still in the process of rearranging my bedroom.

I suppose I should begin somewhere. I feel like this is best told in two parts, his life and mine, yet it’s the overlapping events and emotions that connect the events of this month into a web of a story, it’s not simply linear. I will do my best to recap the whole thing, though any missing details are either for privacy or my brain skipped over them.

I suppose we should begin by saying that J is dating someone.

Their first date was spent here at the house, and it started before I had arrived home from work. When I got home, I presented myself and said a greeting, then I didn’t want to bother them or get in their way, so I excused myself and went to the kitchen to start doing dishes to pass the time. I don’t think I had been home for a full 10 minutes, in fact it felt like I had only been there for 5 minutes, and they were heading up to his bedroom.

I already had a weird feeling in my stomach prior to getting home, but suddenly I couldn’t settle down, I couldn’t do the dishes because I didn’t want to be standing or even in the kitchen, but I didn’t want to sit and play video games. I think a part of me wanted to be at the house, but part of me definitely wanted to leave and be somewhere else. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, though, or what I wanted to do. I just felt like, if I stayed I would have wished I had left, and if I left I might have wished I’d stayed.

I was supposed to be going out for karaoke and drinks with my cousin that night, but it was too early in the evening for me to get ready before we had planned on meeting, and I wasn’t going upstairs to get dressed while they were in his room, because I’d have to walk past his room to get to mine. I wasn’t sure what would bother me more, knowing they had to pause what they were doing because they heard me running around, or hearing what they were doing because they hadn’t paused for whatever reason. To be honest, I didn’t want to bother at all, but I was also not in the mood anymore to go out to karaoke.

I did leave the house. I put my boots back on, I got in my car and drove off to my favorite bakery where I got a piece of chocolate cake and an iced mocha. I hadn’t had dinner, but I was eating dessert. After I finished, I still didn’t know where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do, but I decided to drive past the house, only to find her car was still there. If I went back in, it would be like I had never left, so I drove to the mall. I found a decent parking spot in the underground garage, then sat in my car while trying to figure out what my next move was going to be.

I should add, I get this weird chill in my body a few times a day while at work, and I know it’s not from the air conditioning units because I don’t feel blowing air on my face or hands. Sometimes I feel that chill in my body when I’m at home. I felt that chill as I sat in my car, with the car turned off. Immediately after I felt the chill, I got a text from J saying that she had just left. I can’t explain anything about that chill, but just know that it happened.

I returned to the house. The scene that happened next could only be explained as me trying to verbally get out a feeling that I had no words to describe, and since I was overwhelmed, I was drawing from a place of fear. Thankfully, J was still on cloud nine, or at least he didn’t try to match my emotional output, because he remained calm and rational while I backed away from him when he tried to be affectionate towards me. It was as if I was processing everything he felt, as he later said he, too, felt scattered in that moment, but my mind was saying that any love or lust or whatever that I felt wasn’t aimed at me, even if it was.

I never went out for karaoke that night. I wasn’t in the mood to sing, or if I did, I’d have put too much emotion into it, and not the kinds of emotions you want to feel on a Saturday night. At least, I didn’t want to be that sad sap. But I was something sad, or depressed, or angry, or scared, or… something, even the next day when we went grocery shopping as usual. Then again, J has never yelled at me within the first 5 minutes of the drive to the store, threatening to drop me off at home and do the grocery run by himself because my company was less than pleasant. As we got closer to the store, he apologized for yelling at me, because he wished that he could make me feel better but didn’t know how. As we walked into the store, I turned to him and said that it was hard for me, because I wanted to be hugged and be comforted by the one person I had become too timid to hug. After we returned home and put away the groceries, I was starting to feel more like myself again, and I allowed him to hug me once more.

And I told him to change the sheets on his bed, I don’t sleep in his bed, but the thought of sitting where she might have been when they were, uh, cuddling,… I wasn’t comfortable with that. Thankfully, he honored my wishes.

Well, the whole thing cleared any doubts I had left, or at least most of them. So J is over the moon for this girl, and to be honest I am okay with it. But that means I should probably move on with my life. I can’t stay here forever, not while some part of me still thinks J and I should be a couple, and not while either one of us is in pursuit of a long-term romantic thing because potential partners may suspect we’re already a couple.

If it weren’t for the weather, I would have randomly driven to Patterson one day. Was it entirely the weather? At this point, I don’t think so, because I have a never-ending list of chores that I know I must do, and I probably did some of them instead that day. Nevertheless, I sent a message out of the blue to the friend who I was going to randomly try to meet for the first time, to let him know that I was randomly going to meet him. He asked me if it was a date, to which I asked if he wanted it to be one. He replied back and said that he was already in talks with this other girl, who he was going to meet in person sometime in May. I wished him well, then shrugged and figured the universe was punishing me for something and I was just going to deal with it.

But of course, it’s me, and I know the Powers That Be have a twisted sense of humor when it comes to my life.


The Dystopian Alternate Universes Often Go Unmentioned

There are some who believe in multiple universes, who envision the world with a slight change and suggest that the world exists in some way. The difference can be something as major as a different world leader in office, or something as seemingly insignificant as answering a phone call when you’re trying to get out the door to be someplace else. Maybe the South won the Civil War, maybe the Nazis took over or maybe Hitler never rose to power. Maybe Americans willingly sacrificed their rights to own guns because it was widely believed they weren’t needed, or maybe the gun-toting Americans rose up and fought to bring about a rebirth of their country. There are literally infinite possibilities for alternate worlds.

I’ve noticed one thing about the mention of alternate worlds. It’s always one pivotal event that changes everything, but nothing is ever discussed about how that world got to that pivotal moment or even what happened after that. Mind you, the end result is usually utopian in nature, because it seems as if no one really wants to think of how we could wind up in a dystopian society. And yes, it seems as if the alternate world centers around something large-scale, instead of assuming that there is an alternate world where everything is the same except that moment when you decided to hold the elevator for someone that you never saw again anyway.

With that said, imagine yourself in a world where you had a crush on a person, but instead of the real ending where it wasn’t to be, imagine you had a chance to date that person, and you did. Now ask yourself, if things hadn’t ended like they actually ended, but you actually got to date and become this person’s significant other, would your life be any better today or would it be worse off?

This entry has been in my head for a week or so, and it’s been anticipated by at least one reader. Fans of schadenfreude, rejoice! I hope I don’t disappoint!

The downside of letting entries occupy space in my head for extended periods of time means I don’t have the best recollection of conversations that are necessary to include, as a means of detailing how I acquired information in my life. But there was a conversation with J, which shouldn’t be a surprise because I occupy space in his house and pay him rent. And this was a wonderful conversation I had while crying, though I don’t remember why I was crying, I just remember it was leading up to or during that special time of the month that made me a bit more emotional than just having Pisces as my ascendant sign (yes, I am astrologically blessed, it is in the stars that I am to be an emotional wreck in life). So it was during this tear-soaked conversation that J said the words, “I had considered dating you.”

For those of you in the back who just snuck in, I was into J back in 2011 when I first started hanging out with him, over two years since we had worked together before I left that job. But I was angry about events in life that he was linked to (not directly, but more like six degrees of separation, where he was only separated by two degrees), and I kinda slapped his face, though not hard, just enough to get his attention. He asked that I leave his house immediately, and I did and thought I’d never look back. And now, of course, I live with him because that’s where life has taken me.

So of course I’ve been dwelling on all of that. He considered dating me, before I had slapped him. Why did I not care about slapping him, if I had a crush on him? Because I thought he just wanted to fool around, but I wanted to be in a relationship with someone again.

Had I known he wanted to date me, would I have still hit him? This feels like the major question to ask myself, and yet when I do, it feels like I’m weighing greed against my own guilt. Would I have still robbed the bank if I knew I was going to win the lottery? Well damn, who would have guessed it? Maybe you see the third outcome, which would have been to walk away and not hit him, and while it doesn’t guarantee absolute success, it comes with far less remorse. But sure, if I thought I could have had what I wanted, I would have refrained. I don’t quite remember what I felt back then, but it was as if I didn’t care what the outcome was, I didn’t think he was going to date me and so I no longer cared what he thought of me. I wanted to get away from the situation I was in, that he was linked to. Now I don’t even remember if it felt liberating or if it hurt to leave him behind like that.

After parting ways, I became closer friends with an acquaintance I made a few months prior. I trusted this person with details about my life at that time, and they seemed to care about me and hold me in high esteem. After my ex fiancé ended our relationship and I was scrambling to figure out what my next move was to be, I trusted this friend when I was told there was a rent-free trailer home in the near future that I could live in. The trailer home existed, but it needed a lot of work which wasn’t being done in a timely fashion. Worst of all, my brand new furniture and mattress, along with some heirloom furniture, were all left out in the elements to get ruined during this time. So I think to myself, if J and I started dating back then, I wouldn’t have trusted this person with my life or with other things that I couldn’t easily replace.

It was with my time spent with the untrustworthy friend that I went to a convention in New Jersey and met Pete. Okay, Pete is cool, I have nothing against Pete. We didn’t exactly date, we weren’t exactly in a relationship so to speak, but I can’t say more than that because there are things I haven’t explained about myself. But Pete and I had a bad day together, which came after I was building up frustration towards him because my concerns hadn’t been addressed and taken care of. But it was because of that bad day that I ended up meeting my ex fiancé. So, sure, if J and I started dating, I wouldn’t have met Pete, but Pete is one thing I actually don’t regret.

However, my time with the untrustworthy friend caused me to meet Pete, which in turn caused me to meet my now ex fiancé. And I think to myself, if I had nipped that bud, I would have never left for New Jersey, I might have stayed in Syracuse this whole time, and I’d probably have more of my inheritance left. I might still be working for Wegmans, though I might have quit working after I reached my five-year anniversary and pursued something with a higher pay elsewhere. Who knows, I might have just taken a couple of weeks off to go to Japan, since I would have had the money and a stable living space in Syracuse (assuming, of course, that my Mom’s passing forced me to move in with J if I wasn’t already living with him).

That’s assuming, of course, that J and I had a relationship that lasted up to my Mom’s passing. I’d like to think that a year or two with him would have been enough, that if it all ended, I could say that it happened, that a chance was taken. After that, if he dated anyone else, I probably wouldn’t mind so much. At that point, I’d know I really wasn’t the right one.

That’s not to say that we would definitely part ways amicably. Maybe he would emotionally wound me to the point where I stopped talking about it, only to resent him more strongly as time passed. Perhaps I would be the toxic, abusive partner, possibly just making myself seem like a victim to coerce him into always feeling like I need his kindness. It’s actually something I fear, becoming the toxic partner, so I’m rather quick to add that my feelings are my own and they’re my responsibility to deal with them. I abhor the feeling that I’m ruining a good mood when I can’t share in that good mood, because I’d rather not bring people down. But who knows, maybe my inability to always be chipper and cheerful would be the reason why things ended, because I had stopped being fun and felt it necessary to be serious for a moment.

But in an alternate universe, I didn’t hit him, and we dated, and the things that are affecting me now had never happened because circumstances prevented them from happening. The things that mean so much now are the result of the smallest events from back then. I was a foolish 26-year-old, now I’m a 33-year-old who sees one event, one seemingly insignificant choice as being the moment that I lost something I’ve been wanting for so long.

Pardon my self-loathing, but I am responsible for all the things I wish had never happened to me, I caused myself to not get what I wanted, and I have to live with the remorse.

In an alternate world, well, maybe it would all be different somehow.


Girlfriend Litmus Test

I loosely decided upon a New Year’s resolution for this year. I decided I was going to finish one of the stories I’ve already started writing. I already have an idea of what parts I’m going to rewrite. The one major issue I actually have is finding the time to work on it, though I did come up with a solution to that.

I should back up a few weeks. J and I were returning from our weekly grocery shopping excursion, and I don’t even know how the topic came up, but he asked me what I’d want to do in life. If I said anything along the lines of making sure I could financially support myself, he rejected that idea, asking what would make me happy and fulfilled. I didn’t want to mention writing, because it’s not supporting me financially in any way right now, so I can’t give up my actual job in pursuit of something that might never be able to support me. But finally I did mention it to him, that I had two started stories on my computer.

That was the last time my writing was mentioned, but it stayed on my mind. I thought about what I had written so far, how I wanted to change or improve what was there. I contemplated making an outline or a chart or something of how I wanted the story to go, or writing up profiles of my characters so I had a certain set of rules for myself to follow. I bought the book There’s Something I Want To Tell You by Yuta Aoki, which is a compilation of real stories about one Japanese partner and one foreign partner, because I figured I could use it as research if not just for my own personal amusement.

As December, and thus the year as well, drew to a close, I became more certain that I was going to get back to writing, to finishing that story.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I asked J about being in a relationship, to which he restated for the second or third time that he didn’t see me romantically. After everything, I needed to hear that once more.

The next time we went for groceries, I brought up the time when he couldn’t keep his hands off me for just over a week after I brought home a coworker’s phone number. “I don’t want to bring home some guy’s phone number just to see if you’d do that again,” I told him, on the verge of tears.

“Well then,” he replied. “Don’t.”

But how am I supposed to take that? For someone who says he’s been straightforward with his words, that still left me to wonder what he meant, since he didn’t say anything else after that. Don’t bring home any more phone numbers from other guys? Don’t try to see if you can get that reaction out of me? So do I not try to progress my romantic life, or is it just about testing him because it won’t work?

Things got tense on New Year’s Eve. I’d try to do the right thing or be helpful in some way, which was actually helpful, but in the process I’d somehow manage to almost make a mess, or put something in the wrong place. My confidence shaken, I started feeling like it would be better if I just didn’t try doing nice things. But I was teasing J about how I wouldn’t be able to put something in a certain spot, or another spot, or another spot… basically exaggerating how particular he can be and how things get moved around so much that I can’t guarantee that I’d be able to set something where I think it should go. It hit a nerve and flared up his temper. I picked up my stuff, put away food and put utensils in the sink, and told him I was going to spend the rest of the evening in my room. I was shaken to where I felt it would just be better if I didn’t bother him anymore that night. Perhaps he calmed down because I didn’t escalate things, that I was going to retreat, because he said he was enjoying my company. It was enough to make me change my mind about going upstairs, but I wasn’t back to the level of fun that I was before.

Midnight rolled around, which meant first kiss of the new year. I tried to say that I’d only do the first kiss of the new year with someone I was involved with, but that didn’t really deter J. So now I can’t help but feel like that kiss was meaningless, at least for this year.

If there is one thing I’ve changed, it’s that I stopped washing his travel coffee mug and lunch container. I’ve washed it maybe once or twice this month so far, but otherwise I don’t get the same feeling from doing it anymore. When I started, it was like, “teeheehee, he’ll wake up and look for it, and realize it’s been cleaned, and it will make him smile that morning because I’ve made his life a tiny bit easier!” Now he’s noticing that it’s not getting cleaned, but I started prioritizing what I want or need to do for me. Now it seems like he’s expecting it, and I blame myself for even starting to do it. Now it’s not as much fun for me, and I don’t know if it’s because he started expecting me to do it, or because I’ve started to feel like it’s meaningless.

I suppose everything that’s happened here these past few months could be taken as a girlfriend litmus test of sorts. Did she laugh at that comedian who I think is hysterical? Nope, not a girlfriend. How well did she bake or cook, especially compared to previous girlfriends? Nope, not a girlfriend. Does she enjoy that show I said she should watch? She didn’t react as I thought she should react to it, so nope, not a girlfriend.

He enjoys spending time with me, he likes when I do things with him and for him, it’s not just a matter of letting me carry out my life however I want to in the moment. But I can’t say to people, “I’m the title short of being his girlfriend,” because the truth is, if he actually wanted me as such, if he ever saw me romantically, then I’d already be his girlfriend. To me, he acts more like a boyfriend than anything else, or maybe I have some lousy friends.

So that’s it, then. We spend our time acting less like we’re just two people living together, and more like we’re two people making a life together. But I’m like the snow outside, I can be pretty to look at if you see the untouched parts of me, but otherwise I just make things a mess and you probably can’t wait until I’m gone, which means it’s a good thing that I’m only here temporarily. No, I don’t have immediate plans to move out, that’s not what I’m saying, but I don’t have a reason to stay permanently. So one day, I will be gone from here. By then, he will probably have a girlfriend, it won’t be me, so I won’t have anything to keep me here. But if I’ve failed the girlfriend litmus test, then I’m not meant to stay here.

At least I can say that we did fix what was once broken. It’s more than I can say about the friend I was living with before I moved in with J. I find it interesting that the worst I can say is, “I have feelings for him again but he doesn’t feel the same way,” and I can be melancholy about that but completely honest to myself about how I feel and what’s going on, whereas I was dealing with a friend who didn’t want to do much of anything with me, who basically told me that I was a problem and I was making things worse for her family, who didn’t even try to help me by listening and talking to me post-breakup and eviction, and whose life hasn’t changed even though I don’t live there anymore. If the worst thing is learning that one girl isn’t really my friend, that I now live with a guy who should have been my friend all along, then I’m still heading in the correct direction.


Problem Girl

Another day, another petty argument.

This one was between two very stubborn individuals, the guy who accidentally hit the girl in the nose, and the girl who only needed a few moments before the pain went away before she was better. We were in his room, getting ready to watch a show with all the lights off, so there was no way he could see that my nose wasn’t bleeding or anything. Even after realizing I was fine, and recalling a time when I’ve had worse and my nose was actually bleeding from getting hit, he still insisted that I go to the bathroom and check myself out. I did, but the back-and-forth soured my mood for the rest of the evening.

It’s been said that if you’re fighting, you’re a compatible couple. I have to laugh at that, because sometimes those arguments and fights that couples have are pure drama, they serve no purpose other than to belittle the other partner. It’s all the unhappiness they feel normally, that they keep bottled up until something breaks, at which point they don’t care if they hurt their partner because they’ve been living with their own emotional pain. Somehow, I always find the love in my arguments with J. He wasn’t satisfied with me saying I felt fine, he wanted me to actually look and make sure that my nose wasn’t worse than I thought it was.

The problem always comes back around to being me. I should have just gotten up and checked my nose sooner, despite knowing myself well and knowing I was fine. Not only that, but all the pain I feel in regards to things between J and I, that’s all on me.

I don’t know if jealousy is an accurate description for what I feel when his ex comes to visit, or in general.

There is that voice in my head that reminds me of how I’m not friends with any of my exes, as if to tell me that I should be upset that he’s still close to his most recent ex. But then i think of Pete, who I don’t really classify as an ex because we weren’t in a romantic relationship. Pete and I are fairly good friends these days, and I’ve considered asking if he could spend a few days in January to visit me. I haven’t broached the subject, because I realize that while it would be “giving J a taste of his own medicine,” it could backfire in a number of ways, and I could be without two guy friends and be left with the constant reminder of my spiteful behavior. However, it could go positively, if I only think of it and treat it as a chance for a friend to visit and get away from his life for a while, and I show him the Asian stuff in the area that’s kept me going for the past year.

Speaking of the Asian stuff, it’s been a while since I’ve made omurice and okonomiyaki. Since omurice, or omelette rice, is simple and requires only a few everyday ingredients, I made it earlier this week. There are still other Japanese restaurants in the area I haven’t visited yet, and lately I’ve felt I should get back to taking myself out and writing about my experience as a whole. That was one of the things I used to write about here, I used to talk about Japan more, and wanting to go, and all the things I can experience over here. I never wrote about making miso soup for J, which I could have done. And at the thought of picking up where I left off with the Japanese restaurants, it doesn’t seem right to continue as I had always done, which is to say I was taking myself out to dinner. If I’m going out for Japanese food again, I want it to be with J.

But I realize that he doesn’t want me.

Well, I guess “realize” isn’t the right word, in the same way that one would realize water is wet. I could say that I’m “starting to believe,” like one would start to believe that their sand castle will withstand anything because they haven’t realized that water is also destructive. I guess I’m “leaning towards” that idea, and yes there could be nothing solid or firm there for me to lean on, and I could fall and hurt myself… because I’m dumb.

Oh, let me explain. The last time his ex was here, it was, “she (the ex) knows I’m joking,” and other things that made me feel like they were a team and I was odd man out. And when I made dinner, there were only ten rolled tacos, so I figured J could have the extra one but he split it two ways… and shared the other half with her, even though I would have liked it if it were split evenly among all three of us. When he played music, she swayed to the sound, enjoying every moment.

I can’t be her.

Not that I know how the music feels for her, but for me, it’s so much more. Lyrics are the words that are never said but often felt, the music itself conjuring up the scene of the story unfolding in a few short minutes. I can’t just sway to music, I need to perform it, I need to move my mouth and hands in such a way that I’m conveying the feeling of the song, because I feel it within me as if the words are my own and that is what I need to get out. There are a couple of songs that are personal and meaningful for me, because they make me think of my parents, and one will always make me cry. I can’t stop with, “that’s a good song,” because I get too passionate about some songs I hear. But maybe that’s all he wants, he just wants someone to sway to the music and simply be entertained, not someone like me who’s trying to figure out if he’s speaking through songs and who his heart and soul cry out to.

And there’s other ways I can’t be her. And I tell myself I should be good enough, or that I am. But then I realize that I’m nice to him in ways that don’t seem to matter as much, and I could be nicer at times when it seems more fun just to be a pain in the ass. I can’t simply show gratitude without coming off ungrateful first. And then I put myself in a mood I can’t easily shake, leaving J to wonder what’s wrong, but talking it over always comes back around to me being in the wrong and being dumb (not even in an abusive way, just reminding me that if I hadn’t said or done something a certain way, it wouldn’t have led to me overthinking a situation because nothing wrong would have happened), so lately it seems better to let my moods pass.

Although there is one advantage to knowing that I’m the problem, and that’s knowing I’m going to reject help and advice at a time when I know how things work for me. Yes, I’m sick, I came down with a cold yesterday. I texted J in the morning and told him I wasn’t feeling well, and that I’m not a whiny bitch when it comes to being sick. Basically I was telling him that I’m not the kind of girl, or person for that matter, who tucks themselves into bed and begs someone else to get them soup, get them tea, and basically wait on them hand and foot. I didn’t have to be told to take medicine, I found my antihistamines as soon as I could and took one. I drank tea and juice, and made myself soup for dinner. I left work halfway through the day because I had a headache that kept me from focusing on everything, and I didn’t think I could push through the last 4 hours of my day. I came home and took a nap, rolling out of bed when J got home from work, at which point I had more energy and felt more able to tolerate being around him.

My dinner was a mug of tea, a mug with chicken flavored instant ramen, and a plate with a grilled cheese sandwich on it. J had walked out to the kitchen around the time I was getting ready to carry everything out to the living room, at which point he offered to help me carry something. I’m not sure if being unwell caused me to get over myself, or if I was exhausted enough that I didn’t want to put up a fight, but I allowed him to carry my plate for me while I carried the two mugs, instead of insisting that I could take care of things by myself. He was rather nice to me yesterday, but again, it could be me being sick that I’m just being a bit kinder towards him.

“I’ll spare you from a kiss on the lips,” I said last night, before heading to my own room to sleep. After he questioned it, I reminded him that I was sick, something that I can obviously tell about myself even if it isn’t that apparent to anyone else. He, having an immune system I wish I had all my life, quickly pulled me close and gave me a peck on the lips.

He’s brave, that one. Kissing me when I’m contagious, dealing with my bullshit most days. I don’t want to let him go, but if he’s not into me romantically, we will have to go our separate ways one day.


Thanksgiving, Gratitude, And Happiness

“You smile more than you think you do.”

The context is lost, but J’s words still echo in my mind. It’s amazing that anything echoes in my mind, as it often feels like my thoughts and memories are arranged like stacks of books, magazines and loose pieces of paper in an endless, dusty room. My mind is full and cluttered, nothing is as it should be.

J usually sees me smile, but he’s also the one trying to make me smile as well. I wish I could sit here and say that he made me smile by giving me flowers, or being more personal and thoughtful by stopping by my favorite bakery and getting me a chocolate cornet. Alas, I’m still not his girlfriend, not that I know if he’d do such things even if I was. No, he does other things to make me smile.

I had to work a day shift on Thanksgiving, from 9 in the morning until 5:30. It was one of the slowest shifts I’ve had to work, and I hoped they would send some of us home sooner than they did. Well, I managed to be released around 5:05, and when I got home, the house feast was ready to be served. So, I had to ask… did they wait for me? Did they time everything to be ready at about the time I’d be getting home? One answer was no, that it just happened that way, and another answer was that yes, they did anticipate me having to work my full shift so I’d be walking in on all the food ready to be served. I was beside myself, because I really didn’t mind grabbing leftovers and fixing a plate of food for myself. I am just one person, and barely important enough for a whole feast to revolve around my schedule.

I felt humbled, because I hadn’t been able to help prepare any of the food (except my apple pie, which is a long story in itself for a homemade pie bought as part of a fundraiser), so I helped put away the food once everyone was done eating for the evening. The turkey was cooked in an aluminum foil pan, which I tossed out with the majority of the skeletal remains once we had picked off most of the meat. Honestly, I could have spent more time and gotten more meat off the bones, but I was trying to make short work of it. Anyway, I feared for the trash bag, thinking it would rip from the bones and the bent foil pan. I said to J that I needed assistance pulling the trash bag, but since I didn’t specifically ask for his help, he didn’t help me with the bag, and that conversation snowballed into an argument.


I was already telling myself that I needed to stop loving him, i needed to stop having this silly infatuation, that nothing would ever come of this. I can’t even compete with his ex, who stopped by before i got out of work and gave him some tres leches cake that she made, which seems to be one of his favorite foods. Now we’ve had another petty argument, making my chances that much slimmer that anything good might come of any of this.

Forget the evening cuddle session before bed. Since we fought, I wasn’t feeling amorous. I did need to take a shower, and the song “Im Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair” was stuck in my head while I did so, or at least that one lyric repeated in my mind.

Before I started the shower, I texted him the picture I took of the slip of paper I wrote on at work, listing what I was thankful for this year. As it’s posted on a board at work, I took the picture of my entry so I could keep it, and I figured I would need it for this day but I didn’t know it would come to this. In my mind, I was trying to say, “I was thankful for you, but you just pissed me off.”

“You forgot to say…” was his reply, adding a few things that went along with the argument we just had. Oh really? At that point, I simply apologized for saying nice, positive things about him. After that, since I stepped out of the shower to respond, I stepped back into the shower and finished what I was doing.

“Good. How dare you.” I didn’t read that angrily, when I first read that. I read it in his smiling, sarcastic voice when he usually says “how dare you.” It confused me, because I was actually regretting that I had even had a positive thing to say about him, and to post it in a public space.

“I’m thankful for you too. Usually.” Why? Why did he have to say that? I was mad at him! I mean, clearly my judgment is clouded by the crush I have on him, so if I stop having feelings, I’ll see him as he really is. But what have I even done that he’s thankful for me? I feel like a placeholder, like I’m just here until things work in such a way that he gets his ex back, or that I’ll be less important once he has another girlfriend.

And I shouldn’t feel that way. I feel like I am worthy of love, that I’m worthy of and deserve his love. It’s not just because I do the dishes. We were talking tonight about things, and it was mentioned that we both have money budgeted in such a way that neither of us is struggling on a monthly basis, and that we could assist the other in a pinch. “But we’re not in a relationship,” he mentioned, which was like stabbing me with a knife, albeit a decorative knife which I knew I wanted to keep. But the context was to emphasize that a couple he was referring to was engaged to be wed, and one partner struggled while the other seemed to do fine because they can’t budget financially together. Look what we have here, I thought to myself. But I suppose we only make a good couple on paper, or in theory. His feelings need to be there, not just mine.

After my shower, I crawled into bed and played on my cell phone. I heard a bedroom door open, then the wooden boards of the hallway floor creaked with each step. I figured it was the other housemate, who was in town for the weekend, or her significant other. I figured that whoever it was, the person was going to the bathroom, nothing more, so I minded my own business. I heard a muffled thud as something hit the comforter and my leg beneath it. I looked up, just in time to see the side of J’s face as he walked back to his room. I looked to see what hit me, only to discover it was the fourth 3-novel compilation of the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan, which I started reading about a month ago. I had just finished the third novel in the third book, and thus the entirety of the third book, earlier that day at work. However, I returned that book in the midst of our argument, opening the door just a crack so I could place it on the small bookshelf by the door, then closing the door behind me. I was going to be stubborn and prideful, I was going to start reading some of my other books instead of grabbing the next in the Sweep series. His words were already pulling me out of the mood I was in towards him, but seeing the book on my bed, I couldn’t help but consider him to be thoughtful, like that was the only word coming to mind to describe him.

Over the weekend, we were watching the second to last episode of Iron Fist. As sometimes happens, he couldn’t seem to figure out where to put his hand behind me, or if it should be on my side. So I held it in place over my left shoulder for long enough that the only reason why he moved it was because it wasn’t a comfortable position any longer. I started nodding off during that episode, possibly because a lack of sleep was catching up to me, and just as I had closed my eyes he nudged me awake. Usually he’s the one falling asleep and I try to nudge him, or we both start nodding off. My eyes weren’t closed long enough that I missed anything, so it was nice that he caught me nodding off at that moment.

Yeah, I’m thankful for him. And if I’m smiling more than I think I am, it probably has something to do with his ability to make me smile when I don’t otherwise feel like it.