Monday, June 10, 2013

The Weekend

Weekends are precious for anyone with a 9-5 job. Every work week starts with the anticipation of Friday. When I was in TRF, Kim at the office used to say, "we are wish our lives away." I never thought it that way because I never was wishing my life away. I looked forward to Fridays as much as the next clock watcher but I filled the rest of the days to the brim as well. It took a year and half of time alone before I started to feel lonely. With the younger demographics in Champaign, Friday became know as date night. Since I never had dates, Friday was like a mini-valentine's day that came each week just to make a mockery of my loneliness. I became depressed. I called and complained to friends but got no sympathy because apparently young and good looking people like myself are not entitled to sympathy for being lonely. They always say, if you just dress up and get out of the door, you can have your pick! So I did, with the under five crowd at the nursery.
It was one of the best things I've done since I moved here (along with running). This past Friday I played with three siblings outside, riding bikes and playing on the slides. I rode with them, on a tiny scooter. It made me happy that they remembered me from last time. I always loved summer nights like that I was a kid. Now I feel fortunate to have these kids share their summer night with me.

There are many things to be done before I make the big move to the big city. Things like finding a place to live, downsizing, packing, deciding on a school, sorting my finances, etc. I feel stressed out just thinking about all the stuff. Instead of getting ahead of myself and feeling more stressed out, I went out and enjoyed myself.

I've never been one to chase after the latest gadgets. I feel great not having a TV, cable box or surround sound or whatever other home entertainment systems people have these days. All I needed was a phone and computer that works. With some traveling coming up, I finally caved in and purchased a tablet online. I had to go pick it up at a store in Danville yesterday and decided to make a day out of it. I found my first stop on Yelp, a popular local joint called Gross Burger owned by an ex marine.
I couldn't decide on a pizza burger or cheeseburger so I got both with fries and a strawberry shake. The food wasn't all the special but it felt good to be there.
I like family establishments. I sat next to Rob Wurtsbaugh, the first young man the area lost to Korean War. He looked hansom in the black and white portrait, so innocent. A man in military pants held the door for me as I was leaving the restaurant. I smiled and said, Thank you sir! I think it made him a little happy as well.

The town of Daville has 33,000 residents. I passed through downtown on my way to the shopping center and decided to take a look around. Many store fronts were empty in downtown, but it still looked quaint on a sunny summer afternoon. The lady at the store commented on how pretty my dress was. At the checkout, I stroke up a conversation with the gregarious store owner, a retired school teacher. I shared with him that I was visiting Danville for the day from Champaign, had lunch at Gross burger and am now making my way through downtown. "You're having yourself a day here in Vermilion County!" he exclaimed. Looking at his sports memorabilia, I told him that I was from Bill's country but now works in Decatur. "Wow, you've had quite a diverse background!" he responded. The interaction made me feel beautiful. I left the store with two lovely necklaces, a pair of earrings for $15 and a priceless sensation of lightheartedness.

Once back home, I caught up with Rose for a bit. She is one of the few people who have witnessed my transformation over the last twelve months. Rose has been supportive of me this entire time but being an ex-New Yorker herself, she is especially excited for me for the move. After all these years of meeting each other in foreign countries, it will be a whole new experience to see Rose on the mainland, where we can navigate and understand what people are saying.

As soon as I got off the phone with Rose, I met up with a coworker for tacos at the Wedge, a newer tequila bar in town, an improvement from the French "inspired" restaurant that used to occupy the same spot. We went to the Great Gatsby together. I've been wanting to see it for quite sometime now. I love all glitz the deco but more so than ever, I want to suck up all that's New York these days. Inspiration is always a good antidote to stress.

Dinner and movie was then followed up an hour long of makeover for the milonga that never happened. Instead, I went home to change into something more fitting and met up with everyone at the bars downtown. Frank was sitting with three hansom young men in matching black shirts, two of which were from Italy. The town is crawling with PhD students, especially in the summer when all the undergrads are gone. If only I could have found a good one all this time. I teased the boys, made jokes, laughed and had a great time. We went over to Cowboy Monkey to check in with the tango peeps. I met new people there, among them, two Bulgarians and an Argentine. We sat around two small tables outside surrounded by columns of fire lamps and eager young crowd. How pleasant, I thought to myself, so this is what I've been missing! We chatted over the pumping music, the group split up to different bars, met up and split up again. Less than an hour from closing time, I found myself at the infamous C-Street with the Italians and Bulgarians, dancing and watching young men making out everywhere in the dark club. I like people who don't take themselves too seriously. I haven't been to one of these places since my early twenties. Even then I didn't go to gay clubs. There's a first time for everything. I couldn't believe how beautiful the night was as we walked back to my car together. I drove the boys home. By the time I got back I was tired but I didn't go to sleep.

Instead, I slept all day today with an interlude to the co-op for lunch. A quiet evening at the nursery putted a finish touch on a satisfying weekend. Now I'm making my way to Monday again. There are still many many things to prepare for. What will be will be. Great things happen when we approach them with a positive spirit. For now, stay inspired, stay light. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Everyone comes with stories, some happened in the past, some created for the future. Fantasies are free, or so we think. Reading Karen Miller's Hand Wash Cold for the second time last week, the idea about stories caught my attention. Reunited with an ex from high school decades later after a divorce, the author made up in her mind on how the story should end when in fact reality was showing otherwise.

Every now and then I think about what life would have been like had I stayed with an ex or a place or a career path. Every time I meet someone new I imagine what future would be like if our lives were intertwined. I think of significant life events, things we would say to each other and stories we would tell our kids and grand kids. I never did it in a clingy obsessive way, just a little harmless daydreaming, or so I thought.

When I take a careful look deep down, I see no clear divide between what is made up and what is expected. And to be perfectly honest, I indulge in creating stories for my kids, stories about how their parents met, how they fell in love, how dad once acted foolishly to let mom go and how he maned up and got her back, how some significant event brought the family together and how love grew stronger over time.

When daydreams turn into expectations they inevitably lead to disappointments. I can't count the number of times I've stayed in or even started a relationship that obviously wasn't going to work because I was fixated on creating a storybook ending. If Oprah was sitting with me, we would be having an aha moment right now.

And as timing would have it, the movie I watched tonight, Ruby Sparks, resonated this point perfectly. When the writer finally frees the girl from his mind, she reappears in his life holding his latest book with no recollection of the past. She jokingly says, "don't tell me how the story ends." He responses, "I promise I won't."

After all the heartaches and false starts, this is the time to free myself from how the story should end and experience it for what it is. I am not looking to cast a character into my story and this is the only dialogue remaining:

"I don't know how the story will end."
"I don't either"
"But I want to find it out with you."