Saturday, January 27, 2018

In which I ramble about my day and other things

But first, some context.

I probably have an over-associative mind. Everything reminds me of something else. Every place reminds me of the last time I was there. Every time of year makes me think about what was going on a year before.

This time last year, I was dating a dude and preparing to transition to a temporary gig. I was on the cusp of knowing the relationship was doomed; there was still room for hope, but also some concerns. Enough that I wasn't willing to leave stuff at his place--which was right near my then-office and not too far from my new one--between offices.

So now I have a week to go before I transition back to my old office. I was too busy at work to think about it--and too busy to gradually move any stuff back--but to be honest I thought it about it the whole time I've been there. Every time I crossed an iconic building, above or underground, I thought about how fleeting it was to *work* there. Every time I was either mistaken for an intern or addressed with disproportionate deference, I thought about how fleeting it was to be in this bananas mixing bowl of power dynamics. 

But it was Friday night as I left work that it hit me that I was down to a week. A very busy week, and not without Even More Drama than usual. But as I walked the tunnels to the metro, it fully hit me that I was down to a week. And even though I'm 90 percent ready to go back, I'm really going to miss everyone. And a lot of things. The sense of opposite-of-nostalgia was overwhelming. It stayed with me throughout the evening, and I woke up with it.



So this morning, I already had--as the kids say--all the feels. I started tidying up all the stuff that had piled onto my dining room table during my crazy week, including a couple of puzzles that I'd finished and framed, one of a market on Borneo and one of a peacock in the aviary in KL. I texted Alex to say, "remember when you set me up to get attacked by a stork?" He did.

I was about to step out to go food shopping when my father called, said that mom had a super-high fever and had to be taken to the hospital. At which point it hit me how emotionally unprepared I was for my mother to leave this world. I often think about how she wouldn't want to be living in the state she's in--she often said as much in reference to other people who weren't even as far gone as she is now, that if she ever got that way, not to prolong her life. So I thought I'd be less shaken by the prospect of her actually dying. But I wasn't. The prospect was still horrifying.

I went shopping. The bagger at TJ's loved my catpack.

I told her it was from a cat museum in Malaysia--in a city named for and dotted with sculptures of cats. How do you explain Kuching? I wouldn't have believed it had I not seen it.
I told a dude who asked me about museums I'd been to this year that I'd been to few art museums, but two cat museums on two different continents, as well as a museum of broken relationships. Which further brings home what an extraordinary year it was. 

My dad called again mid-afternoon to tell me mom was okay; it turned out to be a UTI, which is not good but also is not, say, pneumonia or the flu. I was relieved, but still shaken. I decided to get a massage. I needed one anyway, my back was starting to hurt every day. I thought about the massages we got in KL that we stumbled upon after our Jalan Alor street dinner adventure. My masseuse cracked my neck--in a good way. She kneaded the shit out of it until she realized the knots weren't going anywhere and then she just cracked it. We were out of cash and only had 20 RM between the two of us (apart from subway fare, which was pennies). Malaysia doesn't really have much of a tipping culture, which not only do I prefer--better to just incorporate the price into the service and leave out the guesswork--but I'm also wary of tipping in a place that doesn't do tips. If tourists tip cab drivers when locals don't, the drivers will favor tourists. It can also drive up prices for the locals. But sometimes a tip is just the right thing to do (on tours, for example, even though then it wasn't expected). And the massages were so good (and so inexpensive). And we didn't think a tip would hurt; we conferred (having wondered whether a 10 RM tip per massage would be more insulting than helpful) and gave our respective therapists the 20 RM note to share. The woman literally teared up. I wished we could have given them more. 

On my way home from the massage, I thought about walking down the same road a year ago with the dude I was dating. He had a terrible sense of direction but a very high tolerance for cold. In the wake of the Aziz Ansari piece and some of the think pieces in response, I thought about the time I was visibly, uncomfortably freezing on the patio of Dirty Habit. I couldn't believe he wasn't seeing it, so I started saying it, and even then it's like he wasn't hearing it. That was one of several instances (none of them sexual) where, like RM, he made me wonder whether I wasn't expressing myself clearly when the truth was he just wasn't receptive to what was actually going on.

I don't resent the dude I dated a year ago, but from time to time I think about what a douche he was. I think about how long it took me to realize that various men in my life weren't who I thought they were. I always vow to be more open to heeding Maya Angelou and believing people the first time they show me who they are. That said, it didn't take me long with that last one. It took only a little bit longer than it had to, and because I erred on the side of longer than shorter, by the time it ended, I was sure and I was relieved that it was over.

***
That guy lived in the same building with another guy I once had feelings for. DC is a very small town. I don't believe in the Law of Attraction per se--certainly not in the perversion of quantum mechanics in service of horseshit--but once in a while something happens that I think I manifested. Beyond the times in my life where I've been saved by a shrubbery. Times where I've literally wished for something and it eventually appeared in some form. Again, I'm not claiming metaphysics; I do think that there are opportunities out there--you have to be in the forest--and if you know you want them, you're there to take them. I knew I wanted to go to Japan and I knew I wanted to go to South Africa and I knew I wanted to go to Borneo. I knew I wanted to hike the Inca trail. I didn't know how any of those trips would happen, but they did. Before any of that, I really badly wanted to go to Hawaii. And ended up going multiple times for work. None of this is mystical; places are there for the going. Other life events are harder to wish into reality. But I feel like it's happened.

The Law of Attraction people tell you to be specific. Yes, I have listened to them; I've gone on a self-help binge or two, where they're impossible to avoid. Be careful what you wish for, in a way. Specifically, be precise in what you wish for. So it's funny that I liked this guy and often thought how nice it would be to date someone in that building. And I ended up dating someone in that building. Like I said, DC is a small town, but, I'm saying. What else did I think when I thought about this guy? Being respected and admired. There's nothing wrong with that--everyone does want that--but it's not love. My cat's love for me is pure; she doesn't give a shit about my career, as long as it pays the food and vet bills. She'd love me the same if I worked at McDonald's. But I'd need the man in my life to appreciate the careerist part of me. My Well-Meaning Friend and self-appointed dating coach always told me that men don't care how smart you are and they don't care what you do. I've come to realize that that's because she's not very smart and doesn't have a career. All the men I've remotely successfully dated have taken an interest in my intellectual and careerist side, and I in theirs. That's a legitimate need, and I don't regret acknowledging it. But as I parse this phenomenon I don't particularly believe in, I can't help but notice that I focused more on showing up as the force to be reckoned with that I am, then on affection itself. And over the years I've grown into that force to be reckoned with, and that's clear. So is the lack of affection.

This is a ramble, so I don't owe you a coherent train of thought, but I guess I'll sum it up this way: I wasn't consciously preferring to be feared rather than loved, but that's what I was thinking about, and that's what I got. Which is just as well; this wasn't a source of love. But I also don't need the fear.




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