Tag Archives: love

The Prague Metro

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It’s a Tuesday. I look out the window, up at the sky, contemplating if I should go with rain boots or moccasins. Typical overcast day, the sun trying its best to break through the thick ceiling of clouds and failing to do so. I see the people four floors below, walking to whatever it is they try to convince themselves matters. Slowly marching toward the unavoidable underground fate that awaits us all. They are wearing hats and scarves and boots, so the march today is a cold one. I go to my mirror boudoir, and stare into the eyes looking back at me. The light from the window behind me, pouring into my room, casting a halo around my reflection. These eyes are so much older than the ones I remember. I curse myself for not being braver, for not seeing more than I have, for not accomplishing something great. Not loving enough, or hurting enough or helping enough.  The blank expression of the person in front of me isn’t the person I thought I’d become. I tell myself that today will be the day that I become something, but it’s only Tuesday. Seems like the weekend would be better for such dreams.

I open the mirrored door, ridden with oily fingerprints, and reach for my winter coat. I run my arm through one sleeve, then the other, finick with the broken zipper until I get it binded, then zip it up to my neck. I reach for the brown suede boots and slip my feet into them, heading toward the door with key in hand. Then, down the four flights of winding stairs and automatic lights to the front gate. Someone’s left it open again, so I pull it open without having to use the key. I slam it hard behind me, harder than I meant to.

Although the air has a hue of grey and the cold is biting at my earlobes and finger tips, I’m happy to be here. To be outside, the crisp air filling my lungs, recirculating my blood. I’m walking up the hill toward I.P. Pavlova. Past the small potraviny that charges too much for bread, past the large non-stop potraviny where I buy most of my groceries. I see strawberries in the window. Still overpriced and out of season. I begin salivating for spring time and fresh produce and the promise of a sun that will break through the clouds and warm my face. I long for the feeling of a hot sun beating down through chilled air. I take a sharp right turn and run across the street toward Namesti Miru; the green line. I cross when the pedestrian walking signal is red because I know it’s about to change. I’ve only been here a few months, but I’ve figured out the traffic enough to know when it’s my turn. The Czech people stand waiting at the same light, knowing better than I, yet they stand obediently waiting for the little man to turn green. Bred by communism, afraid to step before the little green man grants them permission.

Up the hill toward Namesti Miru, walking quickly, passing up the clicking of women’s heels against cobblestone streets. I defy another red man, walking into the park toward the metro entrance. I pass a man sitting on a bench, his hands cupped in front of him, a hat covering most of his face. He’s smiling slightly, lips bent up with admiration and jealousy,as he watches his dog chase pigeons through the grass. Fat birds teasing the Labrador by flying just out of his reach. They are bored, unamused, yet desperate to collect the microscopic crumbs around the garbage can. The dog runs, his tongue hanging out of his smiling mouth, jumping and spinning and playing the way that dogs do. It makes me smile unintentionally as well, joyous envy for his carefree leaps. I think to myself that there is a lesson here somewhere; the fat rummaging pigeons, the crumbs, the careless leaping dog and the old man with the hat.

I walk past the people standing at the tram with their briefcases and backpacks and morning cigarettes. Past the hotdog stand that smells like a highschool football game. Soggy wieners steaming in metal, filling the air with the smell of cooking flesh, mixing with the choking smoke of tobacco. If you ask me what Prague smells like, that would be my answer: sausage and Marlboros. It sounds repulsive, but the smell soon becomes addicting. It becomes morning, afternoon and night. It is the vivaciousness of the city and the people and everything that life here embodies. Burning meat and smoke.

I quickly move down the stairs into the metro, the cold air rushing past me, chilling the sweat around my hairline. On the escalator, and a long journey down. Some days I run down the stairs, but today I’m just standing, watching the people on the escalator on their way out. A young man stands on the step behind a woman, equal height. He kisses her on her cheek, and her eye and her neck and she smiles and kisses him on the lips. I glance at them, catching eyes with the man and becoming embarrassed, waiting for his gaze to fall back on her so I can look at them again. I can’t help but stare, to watch them, their delicate kisses, as if they are the only ones in the world, as if their touch will last forever. I remind myself it won’t and move my gaze in front of me, looking down to the end of the escalator and the still ground waiting below.

When I step off the escalator and onto the platform, I turn lazily, waiting for the metro that will take me into town. The clock says 8:54. The car clock says that it has been 1:52 minutes since the last car. It’s Tuesday, so another will be along shortly. To my right, an old woman stands, her arms crossed in front of her, lazily staring at the walls in front of her without really looking at anything. Just past her, another young couple stands in embrace. The girl this time, pushed up against the wall and the boy with her, burying his tongue deep in her mouth. Their heads swaying back and forth, shamelessly, as if everyone in the metro is doing the same. I wonder what it’s like to feel that free. To feel such a passionate burst of affection so suddenly and ardently that you cannot wait until you are alone. We must act now, in this moment, without shame. I wonder if that’s love. I tell myself it’s just two stupid kids.

Then, the cold air starts moving past me, brushing my hair slowly across my face at first, then with more force. That’s the thing about the metro. You feel it before you see it. The breeze becomes heavier and colder and stronger, my hair is blowing wildly over my shoulder and across my face and I let it. I close my eyes and breathe in the cold air and let the stray hair tickle my cheeks and nose. Then I hear the rumbling of the car coming down the tunnel, subtle at first, then louder and more intense. Then a small flicker of light bounces off the walls, until the headlights are in view. The people step closer to the platform, nearly in sync, anticipating the opening doors. The car pulls before us and screeches to a stop. The doors open, and the busy people with their briefcases and backpacks step out, going wherever it is that people go on a Tuesday.

The old woman with the lazy stare is standing across from me, waiting to step on the car. She’s older than I realized at first. The roots of her hair white, the thin skin of her hands hardly able to contain the veins standing above the surface of her skin. She has no wedding ring, and I wonder if she is a widow. I wonder if that’s why her expression is so lazy, as if she’s seen all that she expects. As if she was once a young person on the metro, embracing her love, having her eyes and nose kissed, and now she has no one. She steps onto the car, revealing white sox and black tennis shoes under her long skirt. I step on behind her, disgusted with her, feeling sorry for her, and I tell myself not to look on her anymore. I spin facing the doors I just stepped through. They close, and I see a reflection in the glass windows of the doors, a pair of eyes much like those of the old woman staring back.

I’m startled when I realize they are my own, and the car slowly pulls away from the platform.

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The Pied Piper of Lost Souls

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You are not a god. You’re a shark in the Sahara.

This is the embarrassing truth. The unfortunate end to the Emmy worthy performance  for all of your loyal fans. Because you are an actor. A poet with hollow words and shallow glances that are impossible to see through. You’re the piper and we are your mice. Your song is lovely. The tune, enchanting; spellbinding. But, your flute is small and your melody grows curious to seasoned ears. These crowds of scurrying feet soon realize that you have no idea where you are going. You wonder loosely and without purpose, aside from your resentment for the purpose of others. But still they follow. They’ve heard a lovely song before and they wait because they naively believe that is the song you want to play.

You play and you dance until you grow bored. Then, Oh Judas! Your tune turns bitter, cold, harsh. Then you stop. Leaving poor souls far from places they know and without the means to ever go back. Then it’s a new song. New followers. Same old lackluster performance. The lights are bright and blinding, but the show without a script, void of substance. And you do it again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Each time, convincing these little mice they are different. Old lies lay softly on unweathered hearts, you see.  And again. And again. And again. And again. You’re unimpressive, yet your feigned vulnerability lures these timid mice, these rats, these dogs.

No, you are not a god. You’re an exterminator with a tiny flute, doomed to play the only song you know. The only song you’ll ever know.

I’ll hear that song in Hell.

Day 58: The Beatles had it Wrong

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One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in life is that you need a little more than just love sometimes. It’s so nice to think that if you care about someone and they care back, everything will work out okay in the end.

What a convenient, little story book lie.

It seems so many relationships are crumbling around me lately, and it’s easy to see that my friends are better off for it, but living in that moment, with that pain, is much different when it’s happening to you. We jump back into the arms of people we know aren’t right for us because we get scared. We get lonely… If only we could see our own relationships with the clarity that our friends do.

So the love is definitely the most important part of a relationship, whatever the context. But if both parties aren’t willing to make some sacrifices, to choke on their pride, to devote the time that’s needed to make the other person happy, than the love can’t survive, and eventually, it will die.

And that’s the best part. Our hearts self-preserve, let us heal, and move us on. We develop antibodies toward a person who makes us unhealthy, and the things that used to make our hearts crumble eventually just become ‘things.’ As much as it may hurt, it will hurt less eventually. As much as you think you may regret letting go because “if only a few things would change it would be perfect”, you won’t. Because it never will change.

It’s so much easier than we make it out to be. When it comes down to it, a person who wants to be with you will. A person who loves you will never make you feel small. You will curl up in each other’s arms and you will feel your hearts beating together, feel protected. You will have outrageously wonderful sex that you didn’t even know existed. You won’t have to worry why he hasn’t called, or frantically search for clues as to what you did wrong. He will send you flowers if flowers make you happy, or she’ll take you to Comic-con if that’s your ecstasy. The right person will go the extra mile with you, for you. They will let you cry when you need to cry, and won’t bring it up or laugh about it to their friends later. There will be respect and patience and a stronger desire to win your heart than win an argument.

I only know it because I’ve seen it, but I believe it. So don’t strive for a tragic sort of Romeo and Juliet love. Find a love that’s more easy than hard, more smiling than tears, more excitement than panic. It’s out there. You owe it to yourself to look around bit.

Day 54: Knowing When to Run

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I have an addictive personality. When I decide I need a pair of red pants, I do not rest until I have them. I go for an Oreo and end up eating the whole bag. I go out for a drink with a friend, and wake up the next morning on a couch of a friend of a friend of a friend. I go all in when I do anything. It’s a terrible, nagging habit that I wish I didn’t have.

The same is to say with people in my life. I don’t like giving up on anyone. I’ve done it before, but in most cases, I end up emailing and calling and texting like a crazy ex-girlfriend until my apology is accepted or a restraining order is issued. I have a hard time letting go of people I care about or people who I want to care about me. I hate feeling like I hurt someone’s feelings. Worse than that, I hate feeling like someone doesn’t care if I’m in their life or not.

And that’s something that really drives me crazy. To feel like someone you care about, someone that you may even love, doesn’t care if you give up on them, if you walk away. I’m not talking about walking away and turning into a pillar of salt because you never truly wanted to go. I’m not talking about making frivolous threats to get someone’s attention. I mean making the difficult decision to leave someone you care about because you fear they will never understand the way you need to be loved. Walking away because you’ve tried over and over again, you’ve given all you have, but you’re still caught in a web, having your insides sucked out. I’m talking about making the decision to stop chasing someone who may not want you, and give them the chance to run – to see if they’ll even put their sneakers on to come after you. Its a dangerous game to play.

This only seems to prove my twisted addiction for cruel forms of punishment. It’s as if I enjoy the thought of suffering from a crushed spirit. Maybe I read too much from the Buddha. Not all forms of suffering are enlightening.

“To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.” – Viktor Frankl

I don’t like giving ultimatums. In my limited experience, they shut people down and I end up with a thing I never wanted. But sometimes, you have to be able to say no, knowing what it may mean. You have to break the bad habit of making excuses for someone who doesn’t treat you right. You have to face your addiction and start your own intervention. You have to walk away, knowing that no one will come after you, but hoping that you’re wrong. And when you turn out to be right, don’t let it get you down. I think that maybe it will lead you closer to someone who you won’t have to chase at all one day.

I’m glad that I love myself enough to be able to walk away from something that isn’t good for me, for someone who doesn’t think I’m worth following. A lot of people end up running their whole lives, chasing after something that may not even exist. I’m tired of the running. I’m ready to take my shoes off and stand still for a while.

Day 50: Care Bear

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Today, I’m thankful for one of my best friends on the planet, Ms. Carrie Stribling. I could have easily written this post last week, while I was in Phoenix and staying with her and Jake. We had a great time entertaining ourselves all week, the same way we have since we were in grade school. But, after talking to her until late last night because I was upset, and continuing our conversation again throughout the day today (thanks to Voxer… you’ll get a post soon too my little voice-activated friend) I realized how valuable a friendship is that you don’t have to be physically around for.

So, let me take a minute and tell you why she’s so great. First. She works really hard. She not only works a full time job, but she also runs her own photography business, and she’s actually really good at taking pictures. I’m not saying that in an obligatory ‘she’s my friend so I have of’ sort of way. When I first saw her work I was shocked. Not because I didn’t think she was capable, but because I didn’t realize we were at a place in our lives where we  were able to be really good at something. She’s creative not just in her job, but in the rest of her life as well. She’s planning an adorable wedding, she can draw, she blogs, photographs, works for a design company… she has a vision and she makes it work. She took a risk to do the thing that she loved, even though a lot of people told her that it wasn’t a stable form of work. She started out slow, but now she has a steady stream of work, and her skills continue to grow with every shoot. You can see for yourself here.

So there’s that. The hard work, integrity thing that makes you say, “wow, that person really gives a shit about their life.” I can’t help but admire that in a person.

Second. It’s who she is as a person. It’s only fitting her “pet name” in high school was Care Bear. (Sorry, “nickname” wasn’t quite the right word there). Carrie doesn’t only give a shit about her life, but she gives a shit about other people’s too. We were joking tonight that we will always be the people that cling onto the leg of a person trying to run from us, the way a toddler does when it wants to be picked up. Carrie will always be the apologizer, even if she don’t completely understand the reason for it. Not to be insincere when apologizing, but to be completely dedicated to a friend and a relationship. And she always is. She notices when people around her are off, if only just a little. She’ll follow you to the bathroom to hold your hand when no one else even noticed you were crying. And she doesn’t tell you everything will be okay because she knows you know that. She just lets you be sad, and then she hugs you and tells you she loves you.

And I’ll end with one more – although I could go on for the remaining 90 days.

I love how much she’s able to love. I can honestly say she knows the darkest, most character-degrading deeds I’ve committed, and she loves me anyway. She’s had a hard time telling me things in the past, but she trusted enough to let me in so that I know her twisted, hard-to-tell stories too. And then there’s Jake. Soon to be husband, always to be a character. They just fit together. He’s thrust her into change (I know he’d appreciate my word choice there) and she’s made him an honest man. They’ve been through it, but she loves him so unconditionally. Little Ms. Life-Plan-to-be-Married-and-have-Babies-by-25 put in almost nine solid years and her blue print is with the engineers. Pretty soon she’ll have 14 kids and that many more to love.

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So, at risk of sounding like a complete lesbian, I just want to express gratitude for one of my very best friends, and part of my family. When I was out dress shopping with Carrie and her mom last week, her mom said that she thinks we all got to be so close because we all had brothers and no sisters. I think that may have something to do with it.

We found our own sisters in the world.

Who would have guessed our taste would have been so spot-on as third-graders. I love you Carebear. I’m so excited to see where you let life take you.

Day 48: My Father’s Daughter

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Every day when I get home, my dad comes to the door, pushes our wild pack of dogs off of me, and heads to my first destination: the kitchen. We snack, grab a drink with some ice in it, and usually end up sitting at the kitchen table talking. Our bosses, the weather, the yard, the speed of light, J.R. Tolkien … no limits. We just sit and talk for hours. I’m not sure how many people have that relationship with their father, but it’s such an exceptional gift to me.

I’m definitely my father’s daughter. He’s called me his “little girl” since the day I was born. He still addresses my birthday cards that way. When I was a little girl, he taught me how to hold my breath under water, play HORSE, and catch the lizards whose tails fall off when you pick them up. When I got older he taught me how to drive, lay tile, change the breaks on my car, and put someone in a chokehold. He always knows what the weather is going to be. When he’s proud, his chin starts to tremble. Sometimes tennis matches do it to him too. He is too cheap to turn the air down in the summer. He would eat a hamburger from Red Robin every day if we would let him. He made me my first olive and cream cheese sandwich. We have the same taste in beer. He drives way too close to the person in front of him. He curses when he can’t find things in the fridge. He puts his initials on practically everything he owns.

I know he won’t be around forever, and meanwhile, I’m running in every direction as fast as I can. I get a lump in my throat thinking about the day that I get the call telling me he’s gone. So I’m not going to think about it. I’m just inflated with love for that crazy old man.


Day 45: Total Eclipse of my Heart

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Today, one of my best friend’s told me I get “sloppy”.  And ya know what? Damn right I do.

I am 24 years old and my life is at least a quarter of the way over. I’m not running for Congress or marrying a Duke of whatever so who cares what people think? Real friends know me and love me anyway. I’m worried about having fun while I know what the word means. If that makes me sloppy, so be it. Life’s too short to wear a tie to bed.

Tonight, I sang karaoke with a very hoarse, manly voice. Total Eclipse of the Heart? Oh yes we did. Thanks for singing backup John. We KILLED IT. And don’t forget, you owe me a child before I hit menopause. You can have one too if you want.

 I leave for home tomorrow and I’ve had such a great trip. Don’t get me wrong, there were some interesting moments. Some yelling, some confusion and a lot of awkward silence. But when it’s all said and done, I’ve got really amazing people here who really know who I am. Sure, we will get into fights. We will dig our claws in and twist. We will make the wrong decision and hurt each other. But even that is beautiful in its own right – to be able to screw up and say irrational things and be forgiven.

At the end of the day, there’s mostly laughter. The tears are mostly happy. There’s always a shoulder to cry on, a hand that will hold yours. There’s another round of drinks at the bar, another song we know all the words to. Where every other sentence is an inside joke. Where you can see an expression out of the corner of your eye and know what your best friend is thinking. We sing junior high hymns at Applebee’s and talk our way into happy hour prices after happy hour. We take pictures until our cameras die. We double over laughing. We sample each other’s cocktails.
 

Arizona has a special little corner in my heart. It’s beautiful to know that regardless of where I end up, I can always come home.