Monday, November 16, 2009

Woman's strength or woman's weakness? (devoted to a friend)

I left. It turned out to be not hard at all. The security officer opened the door and I ran out, metal sole of my heels on the wet asphalt echoing. I left smoke-filled club and your life.

Taxi stopped right away.
“Please don’t smoke in the car, dear”- taxi driver turned back, but when he saw my red eyes, tears rolling down my face…said nothing more; taxi silently drove me into new life, life without you…

I cried…because of you, because of love, love to you; I was afraid to show my love, you were afraid to let me get closer to you; probably we are both too arrogant and egoistic.

How many times we wanted to share, tell how we felt, but never could…We would turn away from each other if there was a need for explanation…for words. Would turn around and sleep, when it felt like the whole universe was begging us to break the silence…But we resisted, alienated each other.
We were side by side, but not together. We looked at the stars, making the same wishes, wishing for love when it was right there, so close, right on our fingertips, but we couldn’t notice…or didn’t want to. We used to sleep under the same music thinking of magic that was all around us- up in the air…but we waved it away, like an irksome fly.

You’ll probably get drunk today and talk that girl in leopard dress to go home with you; true, she is not like me, she won’t get into your nerves demanding attention, she won’t reproach you because of the dirty room or leftover food on the table. She’ll get dressed in the morning and leave, won’t even leave a phone number.

You’ll wake up all alone, go to the bathroom and wash away all the dirt of yourself.
You’ll feel disgusted by yourself, but you chose it all yourself…
You’ll go to the kitchen; the half empty bottle of champagne will make you feel sick again.

Night was great, but for some reason you don’t even remember her name and you are just more filled with loathing, and the only thing you can think of is my yesterdays “I am leaving, I am not needed here”.
But you didn’t even try to stop me. You had more important things to do.
You’ll drink up all the champagne in a hope that all the memories will go away, so that tears that keep filling your eyes can disappear, you’ll go to the balcony and smoke…our dialogues, our moments, “we” in your mind.

-You are an angel. I want an angel wife…
-Ha-ha! Well…I like your last name too…so when should I expect the proposal?

-Mmmm…your mom is a great cook.
-She’ll teach you too when the time comes.

-You are a perfect couple…Have been dating for a long time?
-Oh no, we are not dating. We are just friends.

Friends. What a big word. We even started believing it ourselves. We are friends. But for some reason, it always hurt so badly when I saw you with someone else. But I learned to smile, even when I felt like crying. You too, pretended to be indifferent to my romances; but you would get lost from my life each time I dated someone, wouldn’t answer my calls until a text from me: “I am feeling terrible. He turned out to be an awful swine.”
And we would continue being friends again.

Yes, dear, there are things to think about.
You’ll walk through the apartment trying to tidy up and think of my first visit.
-Nice apartment, but could have been bigger…
-Well, it’s big enough for two of us…
-Sure it is!
-Are we moving in?

Joked around and that’s it, but none of us forgot the conversation …You are probably thinking now…that you lost someone valuable, dear to you...Or is there still a chance to fix everything? Sure there is! But you’ll get scared again and leave everything as it is…You’ll let me go, like you did yesterday at the club.

What about me? I’ll call that guy- the other one that doesn’t love me at all…but for some reason he texts me more often than you do. Parties, girlfriends, and that guy with green eyes will help me forget you for few days. Green eyes…they don’t cure, they are just painkillers…there is no cure from you.

I’ve received so many calls since the morning. Mom, friends, colleagues, just not you. There is nothing from you. I guess you decided to let me go.

But you know…a year will pass, maybe two…It’ll be November again, like now. People will hide inside big warm coats, will cover their faces with hats and scarves, and walk quickly through the city in a rush to get home.

But in one of those days, we’ll meet again somewhere in the city…I’ll be in a hurry to get to the movie, or an important date, with bright eyes, long, layered hair and a light coat. Probably, I’ll be carrying a small bag, or maybe a big one with lots of unneeded things, and I’ll be wearing shoes on heels of course…you like it when I am on high heels…

You…you’ll be the same as now - stylish jeans, smiling eyes…You’ll be walking slowly, hands in your pockets, looking down. I will notice you in the crowd right away. Probably you’ll feel my stare on you….because you’ll turn and look at me….smile…walk quickly towards me. You’ll hug me and…

Well, that’s when the world will crash for me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Real world vs. Gym World

At 7 pm I was at the gym today and had to open at least three lockers before I found one empty. Goddamn it, why do people not use locks, for God’s sake? I wondered. Aren’t they afraid their stuff will get stolen? It’s certainly not out of consideration for others, since a locker without a lock usually means, in the Normal World, that the locker is empty. But in Gym World, you open it, find it full and have to open another and another before finding an empty one. How rude, I thought. I should steal stuff from these people just to teach them a good lesson.

Normally a small annoyance for me, today it was magnified. I was still reeling from last night’s dream, from the lovely words spoken by my ex, his touch and then having to wake up and say good-bye.
So swim was important. As I stripped to my underwear, then started to put on my Speedo I watched the woman around me parading around naked. There was a woman drying her hair at the mirror who was in her jeans and shoes but topless. I couldn’t help but notice the heart tattoo on her left shoulder. There was another, entirely nude, having a conversation about her son’s language skills with another woman who was fully dressed.

In Gym World, women are not as concerned with nudity.
I pulled the Speedo’s straps over my shoulders and noticed another Gym World characteristic: people were slobs. The place was a mess. A mat class had just ended, so there was clothing on the floor, benches were covered, and there was nowhere for a woman to sit. There was a girl, midtwenties, certainly old enough to know better, who had left her stuff everywhere while she went to dry her hair, as if it was okay to throw shit wherever she wanted. Her bag was on the floor, opened, with a shirt halfway out, her socks on the floor next to it, her pink hair band on the bench with her shampoo and her Cosmopolitan magazine. She was even using the rest of the bench for towels, totally oblivious to the people around her.
I watched her for a moment at the mirror, blowing her hair. She was wearing tight, low jeans that revealed the top of lavender underwear, and a matching lacy bra. Her hair was long and curly and she was taking great pains to bring it under control, to smooth it, straighten it, pulling a little hair at a time with her brush, wrapping it down and under and around her brush, placing the dryer just so in this painstaking way, taking longer for each wrap and roll than I took with my whole head of hair.
Finally, to the pool. Luckily, the pool was not overcrowded. The water was cold today, or perhaps the chill in my heart cooled the water. I pulled my hair back in a tight ponytail and put on my cap, one of those snug, head binding ones in blue, tucking my hair in.
Every time I swim, regardless of what is on my mind, I cry. My tears always come, help to relax just a little, releasing all the hurt and sadness and disappointment that welled inside me.
My life with men sucks, plain and simple. There seems to be one kind that haunts me: those, successful, older men, who come and go, love not enough to make them stay. Of course, there is the other kind of males in my life, whose love for me, already at 100 percent, I am unable to return.

I swam and got my rhythm and then rose out of the water, my arms turning to wings, busting loose, out through the ceiling and directly into the sky, leaving the gym and the rude people in the dressing room, leaving work; the dreams about “him”, of his touch, him deciding to break up.
When I returned to the dressing room forty-five minutes later, I was shocked to find the same young woman still at the mirror. She was applying her makeup-another task that took me two, maybe five minutes. A dab of moisturizer, some under-eye concealer, a tiny bit of blush, lip gloss and mascara is all it takes for me.

Part of me left very superior to the stupid woman at the mirror: she’d been there for almost an hour. Life is short. There is so little time to go to a new movie with friends, much less if spend this much time every day doing your hair and makeup.

I got dressed, took a look at the mirror and put my hair in a pony-tail. As I was leaving the room I turned and looked at the woman still working on her beauty one last time, smiled and walked out.

There I was - out on the streets again, going home; free and independent.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

X stands for...

So many things.
A kiss, for a start, the one you put at the bottom of a letter, or a card, or in lieu of a signature on an e-mail. X is for the X chromosome, the eXtra one which we have as women, instead of the Y which makes a man a man, without which we'd be bachelor boys instead of being females, also for the X-factor which they are bound to find hiding away somewhere in that bundle of DNA.

X also marks the spot where the treasure is to be found, this in adventure tales. Through the forest, past the deserted mansion, along by the cave mouth.

X is what we put in the box. It marks our preference, the option we select, the choices we make.

X stands for the decisions we take.

Now, sitting high above the city of my teenage years, the buzz of the TV in my ears, eating a reheated 2 day old meatball, I can't fool myself that my life is perfect. But I do have my priorities straight. I am as comfortables as I could be, given my upbringing, with my success. I live well, but not extravagantly, I donate some portion of my income to those less fortunate than me, I visit orphanages to give some sence of belonging to those who never had it, and on some days I even allow myself to enjoy my most recent splurge from my last vacation to Europe, Jimmy Choo stilettos.

And I am in it for all the right reasons. I truly believe the world can be a better place if people aren't so rude, if they'd say "excuse me" when they bump into you, or stop talking in the movies, or stop spitting in public, or refrain from unwrapping candy in the theater. And I dream of that glorious day when people would turn down the volume on their iPods so that you couldn't hear them even when standing twenty feet away. On a noisy street corner. With a fire truck's siren blaring.

I am committed to making the world a more livable place, one annoying person at a time.

But love eludes me. I have had my relationships (that never lasted longer than couple of months), my affairs, my flings, my dates. I have been pursued, propositioned, and proposed to, but not once had I really been in love. I can't help but wonder if it is my own failing. Perhaps it was my upbringing. Though I can't pinpoint a moment when my mother had said anyting specific, maybe I learned through osmosis, the silent legacy of heart, what my mom felt - that love was a fallacy, that it simply didn't exist. Or how my father saw it - that love is overrated and that there is more to life, like having fun.

Perhaps it is simply a matter of luck, or the lack of it.

Something happens to me when I observe couples laughing, touching, whispering intimately into each other's ears, their breath hot in each other's hair. I was at Baku Jazz Center few weeks back, on a Friday night listening to the overwhelming notes of Jazz fly through the hall and embrace everyone to the feeling that's still unknown to me but makes me want close my eyes and dissapear to the world of music and romance.

There was a couple sitting right next to our table, the woman lovely, her hair short, her earring flashing in contrast to her tanned skin; the man bald, with an open face. Something he said made her laugh and she threw back her head, fully enjoying the moment, him looking at her, laughing with her. Then, completely unconsciously, he raised his hand and took a speck of something from her hair. Not a word was exchanged. But with this one gesture, I became acutely aware of what I was missing.

As I am done with my meal and put the dirty dishes in the sink, I think of the people who litter and whether I'd ever meet a man who would gently, lovingly remove a foreign object from my hair.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Late night thoughts...

There is something about Baku at six a.m. that is preternaturally romantic, I thought as I made my way out of the Old city, metal sole of my boots on the broken sidewalk echoing in the ethereal quiet, my warm jacket protecting me against the cool morning air. An ellipse of lavender light sat like a halo over the city, the heavens above it cobalt blue. The streets were almost empty, hushed, except for a lone taxi and a van double-parked up the block.

In less than hour the morning rush would descend, but until then, this city of millions was at peace, dreamy and mysterious. And it was all mine. The streets, the narrow alleys, the tree-lined squares, brick buildings made me imagine residents of city in their beds, young lovers in embrace and made me aware of my own heart, full of possibilities and desire.

I take this walk, rain or shine, five days a week, through the streets I love. Only blocks from Torgoviy street, this part of town is different: historically rich, and chic with old buildings, carpet shops, cobblestone streets. It's interesting, rich past unites the community, making it feel like a village, separate and apart from the rest of the city.

This morning again, as I made my way to the company bus waiting for me to take to work on the outskirts of the city I smiled at the lady who was sweeping the doorway at the Market, I gave some change to the homeless guy who lived apparently right here on this street. These were things I did every morning, the things that made this huge city feel like a quaint small town to me.

After the work, this same walk home feels un-necessary, tiring. Tonight was a case in point. All those rush orders, complaints, endless calls and emails during the day...

Something is going on in this beloved town of mine. Even with the crime rate down, rudeness is at an all-time high. Tonight I heard just a few examples: the man who wouldn't give an elder lady his seat on the bus because it was her choice to get out on her own and looked too healthy for her 67 years; a young guy at the restaurant who decided it was okay to pay the waiter by throwing the money in front of him as he was no one of high importance.
It is as if, like in those cartoons I saw as a kid, every person has a little angel whispering in one ear and a mini devil in the other, vying for control: be good, be bad, do right, do wrong, be considerate, be selfish, throw the wrapper in the garbage, just throw it in the street.

Someday, somehow, I swear to myself I am going to devise a method to help the people with louder devils. Somewhere, someplace, my faith in potential goodness of people will prove itself.

A GIRL CAN DREAM, I thought as I entered my apartment building.