Tag Archives: love

Just Another Quarantine Love Story

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It’s a bit weird to start dating someone right before the world catches fire and everyone is on lockdown, quarantining with only their most immediate, closest loved ones. Him and I didn’t have anyone—just our dogs. And I guess we could’ve gone the other route—we could’ve just said, “Welp, this was fun for a couple weeks, huh? Maybe I’ll see you when this is all over!” We would’ve texted for a while and then faded away from each other, as many met-on-an-app flings often go. It was a step away or lean in kinda moment and we decided to lean in. Suddenly, someone who had only seen you naked twice is the only human on Earth who you’re allowed to see, touch, hug, kiss.

It’s a lot. And honestly, I’m surprised we haven’t killed each other yet.

He’s pretty content in quarantine. He’s enjoying working from home. He enjoys being home in general—playing video games, watching TV, napping, building model robots. All of his favorite things can be done in his living room. Clearly, we are complete opposites. The only favorite thing of mine that can be done in my living room is reading and writing, but my favorite place to do both of those things is outside, preferably next to a pool or ocean. I’m going certifiably crazy. On edge and pessimistic or desperately needy at all times. I can only sometimes get to sleep and I can only sometimes wake up when I’m supposed to. Waves of emotions constantly pull and tear at me, and the good ones like motivation and gratitude hardly every stick around long enough.

He said it really, really well the other night: “We’re kind of in this situation that forces you to find out all the worst things about me, really early on.” Super, super smart man (in this particular moment) for not saying WE’re finding out the worst things about each other. I quickly added though, “You’re definitely finding out the worst things about me, too.”

I need attention, y’all. And I don’t just mean from a romantic partner. I never realized how much I counted on human interaction—at work, seeing a hundred students a day, plus my coworkers, my friends, my family… Losing all of that has been rough on me.

And who gets to be there for me to unleash these swelling emotions upon? Yup, the one and only human I’m allowed to interact with. Poor guy. But you know what, I’m putting up with plenty from him as well…

I thought, for a long time, that La Rona basically mandated him and I be friends and nothing more. Ever. I mean, the whole situation is insane when you really stop to think about it. It’s not like we could go on dates with other people. We weren’t even seeing our friends or family. The one person I was entrusting to not give me an airborne virus was someone I had swiped right on a few weeks ago, mutually agreeing on the visual appealing nature of each other’s faces.

But how exactly do you stop yourself from catching feelings for someone you’re talking to or seeing every single day for four months in a row (and counting)? Clearly there was something there, for us to want to keep seeing that much of each other. Right? I doubted it, giving in to my true nature of distrust—we’re only getting this close because of COVID-19, I thought. We’re just comfortable with each other, that’s it. If there wasn’t a plague floating around, we would have been done with each other long ago. I told myself so many things. I would bottle it up and then freak out, telling him I didn’t want a real relationship only to, a few weeks later, chastise him for not wanting to lock things down.

I built a giant living room fort complete with candles and champagne, he ordered us ramen and set up camping chairs on top of an empty parking garage. I dressed up like I was going out on the town just for him to make us fresh-squeezed margaritas. I attempted to cut his hair, he bought me roses. I set up a wings and hot sauce challenge for him, he took us on scenic drives, blasting 90s music. I brought him sushi, he brought me Chinese. I cooked crockpot recipes and rented movies, he ordered pizza and rubbed my feet. I wrote him a poem, he made me breakfast tacos and French toast. Our dogs became best friends and wannabe lovers, and I guess we also accidentally became best friends, but definitely lovers.

This whole thing has been ridiculous and beautiful and indescribably absurd. My career took a pretty hard hit, the progress on my dissertation took an even bigger hit, my mental health was shaky at best, the country was in what can only be called utter chaos, and then…I fell in love?

I’m actually mad that yet another cliché is true. “When you stop trying and stop looking for it—when you least expect it—it’ll happen.” I gagged when someone would tell me that for the hundredth time. The year 2020 being cancelled, surviving a pandemic, and narrowly avoiding murder hornets was not what I thought they meant when they said “least expect” but I get it now.

There’s not much that I know “in these strange times” or “amid all this confusion” or whatever email starter you prefer, but I do know that I wish I could bottle his hug and laugh and the way he brushes my hair out of my face. “In these uncertain times,” I’m pretty certain about him. Amongst the million “hope this finds you well”(s), I’m glad I found him.

Hell-Raiser

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Thank you for raising me to be a hell-raiser. When I took Drivers Ed with my best friend, she slammed on the breaks and cried once. Every time I was behind the wheel, it was more like Yippee Ki-yay Mother Fuckers!

Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely pros to being the girl who cried in Drivers Ed. My best friend never has to apologize to people for her brazen words also known as “harsh honesty.” I do. I have to do that. A lot. Plus, I’m often told that it’s astounding that I’m still alive and well, driving the way I do.

BUT. I rarely take shit from anyone. I stand up for myself and my beliefs and my loved ones and women and people of color and my students and Humans Who Genuinely Enjoy Miracle Whip and my dog (he’s still learning, OK?!). I’m so full of self-righteous indignation sometimes that I have been known to—gasp!—tell a man why I don’t want to go on another date with him. I know, I know, the audacity! Let him think he’s amazing and superior, even when letting him down, right? NO. Not right.

I have stomped my foot, I have gotten on and off so many goddamn soapboxes, I have tutted and tsked my way through a room, and I have shaken my head and finger at plenty of deserving suspects. How dare they? Do they know who I am? Do they know who raised me?

Yes, yes, this means my options are narrowed. I’m too outspoken or too opinionated or too awesome for a lot of guys. I’d be married with a bunch of babies by now if I wasn’t such a hell-raiser. I just…can’t seem to stop.

I wanted to thank you for not being the kind of mother who says things like:

“You should really hurry up and meet a man so that I can have grandbabies.”

“Why are you still single? When are you gonna settle down?”

“You’re not getting any younger!”

“Maybe you shouldn’t be so picky; maybe this is the best thing that’s gonna come around…”

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am—I forget how common those questions are, how casually they’re constantly thrown at women like darts.

YOU say things like:

“You don’t HAVE to have kids. Don’t feel like you HAVE to have children. If you want them, well OK then.”

And then, when I say that yes, I do want kids one day, but I worry about the complications of having kids in your mid-late thirties:

“You know, you don’t have to get married to have a kid. You can always adopt. Never rush into something because you want to have kids.”

 “You should NEVER settle.”

 

It’s crazy how many parents pressure their children into getting married and having kids…I will always be grateful to have been raised by a woman like you, who never pressured me into doing anything besides focusing on my schoolwork. I may be biased as an educator, but I think that’s the only thing that parents should ever pressure their kids into doing, haha! You may not be perfect. I’m sure as hell not perfect. But I am a hell-raiser and you are perfect in my eyes. Thanks, Mama<3

My friend wrote a poem

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*Wrote this awhile back and just found it floating around on my laptop. Liked it better all these months later*

 

My friend wrote a poem today and read it to me over tacos and Big Red (in the bottle) and—well, that was all mine, his was a pecan porter and something called a chicken lollipop? His poem made me sad because I don’t want to feel better that other people are going through what I’m going through. I want to look at my family and friends and aspire to have what they have.

My friend wrote a poem today and it reminded me of how many times I’ve been heartbroken (technically three, potentially 3.5). It shouldn’t be that way, right? It should probably cap at twice, maybe even once.

My friend wrote a poem today and he’s going to read it aloud at a coffee shop in front of a girl he hopes will one day break his heart just as good as the girl-who-the-poem-about’s did. What a strange concept, to admit to someone you’re in Phase 1 with that you recently were in Phase 300 (Phases 5-300 are all just heartbreak in various forms including depression, self-deprecation, and gym memberships).

My friend wrote a poem today and it cut into me for some reason, as if I’d never read a poem so raw (I’ve read a million poems just like this, I’m sure of it). Why is that? Why can we go hours, days, weeks even without feeling that sick, gutted thing and then randomly feel it punching through our organs like (use Cookie Monster’s voice here, it works for some reason) “YOU THOUGHT I WAS GONE, BITCH?! THINK AGAINNNN!”

My friend wrote a poem today and we finished our drinks and food and complained about the flies or mosquitoes or sun or all of the above. We hugged goodbye and I found myself jealous that he was off to let someone new turn him down or stomp on his feelings or commit but then change their mind or fall in love with him and drive him mad, but in a good way, til the end of time. It’s probably time to be destroyed again, I thought, driving home through the humid traffic or trafficky humidity. I wrote a poem and then started swiping.

Peter Pan Syndrome

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When did men become more interested in swiping right, gaze down than catching your eye at a bar? Peter Pan Syndrome got them in their late 30’s still thinkin’ they’re gonna be a DJ superstar, barista on the side, chasin’ every skirt in sight, 21 forever. Ever seen a balding guy trying to grind on women, slurring “You should smile more” and pounding Lonestars? You’d think he was a hobo and seconds away from getting escorted out except…you look around and the place is filled with mustaches just like him. You think, is this a nightmare? Is this some Twilight Zone shit? But then you remember that it’s 2018 and it’s Austin, Texas and 98% of all men here who are under the age of 45 believe in ACL/SXSW>stability and hipster beards>marriage.

No wonder women are settling for the kind of men they’re settling for…at least those men aren’t afraid of commitment.

Meanwhile, I remain team #nosettle and also team #gtfohPeterPan–therefore team #singleforever. Shout out to those of you who are in the same boat. Le sigh.

The Button

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If you had just taken that damn tag off of your button, maybe we wouldn’t be here, two years later, still splitting sour beers and smoking in your truck and kissing eagerly after a week of not talking. What a cycle we started, almost immediately. It’s almost laughable—what a witty piece I could write—almost. I could be sarcastic and flirty and go the whole Cosmo article route and shrug this all off as an unfortunate series of events—oh how I wish I could do that and end it all with something like, “At least I still have wine, am I right ladies?”

But I can’t do that. We’re so past the silly, ridiculous point of me being able to do that. Now we’re here and I’m split and splintered and shattered and suffering and every heart-wrenching s-word you can think of; I am that.

I think about that button a lot though, and how it was cold that night and I saw a tiny glint of white silk popping out of your collared shirt.

“Did you buy a new shirt for our first date?” I asked coyly.

“What? No…” you looked down and pulled your jacket to the side and noticed the white. “Oh. I thought you were supposed to leave these on.” You toyed with the small tag around the middle button.

“What?!” I was incredulous—half on purpose, half actually incredulous. “Of course you’re not supposed to leave it on!” I laughed and took another sip of the sour beer you’d bought us, pretending to like it.

“Well take it off then,” you said, leaning towards me. I knew I liked you then, after only 15 minutes, because if I didn’t, I would have scoffed and told you to do it yourself. But instead I leaned closer to you than necessary and took off the button tag more slowly than necessary, smiling up at you as if I was fixing your tie for the hundredth time.

If only every human came with a list of warnings, like medicine does.

Male, aged 30 years. Much like the bullshit biblical figure he is named for, Adam is amazing at reaping all of the benefits of the earth while his companion sins and is blamed and undergoes great hardship. He will be messier than any person you’ve ever met, yet he will not trust your dishwasher and will re-wash every dish and glass offered to him. He prefers dinner no earlier than 10PM and he will never try to not wake you up when he gets up earlier than you, flicking the bathroom light on before shutting the door like some sort of animal. He will introduce you as a friend and he will smell so good, but he will never, ever know how to communicate. He will be the first person you want to tell things to and you will always want to feel the tiny gray hairs hidden on his head but he will be absent when you most need his Tejano music and giant breakfasts and giggly existential conversations so you will be forced to tell someone else all the things.

Consult your therapist before accepting this human into your life, as this is not the suggested course of action for all willing participants. Side effects may include love, regret, heartbreak, death, or in some cases, all of the above.

Let’s be real though, I still would’ve taken that pill—I still would’ve leaned toward that stupid, fucking collared shirt. That’s what we all do, right? We’re warned and warned and warned—every day, about everything! And we still do almost everything that “could be” harmful or “could be” dangerous or “could be” the worst decision of our life. You could’ve been the best decision of my life. And now you’re just last night. Now you’re just text on a page. A button in a whole box of buttons.

Weekends Lately

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I was walking barefoot down the grungy sidewalk, carrying my t14752526wo black wedges and sipping from a giant can of Arizona Green Tea. Maybe it would’ve been better if it was a canna beer or a bottla wine, but nope. It was the same 99 cent turquoise garbage that I’ve been buying from convenient stores since high school.

The pop top gleamed under the street lamp and I spat loudly into the night, trying to swat a moth away with the only free “hand” I had. I wondered what anyone would think if they saw me walking toward my apartment building looking like this. Mascara and short, white hairs caked on my sticky cheeks from sobbing into a puppy’s neck, dress torn if you looked close enough, heels in hand, taking huge gulps of tea every few steps as if they were shots of tequila. I looked like a dime-store whore, and I laughed up at the branches at that thought.

There’s something about hurting that makes you not give a shit about what you look like–about anything really. I climbed the gritty steps, feeling bits of dirt (and who knows what else) fall off my feet and new bits of dirt (and who knows what else) collect on my feet.

I wished, in that moment, that I could’ve held my head high and sashayed out of that house, into my car, and out of my car like a movie star, like a rock star, like any star. I wished my whole look and demeanor and attitude and confidence and poise and ferocity had been untouched, an unwavering smile, unfaltering mirth-filled eyes, always.

But that’s just impossible, right? You’re the loser of the story in your own life…a lot. Often times, you’re the minor character–the one that looks like a hot mess, probably cracked-out, drunk, and pregnant with a one-way ticket to jail, a comedic relief. The ridiculous best friend, not the one who gets the whole plot line.

Other times, you’re the funny girl at the beginning of a rom-com who’s chugging Arizona Green Tea like it’s unicorn blood–and then something crazy happens and then something hilarious happens and then something cute happens and then something romantic happens and everything is rainbows and butterflies and all is well in the world for that silly little dime-store whore in the end. Right?

 

 

P.S. These are all real things…??? Need.

Friendships Age Too

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Everyone always talks about romantic relationships and how difficult they are–the compromising, the settling, how hard it is to be single, how hard it is to be married, blah blah blah.

No one ever really spends too much time gabbing about how difficult friendships can be. Friendships are supposed to be easy, right? Comfortable, lasting longer than any romantic relationship you’ve ever had. I guess that used to be true.

Somewhere around Real Adult Life (not Fake Adult Life), you realize how tough friendships can actually be. Hangouts no longer consist of last minute happy hours that turn into long, carb-filled dinners that turn into late-night pillow talk and accidental sleepovers. Hangouts now have to be planned weeks in advance. Alcohol and carbs are out because someone is on an insane diet. Late nights and accidental sleepovers are out because someone has to wake up early for work or get home ASAP to a baby or a husband or a boyfriend. Suddenly, you’re not a priority in their life anymore–you’re third or fourth fiddle, at best.

At some point, jobs and men, raises and promotions and…men became more important than keeping up with what you’ve been cooking for dinner or watching on Netflix…GASP?! It’s normal, I know. But that doesn’t make it suck any less.

The worst part is, you want to be happy for them, you TRY your damnedest to be happy for them…but mostly, you just feel deflated. There was a time in my life when I talked to my friends every day (usually multiple times a day). Questions like, “Hey, did you wind up buying that necklace?” have turned into “Hey, how’ve you been?”

I’ve never been one of those 27 Dresses types–I’ve always had a close-knit pack of two or three women who were more like sisters to me. I’m currently down to…one. Insert the *eek!* emoji. Yeah. One bestie who keeps up with my woes pretty well–not like she used to, but still pretty well.

Is it because she and I are the only single ladies of the once-wolf-pack? Perhaps. But more likely, it’s because we’ve been best friends since we met in middle school, when she saw me bleeding from my knees and lip and asked if I was OK (ridiculous Spanish Dancing Club incident). Hopefully, she’ll be my person forevs, but let’s be real…she could turn into a Husband-Hungry villain at any moment… That, folks, will be the day I adopt a handful of pets and babies or move to an island and live out the rest of my days befriending only coconuts.

Anyway, I’m getting off track here, I apologize. I have a few acquaintance-types who are fun, but they’re seeking the same thing I am–people to fill in the gaps leftover by once upon a time best friends, sisters. It’s great to have people who you can share a meal with, but it’s crazy to feel like you don’t have anyone to tell the deep, dark stuff to.

It can be pretty lonely, here in adulthood. No wonder people kept getting married even after property promises and dowries weren’t a thing anymore–it’s the only way of ensuring that you won’t slip and die in the shower, your remains left rotting under an enormous water bill for weeks. I kid, I kid.

How do we keep friendships, even after X, Y, or Z? How do we balance other life obligations with these people who know way too much about us? How do we remain understanding, even after being shoved aside to make room for “more” or “different” or “better”?

Grandma’s Hairspray

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I don’t really use hairspray anymore, and it’s not because I don’t like it or need it. I choose to curl my hair and have it fall flat, frizzing pitifully in the Texas humidity.

The reason? I don’t want to throw away my hairspray–my grandma’s hairspray.

After her funeral two years ago, my family was handing out random items from cabinets–“Which teapot do you want? Which porcelain figurine?” I know they had good intentions–they wanted us all to have a memory or two to take home. But I just felt so weird about it all. I wanted to go home, away from my family and away from all the teapots. My mom gently said something like, “Alysha, there must be something you want to remember Grandma. C’mon, just pick something.”

I asked if I could have her hairspray. We were standing by the restroom, I looked and saw it, remembered mine had run out recently. It seemed like a great idea at the time. Mom laughed and handed it to me.

That was two years ago…and the silver bottle is still sitting next to my sink. I use it sometimes, but never too much, and I always get anxiety afterwards that I used too much, that I’m going to run out soon.

Because I mean…what will I do? Throw it out?! I’ll feel like I’m throwing out my grandma! A freakin’ hairspray bottle has become a weird version of an urn.

The truth is, every time I see it, smell it, feel it in my hair–I remember her wispy white curls and salmon dress pants and funny little British laugh. I miss her cooking and I miss her calling me “my dear” and I miss sitting in her kitchen on those awful wooden chairs telling her about my day.

I can’t throw away the hairspray, because it’ll be like Uncle Chuck’s salsa all over again. I kept the most giant jar of Uncle Chuck’s homemade salsa in my fridge for SO long after he passed away. I couldn’t even open it–the seal seemed to be intensely fused on. I finally made myself throw it away and have regretted it ever since. I miss seeing it every time I open my fridge.

It makes you wonder what weird items people would take from your place if they had the chance–to remember you by. Does anyone care at all about my favorite yellow cup? My wacky paintings, dusty books, giant seashell? Will anyone want my grandma’s teapot that’s on my stove or her porcelain figurine that’s on my writing desk?

Dear Future Husband

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Dear Future Husband,

I’m sorry that you missed me in my prime, man. Damn I was FIT. I now value the happiness that bread and booze bring me over the happiness that my jean size used to bring me. I care a whole hell of lot more about making a friend’s happy hour celebration or checking out a new restaurant than I do about how many minutes of cardio I got in. I’ve accepted butt cellulite and you should too, sir. I still get carded sometimes, I’ll have you know.

I know what I want. This has been a little off-putting for some men–they want me to only want…what they want. To accept everything they say and everything they do, without question. I’m not that girl. I’m not easily suppressed. I have strong opinions, I stand up for myself, I tell you when you hurt my feelings and I tell you WHY. Thank you for loving that about me without being intimidated. I love the same things about you.

I’m no longer in a rush. I’m not going to settle for that dude who called teaching “such an easy job,” that dude who smoked way too much weed, that dude who spoke in teenager-slang, or that dude who wouldn’t stop talking about his huge bank account–I’m waiting for YOU, obviously.

Thanks for supporting my writing. Thanks for wanting to get to know my friends and family. Thanks for wanting more than just sex, but…ya’ know, thanks for also wanting sex. Thanks for being a foodie (thank you for not letting me settle for that dude with the ginger allergy) and thanks for wanting to travel with me (thanks for not letting me settle for that dude who didn’t even want to buy a passport). Thank you for reading books and not just Facebook posts.

Just thanks, for being you, whoever you are 🙂

 

Love,

Alysha

A Different Kind of Halloween

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I can’t even remember all of my crazy October 31st nights, but I know I’ve loved every single one of them. Halloween’s been a long-time favorite–I LOVE dressing up, being someone else for a night.

College was a blur of “sexy somethings” and I was sadly among them–sexy cop, sexy Girl Scout (used my real, patch-covered vest). One year I was Risky Business Tom Cruise, Gold Dress Marilyn Monroe the next. In Hawaii, I was a fellow drinking game (we were Beer Pong, Power Hour, and King’s Cup together) and then a hippie (but that year, a tsunami warning halted our plans). Then back to Texas, borrowed my best friend’s ancient flapper dress.

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I’ve had quite the string of awesome Halloweens–late night kisses, hilarious drunken tales, insane parties…That’s why I’m OK with kind of giving up my favorite holiday this year. Turning it in for a Hocus Pocus movie night with the girls, complete with wine and take-out. No costumes, no raging, no hangover, and hopefully no bawling over last Halloween. I was Mystique. It was kind of epic.

But before you start picturing “Break-Up Alysha” weeping to Adele’s new song over a pint of newly released Blue Bell, please know that I am [also] remembering some of the things that are great about being single. More importantly, I think I finally know what I want and need in a relationship.

It’s funny, how I thought I knew a year ago.

I’ll stop it now, promise.

Anyway, I’m excited about a different kind of Halloween this year. It may make me feel old as dirt and my heart might wind up hurting just as much…who am I kidding, of course it will…but that’s OK. At least I won’t be a wasted mess. There’s always next year (not to be a wasted mess, I mean, there’s always next year to carry on with my tradition of awesomeness). I’ve been trying to convince my best friends to get on board with a cutesy Three Blind Mice get-up for years and I think the stars may finally align in 2016.

To NEXT Halloween! Watch out, Austin. Or wherever I’ll be (spoiler alert: my next blog might be about where to move).