Tag Archives: marriage

Savannah

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I’ve been best friends with Savannah since 7th grade, when we were forced into a partnership based solely on the fact that we were the only two middle schoolers who lived in Dixie Cove, the cul-de-sac where we lived, across the street from each other, for six years.

We sold lemonade together at yard sales, we tried to fry an egg on the sidewalk one particularly Texas-y summer, we carved our names into the fresh cement when new development began, and we somehow managed to survive our adolescence as two of the most awkward and weird kids to ever exist. I mean, we even had a “band” called Red Ink and we sold cassette tapes to our friends for five bucks, recording each cassette individually, with a song about the “client” added in. We saved up about $65 and decided to spend it going to a restaurant called The Magic Time Machine, where the staff dress up as various movie characters. We thought we were just about the coolest people on the planet.

Savannah had the crazy house—two yappy sisters, two yappy Pomeranians, an insanely bi-polar mother, and just…constant chaos. There was always a mess and there was always pizza. I absolutely loved it. I had the complete opposite—no siblings, strict rules, and endless quiet. Going to Savannah’s was like watching TV. I could sit on the couch and be entertained for hours, just observing.

Now we’re 30 and it’s kind of funny how some things haven’t changed much.

The other night, she came over with her Mary Poppins bag of who-knows-what, whipped out her eyelash curler, traded her Crocs for more acceptable shoes, and we went to a nearby bar. By the end of the night, she’d danced with a few guys (including an engaged fireman who was almost a decade younger than us) even though the bar wasn’t exactly a dancing type of bar… She made a group of men move over, away from the outdoor heater, so that we could sit by the heater. Then she made them buy us a pitcher of beer. She took the pitcher onstage and gave it to the drummer, proceeding to dance onstage with the singer. Back at my apartment, she raided my fridge while I was in the bathroom. She’d started to make us “tacos”. I let her finish, although I knew my fridge didn’t exactly have taco ingredients in it. She drove back to the bar to get her purse. She drove back over to my apartment. I sat back all night, just watching with wide eyes, like I’ve always done, sipping my drink, halfway wishing I could join her in her revelries and halfway wondering when I should pump the breaks on the whole spectacle. Then she drove to some guy’s place for “Fireball Friday,” which is really just them taking shots of Fireball until they have sex and pass out. Then she went home to her husband and son.

I think when you grow up in chaos, it becomes the only way you know how to live. And then there’s me—never quite getting the hang of drawing outside of the lines. Who’s to say which life is better or more lived than the other.

Savs is hands down the most fun human I’ve ever met. I NEVER have a better time with anyone else. We can go grocery shopping and have a blast. But she also has this pain and sadness and suffering that I can’t do anything about. No one can do anything about it—it’s just there, eating her away and maybe invisible to people who haven’t known her for two decades.

I’ve never known what to do or say—not when we were twelve and her mom would scream never-ending obscenities at her and not now when her husband does much worse and she leaves him for the fifth time.

It’s the perpetual paradox of Savannah, the happiest and simultaneously most depressed person to ever exist. A consistent mix of laughter, white tootsie rolls and mini bottles of vodka lining her purse, an amazing mother and a cheap drunk, never has more than 17 dollars or so but always shows up when you really need her to. I hope she knows that the same goes for me—I’ll show up for her whenever and wherever. My place is her place; my chaos-free life is hers to sprinkle some wild on whenever she needs to. She and her son can move in at any time of any day. I hope they do.

We can’t go back to when we’d lay on my trampoline and plot out our future adventures—we had so many ideas and dreams. When we were 30, we were going to be filthy rich, traveling the world together in our private jet. Our realities are so far from perfection, but one thing is for sure. A friendship that’s lasted this long isn’t really a friendship anymore—it doesn’t even feel right to call her family, because it’s almost more than that. It’s like Savs is a chunk of my soul. I’m always going to be hurting a little bit if she’s out there somewhere, hurting. I’m always going to try to mend and fix what only she can mend and fix. Until then, I’ll be here friend-sister-soul. If you need to take a few shots and belt the lyrics to “Goodbye Earl” at the top of our lungs, I’m here. If you need to cry and watch 15 hours of Christmas movies, I’m here. If you need to dance until the clubs close and then keep dancing through the whole Uber ride home, I’m here. If you just need to raid my fridge and make mystery tacos, I’m here.

Misguided Ambition

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photo cred rebloggy.com

My dad drove us to San Antonio a couple days ago and we talked about…life. That’s kind of how me and my dad are—we either talk about ridiculous, trivial things like, I don’t know, “Decent Honey Mustard and Where To Buy It” OR super deep topics that stick with me forever like, “The Time A Man Died In My Arms.” We don’t have much of an in-between. Fart jokes or how mistakes can shape your future. The importance of washing your vehicle or the importance of family, friendship, and love.

So when careers and ambition came up, it started off as Dad casually listing every job he’s ever had (before, during, and after his 31 years in the Coast Guard). It was like a game—because the things he’s done are absurd. They sound like pure fiction. Movie-stuff.

Mowed lawns|Ranch laborer|Roofer|Tugboat oiler|Rode rodeo|Convenient store night manager|Seaman|Wrestler…yes, wrestler. I’ve seen the photos. Don’t tell him I wrote this, it’s supposed to be a family secret hahaha|EMT|Boat coxswain|Aviation structural mechanic|Search and rescue air crewman|Special agent|Chief warrant officer|Bailiff

Yeah, now you get it. Like, I’m sorry, what? How have you been all of those things? How have I never heard the word “coxswain” before? And how many people out there have had this many titles in one lifetime?

What I really started realizing though was—wow…Dad has done SO much in his life, traveled to SO many places, saved lives, earned awards—but his true happiness came from marrying my mom. Kind of crazy, right? To think that all those sappy cards, cheesy movies, and romance novels are *gasp* RIGHT about LOVE being the true purpose of life?! Ahhhhhh my life is a lie!

Except, oh yeah, that’s right, I’ve been a hopeless, disgusting romantic since maybe…second grade? I’ve always wanted the meet-cute, the traveling the world hand-in-hand, the poppin’ out babies…you know, that whole gross thing. When asked my CAREER AMBITIONS and LIFE GOALS I say things like, “I want to publish another novel and travel to a new country every year. Maybe get my PhD. Maybe teach college one day instead of high school.” And then in my head, I add, “Meet a lovely man and have a giant family and a really noisy house.”

My ambition has been a little misguided over the years. I think it’s a generational thing. Our parents had no problem stating their goals of settling down. They are content with “average lives” because that means love, family, friends—bliss. They have no qualms with “ordinary” or “mediocre.” This means happiness. Whereas my generation sees a conventional life as a failure—you’re not rich, you’re not famous, history books won’t talk about you, you’re not a household name, you didn’t shake the world? Oh, well then you’re a disappointment.

Everyone my age wants to be EVERYONE’s everything, instead of “settling” for being someone’s everything. It’s kind of sad. And it’s weird because we admit it, freely. I would LOVE for my novel to take off one day, landing me a publishing deal that I could skate on for a lifetime, sipping coffee by the beach and typing a few pages a day.

But do we really believe THAT’S what will lead to fulfillment? I think it’s far too easy to get caught up in that line of thinking—solely focusing on how to make your life more meaningful, exciting, memoir-worthy—constantly comparing yourself to “the average Joe.”

Having ambition is amazing—it shows confidence, it proves work-ethic, it displays creativity—it’s sexy. But if you let career ambition define you…and nothing else…what will you have when you’re wrinkly, sick…dying?

If all I ever have “to show for my life” (ugh, even that expression is a terrible tactic used to make people feel bad about…what exactly?) is a few students who thank me or a guy who digs my quirks and flaws or a kid who calls me Grandma and likes to read my old poetry notebooks, I’ll be pretty damn happy. That kid might be the last person to ever even remember my existence, but that’s OK, as long as I’ll be able to say that I did what I loved (I wrote, I taught, I traveled) and I loved who I wanted to love and they loved me back.

BioChem majors like THE WAITING ROOM too?!

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This review of THE WAITING ROOM made my day (which is amazing since I am exhausted and sunburned from a rather tiring beach trip)!

Check out this great book blogger:

Over Half a Century

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My great aunt and uncle have been married since they were in high school, back when everyone was appalled that tiny, loud, Mexican Gloria Mendez would marry tall, lanky, quiet, country, white boy Charles Gordon. I think people were mostly appalled by the race thing, but also, the teenagers could not have been more different.

Somehow, after 60 years, they’re still together. She yells at him from all over the house—“Chuck! CHUCK!”—and he either can’t hear or pretends to not be able to hear. She still buys earrings like most people buy milk and he cooks the carne guisada she taught him how to make better than her now.

After I was with my ex for a couple years, they decided to buy a set of $500 Wolfgang Puck pots and pans for our future wedding… I recently convinced them to go ahead and give them to me now. They could never have children, so I guess I’m the closest thing they have. It’s just been the two of them in their house forever—complete with cars they hardly use, a massive parlor that smells like dust, purple carpet, a glittered ceiling, and a retro bar (also never used).

They are quirky to say the least. Very old and very old fashioned. Very annoying at times (they call me every other day and almost every time, ask me if I’ve met any boys). But they really do love each other. They still hold hands and she still gets lipstick on his wrinkly cheek.

I often wonder if they have some sort of secret—some magic recipe that no one seems to be passing on—the ingredients of how to never get divorced. They took me out to dinner last week and this is what was said on the matter:

Aunt Gigi: “People always say, ‘You have such a beautiful marriage!’ and I just say, ‘That’s what YOU think!’ Live while you can, Miss Alysha Mendez. Cause now, I gotta tell this man everything I’m doing all the time. I miss being my own boss of everything!” Purses her lips and looks at Uncle Chuck with disgust but then blows him a kiss.

Uncle Chuck: “There was this woman trying to get me back before we got married. She was ugly as homemade soap, trying to get me in bed! The fun is over once you reach a certain age. Now it’s just pat it and say goodnight!” Cackles and sips his margarita as I cringe.

Aunt Gigi: “If I ever have to put him in a nursing home and some young, blonde nurse is trying to give him a sponge bath, I’m gonna be right there with a bat saying, ‘WHAT DO YOU WANT?!’ You just take your time, honey. Take your time. We’re gonna like anybody you like. But have you met anyone? If you got it, flaunt it! And you got it, baby. If you have an itch, you better scratch it! Buy those short skirts!”

I can’t make this stuff up. I walked away laughing my ass off, like I usually do when I see the two crazy love birds, but gaining no secret, no magic ingredients, no knowledge whatsoever. They held hands, she yelled at him, she wiped lipstick from his cheek, and I dropped them off at their purple carpeted, glittered ceilinged house. Just another day.

Does this kind of thing still exist? How do you not get tired of all the little things? How do you not kill each other? How do you stay in love for over half a century? I feel like it’s almost impossible these days. But I want it, ya know? We all want it. I want that whole someone by your side, skin sagging simultaneously thing. Minds turning to mush so that the only way you can remember anything is by using what little is left in both heads. It might sound depressing, but it’s also quite poetic, right? Someone’s wrinkles to leave lipstick on.

Happiness=Groceries(x) ?

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The grocery store seems to be the only place where one can feel completely alone, yet completely free at the same time.

I look at the boy, my age, carrying a bowl of poke in one hand and a 7-Up in the other. Two hands; two items. His skateboard is tucked under an arm like an afterthought. If he is a boy, I am undoubtedly a girl.

I look down into my basket, hoping to see something more respectable, anything that doesn’t scream, “I AM SINGLE AND POOR AND I AM GOING TO GO EAT THIS RAW FISH AND DRINK THIS 7-UP IN FRONT OF THE TV PLAYING VIDEO GAMES ALL NIGHT.” I see a gallon of milk, three apples, and a carton of eggs. I am no better. I am single, I am poor. These are the only items that ever seem to need refilling in my lonely, clean kitchen. It’s a big day when my cart holds slick chicken breasts, a rain stick of spaghetti noodles, or an icy bag of broccoli. It’s sad how big those days are.

Today I wheel toward the check-out line, mulling over the boy and his purchase. How amazing. To go into Foodland every single day maybe, just to buy that night’s dinner. Tomorrow, maybe he’ll go with bagel bites and a water. I could see that. The point is, it’s beautiful—to be careless, to be selfish.

I won’t always have this kind of choice (well, maybe I will, but most likely and hopefully no). There will be a day when grocery shopping means thinking of someone else’s wants, needs, and allergies ha! One day, cooking won’t mean leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Maybe I won’t be able to avoid meatloaf, sauerkraut, or olives. Maybe I won’t be able to add mushrooms and tomatoes to every single dish I create. The truth is, it’s nice, cooking for someone—seeing a familiar smile after that first bite, feeling mischievous arms around your hips as you stir.

There will be a day in which my grocery cart may in fact hold another human being. Scary thought, makes me cringe currently. But it’s true.

However, at the moment, I am incredibly, undeniably free. If I wanted, for a month straight I could live off the year-old Ramen and oatmeal packages that are cowering in the corner of my pantry. This is a time in my life that I should soak up and photograph, rejoice in its liberty.

And yet…I see the family in front of me, their basket overflowing with oddities I’ve never given a glance (diapers, dinosaur shaped macaroni, formula). I see their teeth, their glow, their hands squeezing. I could reach out and touch the happiness if I wanted.

I can’t help but wonder: is bliss inversely related to the emptiness of a grocery cart?

I look again at my milk, sweating onto the green plastic bottom of my basket. Perhaps.

Then the baby starts wailing, simultaneously causing 20+ magazines to crash to the tiled floor with one sweep of her miniature leg. I head to the Express Checkout, biting my lip to keep from laughing in relief. Perhaps not.