No Puppy Love

It is well documented that, when living on the tiny island Manhattan, the chances of running into a former lover are high on the scale of 1 to inevitable. These odds increase exponentially when you look like shit (Source: Sex and the City, Season 2: Episode 1). It’s true in my EX-perience (too much?). Even if I never actually run into the ex, I hallucinate his form on the crowded city streets, in a crowded bar, on the subway.

Not this time. I am on my way to Times Square to see my former lover for the last time. If you’ve ever wished the person who fucked you over would just leave the country, be jealous: I’m living out that fantasy. Safa is leaving the country in 4 days. I will never suffer the horror of running into him with a new girlfriend. There is no chance a moment of weakness will bring him back into my bed again. It’s an impossibility. He will never see me looking like shit because this is the last time we will see each other and I just spent 20 extra minutes making sure I look good.

safa[This is Part Seven of The Safa Boy Series: click for Introduction,  Part One,  Part TwoPart Three,  Part Four,  Part Five, and  Part Six]

It is a well documented fact: when someone makes you feel like shit and you must see him again, it is imperative to instead look like the shit. I contemplated wearing high-heeled boots that make my already killer legs look serial and bring me to a height of 6′: if I stand up straight and he slouches (as he does), we’ll see eye to eye. But I plan on biking over and biking in heels is idiotic. Changing shoes after I lock my bike? Trying way too hard. Instead I opted for flat boots and a blue dress with a t-shirt neckline that hugs my curves in a subtle “Remember what I look like naked? (You’re never going to see that again!)” way. Did I put too much thought into this? Almost certainly. Did he even notice my clothes? Almost certainly no. Did I feel less like shit because I took the time to put on eyeliner? Yes. And that’s all that matters.

I see him from across the street, long (we’re talking maybe 2 minutes) before he sees me. I immediately notice two things: First, he does not have a bouquet of (preferably tulips but I’d settle for anything beyond carnations) flowers in his hand. The boy has a father and an older brother but he missed the “You fuck up with a girl, you bring her flowers” lesson? He’s clearly just ignoring it. Idiot. Second, he looks like shit. His eyes look scared, even from across the street. He’s pacing with nervous energy. The scruff on his chin that I playfully stroked before our first kiss now gives him a “I’m a homeless bum who can’t keep my dick in my pants” aura. Gross. This is the same guy who I thought was so adorable mere hours ago? Funny how fast things change.

On second thought, maybe it’s a Brad Pitt aura…now I know how Jen feels!

I cross the street. Our eyes meet. I glare at him and give him a vague acknowledgement with my hand. “Hi,” he says meekly. He looks like the proverbial puppy who shit on the rug. Tail between his legs, looking at me with sad puppy-dog eyes, searching for the smiling, bubbly girl he knows. But she’s gone. In her place is a woman scorned, the furies of hell burning behind her charcoal lined eyes. She has no patience for puppies. She’s as happy as anyone to cuddle one, admiring its huge blue eyes and soft fur. But the minute it starts yapping or whining she becomes annoyed. A piss on the rug and Puppy is a pest, not a pet.

Like the whimpering puppy reeling from his master shouting “Bad dog!” he looks pathetic. He can’t clean up his shit. He doesn’t know what to say to me.
I break the awkward silence, “We’re going somewhere you can take your pants off,” I say.
Remember (click for a refresher), I let him borrow my 100% merino wool long johns that morning. At $70 a pair, they are the most expensive pants I own and my immediate priority is to get them back.
“Ok.” he mumbles. “I’m sorry.”
I roll my eyes. That’s all you have to say? “I’m sorry”? I start walking toward the nearest Starbucks. He trails behind me. Fuck this puppy shit! I was angry when I arrived and I’m only getting more so. Where’s the promised groveling? Where’s anything but sad puppy-dog whimpering “I’m sorry”?

In the silence between us hovers hate and hurt, I can’t stand it any more so I bust out banal small talk.
“So how’s your friend?” I ask, but it sounds more like, “Fuck you, you stupid shit.”
He pauses before he says, “Fine.”
“Did you tell him why you had to leave?” flies out of my mouth dripping with, “Do you realize how much you fucked this up? Will you tell your friends what an idiot you are?”
He doesn’t answer. We reach Starbucks and I shove him in the bathroom line. We wait in line, one seething, one sad, both in silence.

We leave Starbucks. My pants have been returned, he no longer has anything belonging to me except some flakes of vomit on his jeans lying in his suitcase with my concierge.
“I’m sorry.” he repeats.
I have nothing more to say to him.
“Can we talk?” He begs.
Finally! I’ve been waiting for you to say more than 2 fucking words to me!
“Yes, we can talk. I’ve been waiting for you to talk.” I can’t sit still or I’ll explode with anger. The last thing I want is to be marked “Crazy Bitch”, a moniker men love to place on women. I prefer calm and cold as hell, the flames staying behind my eyes. “A walk and talk. We’ll go down along the river.”

And so we begin The Closure Talk, the Grand Finale; me with a pathetic hope that he will say something, anything that will make me feel less like shit, him with further secrets and lies to reveal.

[To continue The Safa Boy Series, click for Part Eight]

Happy Green Day!

There is one day a year I wait for with more anticipation than a five year-old waiting for Christmas, than a 17 year-old boy waiting to lose his virginity, than a 50 year-old police man waiting to retire: the day leaves return to trees. Every Spring I forget when this magical awakening happened the year before. As the Ides of March pass, I wake up giddy with anticipation. I peer out my window, searching for greenery but so far I’m met by naked trees and maybe a naked neighbor across the courtyard (and by “courtyard” I mean sad strip of concrete with a couple sad-looking tables). However, there is no doubt Spring is in the air. Birds are singing about it and if you talk to any New Yorker they won’t be able to resist- “The high is 70 tomorrow!!”

NYC is not a city known for being green. Quite the opposite really. “Hazy Shade of Winter” being more the Paul Simon theme song rather than “Kodachrome.” Gray skyscrapers, black asphalt, neon lights concentrated in Times Square. The one exception of course, is Central Park, which I found myself in the midst of yesterday afternoon. At first glance, the park was like the rest of the city. Bear brown trees, branches crisscrossing across the cloudy sky like winter roads on Google Maps. But then I decided to look at the world through “Tourist Eyes” where every thing is fresh, the element of wonder at one of the greatest cities of the world. Time isn’t about getting to your destination as efficiently as possible, it’s about savoring the moment. Through these eyes I saw things that made me clap my hands together with glee. Fortunately, the only people near by were European tourists who are less judgmental of spontaneous illogical applause than New Yorkers. Crocuses! Lovely little flowers peeping out from the ground. They scream Spring like nothing else. I practically jumped up and down and began snapping pictures with my (piece of shit, but I’m getting a new one by the end of the week!) camera phone.

A near by carriage driver, dragging on a cigarette while standing next to his poor bedraggled horse, growled at me, “We won’t be responsible when you get mugged!” Seriously? In broad daylight at 2 in the afternoon? I laughed. You might scare little tourists, but you can’t fool me you big bad carriage driver!

I continued my walk, wishing the flowers indicated a warmer temperature and also wishing I had opted for pants in the 40 degrees. (I was wearing tights an a skirt, this was not another No-Pants activity, sorry to disappoint.) It was not a day for sitting on a park bench and reading, that doesn’t become a go-to activity until May. Central Park is relatively empty on a chilly weekday, but one can already see days spent sprawled on the Great Long, patches of grass barely visible between groups of sunbathers and picnics. I didn’t run into any street musicians, I didn’t get picked up by any cute guys, I only interactions were with crocuses and a crotchety driver. Then, just as I was leaving the park, I saw what I had been searching for for weeks. No, not a job, not a boyfriend. Leaves! The first leaves of the season!

A small tree with branches at my eye level right at the West 63 entrance, he’s an early bloomer, way far ahead of his compatriots. I have no idea his type- magnolia? dogwood?- but I know it’s my type. I wish I could wake up to his glorious green every morning. But I have no doubt he’s started a trend. It’s only a matter of time before the trees outside my window give into the peer pressure. Here’s looking at you guys. He certainly inspired me. Today I am wearing quite conspicuous green knee socks. I think they’re super cute, but they are the kind of accessory that needs a second opinion. I am wearing them in homage to my favorite tree and, oh yeah, because it’s St. Patrick’s Day.

You can read last years rather bitter post concerning the holiday here. Two years ago, I was painfully dumped on St. Patty’s day- it left me with a bad taste for the holiday. But that’s a story for another time, and also not the break-up story you’re looking for. I know. Fear not, I will wrap up my Safa Boy Series soon! I needed a break, so until then, have a pint of Guiness or something alcoholic with green food coloring and have a laugh with friends. That’s my plan tonight. A toast to spring, a toast to getting over shitty break-ups, past and present.

“Dear Diary, I’m a Dirty Cheating Pathetic Liar”

Are you a con man? I had asked, my eyebrow cocked. Because you must realize, I am a terrible target, I have nothing worth stealing.

When I agreed to let him stay with me, I had been fearful of what he might take from me. As the most expensive thing I own is my bed, which would barely garner $100 on craigslist, I feared he’d steal my roommate’s computer. I also considered the possibility of him stealing my heart. Yet I naively failed to consider that he might snatch away my ability to trust. Rob me of the optimistic and hopeful outlook that is intrinsic to my sense of self.

safa[This is Part Six of The Safa Boy Series: click for  Introduction,  Part One,  Part Two,  Part Three,  Part Four, and  Part Five]

After reading the diary that revealed he had lied and cheated on me, there was a brief moment where I considered ignoring the whole thing. Bargaining: #3 in the Five Stages of Grief. I’ll pretend I never read it. It never happened. I can still visit him in Barbados. I won’t have to hear a chorus of “I told you so” from my friends. My fairytale fling can have a happy ending. No one will ever know. Except me. I would know. And just like that, I realized I could never do it. As much as I hate confrontation, lying to my face and putting my health at risk are two things you just don’t get away with.

I wanted to plan exactly what to say to him. Ten years ago, I would have been forced to write out a script and follow it during a phone call, hoping his South African accent didn’t distract me from my purpose. But it’s 2011, no one calls anymore any way. I confronted him over text message, telling him I read the diary and calling him a coward. I couldn’t sit still while I waited for a reply, adrenaline was pumping through my body.

I ran to my roommate’s room.
“I just read Safa’s diary!” I confessed, adrenaline making me sound excited.
“What!” exclaimed my roommate, “Whoa! What did it say!?” I told her the long, sad story. “I can’t believe it!” she said (I wanted to hug her for not saying “I told you so!”), “He seemed so great! What an asshole!”
“No, we’re not using that word,” I said, telling her of my theory that men actually like being called assholes.
“What a shithead!” She revised.
“Bastard!” I contributed. I liked this game.
“Jerk!”
“Fuckwit!”
“Douche!”
Loser!” 
“What are you going to do?” she asked.
“Kick him out!” I said, “I’m going to get all his shit together and leave it with the concierge.
“Good for you. Wow, he really fucked up,” my roommate said contemplatively, “He had such a good deal going on with you. And all to ‘shag’ a fat girl? I mean, no question here, it’s his loss. I wonder what he’ll do for his last four days here.”
“I don’t care!” I said, trying to mean it. I did still care, but that didn’t mean I was going to let him stay with me. Hell no.

My phone buzzed. His response to my text message!
I read it aloud, “‘Oh shit. I’ll be back later to grovel.’ What kind of response is that? Does he think he can talk his way out of this? What an idiot!
I didn’t respond right away. Instead I went in my room and began throwing stuff in his bag, starting with the pants still soiled with my vomit. Haha! Gross! Serves him right! I thought maliciously. I wanted to make sure nothing was left behind, no shirt left in my bed clothes that would bring tears to my eyes when #4 Stage of Grief: Depression commenced. I scanned the room. On my dresser, next to the box I keep all my make-up in, my eyes fell upon his money clip. Seriously? I looked inside. Two Ben Franklins: $200. You can’t, said the half of my brain that had initially told me to not read the diary. Oh yes you can! said the other half.

I slipped out one of the bills. “I’m taking a hundred dollars from him!” I yelled gleefully to the next room.
“No way!” my roommate yelled back.
“He left his money clip here! I had no reason to trust him, why does he think he has any reason to trust me?”
“That’s awesome!” she came bounding into my room.
“Ok, he was here 15 nights,” I said looking at my calendar, “So 100 divided by 15…”
I left a post-it note: Took $100 for rent. That’s $6.67 a night! Still a great deal! This helped ease the feeling that he used me for my apartment. I considered taking the full $200 but I was pretty sure this was his entire savings. Even in my revenge I’m not heartless.

My room was clean. All his shit thrown haphazardly in his bags, the only thing left was the diary. “Is that it?” my roommate asked, pointing to the little blue book blended into the blue of the comforter on my bed. That’s it. I said, and showed her some of the offending passages. Then inspiration struck.
“I’m going to write an entry. You can help me.” 
“Taking $100, writing in his diary? I’m glad I’ve never fucked with you! This is awesome!”

I wrote it entirely from his point of view, as though he were writing it. “Oh shit,” I began with his words, “[Insert My Name Here] read my diary. While it was an invasion of privacy, I had no reason to trust her as she clearly had no reason to trust me.” I continued on, making it clear that it was the lying that was the real issue, more so than the cheating. I even threw in some friendly advice: “I really hope I don’t get an STD. I’m really setting myself up for one. I realize now there is no such thing as truly safe sex because condoms break and PEOPLE LIE ABOUT THEIR SEXUAL HISTORIES.” I closed with a confidence boost I was greatly in need of: “I really fucked it up with an amazing girl who was sweet, smart, sexy, and HONEST, who let me stay with her rent-free and gave me loads of great sex. And I ruined it, all for some fat girl. I’m an idiot. And now I’m homeless.” I ended it “PEACE OUT, COWARD!” and signed my name.

It felt great to have everything in writing, a note he could read over again and again.
I finally texted him back, “I’m not waiting until later. I will meet you now. Where are you?”
Immediately he responded “Meet me in Times Square in half an hour?”
Ok.” I replied. I grabbed his bags to leave with the concierge.
“Good luck!” called my roommate.

“Going somewhere?” the concierge said, eyeing the bags.
“No, these belong to a guest of mine.”
“A guest? It looks like someone’s moving out to me.”
“Fine, you’re right. I’m kicking him out. You want to hear the long, sad, age-old story?”
The man was silent.
“I didn’t think so. He’ll pick them up before 10pm, if he’s not here by then, you can trash them. Thanks.  Have a good one.”
I left the building and made my way to Times Square.

[To continue The Safa Boy Series, click for Part Seven]

“Dear Diary, I’m a Dirty Cheating Liar”

I sat at the foot of my bed, bathed in sunshine that now felt ironically cheerful, struggling to make sense of the words “I cheated on her and I’ll do it again.” At the moment, I was still protected by shock. My brain was barely processing, my heart was thumping away, my eyes blinking with confusion. Nothing was working properly. My hands shook as I turned the page of the diary, searching for an explanation. Please, please, let it be a mistake. Let it mean something else. But the diary was unforgiving, it forged on in utter disregard of my pitiful pleas.

safa

[This is Part Five of The Safa Boy Series: click for Introduction,  Part One,  Part Two,  Part Three, and Part Four]

The entry was dated two days after I said he could live with me. “I shagged a fat girl. I feel like I cheated on Mary even though I’m not her boyfriend. I feel like I owe her because she’s letting me stay with her and I don’t like it. Don’t really know why I cheated…” The entry rambled on; the word vomit of a 19-year old boy that made my last hand-written diary (composed at age 14 with the working title: “I’m Obsessed with Gabe P. and I Wish My Boobs Were Bigger”) look like a literary masterpiece. In capital letters at the bottom of the page, a summation of sorts, he had scrawled “FEEL GUILTY I SHAGGED FAT GIRL. REALLY LIKE MARY.”

My initial reaction was instinctual. I stripped, turned the shower as hot as I could stand, and tried to wash away the disgusting feeling those words gave me. Tried to scrub the smell of their author out of my hair. Hoped to scald the memory of his touch from my skin. Lathering my body with “calming lavender clear body wash” I felt anything but calm. Denial was washing away and second stage of grief: anger, was taking over. How could he do this to me? I let him live in my apartment, refused to take money for rent, and this is the thanks I get? And with someone he cared so little for he dubbed her “Fat Girl”? (Fortunately for him, he used no such moniker for me, for that reason South Africa has not acquired another eunich…yet..if I find out he gave me an STI I’m flying around the world and ripping his balls off with my bare hands. Just saying.)

I’m too pretty to be cheated on! Too smart! Too funny! Too awesome! I wanted to wail then throw myself on the floor and pound my fists into the ground (and by ground I mean his head). But I’m not four, nor am I nineteen; I’m twenty-four, and with those extra years of maturity, I emerged from the shower and attempted rational thought.

It wasn’t exactly the indiscretion itself that gave me thoughts of mutilating his scrotum. Not that I was thrilled that he’d slept with someone else, but it wasn’t as though we had exchanged vows of fidelity. When I invited him back to my apartment that first night, the thought of exclusivity was far from my mind. The idea didn’t even enter my head until he asked to stay with me. He was the one who asked, I never would have offered. I’m single in Manhattan, if there is one thing this city has taught me it’s that nothing can scare men away like the mention of premature exclusivity. I’ve also learned you can never assume exclusivity. Apparently not even when you’re living together.

I didn’t assume we were exclusive, it was what I was told. “I’m not sleeping with other women.” Bald faced lies to my face. That wasn’t even the worst of it. I studied that diary and came out with a timeline. The major betrayal as I saw it, took place a week after his “Fat Girl shag”. I remembered the day crystal clearly. It was the day we had a “slip up”, the first I’d ever experienced. An “Oh Yes!” moment turned to an “Oh Shit!” one. A situation where your latex security blanket is…cruely ripped away. A failing of plan A and a trip to Duane Reade need for “Plan B”. (Am I hitting you over the head with my subtlety? Did I lose anyone? I’m really hoping to lose my mom…Mom, stop reading.)

This circumstance lead me to ask questions I would not have other wise asked. Specifically regarding “exual-say istory-hay ” (did I lose anyone? Still really hoping to lose my mom! Mom! Stop!) “When was the last time you were tested?” He supplied a less than satisfactory answer, so I continued, “When was the last time you had sex?” (Mom, if you’re still reading, gosh darn it, I give up! I’ve had sex. There, I admit it! Is that what you wanted to hear? I also would normally say ‘god damn it’. Now you know all my secrets! Happy!?) His answer to this question surprised me and made me feel special, “Not since Rome, about 6 weeks.” In hindsight, I only feel stupid. He flat-out lied to my face, putting my sexual health- and he knew how serious this was to me- at risk. Cheating I could forgive. This? This I could not. “I didn’t want to hurt you.” he would later say. Oh really? That’s ironic. And I’m sure the fact I might’ve refused to let you stay with me was not a factor in the least! I would say sarcastically, resorting to the lowest form of wit.

I carefully crafted the text message: I read your diary. You knew I would. I’m not mad you slept with someone else, you could argue we weren’t exclusive. I am mad because you lied to me and put my health at risk. Which shows you don’t give a shit about me. You’re not an asshole, you’re a coward.

I have a theory men like being called ‘assholes’. It makes them feel like men. “Women love a bad guy, an asshole,” they think. Thus ‘asshole’ has acquired some positive connotations. ‘Coward’ has none. No one loves a coward.

I hit the SEND button. SENT. There was no going back. Confrontation. I wondered how he would reply. Not that it mattered. I knew exactly what I was going to do next. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. 

to be continued…

Author’s note: So much for wrapping it up!

[To continue The Safa Boy Series, click for Part Six]

“Dear Diary, I’m A Dirty Liar”

He only owned two pairs of pants and he needed both to last the entirety of his around-the-world trip.  As it was the dead of winter, he had been wearing both pairs every day to fight off the cold. This morning, one pair was unwearable, the right leg soiled with vomit. My vomit. I felt awful.

So comfy [rei.com]
So comfy [rei.com]

“Please just borrow my long underwear”, I begged, “They’re amazing, 100% wool. So warm. They’re black, they don’t look girly, see? And since you don’t have child-bearing hips, I bet they’ll fit perfectly.”

Reluctantly he pulled them on. “Perfect fit!” I said triumphantly.

He grinned, “These are comfy. I bet they make my legs look really sexy, yeh?”

“Mmmm really sexy,” I agreed, “On second thought, maybe I don’t want you in pants just yet...” I grabbed the elastic of my long johns, a bit trickier than grabbing a belt buckle.

safa

[This is Part Four of The Safa Boy Series: click for Introduction,  Part One,  Part Two, and  Part Three]

“I can’t,” He laughed, “I have to go meet my friend.”

The one visiting from Botswana or where ever? The one who flaked on you yesterday? Pshh, I’ve got to be much more fun than him.”

“We’re going to go all around the city today doing tourist stuff and then get druuuuunk tonight. I’ll probably be out late so I’ll try to crash with him. I know you don’t like it when I wake you up.” he said, smell-testing his favorite shirt, then pulling it on.

Nah, come home, even if it’s late. You’re only here 4 more days! And I’d like you in my bed for each of them.”
“Even if I’m back at 3?” he asked lacing up his “trainers”.
“Yes.”
“4?” he asked pulling on his coat.
Yes!”
“5?” he asked putting his wallet in his pocket.
“So late!”
“4:59?” he asked and kissed me good bye.
“Text me. Have fun! Bye!”
“Will do. Bye girleen,” he said and walked out the door.

That was the last time I ever saw him as the cute, charming, clever boy who made me smile. The boy I was happy to call my lover. The next time I would see him he would be wearing the exact same clothes I had just watched him put on but he would look unrecognizable in my eyes.

I was alone in my apartment, for the first time since I’d been back from my trip. I had no plans for the day, for the first time in what felt like forever. Sun was pouring in my window, I stretched and propped up pillows. It was going to be a perfect lazy Sunday morning. I reached to grab a magazine from the foot of my bed; his bag and a pile of things made this more difficult than anticipated. I was just about to dig under the pile when I saw a small navy book right at the top that made me stop dead. I bet that’s it, I thought, His diary, the one he’s mentioned several times. My fingers itched. If you read that it’s a violation of trust! said one half of my brain. But…it’s just sitting there in front of you, said the other half, How can you not read it

I stared at the blue book in his bag. It’s not like he expressly told me not to read it… I picked it up. Maybe it wasn’t even his diary anyway, maybe I was getting all worked up over a list of expenses or something silly like that. I opened the book and let it fall to the last page of writing. It was definitely his diary. The entry began with a date and went on to be a feel-sorry-for-yourself complaint about loneliness written while I was away on my trip. It didn’t mention me at all and was poorly written, so it held little interest.

I was looking for my name, he must have written something about me. I flipped the page and there it was: “[Insert my name] says I’m mean.” That wasn’t true, I had said that merely in jest, teasing You’re mean! He couldn’t have possibly thought I was being serious! I read on: “She’s nice so she’s probably right. I cheated on her and I’ll do it again.” I stared at the ink on the page. My heart jumped into my lungs and I became intensely aware of its beating. My mouth turned dry, my hands started to sweat, I felt like I might throw up on his pants again. Almost immediately the 5 Stages of Grief commenced. #1 Denial: I’d read it wrong.  Shock flooded my system as I turned the page, looking for an explanation of what I had just read, refusing to believe my eyes. There was no way it could actually mean what it said.

to be continued…

Authors note: I didn’t intend to write so much, but this seems to be the way the story wants to be told. It’s actually a bit harder for me to write than I thought it would be. The wounds aren’t so fresh, but the scars haven’t faded. It’s cathartic to share though, so thanks for reading and thanks for your support! I’ll finish this beast of a story soon, you have my word!

[To continue The Safa Boy Series, click for Part Five]

Brave and Stupid: Especially with Boys

There is a fine line between brave and stupid, and I like to walk it. I always have.
Maybe not to the extent of this guy, but my actions may spark the age-old debate: “Brave or stupid?”

Climbing trees, going as high as I could, people on the ground looking up with concerned expressions of “That is a broken bone waiting to happen.” on their faces.

Lying to my parents and going to punk rock shows every week by myself, in the wrong parts of town. Some depressed teens cut themselves, I dyed my hair and flung myself into a mosh pit of dudes twice my size and savored the resulting bruises that covered my arms.

Choosing a college on the opposite side of the country where I knew absolutely no one. Taking a 3 day train ride, all by myself, to get there.

Moving to New York City 2 weeks after graduation with no savings and a minimum wage job prospect. Surviving almost three years against all odds, health failures, and lack of security.

Letting a boy I’d barely known 3 weeks move into my tiny apartment with me. Taking precautions toward financial consequences but relying solely on trust for potential personal ones.

safa

[This is Part Three of The Safa Boy Series: click for Introduction,  Part One, and  Part Two]

I know don’t know him that well, but I’m going to let him stay with me while he finds another place, I told my friend Mika over mediocre Japanese food. I’m not going to give him a key or anything, so he’ll really only be there when I am. I know it’s risky, but it’s not like I have anything worth stealing, plus he really seems like a good guy. I really like him, more than I thought I would.

“Did you ever think maybe the reason you like him so much is circumstantial? Because he’s only here temporarily?” she asked, as though guiding me to a grand discovery.

Yes! I said loud enough so that several people looked up from their over salted Miso, Oh, I am fully aware of that. It’s the crazy, temporary, I-can’t’believe-I’m-really-doing-this.-Is-this-real-life-or chicklit? nature that always appeals to me. I won’t lie, I’m totally drawn to the chance we fall madly in love and I join him on his around-the-world journey. I’m a dreamer and hopeless romantic. Besides, I bet I could get a great advance on that book deal, even as a complete unknown with no experience.

If you’ve ever lived with someone, you know such an arrangement is easily more conducive to falling out of love, rather than in. So it will not come as a shock when I tell you he moved in and I did not fall in love. Want five reasons why? #1 He had proclivity for alcohol that seemed to equate it with “the highest form of fun”. #2He preferred to sleep all day instead of exploring New York City.  #3  He sang the most annoying songs- Puff the Magic Dragon, Jingle Bells– repeatedly. #4He left his bag open with contents spilled on my floor, instead of keeping it in the space I’d cleared out under my bed and other inconsiderate things like #5 It was always a crap shoot (pun not intended but I love it) if he’d remember to put the toilet seat down.

And yet I had just as many reasons to enjoy my brand new roommate. #1 He cooked delicious pasta, recipes from his grandmother whom he had recently visited in Italy. #2 He made me laugh in a full body, “I forget the stresses of being an adult”, uninhibited kind of way. #3 There is rarely someone in my life whom I can expect regular back massages from. I have mentioned it before, I have a not-so-secret wish to marry a masseuse. Not only that, the way he said “mass-ah-juh” in his Safa accent was adorable. #4 The afternoon I dragged him out of my bed to go to the Natural History Museum and we spent an hour in the Hall of African Mammals where he told me stories about South Africa, hunting trips with his dad, and gave me a potentially life-saving lesson about the “Big Five” (the five animals that may attack, rather than flee, when they see a human: Lion, Elephant, Black Rhino, Hippopotamus, Water Buffalo). #5 This reason is not “family friendly”. You may, if you wish, use your imagination.

And so when he ended up staying with me longer than I might have expected, I was glad. It was easy, fun, care-free, and I wasn’t taking it too seriously. I wasn’t seeing any trips around the world in my future. However, I did have a trip in my immediate future that meant I’d be gone for the entirety of his penultimate week in town. I briefly considered letting him stay in my room while I was gone, but decided against it. I wondered what he’d do while I was gone, wondered about his last week in NY, but left everything up in the air. Would we talk while I was gone?  How would it be seeing him when I got back and he wasn’t living with me? Maybe he’d find another girl, I didn’t think he would, but couldn’t rule it out as I’d no  longer know where he was spending his nights. It was a trial separation, for the inevitable separation.

Then he texted me not even 24 hours after I’d left, telling me how much he missed me. “I miss you and that’s not allowed. I’m breaking the rules :)” It was the first of many such texts. Text messages that made me feel special. He misses me, I mean something to him. Text messages that made me happy. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Text messages that made me say Yes, I’d really like that when he asked if he could stay with me again upon my return. Text messages that lead me in the exact opposite direction of where I should have been going. I want to visit you in Barbados (the next stop on his trip). Text messages that gave me no inkling of the shit I would discover after my return to New York. He really cares about me. That in hindsight make me shake my head at myself: stupid, stupid, stupid!

[To continue The Safa Boy Series, click for Part Four]

Post Sleep-Over Stress Disorder

I hallucinate my phone is vibrating. It’s in my pocket, I feel it twitching against my leg. The nerves in my leg are lying to me. My phone is stone cold, silent, unmoving. It’s driving me crazy. It’s making me want to eat an entire pint of ice cream. Giving me the urge to watch a romantic comedy and add my own commentary Like this would ever happen in real life. Jesus. Oh of course just when you start loosing hope, he makes a grand gesture, OF COURSE. There’s no way you’d end up together! This is bullshit! Oh fuck you and your 360° kiss in the rain! Lies! Propaganda! LIES!

safa

[This is Part Two of The Safa Boy Series: click for Introduction and Part One

I’m suffering severe PSOSD- Post Sleep-Over Stress Disorder.

Someone slept over. Nothing was defined. Is it a one time thing, or more? Will you ever see this guy again? What the hell is he thinking? Everything is unknown and you feel out of control. You don’t even have control over yourself, oxytocin has robbed you of that. And so you cope by yelling at shitty movies on Netflix instant. This is why I (try to anyway) avoid one-night stands.

I try the typical route of distraction. PSOSD initial treatment: immerse yourself in activities and friends. If I was always waiting for a boy to call, I’d be in fantastic shape. PSOSD drives me to the gym. I leave my phone out of sight, where it can’t fool my nerve endings, and run as if I can escape all thoughts of men. I have no control over their actions but I have full control over myself on a treadmill, and if I run fast enough, the beating of my heart and the heaving of my lungs drown out anything else.

I get back from the gym, sweaty but revived, no longer seeking ice cream or Reese Witherspoon to yell at. I’ve regained control. I glance at my phone and lo and behold, it’s blinking with the text message I almost forgot I was hoping for. That settles it, not a one time thing. Phew, because I don’t want a one-night stand (I never have), I want the full six-week whirl-wind fling my heart is now set on.

PSOSD cured: I see him every day that week. He makes me laugh, whispers sweet South African nothings in my ear, heats up my bed, and snuggles me to sleep. Later he’ll cook me huge helpings of Italian pasta. What more could you want from a mid-winter fling?

Then we enter dangerous territory. He meets my friends. All guys I have dated in Manhattan thus far have failed the friend check. They’ve all embarrassed me, left unfavorable impressions that raise my girl friends’ eyebrows “Really? You’re dating him?” Safa passes with flying colors. “I really like him!” Says my bestie who is very hard to please, “He’s really sweet and really cute. You’re sure he has to leave in 6 weeks?” Yes, yes I’m sure.  Past the PSOSD, the usual freak outs of “Where is this going!?” are a non-issue. It’s ending in 6 (5 now) weeks. The expiration is a comfort, a convenience. I feel in control.

The middle of whirl wind week 4, counting down, he texts me “I need to talk to you, let’s meet for coffee.” Dangerous territory. That’s a set-up to a break-up scenario if I ever saw one. Slashing the 6 weeks in half? Why? We’re having so much fun! So much for thinking I knew where this was going. I brace myself, meet him for coffee. If this was one of the rom-coms I had been yelling at earlier, I would have cut him off before he even had the chance to say anything. But no, I let him speak, crossing my fingers I don’t have to hear another version of “I think you’re great, but…”

“I’m having issues with my housing,” he says. Yes, you’ve complained about that before. “I really can’t stand the people I’m living with now- I have to get out.” Is this some stupid analogy: I need to get rid of my flat-mates like I need to get rid of you? “So I wanted to ask you,” he takes my hand and continues, “Could I maybe stay with you? While I look for another place?” Whoa. Whoa. Was not expecting that.

[Click to continue The Safa Boy Series with Part Three]