When I Wasn’t A Wallflower

“Where are you going?” my roommate asked me at 9:40 on a Thursday night. More than occupied with my twice-daily struggle to get my bike out of my closet-sized room, it took me a moment to respond. When both wheels emerged out the door and I stood triumphant, Brooklyn I replied, Brian has a band thing. “Ah, that’s why you look so cute,” she said. Whenever I go to Brooklyn, I feel like I have to dress for Brooklyn. That’s partially the reason I am bringing my bike: it’s my hippest accessory. That and I’m running late! I said wheeling my bike out of the apartment in a single, swift movement, See you later!

Something about Manhattan has always felt like home to me. Something about Brooklyn never has. Whenever I step on the L Train (which connects Manhattan to Williamsburg, Brooklyn) I feel ever so slightly like an outsider. Maybe it’s that too many people own cars in Brooklyn or that the buildings don’t block out the sun. Maybe it’s because my bike isn’t a fixie. I don’t look out of place in Brooklyn, and really, my cliché as a struggling actress is lacking because I don’t live there. But it just doesn’t feel like home.

Home on one side of the river, Brooklyn on the other.

Maybe it’s because I don’t spend enough time there. Going to Brooklyn is a trip for a Manhattanite. Going to Manhattan for a Brooklynite is routine. Tonight I am making the trip to see my buddy’s band, Snake’s Say Hiss. This was something I’d been putting off for months. If it wasn’t one thing it was another: I was working, none of our mutual friends were going, “It’s such a late show and it’s in Brooklyn.” Like I recently posted, I’m tired of excuses. So I was going to this show, in spite of the fact none of our mutual friends were going, his band wasn’t going to be on until about 11pm, and it was in Brooklyn.

The venue was about a mile away from the subway stop (another reason I usually would have opted out of going) and that’s why I brought my bike. (Yes, I’m that girl who brings her bike on the subway. Don’t give me dirty looks, it’s perfectly legal and it takes up less space and makes way less noise than a stroller.) I’d never biked in Brooklyn before, except in Prospect Park, and riding on the streets gave me a new perspective. It’s a biker’s paradise, the majority of streets have bike lanes. Sailing along the deserted roads, the cool May air flapped through my jean jacket. “La lune!” I over heard a group of obviously french people, which prompted me to take my eyes off the road. A cresent moon was rising above the Manhattan skyline. Glorious. Maybe Brooklyn deserved a second chance.

I arrived at the venue and pulled out my wallet to pay the entrance fee when my buddy came bounding up,”You’re on the list!” My teenage-self would have been so jealous. Even more so of the drink I promptly ordered at the bar. A 16 oz. can of Rolling Rock for $4? Brooklyn definitely deserved a second chance.

I wasn’t at this show alone. You could argue I was far from that status- I was a friend of the band! But my buddy had other friends to attend to, band mates, and a looming set. I was a Single Entity and I didn’t want to be the kind who needs babysitting.

Every time I host an event, I always invite a couple “Single Entities”- people I am friends with, but we have no mutual friends. Or “Single Entity by Circumstance”- we have mutual friends, but none of them show up. The Single Entity Situation can go one of two ways: they mingle beautifully, you don’t even realize they came alone, and you can’t wait to invite them to your next party OR they don’t talk to anyone, force you to keep checking in so they aren’t awkwardly alone in a corner (I call this “babysitting”), and get written of your party guest list forever. Tonight I was a Single Entity by Circumstance and I vowed, with my whole being, to avoid a need for babysitting.

Besides, I owed it to my teenaged-self not to be a wallflower. Show such as this have a male to female ratio that is rare in my life , 60:40 to my advantage. Yet, it was just like high school, none of them approached me. I knew my proximety to my band buddy wasn’t helping. He’s a tall, good-looking guy (I can now say that because he finally shaved his gross, full-on mountain man beard to reveal a handsome face) who I’ve never so much as kissed. I distanced myself from him during the opening band’s set. Also during the openers set, the awkward head bobbing of the eligible bachlers gave me further insight into why they weren’t approaching me. I sighed.

Along with the head bobbing, something else had caught my eye during the opening song. The lead singer/guitarist on stage was wearing a San Francisco Giants shirt. He was also cute, an attribute which a guitar in hand usually enhances. Not to mention the obvious passion for music. I wondered if he was from San Francisco. I wondered if I could strike up a conversation with a lead singer from a band. This would have seemed entirely unthinkable in high school- no way. But now? Let’s see…

I got my opportunity as the second band of the night finished their set and Snakes Say Hiss was setting up. I touched his shoulder, I liked your set, I said. Easiest pick-up line ever. He turned around, looked as me, and a smile lit up his face. I’m always a sucker for smiles. “What did you say?” he replied, loudly. Even between band sets, the DJ kept the space full of loud music. I said I liked your set! I yelled. “Thanks!” he grinned. My first impression was he was genuine, completely free of cockiness. Are you a Giants fan? I questioned. “What? No. Why?” He answered, bemused. Your shirt. I gestured, Guess you’re not from San Francisco then. “Oh,” he said, still smiling, “Nope, I’m from Florida. I got this shirt cause the guy has the same name as me.” Acceptable answer. We yelled at each other some more until the headlining band started to play.

Well I did it, I thought to myself, I approach a guy, made his entire face light up with a smile, and carried on a mildly flirtatious conversation. My teenage-self would be so proud, and likely agog. During the set he yelled several things in my ear. I don’t remember what he said, but I do remember how his shoulder-length hair (which was clean and suited to him) smelled, how close his mouth was to my ear, and at one point he put his hand on the small of my back. The set ended and he bolted, “I’m up next to DJ!” he said, and disappeared behind the set-up in the corner.

And I was left on the floor all alone. My buddy was packing up his equipment, my prospect plugging in his laptop, plus I was sobering up. I stood vaguely missing my girlfriends. And then just decided to dance. So what I’m alone. I am a Single Entity and I rock it. My prospect was playing great music, the kind my friends would have on a playlist: Michael Jackson, Journey, Mariah, Beyonce. Classics along with recent hits. Nothing you would steriotypically expect out of a Brooklyn band guy. So I danced and people danced with me. Brooklyn Band Guy emerged on the dance floor told me, “This song’s long enough for me to dance to for a minute!” and showed me his dance moves. Which were adorable and so not-trying-to-be-cool that they were cool. He made me smile and loose track of time.

I couldn’t find my buddy anywhere. He had said he was packing up equipment ages ago. Finally I called him on my dying cell phone. He picked up, Where are you? I demanded. “What? I’m home!” he replied. WHAT? I exploded, You’re home? You left with out telling me!?  “I thought you had left!” I would NEVER leave without saying goodbye! “Sorry!” He apologized, profusely, and I proceeded to yell at him for five more minutes. This is the difference between men and women, right here. A girl friend would never EVER in a MILLION years leave a place you had been together without telling you. NEVER. It goes against any Girl Code ever written. But a guy? Yes, I guess he would. I was livid. I am independent, I knew I’d be fine on my own, but it was the principle of the thing. Needless to say, my buddy will never do anything like that again.

I went back inside to have a drink of water. And figure out how to leave. I liked the though of seeing this Brooklyn Band Guy again. As I approached I saw him talking to another girl and my heart sank. Looks like he’s just polite to every one. It’s not like he’s been coming on to me strong, maybe he’s just friendly. I almost left then and there. That’s what I would have done 5 years ago. But then I though Hell, why not say good-bye. It’s polite. So I said good-bye and he looked sad to see me go. Then he said “We should hang out sometime” and we exchanged numbers. There was a moment where we almost kissed but didn’t.

I left Brooklyn at a very late hour that night with butterflies in my stomach.

When I Was A Wallflower

December 12, 2003 I received an abysmally thin envelope embossed OBERLIN COLLEGE in the left hand corner. My heart pounded in my ears as I ripped it open: Just cause it’s thin doesn’t necessarily mean… I extracted the single sheet of paper where the phrases Unfortunately and We regret and Wish you all the best accosted me. That was it, it was all over. I didn’t get into my first choice college, the one my heart was so set on I applied early decision. I felt numb and captured my feelings of hopelessness in a one sentence entry in my high school blog: “I want to get super fucking drunk and pass out.” A normal 17 year-old girl would have called and cried to her friends. But I had, still have, loner tendencies (along with academically inclined friends, most of whom would later get into Oberlin but go to Columbia or Yale instead).

LIVE 105, a local radio station, was having its holiday “NOT SO SILENT NIGHT” concert that night, featuring Rancid, Jane’s Addiction, and my favorite band at the time The Offspring. I put on my Chucks, Dickies, my Amoeba Music shirt (which I still own and am in fact currently wearing) and told my parents I was meeting friends. Lies. I was in a “Fuck the world, I don’t have any friends” mood. And at the time I didn’t own a cell phone, so it might as well have been true. I walked the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, the same building my high school graduation would be held 6 months later, determined to drown out feelings of failure with music that would leave my ears ringing ’til the wee hours of the morning.

A block from the venue I met a large intimidating man, “You going to Not So Silent Night?” he barked at me. I nodded, not making eye contact. “Sold out.” he informed me. I fought back tears. Was I doomed to fail at everything in life? Now what was I going to do? The man pulled out 3 tickets from his pocket, “How many do you need?” Just one, I squeaked. “$100.” More than double the door price. I only have two $20s, I said. He grunted “Fine.” Handed me the ticket, took my cash. I smiled at my good fortune. It wasn’t until I was in line to have my ticket scanned that I considered the possibility of being scammed. Knowing my luck…I held my breath as they scanned my ticket and let it out as the security guard waved me in.

I spent the night wandering around the huge event space as a wallflower, hoping someone would talk to me. There was no chance I’d approach someone, their rejection on top of Oberlin’s would have left me huddled in a corner in a fetal position.   Nearly everyone was over 21 if not a full decades older than me. Iggy Pop was in the line up. I looked like a little lost child, shuffling around in my oversized red sweatshirt, my hair pulled back in an asexual sloppy bun. The effect was androgynous, not in a sexy high fashion way but in a this-stops-creeps-from-hitting-on-me-way. It was so affective creeps didn’t even notice me, but neither did anyone else.

I flung myself into a mosh pit of sweaty men that night, many of whom weighed at least twice my standing 125lbs. That was the only human contact I was so desperate for. The pain of hurling myself against other bodies was exhilarating and made me forget my disappointments. I admired the bruises that popped up all over my arms the next day. They were my battle scars. I went to a lot of shows by myself from age 15 to 17: NOFX, Reel Big Fish, Stroke9, The Aquabats, Sugarcult, One Man Army, The Matches. Smacked into over a hundred random people I’d never see again. I took pride in being the only girl in a pit. I always clung to the fantasy that a cute boy with chunky glasses, dimples, and floppy hair would come up to me, “I saw you out there, only girl in the pit! You’re awesome!” We’d dye our hair from the same bottle of ManicPanic, write poems on each other’s Converse, and make out listening to records of obscure, non-mainstream punk bands. That never happened.

When I turned 18 and entered adulthood, shows lost their magic. I belonged to the college community, I didn’t need the punk rock, outsider embracing world any more. My teenage dreams became distant memories.

You’ll still find me at the occasional show. They’re fun, I like music. These days I always go with friends, often my roommate who works in the music industry and gets comp tickets. So the other day when I found myself alone at a show in Brooklyn, I knew I owed something to my teenaged self. It wasn’t a final spin in a mosh pit, I can tell you that. The the minute one started, I backed away rolling my eyes- I’m so over mosh pits. They’re so 2002. I owed something to my teenaged and current self: proof of how far I’ve come since my wallflower days. 

To be continued…

Finally, The Safa Finale (For Real)

Why haven’t I been blogging? I don’t like the way this saga ends. That’s my excuse. I may not like it, but I’m telling you any way.

safa[This is Part Nine, the last of The Safa Boy Series. Click for the Introduction,  Part One,  Part Two.  Part Three,  Part Four,  Part Five,  Part Six,  Part Seven, and  Part Eight]

Learning he had cheated on me, lied to me, and treated me like shit: that was all hard enough, but I’d handled it. In a way I am proud of no less. But then he told me that at the very moment I was reading about all these past indiscretions in his diary, he was meeting another girl for a date. That he had warned me he might be home late that night or even not at all (“If it’s too late I’ll crash with my friend”) because he planned on shagging her. I had already thrown his stuff out of my apartment. Told my best friends he was a shit-head. Already said “Fuck you”. All without shedding a tear.

So what was left? Throw a drink in his face, walk away, and never see him again. Sleep soundly that night knowing he was broke, forced to beg vague friends for a night on their couch or sleep on the streets. Flyer New York City with pictures of his face reading CHEATER! LIAR!!!!

Remember that episode of Sex and the City? Samantha is awesome when her boyfriend cheats on her. Drink in his face and the priceless line, “Dirty martini, dirty bastard.” But she eventually does take him back…

Unfortunately, that is not what I did.

I didn’t even besmirch his name on the internet. I’ve protected his identity completely.

Nope. Instead I stared at this boy I had gotten so close to in such a short amount of time and said, “I don’t know you at all.”

That would have been fine if I’d said that and then walked away. But I didn’t. Instead I sat in 30 degree weather on a curb of the Riverside bike path and spent and hour hashing over things with a little sniveling 19 year-old who I didn’t know at all.

“You do know me!” He promised. “I’ve just been an asshole in New York.” He said, blaming my city. “People here are so heartless, for a while I really didn’t believe I was doing anything wrong. My friends made me think that too.” He paused. “But I know I was. I’m sorry.”

“What did I do wrong?” I asked. I couldn’t stop myself.
“It wasn’t you. There was nothing you could have done. I was intent on being an asshole. I owned the world, I could do whatever without consequences. I’m sorry.”
He’s fucking
nineteen years old, I thought to myself. I hadn’t viewed him as a teenager, but looking at him now, I saw a lost little boy- scared and afraid.
“I let you live in my apartment,” I said, thinking aloud now, “That’s what I did wrong. I’m too nice.”
“You did nothing wrong.” He reiterated.
“I let you use me for my apartment,” I continued, “That’s what I am to you- a bed for your body and a hole for your dick. You don’t give a shit about me.”
That’s not true!” he sniffled. I looked over at him and saw tears welling in his eyes. To my dismay, I felt my own eyes begin to water. “You’re my best friend in New York!”
“Is this the way you treat your friends?” I spat.
“No,” he blubbered, “You’re the first. I swear.”
“Lucky me.”

“Did you read the whole diary?” He asked.
“No, I could barely stomach what did I read.”
“Where is it?” He asked.
“I threw it in your bag which is waiting for you with my concierge.” 
He looked disappointed. “I want you to read it. I want you to see that I’m not like this. I’ve never done this to any one before.”
“No thanks.” I replied sarcastically.
“There’s a list on the last page, did you see that?”
“No.”
“It’s two lists, actually. One is of great people I’ve met on this trip, true friends. There are only 8 people on that list. The other is girls I’ve slept with.”
I winced. He was so young he kept a laundry list of shags in his diary.
“You’re the only person on both lists.”

I said all I wanted was to feel special. There he was, clearly trying to tell me I was special.
I couldn’t have felt more like shit.

I finally got up and left. We parted in the middle of Times Square. The next day I wondered about where he had spent the night and tried not to care. I even tried to call him once, but his pre-paid phone had run out of money. Four days later, he was out of my country, out of my life. It took me much longer to get him out of my head. To wrap my head around how and why someone could do what he did to me.

What did I do wrong? I picked the wrong man. Boy. When I did it, did I know I was picking the wrong one? Yep. Did I care? Nope.
If I could take it all back, would I? No actually, I wouldn’t. Experience is invaluable. I needed an all caps WRONG GUY to break my series of wrong/Wrong/wrongish/kinda-wrong/not-exactly-wrong-but-definitely-not-right guys. The chance I pick the right guy next time has skyrocketed. Three years in New York, countless dates, no successful relationships, but no true heart break.

I’ve still got hope.

Finally the Safa Finale (Part 1)

As the tragic hero of this saga, it is only natural that I should analyze my tragic flaw. I am beyond the point of agonizing over it What did I do wrong? How could I be so stupid? and at the point of solid self-reflection. Initially, I thought the tragic flaw might be my trusting nature, antiquated in the era of stolen identities and Craigslist Killers. It did indeed feel tragic to me- should I, could I trust a man again? Though I have not exactly given myself the chance to find out, yet, my outlook seems intact: decent until proven asshole. Optimism in New York City- that’s no cliché. But my tragic flaw is about as cliché as you get (short of hubris in Greek tragedy). I’m an only child, aspiring actress, who came of age in conjunction with the world-wide web. Could it be more obvious? My tragic flaw is my need to feel special, unique, a stand out. My lust for novelty, significance, and a spotlight.

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

 

It’s written all over this blog metaphorically, why not spell it out literally. Though, it is not a flaw in all aspects of life, as the very existence of this blog attests. No, where it reaches Tragic Flaw proportions is in my relationships. As an only child, both my parents love me in a way they love no one else in the world, “special” doesn’t begin to describe how important I am in their lives. They’re my parents, you say, duh. Unfortunately, I want to be significant in all my relationships. I want to be your best friend, or at least the someone you will remember- preferably profoundly. Or at the very least someone you care about enough to read thousand word essays about the trials and tribulations of my life. At least I know I have that from you.

Achilles Heel: a deadly weakness in spite of overall strength, that can actually or potentially lead to downfall. He fought men in wars, I date men in New York City. We’re, like, the same person.

It is this tragic flaw that was the downfall of The Safa Saga. (Remember, only child actress: dramatics go with the territory.) When a 19 year-old, handsome, charming, traveler says he’s only had one-night stands before me I think tragic flaw trumps logic.

Exhibit A: When he says he’s only had one-night stands before me Tragic flaw enables the thinking:Wow, I’m special! He’s never found someone who made him want to stay longer until he found me! Rather than logic: All those girls must have been on to something…Clearly this guy is Bad News. GET. OUT. NOW.

Exhibit B: He’s traveling around the world without a computer. That means no access to internet porn. Therefore he wouldn’t be like the men in the New York Magazine article I had just read, men so addicted to porn they lose their interest in partnered sex. My Tragic Flaw enabled the thinking: In 2011 how many men under 40 are NOT looking at porn on a regular basis? A minority. Really, I may never meet one again! This may be my last shot with a guy with minimal porn exposure. It’s novel. It’s nostalgic. It’s retro. It’s exciting! Rather than logic: If he’s not getting it from porn, he’s getting it from somewhere else… 

______________________________________________________________________________________

I’d give anything for a man to make me feel special. Jump through hoops, make something out of nothing, enter denial, rationalize like a pro, and of course, hope beyond hope. Which is exactly what I am doing as we begin out break-up/closure walk. Hoping beyond hope he will say something so I feel special instead of like shit. “What do you want me to say?” He asks. I don’t reply, though I know exactly what I want him to say. I could hand him a cue-card:

When I shagged that other girl I didn’t know you that well, and I still felt incredibly guilty. That guilt and the pain I imagined such a stupid indiscretion would could cause you is why I didn’t tell you. And why I lied to you. When I lied to you I didn’t care about you the way I do now, but I was starting to. I left my diary out because I care about you like I’ve never cared about a girl before- and you had to find out. You are an amazing, generous, kind, and lovely  person inside and out. I was so lucky to have you in my life and I ruined it like a fucking idiot. I am so sorry, you never deserved anything like that.

But if he had said that, it would have been a lie, and this was the precise time he stopped lying to me. “I should have told you right away”, he said, “You would have forgiven me.”
Yes, yes I would have,” I said, “It wasn’t an exclusive relationship, you did nothing wrong until you lied about it.”
“My friends made me think I wasn’t doing anything wrong.” He sighed. I could imagine all his stand-up comedy ticket selling loser friends slapping him on the back “It’s not like you’re married to her, man!”
“Yeah, but you knew you were.” He nodded. Then I asked the seemingly innocent: “What did you tell your friend you were with today?”
He swallowed. “I wasn’t with my friend today. I lied about that.”
I stared at him blankly. “What? Who were you with?” I asked, sensing and dreading the answer.

He couldn’t look at me as he said, “I was on a date.” For the second time in mere hours, I fell back into a state of shock.

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

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]