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Failure Pie

Today was just one of those days. Things just didn’t go my way. And the worst part of it is, it’s left me tired but not sleepy.

(I just waded through reading something that was unbearably dense, so bear with me.)

It started off pretty well, the sun was shining, and that was about it. I ran to class, got there late, and spent the next almost-two-hours wishing that I were elsewhere. Class ends, and I run home to finish and print a paper, make some soup that I eventually dump down my throat as I go back out the door, and was late for my next meeting, which wasn’t horrible, but left me feeling pretty non-confident about myself. I was on time for the next class (yay) but it was my afternoon three-hour class, and I was sitting there wishing that I was elsewhere. By the end of hour two I’m usually pretty checked out. Then I had about a half-hour to shove a half-sandwich down my throat (Throat to Me: Don’t push it.) and then it was time for rehearsal, which was probably some of the worst hours of my day, then home, where I did some stuff, but mostly felt the need (and still do) to dick around and not do work (which is a bad idea) and stretch my brain to think of more stuff to type in this entry, and tell myself I’ll be in bed by 12:30 only for time to be like “surprise! you bummed around the apartment doing nothing and now it’s 3 AM, or 2:30 if you’re lucky!” And on top of that, now I feel incredibly lonely in this apartment that, while lovely, still doesn’t feel like home with the piles of mess in different places, the white hospital-room walls that nothing in the world will adhere to, and the fact that I still don’t know where half of my stuff is at any given time, yet the time I’d spend looking for a new place is spent in class, running from place to place, and – you guessed it – doing nothing constructive at all. It’s a cycle that kind of needs to end, and fast, because I’m beginning to feel like I’m going through the motions, springing back and forth on a rubber-band-slingshot between my apartment and the Vilas building with a few other stops in between sometimes that take more time than they probably should.

Oh, and my shoulders hurt from exercising yesterday. Um…good for the bones, I guess? Bleh. I don’t know.

What I do know today:

  • I’m so lonely when alone, but when in class, most of the time I just want to get out of there.
  • Saying “you’ll be fine” to me right now would be like…I think I’ll go there in a future entry.
  • The little things accumulate and escalate.
  • Budgeting more travel time is never a bad idea.
  • My computer’s fan is embarrassingly loud.
  • I’m always doing stuff, but I would never call myself “busy.” I don’t know about that. Again, more in a future entry.
  • I should probably go back and read through my posts and follow through on some of those future-entry topics.

All those charts were right, about grad school being a six-slice pie (school, social, sleep, exercise, diet, and extracurriculars, or something like that) when they say “pick four and fail at them all.”

In that case, I have about seven pies worth of failure.

And I’m not even really doing any of those things right now.

…so I guess I just proved the chart right.

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Feeling Trapped

I haven’t talked about my emotions for awhile, so I’ll try to be brief.

I’ve been feeling trapped.

Trapped by technology: I’m embarrassed to bring my laptop to class because it’s kind of noisy, I’m nervous about getting an IPad because I’m scared I might break it, and they’re expensive, I’m scared I’m addicted to my IPhone, but then again, so are most Americans.

Trapped by my own self-doubt: In terms of schoolwork, I feel like everything I write isn’t nearly as good as the others, I was too chicken to enter last week’s dance competition, and then there’s the usual bad feelings.

Trapped in my apartment: Other than class, rehearsal, meetings – I don’t have much in the way of reasoning to leave my apartment, especially now as it gets colder outside. I feel like an animal in its cage, just hanging around and not doing much. I’m basically one of the animals in the zoo that everyone walks past.

I need to find something to help me feel free…or, freer.

Oh, and I haven’t heard from Awkward Miss Estonia, or any Estonians for that matter. But it’s only a day, so I guess I need to be more patient.

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Happy Places

Getting in bed late last night, I was trying to calm myself down after a hectic day (well, mostly a hectic three hours’ worth of throwing a six-page paper together), and decided to travel to my happy place.

What is a happy place?

A “happy place” is something that I first heard on Friends, in the episode where Phoebe is trying to calm Monica down by asking her to access her happy place. Monica admits she doesn’t have one, so Phoebe lends her her own happy place, but admonishes her friend “…but please don’t move anything.” Phoebe then goes on to describe the happy place, which includes a waterfall. This fails to make Monica calm down, but does make her want to pee. Actually, I kind of have to pee now too, but I’ll finish writing first.

Probably not a great idea, but we’ll see what happens.

So, back in bed last night, I was attempting to find my own happy places, and realized that I don’t have that many. Then I really took a good long flip through my memories, and found that there are plenty of happy places for me – I just fail to recognize them as what they are. For a place to count as a happy place, it must be a concrete memory, and not just “the beach” or “in a garden.” It’s gotta be personal.

I’ve been short on stories lately, so here’s a list of random memories of times and place where I felt best, my true “happy places.”

Childhood

  • Not in my memory, but a picture of myself sitting on a brown blanket at the park near Wellwood Elementary, with my family. There are two pictures of that day that conjure up only happiness in my mind. In the first, I am a chubby toddler in a striped shirt and tan shorts, laughing and looking slightly south of the camera. In the picture, it’s just me, and for a moment, I am just happy with myself, by myself, just enjoying life. The second picture is one from that same day that my dad probably took. I am sitting on my mom’s lap at a picnic table. I know it’s from the same day because I’m in the same outfit. She’s bouncing me on her knee, and I’m laughing, and she’s looking down at me and laughing. In that frame, there’s no worry, anger, anxiety, or stress, just happiness.
  • Evenings spent sitting by my mother as she graded her third graders’ work. She sat, as my dad says “like a deer, on her haunches” on the blue bedroom carpet by the heater with her work in very specific piles around her, and usually me among them, talking to her or just sitting and reading or watching whatever channel my dad has decided on for the moment. Being situated between my parents was comforting, and such a familiar scene helps me feel like I’m right at home, in an easy part of my childhood.
  • Riding in the car with my mom, wherever, whenever, but listening to good oldies music. It seems like many of my childhood happy places seem to be close to my mother. I wasn’t really close with my father until I entered adolescence, really. Also, no school memories come to mind at all.

Adolescence/Teenage Years

  • Spending a peaceful Shabbat at home, usually involving a rotation between the couch, the brown chair in the basement, the plaid chair in the living room, my parents’ bed, and my bed. Extra happy if I got to finish at least one or two books.
  • Spending Shabbat in Ocean City. I’m not as huge on sitting on the beach reading as my dad is, usually because it’s cold, but coming with a suitcase of books and between the beach, the deck, the couch, the chairs, my bed, my parents’ bed, and my parents’ deck, worming my way both around the house and through several books could only be described as happy.

Amherst Years

  • Being lost in a bookstore. Any bookstore. Food for Thought, the big one on Pleasant St., the one in the mall in Northampton, some of the little ones in NoHo. Brattleboro, Vermont? Even better. A warm cup of something from Postcard Cafe, or Sylvester’s, (or Mocha Joe’s in Brattleboro), and a quick duck into Acme Surplus, just celebrating my freedom by hopping between stores.
  • Friday nights with any arrangement of Daniel, Goldie, Nora, Neta, Sarah, Cory, Kelsey, and Zippy on the couches at the Hillel windows for our weekly entertainment: cars getting towed on Phillips Street with their owners absent, standing by, or the best kind – running shoeless and coatless from a frat/sorority house only to watch their ride leaving without them – literally; or, watching guys pee in our parking lot, banging on the window and catching them midstream, and seeing their reactions. Pure fun with pure friends.

Israel

  • Midnight to 2 AM in the Nahum Lifshitz apartment, watching marathons of Hannah Montana, That’s So Raven, and Lizzie McGuire with Rael (and later, Adina). The routine: I get home from whatever I’m doing that night at the theatre or at the gym; if it’s the theatre, I put on the pasta and make the salads. If it’s the gym, I get out the veggies, put on the pasta, and leave the door unlocked for Rael so she can let herself in to check on the pasta in case I’m not out of the shower yet. In either scenario, at this point I take out my pasta and bring it to the table, as well as our salads and beverages. We watch show number one while Rael’s pasta continues to cook (she likes it stringy and mushy – I still don’t understand why, but whatever suits her appetite) and usually by the time show one is over, her pasta is ready and I focus on my salad or eyeball whatever dessert Rael has brought. The company, the conversation…man those were happy times. I can’t believe we’re so far away now. We did the midnight walks through Jerusalem as well…okay, this is bordering on tear-worthy nostalgia…
  • Being busy at the theatre. The busier, the better – I’m in control, I feel alive, and I’m in a million places at once, doing it all as hard as I can. Dedication, commitment, and in spare moments, a sweet garden to lounge in, or my insanely large office with the couch that served as a nap spot for myself and numerous others. Everyone comes to Jacob’s office.
  • Sunny days off, wandering around Jerusalem. Old City, New City, a different neighborhood anytime. The Old City’s the best though, the shuk, the Western Wall, getting lost and meeting locals and tourists, on the precipice of both myself. So fab. And in my happy place, I can have less acne.
  • Sitting by the sea in Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus, with the whole sea to myself. Sketching, reading, white wine, Mediterranean breeze – it was just one afternoon but it couldn’t have been more perfect. A language I don’t understand? Perfect for zoning out and being in the moment.

Houston Years

  • Hanging out in the apartment. Just knowing that I have this luxurious nest that I can go to and just lie on the couch watching TV, sit on the porch, or holing up in bed.
  • Studying at the Julia Ideson Library in downtown Houston. Leather couches and chairs, Greek statues, old bookshelves, roomy tables, free wifi, picture window views of Houston. Usually alone –  Houston’s hidden gem. Sometimes I just couldn’t sit still and got up and danced around the room – quietly, of course.

Bonus Happy Place: Vacation

  • Prague. A bench along the Vltava. A sunny Saturday. Getting lost in a book – but then looking up and seeing the most beautiful picture postcard in the world. And not only can I see it, I can feel it, I can touch it, it’s all there. I could sit on that bench forever.
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Getting Through Tough Times

For some reason, I’m having a hard time of it these days. In a lot of ways.

Mostly, I’m just not feeling the inspiration to write much. I get these ideas, think they’re good, and then think a little more and think that they’re kind of meh. Then it keeps going downhill from there, and then I’m back to square one.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a better story to tell, but for now, I should probably get started on the paper I have to turn in in like…five minutes. Hope it’ll be fine.

That’s something I haven’t written about yet – thinking about the worst possible consequences/globalizing/making too big of a deal out of things. Sounds like a good topic to build on in the coming days.

Oh great, there’s the conference proposal I have to work on.

Maybe that “what’s the worst that could happen” post will have to wait for a little bit.

But I want to get back to this, so don’t let me forget.

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Post-Birthday Blues

It’s almost like it all rolls downhill from here. Your birthday happens, then it’s gone, and…now what?

I tell myself that I usually get bummed on my birthday, but not so much is that true. The week after it is the worst; it’s over, and you don’t know whether you’re coming or going.

Is it like new year’s? Am I supposed to be a whole new me?

Am I supposed to start eating right and getting healthy? Because birthday cake and treats are not quite doing that.

Am I supposed to feel inspired, and sing to the birds? Uhm, jury’s out on this one. I had a humongous presentation yesterday, so preparing for that, in addition to worries about my next batch of working, memorizing lines, and the fact that my apartment is getting fumigated tomorrow because my lame neighbors have bedbugs, has not exactly led me to be inspired to do much of anything. In fact, after class today, I came back home and spent an unseemly amount of time doing nothing. I did get some stuff read for tomorrow and some emails sent, but I still have this weird feeling like I’m just waiting around for nothing to happen, just myself perpetually getting older.

It’s always been like this, now that I remember, just after my birthday – the anticipation is gone. Just when you get used to the fact that it’s your birthday, it’s over, and you have another year to figure out how to deal with it again.

For now, I guess I should just clean up, pack up for tomorrow, move some more furniture around, and get in my sheet-less bed with a book.

Hopefully tomorrow expression will beat out depression.

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I Like You, and That’s OK

If you’re reading this, then I like you.

Even if we haven’t met yet in real life, I like you.

Why?

I don’t have a reason not to, and even if I did have a reason, I wouldn’t treat you that much differently than I’d treat anyone else.

In the early 2000s, comedienne Ellen DeGeneres had a sitcom named Ellen where she played the title character, a bookstore owner named Ellen who was described as possessing a persistent, universal need to be liked. Even today, when she meets new people on her talk show, celebrity or not, she makes it her duty to make the person happy and bring him or her over to her side – the sunny side, the fun side. She has many different strategies on how to make it happen, but she usually gets by with a guilty smile and a chuckle.

I am not so lucky.

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of friends. Actually, I didn’t really have any. Making friends has always been kind of weird for me. Whenever I meet someone, though, I greet them with a smile, and something like “hi, how ya’ doin?” or “hey, what’s up?” When people give me thoughtful answers, I feel happy, and when people give me a terse answer, it hurts my feelings. Maybe it’s just our American conditioning, but I’m your friend, not your Starbucks barista – when I ask you how you’re doing, I mean it. It doesn’t really matter if we don’t know each other well, or if we’ve known each other for years, but when I ask you how you are, that means I actually like you and want to know what’s new in your world. And if you return the question, that just makes my day. I wouldn’t say that I have quite that quality of a “persistent need to be liked” that Ellen has, but being liked just feels so much better than being disliked or hated. And it doesn’t take that much energy to like someone. In fact, it might make you like yourself more.

Even though I’m in my mid-twenties, friendship is still a tricky minefield for me to navigate. Just when I think I know what I’m doing, something will happen that I can’t control. Someone will do a complete 180, and get cold to me for no reason. Then when I ask, I either get no response, a terse one, like “nothing,” or a lie, like “you’re fine.” If it really was nothing, and I really am fine, then why not behave like a normal person and friend and be a little bit…I don’t know…friendly? You don’t have to pounce on me with a bear hug or anything, but a smile and a reasonably polite response, is that so much to ask? Or if I even have to ask…are you really my friend? There are so many times when I ask myself that question about people. For example, blocking me on Facebook and then saying that we’re not friends on Facebook because your profile is “being weird” is flat-out rude. When someone blocks me on Facebook, I feel a little hurt inside. I know it’s your Facebook and you can do what you want, and it’s just a social media platform, but don’t lie to me, because that hurts. Another example: If I ask you if you’re free and if you want to get together or make plans to, and you don’t respond, and then I find out that you decided to  go out and just ignore me completely and think that I wouldn’t find out about it or even care, that makes me really sad. Even if you didn’t ask me to join you, which is perfectly okay, don’t just flat-out ignore me or pretend you didn’t see my message. When someone texts me, even if it’s just a little thing, I always respond. Nine times out of ten, I text someone and never hear back from them. It’s not like I text people constantly, but maybe if you took a minute to return the text, even to say, “talk to you later, I’m busy,” that would be a nice thing to do. I always have good intentions in mind, and I care, so don’t ever think that I want to bother or annoy you, I’m just genuinely interested. And I don’t call/text people constantly; I only do it if I haven’t heard from you in awhile, and want to hear how you’re doing.

I try to be nice to everyone, even if I don’t like them, but it seems to me that this isn’t a universal concept. When people who are supposedly your “friends” make you feel sad, unwanted, or disliked, are they really your friends? If I ever did anything to you, you should know that I don’t do things to purposely hurt people. If it’s important, talk to me about it, and if it’s not, move on. I have friends who do or say things that sometimes make me feel uncomfortable around them, but I swallow those things if they’re not that important to our friendship and keep my negative feelings to myself, focusing on things that I like about you and focusing on being polite, kind, and considerate. Once, I considered giving up having friends altogether. Or even trying to make new ones. Maybe I should do that. But then when I say that to myself, I realize how empty life is without friendship. Maybe I should delete my Facebook, but I have a lot of pictures and memories on there that make me happy, and it’s an easy way for me to keep in touch with friends and family members who are far away from me. Maybe I should lay low for awhile, and leave everyone else alone, but then they might forget about me, and I’ll never have any friends again. Maybe I should start treating people like shit, but that won’t solve anything. Maybe I should just get so drunk here in my apartment until I don’t have any feelings anymore, but that feeling will inevitably subside, and if it doesn’t, then…surprise, I’m an alcoholic. Maybe I should just lay down and accept the fact that people are just going to be rude to me and make me feel sad and unwanted, and that I can’t do anything about it.

Or maybe I should just dye my hair blonde and become a lesbian. I already have the blue eyes.

This post is dedicated to my late grandmother (1911-2005) who would have been 102 today. Everyone who knew her liked her, and she loved me so much, she called me her “best grandson,” which made me feel so special. But then when I was about 7, I realized that I was also her only grandson, so I see what you did there. I love you, Grandma, and I miss you every day.

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The Fine Art of Canceling, or, How to Chip Away at My Heart

It happened again.

Just when I thought I’d escaped, it happened again.

Lately, I’ve been scraping and whittling things down in my brain, trying to ask myself why I feel the way I do sometimes, and how I get there. The root of the problem. And one of those things that instantly throws me into a tailspin is getting that text that usually starts with “Dear Jacob” and includes the words “sorry,” “cancel,” and the worst offender of all, “rain check.” Those two words send shivers down my spine.

Maintaining friendships and relationships have always been tough for me. My parents thought I might have had some sort of social skills problem. Last year, I was talking to my dad about the subject, when he told me something interesting that I’d said when I was about eight. At this point in my life, I remember identifying closer with adults and older kids rather than kids my own age or younger. I also remember being shy a lot of the time, among other things. When I was eight, an adult – probably a teacher or a counselor of some kind – asked me why I was so quiet. My response was, “I’m quiet because it’s safe.” When adult me heard child me say that, adult me wanted to go back in time and give child me a hug. It all came flooding back. I was a very lonely child, preferring the company of books or stuffed animals, of which I had many. But, as life goes on, human interaction becomes increasingly important in a person’s developmental process. My seeming inability to hang on to friends became an inability to even make friends, which led me to stop trying somewhere around the fifth or sixth grade. I actually remember feeling resigned to being alone for the rest of my life.

Adult life kind of changed things. College, Israel, grad school were all experiences that took me out of my comfort zone of home and helped me open up. It also allowed me to change my personality a little, and in addition, put me in situations where other people around me were seeking friendships as well. Some may have even had similar experiences growing up.

Connecting this back to what I actually wanted to write about today, in the past few years, I’ve been investing more time and energy into creating and maintaining meaningful friendships and quality relationships. One of those ways is to be a little more aggressive than I’m used to being at times, and instead of waiting around by the phone, being proactive and asking people to get together, even suggesting activities, dates, times, and locations. I’ve found a lot of success there, but I’ve also experienced the heartbreak that comes from being canceled on, so much so that my parents actually approved of me joining an online dating site. My birthday party last year was probably the worst birthday party in the history of time immemorial. My guest list started out decently, with about 10-15 people saying yes and agreeing to come. And one by one, everyone canceled. Some gave no reason, some had to work/do schoolwork, one had a medical issue, and the very last one came a few hours before the party, someone who had to take a friend’s seven-year-old sister to dance class. Seven years old. Dance class. So, I scrapped the whole party, unofficially, threw all the food back in the fridge, and decided to drown my feelings with a long, hot shower. Only then, there was a knock at my door, and it was one guest, who I’d totally forgotten that I’d invited, a guy who I didn’t know so well. I cooked us dinner and we spent two awkward hours talking, after which I cried for awhile and felt like dying.

Before and after the failed party, canceling plans seems to be the norm for everyone else but me. People just casually send a text offering regrets with platitudes and “have fun anyways.” I’ve had three social interactions canceled in one day, I’ve bought tickets for no-shows, and I even got stranded at an airport once (that was when the amazing Monica switched around her schedule and came out to get me after picking up her kids from school, WHILE THEY WERE STILL IN THE CAR, if my mom would’ve done this to me as a kid, I’d have been so angry). Usually the excuses are legit and some people even offer a bit of condolence but rarely ever any sort of compensation for the lost time and hurt feelings on my end.

When things like this happen, I usually say “it’s ok” or “no problem” or “I understand,” because if I say how I really feel to that friend, I might not have that friend anymore. It comes off either as a personal attack or a guilt trip, experiences that nobody enjoys having. When the birthday party thing happened, I thought about telling off all my friends, or “friends” as it were at the time, but then I’d have fewer of them and they might tell others about me flipping out at them or giving them grief. I thought about asking everyone to a second party and taking a poll on when it’s best for everyone, but I didn’t want to seem like a doormat, desperate for friends. I even thought about asking my friends to give me money for all the food and drinks I’d bought for them, and I was in such a state of mind that it actually seemed like a good idea until my dad talked me out of it.

But the point is? It hurts. It maims. It wounds. It’s a punch in the gut and a slap in the face and a pileup in the end zone when multiple parties are involved.

And for some reason, it affects me on such a deep level that it inhibits my ability to function.

Here are the stages I go through upon getting the dreaded call, text, or email.

  1. Shock that I’ve just been canceled on.
  2. Disappointment, which varies depending on how excited I was, how much I like the person, or how much I desperately wanted to do what we were going to do together.
  3. Apologies, as if it’s my fault. (sometimes a stage that is skipped).
  4. Flat-out rejection, feeling like a 2-d cardboard cutout that’s been knocked over and stomped upon.
  5. Loathing for the person who rejected me. Varies.
  6. Telling myself that I knew it was going to happen, and that something like this always does, and that I’m an unlucky human being.
  7. Proposing an alternate time or two.
  8. If we can reschedule, all prior stages are reversed. If we can’t, or he/she won’t, there’s usually a “we’ll see” involved and a vague statement about the future that contains no promises, so the other person has an “out.”

After contact is broken with the other person, my thought process:

  1. Flat-out pain. Usually involves sitting for a long time. Statement to self: “this sucks.”
  2. Feeling shot down. Statement to self: “ouch.”
  3. Doubt. Statement to self: “who’d want to hang out with me anyway?”
  4. Self-hatred. Statement to self: “I don’t want to be here with me right now either but I don’t have a choice.”
  5. Globalization. Statement to self. “Nobody wants to hang out with me. Nobody will ever hang out with me again. Nobody likes me.”
  6. Globalized self-hatred. Statement to self: “I don’t like myself too. I hate myself.”
  7. Blame. Statement to self: “You hate me. You made me hate me. I hate you for hating me. I hate the way you made me feel.”
  8. Negative thoughts about other person.
  9. Mentally list all the other person’s shortcomings.
  10. Feel completely emotionless and lifeless.
  11. Do some sort of activity or distraction exercise; for me, it’s usually staring, eating,

This cycle keeps repeating itself, until the time comes when I decide that I am done with the whole “friends” thing, I am done with human interaction, admitting defeat, declaring surrender, and then usually attempting to make plans with someone else, which may or may not start the cycle again.

When I have to cancel, which I rarely do, because I try not to commit to anything that I can’t follow through on, this is what I do.

  1. Apologize.
  2. Make sure my apology has been acknowledged.
  3. Offer to make alternate plans, on your time, on my dime. This might be pushing it but if it’s a friend worth keeping, it’s a friend worth it, case in point: I failed to hang out with a friend one night, so one day we got sushi together, on me, and I made up for the lost time by being sincere and spending most of the lunch listening to her rather than talking.
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Goodbye Hugs

This will probably be one of my very last posts from Houston. On Friday, I got the call from the movers that they’ll be here to pick up my furniture and boxes of books, so there’s no point in staying here much past Tuesday.

I’ve moved quite a few times in the past few years, but this one is especially difficult for some reason. I feel like I’ve really grown into my own here, and learned a lot about myself and about the way the world works. I was plunked here two years ago knowing absolutely no one and with no knowledge of how the city or even how the state worked. In two years, I’ve found a bit more solid the ground on which I stand, and have been following more of my own rules than the rules of others – but grounding my rules in firm reason. For once, I’ve developed a semblance of a circle of friends, cobbled together from different places and common interests, but each special to me in a different way. This task would have been impossible for me to do five years ago. I could do without the heat, the bugs, and the traffic, as mentioned in a previous post, but I’ll miss the beautiful Texas scenery all around me, and my beautiful apartment – which is, at the moment, in shambles, with boxes of books and piles of clean folded laundry everywhere.

My dad just called from the airport, so I’ll have to finish this up rather quickly.

Basically, I wanted to share my thoughts on goodbye hugs. I used to love to hug. I still secretly do, but I’ve become more cautious and careful about it, because you never know who might or might not want it. I thought about stopping, but when a friend told me “I don’t hug,” I tried to imagine life without hugging and found the thought unbearably sad.

The goodbye hug, however, should be a breed of its own. An average hug lasts about three seconds. Not knowing when you’ll see the person again makes those three seconds seem to either disappear too quickly without the sensation of the hug being transmitted, or expand to a five-to-seven second hug (or even longer) that can be misconstrued as awkward in the wrong place/time/context.

In these past few days, I’ve experienced several different types of goodbye hugs, and each of them tells me a little bit about the person. Rather than mentioning names, I’ll go with letters.

A is a person I’ve known for about a year. She and I have more of a hands-off relationship. Though a hug is not out of the question when we see each other, I don’t always feel that it’s appropriate. This hug was a brief squeeze, with a hint of lavender and off you go.

B is a person I’ve known for six months. She’s been there for me so, so many times and I am actually frightened by the thought of never seeing her again. She is rather slim, so when hugging her I had to gauge my own pressure. Her back is straight like a peacock or ostrich. Though it was a strange sensation to feel the bones of her back under my hands, the way her hands enveloped my body was like a bird cradling its young with its wings.

C is a person I’ve known for a year. He and I have had a steadfast friendship. A sanguine person, his hug filled me with warmth, and his clap on my back told me to keep it together, but in an affectionate way.

D is a person I’ve known for two years. He is a bit older than me. His hug was like holding a punching bag – enter, contact, go.

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Goodbye Hugs

This will probably be one of my very last posts from Houston. On Friday, I got the call from the movers that they’ll be here to pick up my furniture and boxes of books, so there’s no point in staying here much past Tuesday.

I’ve moved quite a few times in the past few years, but this one is especially difficult for some reason. I feel like I’ve really grown into my own here, and learned a lot about myself and about the way the world works. I was plunked here two years ago knowing absolutely no one and with no knowledge of how the city or even how the state worked. In two years, I’ve found a bit more solid the ground on which I stand, and have been following more of my own rules than the rules of others – but grounding my rules in firm reason. For once, I’ve developed a semblance of a circle of friends, cobbled together from different places and common interests, but each special to me in a different way. This task would have been impossible for me to do five years ago. I could do without the heat, the bugs, and the traffic, as mentioned in a previous post, but I’ll miss the beautiful Texas scenery all around me, and my beautiful apartment – which is, at the moment, in shambles, with boxes of books and piles of clean folded laundry everywhere.

My dad just called from the airport, so I’ll have to finish this up rather quickly.

Basically, I wanted to share my thoughts on goodbye hugs. I used to love to hug. I still secretly do, but I’ve become more cautious and careful about it, because you never know who might or might not want it. I thought about stopping, but when a friend told me “I don’t hug,” I tried to imagine life without hugging and found the thought unbearably sad.

The goodbye hug, however, should be a breed of its own. An average hug lasts about three seconds. Not knowing when you’ll see the person again makes those three seconds seem to either disappear too quickly without the sensation of the hug being transmitted, or expand to a five-to-seven second hug (or even longer) that can be misconstrued as awkward in the wrong place/time/context.

In these past few days, I’ve experienced several different types of goodbye hugs, and each of them tells me a little bit about the person. Rather than mentioning names, I’ll go with letters.

A is a person I’ve known for about a year. She and I have more of a hands-off relationship. Though a hug is not out of the question when we see each other, I don’t always feel that it’s appropriate. This hug was a brief squeeze, with a hint of lavender and off you go.

B is a person I’ve known for six months. She’s been there for me so, so many times and I am actually frightened by the thought of never seeing her again. She is rather slim, so when hugging her I had to gauge my own pressure. Her back is straight like a peacock or ostrich. Though it was a strange sensation to feel the bones of her back under my hands, the way her hands enveloped my body was like a bird cradling its young with its wings.

C is a person I’ve known for a year. He and I have had a steadfast friendship. A sanguine person, his hug filled me with warmth, and his clap on my back told me to keep it together, but in an affectionate way.

D is a person I’ve known for two years. He is a bit older than me. His hug was like holding a punching bag – enter, contact, go.