anecdotes, life, stories, words, writing

Nerves

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“I am sorry…I…I….sorry,” she stammered as she scrounged around in her sack of a handbag, digging around to find whatever it was she was going to present to me. One by one she started to take things out of her bag, a pen, two pen, few pencils, a really old motorola phone – I didnt even think these kinds existed anymore – a small opaque plastic bag, which I didnt have to peek inside to know the contents of. The wafting foul smell of beetle nut and lime told me it was doma*, a Bhutanese favorite snack. She paused when she put it out onto my desk, and looked at me for a second like she was going to offer me some, but decided against it to continue her search through the abyss of her magical bag – it was amazing how many things fit in it.

“Ahh….here it is,” she exclaimed and handed me a tiny tiny USB drive. “Can you please open it on your computer?” she mumbled. Some consultant I thought to myself. It was one thing to ask for a favor and help her with her work, it was an entirely different thing to actually carry out the work for her.

“You see, I am running out of time, I am running out of time,” she repeated. Her relatively young round eyes filled with anxiety. “Right,” I nodded back and inserted the USB into my sleek laptop’s USB port. Her mangled key chain of what appeared to be an extremely dirty teddy bear hanging off the USB in stark contrast to the shiny silver of my macbook pro. The file opened to my utter horror of chaotic pdf files, excel sheets, word documents, movies, books, jpegs, neither in order nor appropriately named. My OCD kicked into high gear and if I knew her better than just being introduced through a mutual friend some one hour back, I would have offered to organize her files on the USB. As she looked through her files to look for whatever it was that she was going to show me and ask for my help, I noticed all her paraphernalia still scattered across my desk. Her slightly large tego** sleeves skimming over my desk zen garden. I inhaled a sharp breath of air in panic worrying her lovely purple sleeves would leave an uninvited line across the sand perfectly styled in symmetric curlicues.

“Umm….,” she mumbled and rested her face on her hands and her elbows uncomfortably close to me. “Here,” I said and got out of my chair allowing her to move closer to my laptop so she could look at the screen better, but also for myself because the smell of unsolicited beetle nut and her chaotic hair and slightly running mascara was irritating me, but also garnering some deep level of sympathy because she was everything I tried not to be. I felt guilty I was judging her in that moment. She paused and looked up like she remembered something, picked up her bag and starting digging through it again. She pulled out a notebook, a compact – which has obviously not touched her skin in the least bit today- and then some breath mints. “Here, have some,” she said and offered the mints to me. “Umm, no thanks,” I said and asked if she found the file. “I think its not here,” she said and smiled at me. “Anyway, I will go home and find it and will come back when I have it, if its okay with you,” she half asked and half declared rhetorically. “Okay….?” I responded quizzed by the coolness and ease and chaos with which this woman went about.

She moved across my desk, swiped her entire arm across my desk and literally chucked all her things back into her gunny sack of a hangbag. I handed her the USB, as she got up. “Thank you,” she said. “I really dont have time and now I wasted the last hour getting nothing done,” she said laughing. “Okay, will come back soon, thank you for your help,” she said and walked out of my office. I plonked myself down on my chair, energy drained by that whirlwind of a personality. The speed and chaos with which our interaction ensued confusing the hell out of me.

I never heard back from this woman.

doma* – In Bhutan the areca nut is called doma. The raw areca nut, which is soft and moist is very potent and when chewed can cause palpitation and vasoconstricting. This form is eaten in the lower regions of Bhutan and in North Bengal, where the nut is cut into half and put into a local paan leaf with a generous amount of lime.The fermented doma has a putrid odour, which can be smelled from miles.
tego** – Toego or Tego is a long-sleeved, short jacket-like garment worn over their traditional kira by women in Bhutan.

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fiction, life, stories, woman, writing

Waiting

The sound of pounding from all rubber stamps the tellers used drowned out the excruciating pain in the depths of her stomach. The wafting smell of ink and freshly printed paper adding to her nausea. Blinking back tears and breathing deeply telling herself she was going to be okay. She closed her eyes and for a few seconds she was able to just be. To become fully aware of her own being. To realize that at the end of the day, all she ever had was only herself, and it mattered that she realized that and give herself a little more attention than what he may have given her. She rolled her eyes inside her head to try and relieve some of the pressure in her head. Slowly losing herself in her thoughts that mattered to her before he had happened, and before every familiar face became a calculative measure of how it might be to be that person with many to love her and none to hurt.

When she slowly came to, and opened her eyes, the bank was dark. She worried maybe her grief had driven her to blindness. An upsurge of fear and panic emerged from the depths of her very expecting core, until the person sitting next to her shrugged and said, ‘imagine what a power outage like this is costing the market right now.’ A gentle unbidden smile in return before she got up, gathered her papers, and ran out of the bank lobby. The fresh air –unladen with the smell of ink– rushing into her lungs in deep breaths. First breath, burning, second breath, burning, third breath, chilling, fourth breath, adjusted chilling, fifth breath, calming, sixth breath, calming, seventh breath, normal.

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fiction, romance, stories, words, writing

Part II – Chivalry Days and Moscato Nights

KissIts been four days of sun and drinking Moscato out of frosted bottles of white, blue, and pink. For such palpable attraction to one another, we have not touched intimately….well, besides the greeting and goodbye hugs and the soft pecks on my cheek. The briskness and ease with which he carried out this latter task almost makes it childlike. That is what I seem to like most about him. The almost purity and honesty in every single thing he does. I laugh when I think about the way he walked up those stairs the first time I saw him at the villa and there I am, in my dress, glamazon-ed up but freaking out in fear just by the way he slightly scrunched up his prominent brows. “Oh god, hes going to walk up here and reprimand me for not recognizing him,” I think to myself. But guess whats the first thing he says? You look like a more beautiful version of Sophia Loren. Me? Better than the ever so sexy Sophia Loren? Petite Asian girl with my two dimensional body that I am. Can you imagine. I knew he was just being complimentary but the way his face softened as he climbed up the stairs and got to me; and the way his eyes went slate blank like a confessing child when he said that made me believe him in that moment, against my better judgement.

You know, I don’t know who he is, and why there was a frenzied mob of people surrounding him at the sports field. I guess I am on vacation because I don’t seem to have a cellphone on me. I am amazed in the four days we’ve spent hours together, neither one has found it necessary to pull out a phone to fill in the silence or even really ask anything beyond each others name. I don’t Google him. For once, I just want to remember him this way. For his shy smiles which are so unlike his usual confident self, for the way little gestures of chivalry seem to come so naturally to him — I didn’t understand why he would always, almost subconsciously, make sure he walked on the curb side while strolling through town, I would of course learn later on that it was actually a custom born out of the olden days when women needed to be shielded from the potential hazards posed by the passing horse-and-buggy. Old-timey etiquette like these always melt my heart. He was post-card perfect for my post-card vacation.

If you were anywhere in the vicinity, on the fifth day, you would have found us on the open roof of the villa. His ipod strategically placed within the large ceramic bowl as a make-shift speaker. Elvis Costello’s voice lacing the evening air and complementing the buzz from the wine. We sit on Italian wool blankets and talk about everything and nothing. He’s here because he needed a break. He asks why I am here, and I cant seem to find any purposeful reason. I wonder if I imagined being here and that’s why I am here, but only respond with a, “just like that.” “Well either way,” he says, “I am glad you’re here.” We look at each other and smile. “I remember you from the stadium,” he says. For a moment this wonderful life in Tuscany comes to a standstill. The threat of reality from life outside these few days threatening to come swarming in. “I thought you were the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen,” he says. I sit there stunned and unable to respond. “I didn’t…..” I think I should tell him that I am sorry I didn’t know who he was, or that I walked away but stop because it seems silly. “I know,” he says and leans in and kisses me for the first time. I sigh against his mouth. Our very first kiss.

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Part I – That Sophia Loren Dress

sophia-loren-floral-dress-1965The frenzy around who had just showed up on the other side of the bleachers where I was standing was palpable. It must be someone famous I thought. I didn’t rush, not like the other girls as they double hopped over the steely benches to run towards the right. I made my way down the steps, slowly and carefully. I even remember the way my bright purple New Balances with its grey undersoles touched down on every single step, planting itself over the aluminium grooves of the benches. I got down to the grass on the field and turned right to see what all the commotion was about. I am lucky I haven’t been dashed into or pushed aside by one of the crazier ladies from the lot jumping up and down in glee. Its funny how in moments of pure excitement, joy, elation, whatever you want to call it, even adults are brought down to their most guileless, rather child-like, versions of self.

In interest of trying to find out who exactly was there on the bleachers causing the spectators to lose their heads, I slowly made my way through a thinning crowd as he obliged to take selfies, sign things and hug or shake hands. Somehow, and I imagine it is because I am the creator of this story, I ended up smack in the front of the crowd phone camera all ready, thinking and partly hoping it is a public figure I would know. Unsurprisingly it is not. I have no idea who this man is, and just as I shrug my shoulders and put my phone away we make eye contact. His beaming smile pauses, not in those meet cute kind of ways, but almost flabbergasted that there would be one person in this sea of people who might, just might, be uninterested or unknowing of who he was. His eyes widen a little but he maintains eye contact. I look away in unease. And quickly make my way back through the crowd and out of the stadium. I take one last look back at him, busy posing, sandwiched between two blonde bombshells. Probably a famous athlete I think and walk away.

Few days later, I find myself out on the balcony of a beautiful Italian Villa, it may have been on Lake Como, it may have been somewhere in Santa Barbara, but I hope against all hopes that it was in Tuscany, Italy. There has always been a certain charm in the terracotta floors and an intoxication in the patterned limestone that almost guarantees any encounter one of romance, passion, sexy bed hair, wine and cigarettes. Anyway, so I find myself in what I think is my most beautiful Sophia-Loren-would-approve floral sun dress, out on the balcony looking down and ‘lo and behold’ who do I see? My unidentified, could be a famous athlete from the football field frenzy incident a few days back. His hair much lighter from the glow of the sun, on a brilliant blue Vespa, in a casual white and blue Henley, staring up at me after pulling into the cobbled driveway that the balcony I am on overlooks.

“Well, hello there,” he says. Smirk in place. I cannot tell if his accent is American or European. He speaks with no accent. What accent sounds like no accent I wonder. Shut up! I tell my mind that is going into unnecessary details from the nervousness. I fear if I step any closer to the sides of the balcony he will be able to see up my Sophia Loren dress. I furrow my brows in pretentious confusion, even as my insides burn up in nerves and I feel a deep flush beginning at the tip of my smaller than usual ears.

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End of An Encounter {Finale}

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“I ordered us breakfast, I hope that’s okay,” Josh says.
“That’s fine. Thank you,” Madilyn replies.

They stand there watching each other in awkward silence for a split second. He smiles, runs his hands through his thick brown mane and gestures towards the balcony. Madilyn nods weakly still a little shy and unsure of what is proper morning after behavior and walks out onto the balcony forgoing her initial idea of putting on a few more articles of clothing underneath the fluffy cotton bathrobe. The morning sun gleams down onto the table of fresh croissants, fruit platters, coffee, and orange juice. Her stomach rumbles in response.
“I guess I am hungry after the long night,” she says and blushes almost as soon as she says it. Shit! Madilyn thinks to herself, she meant she guesses she’s hungry because it had been a long time after the last time she ate and not because it was a long night of……you know, with him. Josh grins a wide grin noticing how uncomfortable Madilyn was making herself.

“Sit,” he says pulling out the chair, choosing not to respond and tease her.
“Thanks for getting all this,” she says looking out onto the narrow street lining the neighborhood and to the distant appearance of the Eiffel Tower. She is barely able to look directly into his eyes. Embarrassed and unused to very many random hook-ups with men, Madilyn chooses to pretend she is enjoying the view. This Paris view she has seen almost a hundred times before. Inexplicably Josh is able to read that about her.

“It’s called living in the moment,” Josh says.
She turns to face him, “Excuse me?” she says.
“You are clearly trying to justify last night in your head, unused to having to deal with the morning afters and all that. I wanted to catch you before you force yourself to categorize last night as having been anything more than something fun we both enjoyed doing. Last night was called living in the moment, if you must label it somehow,” he said.
She paused, trying to absorb what he said, and then she smiled, and then she laughed lightly.
“It is, isn’t it?” she responded. “Thank you for the moment,” she adds.
“Moments, plural, if I remember correctly,” he says, not allowing his teasing joking self to let this second moment to tease slide. Madilyn laughs in response. If this had come from the jock in college she might have reeled in disgust and seen it as the most crass comment, but somehow even though she didn’t know Josh so well, she was felt she knew him enough to know that’s just his playful side and that that was exactly how he meant it.
“Coffee? Or orange juice?” he asks holding a coffee cup in one hand and a nice glass of juice in the other.
“Coffee and then orange juice,” she responds grabbing both out of his hands. He surrenders them to her and smiles back glad he has been able to disarm her nerves a bit.

“Do you mind?” Josh asks, holding up a cigarette in his left hand and an engraved zippo lighter in the right.
“No,” Madilyn replies.
Josh lights up his cigarette, sips his coffee and looks out at the city that’s beginning to wake up from its moments from last night.
Madilyn sips her nice strong coffee just the way she likes it, and looks over at Josh. The pure whiteness of his t-shirt reflecting the bright sunlight making it hard to stare at it too long. “Living in the moment,” she repeats to herself watching him stretch his long tanned legs and crosses them at the ankles. His chocolate brown hair disheveled in a sexy mess on his head. She undoes her bun and lets her long dark hair dry in the sun. She notices him watching her from the corner of her eyes. She looks over at him and he smiles at her but says nothing. She pushes herself up off her chair, leans over the table and kisses him, surprising herself.

They continue to sit, mostly in silence, watching the city and watching each other. Smiling in affection and basically just living in another moment.

C’est Fin!

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End of An Encounter {Part Trois}

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I should be hurrying up, but I allow myself to stand under the water and think of all the different ways this could play out when I step out, assuming that he is still there. I thought I had heard the hotel room door open and close at some point but I couldn’t be too sure. I wonder if I am sure about thinking that he had been as interesting and wonderful as I had in my drunken state the earlier night. That’s the thing about going to these affairs that make you acutely aware of how few really truly interesting people you actually meet in life. Interesting to you, interested in you. I had met Josh at just the beginning of what would turn out to be my most drunken night in months, so I had enough clarity to remember that I thought he was really funny and we had laughed and talked endlessly over the bottles of champagne we had stolen from the bar. I remember being amazed by the level of comfort I found myself in in his company. I smile to myself, slightly embarrassed when I think of the way we had rushed into his hotel room tearing at each other in the hallway. God I really hope none of the hotel staff remember seeing me come in with Josh last night. I think it’s strange that I wouldn’t have worried about being seen and that for once, I was able to forget about what people might say or think. I smile thinking about the ease. This gives me enough courage to step out of the shower, hoping Josh is still there. I would like to see what he is like, without the champagne haze.

I dry myself, put on the bathroom again, pull my wet hair up in a bun on the top of my head and slowly unlock the bathroom door. A strange sensation of hope and fear flutter about in my chest and settle in the pit of my stomach. All knotted nerves, I inhale a deep breath and step out.

I see Madilyn from behind the translucent curtains leading out to the balcony where I am standing. She’s in the fluffy white hotel bathrobe and I immediately think about the alabaster skin underneath. Barefeet she steps forward looking around curiously with searching eyes. She is beautiful, just as I think I remember her. I almost want to step forward and loosen the bun on her head to unravel her long raven locks. I remember her hair distinctly from the night before. The obscure gleam of the blackness a stark contrast to her fair skin all the same time making her less noticeable and the most attractive in the room. I had stood by the bar glancing around the room full of people all dressed up and polished, and it wasn’t until my second glance around the room when I noticed her. She was laughing at something someone at her table had said and I could notice the flush of having had a little too much wine spreading across the nape of her neck. When she’d thrown her head back to laugh and glanced forward to make eye contact with me, I had been struck by her beauty. Not just in the way that her physical appearance had attracted me but in a way where I knew I needed to spend more time with her, to know a little more about her, to make sure I would have some shared memories with this girl. Funny how that happens and now that she is here, standing in my room, waiting to be discovered if need be and yet I fumble in my judgment. Nervous about interacting, nervous about not interacting, nervous I might have made a big mistake, but even more nervous that it might not infact be the familiar morning after regret.

His coat is still lying on the chair by the end of the bed so I know he’s still here but I don’t see him anywhere. I wonder if he’s stepped out of the room for something. Maybe to make a phonecall……to his friends? His girlfriend? His wife? I start to psych myself out again, as I always do. I know for a fact that there was no wedding ring, but really how many married men who show up to destination weddings by themselves really use that opportunity to hook up with random women? Could he be married and have conveniently slipped off the gold circle for the few days he is here? Whatever, either way, I am going to get out of here and that is it. I don’t need to deal with the enraged wife or girlfriend. I find myself getting unnecessarily flustered at the thought.

“Hey,” Josh calls out from behind me as I bend down to collect a few articles discarded around the bed. I snap up straight and turn around. He’s standing in front of the door leading to the balcony in his blue and white boxers and a plain white T. The light coming in from behind creating a blurry silhouette around his figure against the light. It almost looks like a halo for his entire body. I smile at him and say hey.

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End of An Encounter {Part Deux}

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I hold the door open but do not step out. I wonder if I should just take a hot shower and wash off last night from my skin. Last night does not feel like a terrible mistake I will regret forever. It does not feel like the only other one night stand I had in the past. It was in college, I was a freshman, he was a senior, he was a douchey varsity jock, go figure. I remember clearly when he feigned being “dead tired” as I slipped out of bed. As I bent down to pull my too tight too skinny jeans over my bare legs, he reached out with his long basketball playing arms and smacked my butt. “Thanks babe. I will text you later,” was all he managed to say before he rolled over to face the other side of the prison-cell dorm room with its alabaster white walls. I wondered if Josh would say something like that. Would all the fun moments I think I shared with him last night boil down to that one distasteful statement he will make reducing our encounter to nothing but a mere fun night? Before I get through my next thought of why I was idiotically hoping this would be different, maybe even meaningful, Josh calls out my name.

“Madilyn? Is everything okay?” I call out. She’s been in the bathroom with the door open for a few minutes too long. I still haven’t run out of my bed to put on my boxers. Maybe she meant to step out but needed to go back in because she forgot to brush or……….. What does it matter why she hasn’t stepped out yet? Why was everything about this whole morning and about last night bothering me, well more like making me nervous? Why am I trying to figure out what every little thing with this chic means? I am starting to psych myself out and its slowly getting to me. I need to make an exit and it’s now or never. As I simmer in my thoughts of how best to make my exit, she pokes her head out. Lips swollen, make-up smeared, and hair clearly disheveled from the night. She is beautiful, that much I got right.

“I will be out in a minute. Still need to clean up so I look human,” I reply smiling. He smiles back but doesn’t say anything. I don’t wait for a response and decide I want to take that shower after all. As I lose the robe and step towards the shower stall I call out without much thought, “if you need to be somewhere you can leave, it’s okay, I can see myself out.” I regret it almost as quickly as I say it. There were so many things wrong with that sentence. For one, that was definitely the female version of smacking the other person on the ass the next morning and saying I will text you. Even a ‘I will call you later’ is a step up from just a supposed text. Now I really hope Josh decides to leave, if only to avoid having to face him after my own douchey jock moment. There is silence. I wonder if he didn’t hear me. Part of me hopes he didn’t hear me. I turn on the shower and step in, letting the water run hot over my skin.

I think maybe she is just as awkward about this whole thing as I am. Her quick response when she poked her head out of the bathroom, and the off-handed comment about letting me know it’s okay if I wanted to leave makes me laugh a little. Instead of using this opportunity to make the exit, I am intrigued. I find myself finding it cute that she’s so awkward and slightly shy about this morning. I think I might stick around. Maybe I should do the gentlemanly thing for once and order breakfast for us. I wonder if she will be freaked out if she steps out of the bathroom to find me waiting like a desperate jerk breakfast in tow. Then again, chances are, we might not take this any further than today, why not use this one time to test out how the gentleman type fares in these situations. I put on my boxers and t-shirt. I pick up the phone and dial for room service. My nerves kick it up a notch.

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