Tag Archives: DC

happy 10-year anniversary, babe!

holly & i, sept. 3, 2001: see? even then i was smothering her. (remember: streaky hair was in back then. so were studded bracelets. and blue nail polish. so shuddup.)

ten years ago today, i went on a date with a girl named holly. (you can read all about that date here. warning: longest. entry. ever. so grab your hot drink of choice and get your lumbar pillow.)

from the outside, we were an unlikely pair. i was a trashtalkin badass. she was…not. i was from jersey. she was…definitely not. but…we fit. she smoothed my rough edges. we were everything we never knew we needed.  

“i knew i loved you even then,” i say to her sometimes about that first date.

“aw, babe,” she says, rubbing my hand. “no, you didn’t.”

“yes! i did! i mean, i may not have known it explicitly, but i think in my heart i knew it.”

then i usually get weepy and she hugs me until i squirm away and we start laughing. 

i am so lucky to have found someone that knows me better than anyone else in the world. that knows exactly what i’m feeling and thinking just by the look in my eyes. who can calm me with just a few words or a touch or a glance (which, trust me, is a big deal b/c my ass is hard to calm down.)

holly, you have the reigns on this jersey girl’s heart. you always will. thank you for making the past 10 years the most exciting, most rewarding years of my life. thank you for supporting me in everything that i do. here’s to 10 years and a 100 more. i love you.

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i know you’ve been waiting for over a week to hear about how i got lost in the woods, but i need to tell you about this annoying thing that holly does to my coffee first

if you have a significant other, or you’ve had one in the past, i’m sure there’s something that s/he does or did that is/was meant to be loving but only proves/proved to be annoying or frustrating. i’m going to talk about that today, and of course by “that” i mean holly and something she does, and bless her heart she is so damn patient w/me and this damn blog. i keep telling her that it will make us rich one day, and that for some reason people (and by “people” i mean you people) like to read about the ridiculous crap that goes on in our relationship more than anything else and i must give the public what it wants. which brings me to this post.

so this morning, we were eating breakfast at our favorite diner, eastern avenue’s famous broadway diner, where you can get not one but two large breakfast specials (eggs/home fries or grits/meat if you want it/toast/coffee AND juice) for under $10 (!?!) as long as you get there before 11am (and hello, we were there at like 7:30am b/c holly gets my ass up early simply b/c if she’s up, i need to be up–kind of like a puppy except not).

anyway, the coffee arrives and holly first pours milk into her coffee (we get milk not cream; i know, high-maintenance) and then, before i can stop her (she’s fast–stealth, actually) reaches across the table and lovingly pours it into mine.

i sigh. no actually i don’t sigh. i whisper-shout babe, what are you doing?! then i sigh.

we have been thru this before. i’m picky about my coffee. not only does it need to be hot (i inherited this; i swear, my late grandmother would actually send coffee back at pretty much every jersey diner (and Friendly’s–oh, Friendly’s, remember that place??) we ever went to, much to my teenage embarrassment, if it wasn’t “piping hot”), sometimes i want it black, sometimes i want milk in it–but not too much milk, lest it lose its coffee taste and become anything less than mouth-scalding, blistering hot.

holly, on the other hand, likes a lot of milk in her friggin coffee. she actually turns them into lukewarm lattes. i honestly don’t even know how she drinks them. but i guess that’s none of my business. to each their own.

anyway, we decided years ago that i didn’t want her adding milk or cream or whatever we have on hand to my coffee. i know she does it out of love, but it drives me crazy. if i wanted milk or cream, i’d add it on my own. not to be rude but i’m just saying.

the first time she ever did it, i think we were at our old favorite diner (endearingly called “the diner”) back when we lived in dc’s adams-morgan neighborhood. our coffee arrived, she picked up the creamer, poured some into her mug, reached across the small table and poured a whole lot of it into mine.

i asked her, somewhat horrified, what she was doing, and she responded that she didn’t know what came over her. she just…did it. and that was the beginning. so every now and then, and come to think of it, it’s usually when we’re grabbing breakfast at a diner (as i former jersey girl, i pretty much live for diners. esp. if they’re greek-owned), holly will get possessed by the dairy…i don’t know, the dairy fairy, and inexplicably pour milk or cream into my coffee.

i feel like she does it out of love. which is nice, really, if you think about it. but dammit it doesn’t make my coffee taste any better–or make it any hotter.

in all fairness, i need to add that i do plenty of annoying things out of love. for example, if holly feels the least bit under the weather, i ask her if she’s ok or needs tea every two minutes or less. i’m also constantly saying hi to her around the house and asking (yelling) where she is moment i can’t actually see her. (i think this is a north jersey jewish trait.)

if you have any similar stories about past or present significant others, please share. in the meantime, keep your coffee away from holly b/c if she cares about you, she might turn it into a cafe au lait.

“how does it feel to be a married woman?”

that’s what my 88-year-old great uncle ben asked me–with a bright, wide smile, his blue eyes shining–early thursday morning as i padded into the kitchen to pour myself a cup of coffee. it suddenly occurred to me it was the very first time, after nearly nine years with holly and huge jewish wedding a year and a half ago, that i woke up fully married–under the law. vindicated. respected. protected.

i smiled back at him and held back tears.

“it feels good,” i said. “it feels really, really good.”

it still does. the glow of our simple, st. patty’s day ceremony in dc’s dupont circle–just feet from the very bench we sat on during our very first date in early may 2001–has not left me. despite my mind-altering pms. and the stress of our day-to-day. and the fact that we’re really not sure about how our dc marriage will be recognized by the state of maryland (health insurance, for example), the glorious sunshine (the whole city seemed aglow, like it’d be under a dirty window wiped clean with windex for the first time in years) that seemed to fill my entire body, warm all of my skin at once and reenergize my winter-weary mind hasn’t left me.

i am still so happy. i am still pinching myself to check if this is real. am i really married to my partner? did i dream this all up? but then i see the big white envelope that holds our marriage license, the one with both of our names on it, and our joint address. and a big silver seal stamped (tuesday afternoon) by a grumpy dc marriage license worker (the same one that did our oath while “hey soul siter” was playing on the radio) with a piece of ancient manual machinery just before he handed it to us and said in his island-accented monotone, “congratulations.” i see that envelope and i know what’s in it and i know i’m not dreaming and this is all real.

i thought i saw a smile–not a half-smile, even, maybe a quarter-smile–creeping on his very unsmiley face, if only for the fact that it was the third time we’d been there in a week (once just to ask a question about officiants–yes, we drove all the way from baltimore simply to ask who, exactly, could marry us–b/c the office has been so busy no one’s been answering the phone).

yes we want to be married that badly, that visit said. we want to be married so badly that we drove the 45+ miles here and got stuck in who knows how much traffic just to ask you guys a question.

we held up our signed marriage license for photo after photo wednesday afternoon, a few close friends and uncle ben in the wheelchair we rented for him surrounding us. yes this is ours, i kept thinking. no, i can’t believe it. man this was so much better and more fun and less stressful than our first wedding. 

we brought that license with us where we are now, holly’s hometown in western pee-ay, to show her family. and yes, uncle ben’s with us! he is a road warrior. we’ve been taking him everywhere. in fact, he’s sitting on the guest daybed right next to the computer i’m sitting at right now. he just asked what i was doing, and i told him writing a blog entry on the wedding ceremony.

“oh,” he said. “well, why don’t i see you writing anything?” then i showed him how the screen scrolls down and he totally got it. we’re both still up and the rest of the house is asleep. we both eat constantly. we both share his mother’s, my great-grandmother’s, blue eyes. it’s really really nice to have him around.

we watched “slumdog millionaire” tonight (i had never seen it) and i’m just feeling so inspired. i feel like my life–our lives–are off to a brand new start. it’s like this big, gaping hole has been finally filled with this legal marriage and we can move on now. like all the hurt of our last wedding is over and the slate’s been wiped clean. i feel like everything and anything is possible. i never thought marriage could feel like this. i never thought a piece of paper with a stamp and a signature could change my life so much.

we’re getting married (again) tomorrow: and this time it’s going to be LEGAL!

well, folks, the day has finally come. holly and i are getting legally wed tomorrow in DC. i am still pinching myself! it’s just too fabulous.

what’s additionally fabulous is the fact that we’re actually looking forward to this wedding (unlike our last one). we’re doing this for us and only us. and we. are wearing. jeans. [actually i’m topping off the jeans with even more denim: my favorite jean jacket. (a birthday present from holly many years ago)] no stress. no wedding dress. nothing fancy. just me, holly, uncle ben, and a handful of friends. then off to an irish pub to celebrate–hey it is st. patty’s day! this was holly’s request: to get legally hitched on st. patty’s day. how could i tell such a cute irish girl no??)

so yes, uncle ben. my 88-year-old great uncle ben (my late grandmother‘s younger brother; she had four, he’s the remaining sibling) is in town from florida for the ceremony and festivities. he waited at the au bon pain across the street from the courthouse today while we gave the marriage bureau our officiant’s name. (we set him up with soup and bread and coffee while he was waiting. so cute.) when we came back, we walked up to his table with our certificate in hand, nestled in a big white envelope behind a piece of cardboard.

we took it out to show him and his eyes just shined with pride and joy. it was all i could do not to burst out into tears.

he called his friend joe earlier tonight, an old friend from his florida condo complex (much like the one jerry seinfeld’s parents live in–i must admit it has a fantastic pool).

“joe!” he said (loudly) into his cell phone. (yes, he has a cell phone. he also does email and searches on google.)

“joe, tomorrow’s the big day! my nieces are gettin’ married!”

he was smiling so wide. he’s like the male version of my grandma. and he is crazy about holly. we both feel so lucky to have him here. he’s been one of our biggest supporters.

it took us a solid few days to find a non-denominational officiant (we already had a big jewish wedding once; don’t need another one!). he’s abbreviated his usual six-page ceremony down to one. i absolutely love it. it’s so simple. it’s so direct. it’s touching and it is legal. its simplicity it what makes it so special.

We gather today to marry ________ and ________.  it begins.  This is your time; this is your day.  Today you once again declare your love and commitment to each other: this time sanctioned not only by your love, your vows and your solemn commitment, but by the law. 

“but by the law.” the law! just like i said the other day, the whole thing’s so extraordinarily ordinary. the next time you hear from me, after nearly nine years with my partner, i will be legally wed!

extraordinarily ordinary (license to wed!)

we did something so ordinary today that it was absolutely extraordinary:

we applied for a marriage license. in DC. we went to the courthouse, found a parking spot, went into the building, got scanned at the metal detector (got my camera temporarily confiscated but that’s ok) and…asked where we–my partner, my longtime female partner, and i–could apply for a marriage license.

“fourth floor,” the security guy said as his metal detector beeped over my wedding rings. “and congratulations,” he added with a smile.

i smiled back and said thank you. i felt like pinching myself. it was just…so ordinary. so normal. so everyday-weekday-just-another-couple-applying-for-a-marriage-license. i felt so happy (absolutely elated, in fact). i felt like part of the crowd, like everybody else. i felt…respected.

as a same-sex couple in america, you just get used to feeling–in “official” situations and everyday situations, too–less than. as not valid. i mean, for crying out loud, i still have to mark “single” on medical forms! and taxes! even tho we had a *huge* wedding and holly and i have been together almost nine years. but today we weren’t less than. today we were on equal footing like all the other couples in the marriage bureau. we had the same paperwork. the same people processed our information. we have to wait three business days for our license like everyone else. just like everyone else. oh my gosh how i love saying that. just like everyone else.

we got up to room 4485 and got in line. luckily there wasn’t a crowd (or protestors outside) like there was wednesday, when DC began issuing marriage licenses (or, rather, taking applications; regardless of gender, all couples have a three-day waiting period until a license is actually issued). there were a few couples in front of us, and then, eventually, behind us. we all stood on the institutional tiles together, waiting. i kept joking with holly that she could still back out. b/c, until this point, we have been, as i like to say, “unlawfully wedded.” i played a lionel richie song for her on the way to DC, “stuck on you” (i’m sure you know the one, even if you don’t realize it–good song!).

“you ready to be stuck?” i asked holding her hand, smiling mischievously as baltimore’s industrial scenery whooshed by.

you ready to be stuck?” she asked back.

we both laughed and sang along a little. yeah, we were ready.

eventually it was our turn, and we were called into the tan-carpeted, downright drab government office. it could have been the taj mahal as far as i was concerned, i was thrilled just to be there. we signed in and handed off the necessary paperwork (which we got online and filled out at home to save time), our drivers licenses and sat back down. then a worker with a thick accent called us up. he asked us to check out the forms to make sure he had inputted all of our information correctly. we told him it was and then, without warning, asked us to raise our right hand and pledge that everything we had written down was correct.

we raised our right hands and pledged yes. just as he was reciting his lines, i noticed they had a radio on, close by, it sounded like. it was that great new train song, “hey soul sister.” everything felt so perfect. even tho holly was so tired from a trying week (see my previous entry; we just got back yesterday afternoon) and was a little grumpy. and it was hard to understand exactly what the guy was saying with his thick accent. and i was hungry (hey it was past 11:30 and i hadn’t eaten lunch) and there were still little mounds of dirty snow piled up on the sidewalks here and there all over the city and i had the hangover of a five-day migraine…i swear it felt so perfect. more perfect than our wedding day, even, which was so rife with stress and worry. i started tearing up. i looked over at holly to see if she was, too, but quickly averted my eyes just in case the guy thought i was trying to hide something. i practically had to bite my lip to hold back tears.

we left and stopped to pay $45 at a cashiers office. then we went downstairs and picked up my confiscated camera.

“you do what you came to do?” the same security guard asked.

“we sure did,” we said.

and with that, we walked out into the cold and back to our car, which, thankfully, wasn’t towed or even ticketed since we parked it in a spot that we weren’t for sure certain was 100 percent legal. a miracle, i thought. a special present for our marriage license application day.

as we were driving away, i was like, did you hear our song? they were playing our song! holly asked which song. “hey soul sister,” i said. that’s not our song, she said, annoyed. i thought you were talking about our wedding song (technically, we have two, since we each dedicated one to each other at our wedding reception). i explained that although it’s not our song per se, it’s a song we both like and sing along with. and since i’m basically still five years old, i consider this one of “our songs” and figure she does, too.

“it’s one of our songs,” i said.

“no it’s not,” she said.

we agreed to disagree, and i told her to stop being such a grump. i couldn’t help laughing a little bit inside. we were really annoyed with each other for about 30 seconds there, not even 15 minutes after we, for all intents and purposes, were finally were legally bound to each other. the more things change, the more things stay the same. i’m smiling now as i write this.

so our day wasn’t perfect (we had other “moments” on the way to the courthouse; holly had some…road rage issues, we’ll just say–love ya, babe, no worries), but what day is? marriage isn’t about perfection. it’s about patience and love and understanding, even when you’re tired from a long week and the chips kind of feel down b/c life has had more climbing than coasting lately.

we wanted to have a celebratory lunch. i told holly that it was up to her, just not chinese, and she really couldn’t decide. we finally settled on raku in dupont circle. i surprised myself by ordering actual sushi, like with (a small amount of) raw fish inside (tuna–always a benign choice–and no seaweed; they now have a soy paper option, thank goodness) and topped it off with a tofu salad. holly ordered a huge japanese beer, which took the edge off and had her relaxed and smiling. i silently cheered once more as we got back to our car, which, again, was parked in a spot that was…mostly legal. another gift.

we stopped at our kosher butcher (they catered our wedding) and got a hug and a mazal tov from one of the owners that we’ve become friends with. we bought some chicken, one of the workers gave us a good deal on a couple nice steaks, and we picked up a few cookies at the bakery. we stopped at starbucks to get some coffee to enjoy them with, and drove home, the sun warming our knees along the highway. we were in maryland, and i felt a certain peace in my heart knowing that once our license is issued, we’ll be able to drive back and forth from dc to our home in maryland and still be married. what a huge couple weeks it’s been for us. i don’t take any of these victories for granted, and realize that there’s still a chance they could be taken from us. but for now, we won’t think about that.

no, for now, i’m going to sit here on our couch–next to my partner, my soon-to-be-legal spouse–who’s sleeping at the moment, actually, and keep living like we have, keep blogging, keep climbing until we can finally coast a little. i’m going to savor these victories we can one day tell our children about, who will, upon hearing about them, shake their heads with wide eyes that same-sex marriage wasn’t always legal in this country. the same way we shake our heads with disbelief that segregation even existed in this country. tonight i’m going to sleep well knowing that today we were part of a very significant time in our nation’s history. small victories, i keep telling myself. b/c rome wasn’t built in a day, you know? we each have to do our part to build it. we built our tiny little part of it today in a drab, tan-carpeted downtown dc government office sometime between 11:45am and 1pm. and all for $45.

(oh and for the record, yes, holly was tearing up, too. and whether she wants it or not, we totally have a new song now. sing along if you know the words! haha. goodnight!)

our ship is coming

war tapes

the war tapes rockin it last night in baltimore

i’m going to ignore my negligent blogging ways of as late and just launch right into things:

last night we saw an awesome new band (war tapes, photo above; check them out, srsly, they’re fantastic) for a free in-storeperformance here in bmore. they did a really great acoustic set (and were very cute, i may add, what w/the lopsided haircuts, skinny black jeans and brother/sister duo–i just *love* family band stuff, esp when it’s punky). personally, i think they’re going to go far, so i considser myself really lucky to have been a part of the small crowd there to see them. but it was talking to them after the performance, esp. their drummer, william, that got my mind ticking.

from the looks of their video (i’ll embed it here in my post) and their sound–also the fact that i heard them on a local, well-known radio station–i thought they were already the bigtime. turns out, they’re really just starting out. when i told them that, a couple weeks ago, i waited in my car until their song was over (i had just parked for the evening near our house) so i could hear what band did it, they were floored.

“did you hear that??” william said loudly to his bandmates. “she waited in her parked car until the song was over!”

“really?” they all said in unison.

i proceeded to tell them that their music really helps me write and gives me that much-needed inspirational boost to do things like my BFBP (Big Fat Book Proposal) b/c, you know, coffee doesn’t work on its own, no matter how much i drink (and i can drink a lot of it). this, too, made them incredibly happy.

william proceeded to tell me a little about their history, and how this was their first in-store performance. he was just so excited. and it got me excited for them. when i woke up this morning and got on the road to work, i was still excited, but the excitement had morphed into this general, huge excitement for the people i know, all my wonderful friends, who are working so hard, just wanting it so bad, chipping away, tirelessly, at all their creative endeavors. and then i got excited for myself, b/c i feel, truly, that i am riiiiight there. things are finally starting to fall into place for me–things i have worked years and years and years for. the same goes for my lovely holly.

things have been tough for us lately, and that’s the main reason for my recent absence(s) (and yes, i will tell you all about it, but you’ll have to be patient and wait for the book, winkwink). it’s just amazing how the human spirit can persevere, even when the lifeforce is being sucked out of you (dramatic-sounding, i know, but sometimes, unfortunately, quite true). even when you’re finally up and you get slapped down. i mean, gosh, i think about my lean years, so to speak, in the years after college, first as a reporter, then a temp in dc (omG as a temp, for a year and a half. now there’s some stories for ya. again: the book), then a reporter again in dc. i wanted it (journalism, opportunity) so badly. i could taste it. and while i’m much further along (i don’t have that early 20s desperation thing going on anymore) i can still taste it. the difference is now that i’m actually tasting it. as in: i know what it (success, reaching your goals) tastes like and, in those fleeting moments, i can say with full certainly that it’s damn good

back in those lean years, oh and they were very lean. so lean, in fact, that dear sweet nicolina would take me regularly to the diner and treat me to whatever it was i was eating. we would sit across those wooden booths and tables from each other, swirling spoons in our coffee, and talk about all the things we wanted to do. i was having a helluva time back then.

“your ship’s going to come in,” she’d tell me with full certainty. “and when it does it will be laden with jewels.”

we say that to each other still, more than ever, as we’re both having a helluva time lately.

OMG THE SHIP!  WHERE IS IT???? she emailed me on a particularly painful day earlier this summer.

the ship? i emailed back. ahh, the ship. let’s see…last time i saw it, it was stuck in some sludge in the inner harbor, like near the cheesecake factory and urban outfitters? i heard on the news that its rudders were jammed up with like, soda cans and bra straps and other junk. the mayor’s not  returning my phone calls either but i’ll let you know once i hear something…

oh but the ship. it is there. and it is coming, so you’d better watch out. it will be laden with jewels for sure, also whiskey/rye (tho i am not a drinker this sounds hardcore and pirate-y), dark dark chocolate, gold coins and many many freshly roasted coffee beans.

so here’s to just a few of my peeps wanting it bad and working to make it happen: nicolina and temim and j. green and john, jaime and andrew and violet and carrie(and lots more that may not have websites, like, hello! j.miller who’s working on her dissertation and is going to be a one of those kickass famous infectious disease researchers who bravely goes into faraway lands in scary white suits). 

all of us have–me, holly, my friends, maybe some of you that i don’t know out there reading this–have walked up this mountain and we’re almost at the tippy top. when we get there, which will be soon, we’ll part the trees and stand at the edge and look out the sprawling, majestic green green land and hills and sparkling blue sea before us–can you see it??–and breathe deeply and take it all in b/c it will be ours for the taking. and we will look back at all the struggling, all the hustling, the sheer want of it all, and it will feel all that much more spectacular.

i want to mention one more thing: i was looking thru this huuuuge andy warhol book in the library the other day and they printed copies of these two letters he received back in his lean years. one was from the museum of modern art rejecting a piece of art he had given them, saying they just didn’t have enough room for it, please pick it up. the other was from, i think it was the village voice, an art critic who basically wrote to the young andy saying: i don’t know what you think it is, but what you’re making is not art and you’re never going to be successful. now, say if you have a friggin napkin signed by andy warhol it’s worth thousands of dollars. how you like them apples??!

and with that, my inspiration for this blog post, the war tapes, who will be at the mountaintop (along with the shondes, ‘natch) with us, skinny jeans and all, providing the soundtrack for that spectacular view:

“i’ll be wearing a black t-shirt with a girl playing the guitar on it”

that’s what i told holly may 2, 2001, the day before our first date. i also told her i had pink hair (which i did: streaks, manic panic i applied with rubber gloves each week in my tiny takoma park bathroom, very late 90s i know but sue me i’m a jersey girl who graduated high school in ’96), and she thought (she told me, years later) “how drunk WAS i when we met?!” (for the record: not that drunk. but it was dark and i guess she couldn’t quite see the full majesty that was my  hair in ’01?)  

well i told you last month how we met. now, in honor of our second eight year anniversary (insert holly’s eyeroll right here; yes, i am a girl and demand that we recognize multiple anniversaries throughout the year–no gifts required, just acknowledgment), i’m going to tell you about our first date. (warning: longest blog entry in the history of lunch at 11:30…)

our first date was nearly one month to the day after we met: may 3, 2001. we talked on the phone and/or emailed nearly every day after we met. i was so happy. i never experienced anything so exciting and romantic (the ppl i was, we’ll say, “involved with” were mainly in college and were mainly…yeah, i won’t go there. let’s just say…not romantic…but what can you expect from a bunch of 18/19/20/21-year-olds?). we had only seen each other one time before that date, and it was late–and dark, apparently.

i decided i’d wear something easily recognizable. i settled on a tight black t-shirt that had a hott rocker cartoon girl on it playing guitar. i paired this with tight-ass black jeans and these huge black moon boots (nine west i think? i found them at t.j. maxx. hmmm wonder why….) and of course some kind of black belt with metal on it and all these spiked bracelets. i was definitely…a sight. but i was cute in my way, if slightly a tad too punk rock for the (now defunct) silver spring bureau of the gazette newspapers, where i had my first reporting gig out of college. as for what holly was going to wear…she may have said something about khaki pants? i don’t know. i think i must have repressed it and thought instead of the black button-down she was wearing when we met, which, late at night, looked somewhat rock n roll.

oh but wait. let’s backtrack a little. i didn’t tell you how we decided where we’d go/what we’d do on our first date. holly called me at the aforementioned office to plan our upcoming evening, and very sweetly asked me what i was interested in doing. i was flattered but also my usual difficult self. actually, i was even more difficult back then. which i know is hard to believe but, sadly, quite true.

“would you like to go to a ball game?” she asked.

“a what? oh no. i don’t do sports.” [i have since morphed into a steelers-crazed, (kosher) hot dog chompin, nacho-throwin (ok i don’t throw them but it sounded funny) football fan/baseball-game goer.]

“what about a fun park?”

“huh?”

“a fun park, you know, with rides and stuff.”

“oh, an amusement park. that’s what we call them in jersey. yeah, no. i don’t do those either. don’t do rides.”

there was a third thing, which i also promptly turned down whatever it was. [i just called holly to see if she remembered. she said she didn’t know but made a guess that if it was something like the zoo i probably said it was too hot out (it was unseasonably warm in late april/early may 2001, i must say in my defense) and my hair would get puffy.]

“well, what would you like to do?” she said, still sweetly, but now i realize probably trying to hide her growing exasperation.

“let’s go out to eat,” i suggested (as if there was any other choice).

it was settled. we would go out to dinner in dc. a thursday night.

so i get to the restaurant (also now-defunct; what IS this?? it wasn’t that long ago! geez), a place called peppers on 17th st. in dupont circle (just a block away or so from where we met a month earlier) and sit at the bar and start flipping thru a free newspaper (the wash. city paper, probably) as i wait for her. and then in walks this girl with short spiky hair and perfect posture, wearing chinos, brown sandals and a (gulp) yellow long-sleeved shirt. pastel yellow. (yes, you can laugh now.) i was like, huh? is this the same girl? haha.

she was so polite and sweet and…so ironed. i was…not ironed. (tho my bangs were flat-ironed. does that count? ha.) and i told you already what i was wearing. i moved past my book-by-its-cover shallowness and we sat down and ordered food. apparently, i told her i was a vegetarian (i don’t remember this but holly does and i believe her), which isn’t at all true. it’s what i tell ppl sometimes (like the mostly italian-speaking lunch ladies in high school, for example) when i don’t feel like explaining the whole kosher thing. apparently, this made holly thing woah boy. big red flag in her western pee-ay book.

i ordered something, i don’t remember what. something with mushrooms that holly recalls i complained about being too cheesy (thanks, babe, for remembering all the important details). i don’t remember what she ordered, but i do remember she paid, which, swoon. a girl paying for me? niiice. (if you haven’t caught the hint, i’m not that hard to impress)

we left and walked around the neighborhood and i was having a great time tho holly told me months later that she thought the date was kind of a disaster by that point, “i kept saying things that pissed you off,” she recalls. ha. funny, i don’t recall being pissed off. a first for me. anyway, we wound up sitting on a bench on the outside perimeter of dupont circle park, close to the starbucks on the corner (for all you washingtonians or ex-washingtonians out there that are into details like me). there were, as per usual, a couple, um, vocal folks there (i call them “crazies,” which i know isn’t nice, but yelling like a banshee in public does make one seem a little off).

holly was still new to the city back then. she had only moved to baltimore (yes, we had “long distance” relationship for the first couple years) from pee-ay, let’s see, only about three months before our date, so yeah.

i told her not to look at them. esp. the ones close by. and what did she do? she looked. oh, hunny, i love ya… 😉

so it was getting late and in my impish mind, i thought: i have my very own apt. tho it was crappy and i decorated the place with old furniture and cinder blocks that i spray painted silver, it was the very first place i could call my own. in other words: it wasn’t a dorm. and it was private. before the date even started i decided that i would bring her back to my place no matter what. i mean, c’mon, i already knew she wasn’t psycho. we talked on the phone for a month, ppl, cut me some slack. i was 22 and _____. (fill in the blank. this is a family blog. wait, no it’s not but i’m not going to say it here.)

“could you drive me back to my car?” i asked sweetly. if i had longer hair back then i’m sure i would have been twirling it. “it’s parked at the takoma park metro station. it’s not that far.”

of course she said yes, and of course she was clueless to my mischievous plans. she pretty much thought the date was a wash by this point, so what was an extra 20 mins in the car?

so she drives me to my parked car, and i’m like, “would you like to come to my apartment?” and clueless her was like, “ok,” thinking, what? we’d have tea? (ha. no but srsly. if she wanted tea i would most def made her tea. i always have no less than like 10 kinds of tea wherever i’m living.)

she follows me in her silver two-door chevy cavalier coupe (i thought it was hella sporty; like i said, not that hard to impress). i’m driving my super-dorky two-door ford focus hatchback (which i mistakenly thought was cool back then). we go up garland and turn up prospect and park in the little driveway. i cross my fingers that the roaches don’t scatter, at least in the kitchen where they usually hang out, when i turn on the lights. the place was clean but it was old. old like ten million coats of paint around the windows and water-warped kitchen counters old. it had this wall-to-wall crappy thin red carpet w/black specks. i had an ikea futon with an off-white cushion against the window with a cheap black ikea coffee table in front of it and a boom box sitting on top of yes, silver cinder blocks along the other wall. i kept a rabbit-eared tv on a chair, (hey i made $600 every two weeks, i did what i could, ok?) and my used electric bass was against the other wall.

i don’t remember all the details of that night. but it seemed to get very late very quickly. (late is my equivalent of drunk, as i’m not much of a drinker. i have a tendancy to make trouble when it’s late) she showed me some pictures of her family that she brought along, and i ooh’ed and ahh’ed at her cool cell phone, which had a computerized panda walking on the screen. i had never seen anything like it.

i played the bass for her. (that was during my bass stage. i used to sit on that crummy carpet and try to replicate basslines from garbage and the go-gos at night and on the weekends) who plays the electric friggin bass for their dates?? good grief. then i started to get nervous. so i started giving her these tiny bottles of spring water i kept in the fridge. by 3am i probably gave her like three or four. i turned on some music…it was all very…collegiate, thinking back to it. i think it was duran’s duran’s greatest hits. (again: good grief.) all the while she thought she had messed up this date. and she totally didn’t.

in the interest of, well, oh who the hell knows maybe my parents are going to read this one day? i am going to self-censor the rest and just say that we “hung out” for a while longer and she left in the morning. [HEY. before you judge me: she slept on the futon (hey, i may have had pink hair but i was still old-fashioned)] i had to leave for work, but i made us coffee in the perculator my late grandma (who passed just under a year ago at that point) gave me before i graduated college.

we sat there, swirling coffee with milk or non-dairy powdered cream, who the hell knows what i put in my coffee back then, clinking spoons against my second-hand diner style mugs (oh man those were great mugs) at a table a couple girls down the street had given me. it was in pretty bad shape so i covered it with a vinyl zebra print tablecloth (hell know where i found that! ha.). [all of you who didn’t know me in college and/or have never visited my kitsch-filled office (where i keep all my snow globes and madonna album covers and ramones posters and pink flamingo lamp) but have visited our “urban chic” home may gasp but yes. i do love me some kitsch.] i was all nerves, but i was also all smiles.

we left the apartment at the same time. i remember standing on the crumbly asphalt saying goodbye near our cars. it all felt so…adult. but not. like i said, i was all nerves, tingling right down to my fingertips. she wanted to kiss goodbye, but i hugged her instead. (such a pain in the ass i was, ha) holly says to this day it was the coffee that saved the morning. i guess i let my goofy 22-year-old fake-ass guard down by then. hell it only took about 24 hours. thank goodness for grandma’s peculator, right?

i, of course, was terrible about giving her directions to get back on the highway back to baltimore. i told her to follow me and she did but somehow we got our signals crossed and she missed the exit onto the beltway.

i got to work and emailed her:
(yes, i saved the emails. yes i save my old hotmail account specifically for our near-ancient emails. i know i know…)

>>From: “jessica” >>To: “holly”>>Subject: Re: >>Date: Thu, 03 May 2001 09:50:52 -0400 >> >
holly…i’m running off to cover something right now in d.c. but i  just wanted to drop you a line before i go off…i want to tell you that i had a really nice time with you last night and…and and and…i don’t know. that’s just it. i think you had fun too. just wanted to tell you.
 >well i hope you eventually made it onto the beltway east…you probably did…i looked behind me and you were there i was like holly!! what are you *doing*! funny.
>have a good weekend. and i will too. i’ll say hi to nyc for you b/c >i think i’ll be there saturday night.
 >take it easy, you. >jessica.

and she wrote back from baltimore:

Re: ‏
From: “Holly” To: “Jessica”
Fri 5/04/01 4:44 AM

Jessica,

Yes I did get on the Beltway, can you believe I did that………funny. I found a great way that puts you out right by my house so when you do come to visit me, it should be easy for you…………………….that is if you do want a next time because I do! I also had a great time and will look forward to our next encounter. I like how we have stuff in common but at the same time we are different but we can still blend and probably learn from one another.

You can teach me some slang so I don’t act my age. You have a safe trip and have fun in NY. I am going to try to call you before your meeting to make sure your and, and, and, and are answered.

Holly

so cute, right??  (i swear, i read these old emails and it’s all i can do to keep from crying, they’re so sweet, esp. hers…)

back then we were both just along for the ride. and look at us, all these years later, all married and whatnot. so not what we expected or even wanted. at least we didn’t think so back then. a few months into things, holly told me on that same futon that i was everything she never knew she wanted.

so for all you ppl out there who thought a first date wasn’t so good. or that someone “looks” too different from you for a relationship to work, think again. we are living proof that sometimes you need someone unexpected in your life, even someone who seems totally different than you, to give you everything you never knew you wanted and every single thing you’ll ever need…