This song was used on the soundtrack to terrific film, Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). I remember how excited I was to see that film in my last year of high school. It really spoke to my inner-melancholy teen.

After being in a long-term relationship and meeting several characters along the way…i.e. YEARS LATER and just the other day I found myself saying, “I wish I’d never met ___.” That’s me, wanting to tempt fate and memory by saying such things.

At any rate, this song and the persona of Beck have popped up randomly around me for the last couple of weeks. I could have chosen “Devil’s Haircut” to write about–I have very vivid memories of dancing around to that song in 1997. Or any other Beck tune.

But I chose “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes,” because sometimes my verbalized admittances continue to make me incredulous with their little breaths of truths that I set into the universe. Those utterances are just more proof that getting out of my head-space is a positive for me. Although more often than not, it’s better to write those truths down or jog it out of my head.

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I’ve felt beauty in a new bundle of joy the first time I held my niece. I’ve felt beauty in the pause between saying the words, “I love you.” I’ve felt the simple beauty of a friend taking my hand in hers when I need it.

I’ve seen beauty in the joyous laughter that can be shared between family members recalling various events. I’ve seen beauty in the simplicity of a sweaty walk with friends. I’ve seen beauty in people truly listening to one another while maintaining eye contact.

I’ve read Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. I believe Miranda July’s words, “When you see the beauty of a tree, then you will know what love is.”

I’ve felt the beauty of living in two very different cultures. I’ve felt beautiful with my form against another; being together. I’ve felt beauty in being active, vulnerable and open.

 

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While I was in grad school, near graduation time, a fellow female student decided to tell me that she didn’t envy some of her peers. The gist being that she didn’t envy people like me. “I don’t envy all of you single ladies.” She wasn’t a smug married lady. In fact, she is very much, for the most part, down-to-earth married tomboy.  A strong, opinionated woman who rarely saw her husband, since he is enlisted. Regardless, I felt stung.

The irrational side of me wanted to stammer something about being with my boyfriend for almost six years. The rational side of me knew that even a  marriage license or a ring on a finger doesn’t guarantee fidelity, trust, devotion or any of the many amazing facets that life and commitment can bring in a relationship. Her words, over a year later, still stick with me.

She did clarify and said something about “unattached ladies.” She saw the look in my eyes. The haunted bird-look. She’d seen me up, but she’d seen me down a lot in the almost two years she’d known me. On one of those down spring days…she was the only person who found me on a grassy slope before an evening class. I’d attempted conversation with other students, many of whom I really enjoy, but then choose to leave and sit alone. To be one with my thoughts, which meant I was very much in my head and tearing up when she decided to join me. Yet I was grateful for her presence. I didn’t want to be left alone with my internal monologue.

But I’m getting side-tracked. Her emphasis on us “ladies” that day was mostly about what to do post-grad school. What a single person does in a bad economy, with low job rates–the seemingly endless location options one had, if you weren’t significantly coupled up. She had a clear direction in her life–she was leaving upstate New York to move down South. I had no idea what I was doing. I was in a state of panic, but I couldn’t admit to envying her. I’m not even sure I did envy her.

Three months later I was still in a relationship with my long-term boyfriend, but we were physically separated by thousands of miles. By September 2011, after another three months of not knowing what to do, I was no longer in a relationship. It was the worst 3.5 hour phone conversation of my life. I don’t remember my face ever being that swollen. I still didn’t know what I was doing, but I’d attempted a meager step toward figuring out my future.

Over a year since that break up and I still don’t know what I’m doing. Her words are still with me, as are so many others.

There are certain things I miss about being in a long-term relationship. This post is a random reflection on  small elements that can mean so much when you’re actually in one (and is in no way an exhaustive list).

1. A hand on your lower back. That touch can carry a variety of different meanings: reassurance;  intimacy; comfort; or simply, “I’m here.”

2. The squeeze. When he/she squeezes you so hard, to show how much he/she loves you, you almost get hurt. Or maybe he/she is really trying to break you in two–something else I’ve experienced and wondered if the guy doing the squeezing had a Thor-like complex.

3. Having someone to call if you forget to take something with you in the shower. “Hey, ___.  Can you bring me the ___? Thank you so much. ” Those “thank yous” are important. Some people take that for granted. This act of kindness, being willing to invade someone’s private time in the bathroom, is important to me, as someone who often forgets products by the sink. I don’t want to leave a huge wet puddle on the bath mat for the next person who needs to scrub up.

4. The reach. Someone reaches for your hand. Maybe your hand gets a squeeze.

5. Spooning.

In summary, I mostly miss certain touches, eh? At least today.

That my breasts were life savers. “Your breasts are life savers.” It happened today. Why did it happen?

My female friend, while we were in the National Gallery of Art inspecting the Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective, accidentally brushed her hand against one of my boobs. Now, that action alone doesn’t make them worthy of such a statement, but a about a month ago her hands did more than just a brushin’.

Alanna was walking down the stairs in front me, texting on her smart phone, before she turned to look up at me. All of sudden she was wobbling on the step and her hand grabbed the “closest thing that was sticking out” — my breasts. Embarrassed, she turned to go down the stairs carefully. I took this opportunity to laugh in my daze of unexpectedly being groped in the workplace.

“It’s okay, if you need to grope me in order to not fall down the stairs. Do what you need to do. Just as long as you don’t fall, because I knew that I could not catch you, had you started fall down the stairs. Or I would have gone down with you.”

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Luckily, she was laughing too. “My hand was like one of those claws in those toy machines. It just latched on!”

The next day I could not go down the stairs without laughing uncontrollably. Disaster had been avoided, but the bonding moment between “top-heavy girls,” as Alanna refers to us as, had occurred.