I've been wondering why I've been feeling like I've been making less progress lately and I think it's because I hopped back onto the dating sites again. After I broke off the engagement with Mark, I promised myself I would try to find myself and I was making some progress but then it's like I went back to my old bad habits. I felt guilty when my therapist was telling me the other day how proud she was of me because I wasn't dating and I was really focusing on what made me happy. I didn't have the heart to tell her that she was wrong. I thought I could start dating again without feeling like I used to; like I needed validation from these guys I dated but it's still happening. I started dating one guy that showed some red flags in the beginning but I went out with him because I thought he deserved a chance. The date wasn't amazing but I decided I would see him again. Since that date, he was all over the place communicating with me and said he was going to hang out with me on a particular day and then never followed through. My best friend didn't have the best feeling about him. He didn't think he was necessarily a bad person but he didn't think he was compatible with me. Despite all of this, I decided to go on a second date with him. We went on this extreme hike to Hubbard Park's castle and we had a great time. We laughed, talked, drank a little and kissed a whole lot. When I got home, I fell apart. Part of it was because I skipped taking a pill but another part of it was because my anxiety was sky rocketing over thinking he wouldn't continue to like me or accept all of my flaws. These feelings ruined the rest of the night. I want to stop feeling that way. I need to gain some self-love and self-confidence before I put myself back into the dating world. I'm not doing myself any favors dating too early. I'm just undoing the progress I've been making and I risk hurting people that I date. I think I'm going to break it off with him before it gets more serious. Ever since I started dating, he's all I've been thinking about even though I don't even know if I like him that much! I check my phone constantly and him paying attention controls how I feel. I need to break it off so I can finally focus on me again. I need to do this for myself. I need to break the cycle for real now.
She meets him online and his attention excites her immensely. Knowing next to nothing about him doesn't worry her since his pictures indicate that he's handsome and his flattery towards her is endless. They talk for weeks but make no plans to meet up. This bothers her but she doesn't want to voice her disappointment incase he leaves. And she doesn't want to be left alone. Months go by and she gathers her courage and asks to videochat. She yearns to connect his face with a voice. She wants her fantasy of him to become more real. To her relief, he agrees. They set up a time for the next evening. As she presses the FaceTime icon and his video begins to load, she feels her heart in her throat. “Good evening sweetheart.” His voice sounds a lot huskier than she expected but that doesn't surprise her as much as his face does when his video finally comes into focus. “Cat caught your tongue?” She struggles to find her voice but she couldn't seem to do anything but stare. “I know I'm a little bit older than my pictures but it's still me. I'm still you're Henry.” Upon more scrutinization, she recognizes the man before her based on his profile but he must be at least twenty years older. “I didn't think of you as a shallow girl,” he scolds her. “I thought our connection meant more than anything else. That's the only reason I agreed to videochat with you. I see that I was mistaken...” “No, wait!” She finally finds her voice and his threat of abandoning her terrifies her. “I was just a little taken aback but I'm okay now. You're still the same guy I fell for.” Henry smiles, revealing yellow, crooked teeth. She tries not to shudder outwardly and does her best to smile back. “I promise to love you forever kiddo. I'll never leave your side.” She feels herself gagging at his words but this is what she wanted for herself; she wanted to be worthy to someone, even if that person was old enough to be her father.
“Can we be friends?” I stared at the seemingly ominous message sitting in my inbox on the Chinese dating website. Since arriving in China over a year earlier, that question had popped up repeatedly. In my American culture, friendships are assumed to be platonic. So, the romantic undertones in the frequent messages sent to me by male "friends," were bewildering. However, by the time I sat in front of my computer reading this specific message, I had begun to have a vague idea about what that question meant. I took a deep breath and typed, “yes.” My online “friend,” whose English name was Joseph, began contacting me regularly. He was friendly, but I wasn't convinced a cross-cultural, long-distance relationship was a good idea. So, I never texted him first, and looked for ways to end our conversations early. “I don't understand it,” I told a Chinese teacher, as we sat together on the wooden pew during music rehearsals. “Why does he still contact me so much?” She shook her head, “American girls are pushy.” She leaned closer so she could be heard over the noise of the electric guitars. “By Chinese cultural standards, you're already showing interest.” She told me more. A girl should not initiate contact more than the guy does; the guy is responsible to directly ask the girl to be official; "friends" should be exclusive. My mind spun. In spite of my doubts, Joseph kept pursuing me hard. Sometimes, we had light, fun conversations - like about his plans to deal with the mouse problem in his parent's house. Other times, things went deeper, and he would ask, “What qualities do you want in a future spouse?” Then, out of the blue, he invited me to spend Lunar New Year with his family. “He's serious about you,” American friends told me. “He could be planning to propose." I wasn't convinced. A battle ensued in my mind for days. In the end, I knew I had to give him a chance. A couple weeks later, darkness had fallen around the high speed train, as it breezed smoothly down the tracks. Passengers kept sneaking glances at the foreigner, who couldn't seem to sit still. “Well, if nothing else, we'll get to celebrate the Chinese New Year,” my friend Ruth was traveling with me for safety. A blast of cold air hit us as the door opened at the stop. As we walked towards the entrance of the station, I lifted my head, and saw Joseph waving. He grinned. Joseph carried my suitcase, and helped us get settled into his uncle's car. His uncle greeted us from the driver's seat. Joseph handed us a paper bag with burgers inside. Ruth ate, but I couldn't. I stared out the window at the bright signs with Chinese characters lighting up the dark night. Between small talk, Joseph kept glancing at me. When we arrived at his family's house, his parents and sister ushered us into the house, where food was waiting. I picked up the chopsticks, and forced down rice and vegetables. During the five day visit, there were intense mountain hikes, conversations around the dinner table, and Chinese cooking lessons. However, one thing was obvious: Joseph was very distant. As we hiked, he would walk in front or behind, but never beside me. He was busy with other things, and I spent a lot of time by myself. Even though I know cultural differences were at play, I still could not imagine a scenario in which his behavior could be a good sign. Our return train was at 2:00 am, but Joseph insisted on taking us to the station. Sitting beside me in the drafty waiting room, Joseph said, “The time went so fast.” I rolled my eyes. I assumed he was just being polite. Getting on the train, I escaped to the safety of the hard sleeper for the overnight trip home. I slept for hours, and when I woke up, the tears were trickling down. After meeting him, I could see that he was good guy, but it obviously wasn't to be. However, it wasn't over. The communication from Joseph was just as warm as before, and one day, after passing a test, he texted, "It would be more fun if you could celebrate with me." I began to rethink that visit. Chinese acquaintances said that in expecting Joseph to do things the American way, I had misinterpreted his behavior. Time stretched on. Nine months in, we remained unofficial. So, I waited, wondering if other peoples' advice was wrong, and I was right. It was after midnight one night when I got the text: “Can I ask you something?” Then, my phone feel silent for several minutes. I stared at it. There was a long silence. Finally, it buzzed. “Will you be my girlfriend?” Unfortunately, misunderstandings often bring premature endings to cross-cultural relationships. Cultural differences impact much more than diet or holiday traditions. Culture can also shape our views on what is right and wrong. For this reason, cross cultural relationships can be a challenge. However, they are worth the fight. It is important to be patient, and seek advice before jumping to conclusions. Who knows? A guy who claims to be your "friend" may want to be your husband!
Ive had two decades of internal wanderings and what gets me the most is how a life lived freely is decorated with synchronicities. As a whole it's an epic saga which rivals even fiction. However these wandering daydreams could be seen as means of escape. Once in therapy I cried for an hour and my eyes hurt so much I skipped school. Now I travel the world with a woman twice my age and the emotion's so real if I was in school I'd skip it still. These external wanderings match closer to my insides anyways and I prefer to call it destiny more so than escapism. I was standing on a river bed in Spain. Golden pillars of sun fractured through pine trees and glittered over the stones at midday. I stood motionless, lost in a trance of rushing water and white noise. I could hear my girl hiking in the background and I felt philosophical. Internal reflections spawned from nature's simple beauty. That day I began to think I'd found comfort in the constant flux of my personality. Before I had attributed my mutating self to puberty and that somehow I'd one day hit a ceiling and become the person I was to be for the rest of my life. At that river though I realized the day I get comfortable may be the day I stop living. Life was about change, and if I really wanted to make change I may as well break up with my girl right then and there. Maybe my love had run out and it was better to end on a high. I suddenly felt ready to break off on my own. We met a year ago in Scotland when I volunteered on her farm and we just fell into this helpless romance. Before I blinked her farm was rented out and she'd joined me. Now here we were hopping borders and camping out in hostels having the time of our lives. Whoever could alter their life for some kid that fast must be impulsive and reckless. Maybe she's a lost soul grasping for a new direction and I would be wise to get out while I can. These thoughts of new beginnings never did spill that day, but the whole country of Spain was boiling hot from dawn until dusk and this iron tension started to coil up inside me as I brooded and inched away over time. Like water in cracks, love will always seep into it's hidden frailties. The relationship was unraveling and this heavy reality was setting in for us both. It didnt feel right but I was supposed to be mature and stay firm. At least that's what I kept repeating to myself while standing in my underwear staring into the gray haze of a storm one night. My girl had gone to bed early after having fallen asleep crying. Another fight and I stood there watching palm trees warp in gusts of wind. In a drunken state of depression I could hardly hold onto thoughts. What was I still holding on for? I couldnt shake this sunken well in my stomach. As if something had changed inside since I started vocalizing moving on. As it turns out, in the heat of the moment, my partner had just reminded me of what a fool I was for being consumed by the future. How foolish I was to let time expire and quietly plan the demise of something I was still engaged in. Just like that my greatest flaw had been ripped out at last and she'd flicked on the spotlight. Not even once did I sit in the present. In the middle of this rampant Spanish storm the realization struck me that I hadn't yet surrendered. These thoughts of change which ran through my head weren't even tangible, just future idealism. True love isn't about what's coming next; it's like succumbing to a feral instinct where you're lost in a connection without any fear or cerebral engagement. These epiphanies were liberating and sent flashbacks of my father leaving my family when I was young. He had fallen in love with someone else and wanted to start a new career. He was in search of what's next. Neither the new relationship nor the career panned out and he now sits alone and works by the hour. I had to learn from his mistakes and this relationship was meant to show me exactly that. My partner and I can fight all we want about the way to live since it's an age old archetypal debate. The intellectual mind versus the instinctual or as physicist Victor Weisskopf put it, knowledge versus compassion. Strip away the egos and there is no right answer. The key is to find balance. Sure her childlike instinctual purity is what's attracted me, but does a man really need love in order to stay balanced? As a young man the thought of being dependent is terrifying. No, what I needed to survive here was the confidence enough to be open and receptive to our words exchanged, so that I could be changed. All I can ever really strive to be is a man in constant flux. Its in these depressed states with sore and glazed eyes that the mind is permeable enough to feel life's lessons, let them change who you are. And so I've let go of fears and ideas of the future and for now, it feels right. It doesn't matter whether or not my adventures is a form of escapism, because for once I'm feeding off a bit of instinct, and the ride of life rolls on.
A/N: 4 characters are Rose, Olivia, Rose's Autocorrect (RA), and Olivia's Autocorrect (OA). I wrote this scene for Emerson Festival for my school as the opening scene for our devised piece and it is my favorite thing I've ever written! Enjoy (: ---------------------------------------------------------------- (lights go up on Rose & Olivia) Rose & Olivia: (talking to themselves) Do I text her? Do I not text her? Do I wait for her to text me? Do I get ignored for a third day in a row? Do I suffer again? (beat) I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna text her. (Taking out their phones and “texting”) Hi! Rose: Wow, two minds think-- RA: Alight. Rose: Right? Olivia: … Alight? Rose: Damn autocorrect. I meant-- RA: Rewrite. Rose: DAMN IT! Not rewrite. ALIKE! ALIKE! Olivia: (uncomfortable) Right… anyways, you looked really-- OA: Bountiful. Olivia: Today, Rose. Rose: I looked bountiful? Olivia: SHIT. NO, no. Rose: Autocorrect? Olivia: Yeah, what I meant to say was that you looked-- OA: Bootylicious. Rose: OH? Olivia: BEAUTIFUL! Rose: What? Olivia: Nevermind. Rose: Alright… Uh, are you going to the football game tomorrow? Olivia: Nah. Those things give me-- OA: Acupuncture. Rose: Umm. Okay! Thats cool. Olivia: ANXIETY! ANXIETY! Rose: This conversation is giving me anxiety. OA: Smelly. Rose: OKAY LISTEN-- Olivia: IT'S MY AUTOCORRECT I SWEAR! SORRY. I AM SORRY. S-O-R-R-Y. GOD. JUST MY LUCK. Rose: Haha, it's-- RA: Fish. Olivia: (confused) Blub? Rose: Blub? I meant fine. Olivia: Fine… um-- I have something to ask you. Rose: Alright-- RA: Lay on me. Olivia: That's a first. Rose: LET'S NOT GO THERE. I WAS TRYING TO SAY LAY IT ON ME. LIKE TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT TO ASK. Olivia: Do you wanna-- OA: Go drought with me? Rose: There's a drought? Where? Olivia: OUT! GO OUT! Rose: Outside? Olivia: No! Rose: I'm confused. Olivia, what are you trying to say? Olivia: ROSE WILL YOU PLEASE-- OA: HATE ME! Rose: I don't want to hate you. I really-- RA: Dislike you. Olivia: What? Rose: WHAT? Olivia: So that's how you feel about me? Rose: NO! AUTOCORRECT! I LIKE YOU, Olivia! I DON'T WANT TO-- RA: Date you. Olivia: I AM SO CONFUSED. Rose: HATE. I don't want to hate you. Olivia: Okay. Mine was autocorrected too. I definitely don't want you to hate me. I meant to ask if you would like to-- OA: Debate me. Rose: In what? Olivia: DATE. DATE ME. Rose: So you want me to debate whether I should date you or not? Olivia: Wow. That autocorrect actually worked out. Will you? RA: Guess. Olivia: No? Rose: YES. Yes. I want to date you. Olivia: Nice. Rose: Nice. Olivia: Cool. Rose: Cool. Olivia: Thank you for saying yes. (END)
So here I am, sitting here at 3 AM during exam week, thinking about my life. And it all comes rushing back. Swinging on the monkey bars on hot blistering days alone, to sitting in a corner with my dolls, listening to the most terrifying screaming. Things I have endeavored to ignore and forget because it only brings pain ― an unproductive, useless kind of emotion that I don't believe I need to feel now that it is mostly of the past. But I'll try to remember anyways. Because the insecurity, distrust, and anxiety I now harbour despite having a pretty decent life came from somewhere, and I have a strong suspicion that it isn't solely based on nature (though I admit, there is some family resemblance going on here), but also nurture. My mornings with my parents were quiet at some point in my life, I'm sure. But screaming and shouting had became my alarm clock by the time I was 4 years old. Daily. Loud. And as I grew up, I began to take part in it, for so many reasons that kept on changing as I aged. My mother, goading me to argue on her behalf with my father. My father, telling me how mentally retarded my mother and I are. Me, trying to keep up, favouring one side then favouring the other. Then favouring none. I remember it all becoming too much. When I was 8, I shut myself in my mother's small, dark closet to escape. For one of the first times (and definitely not the last), I wondered why people bothered to live. It's hard for a 8 year old to grasp life and death, so I wouldn't call myself suicidal per se ― more genuine curiosity and slight desperation. Craving for an answer, I asked my parents. Neither answered my question, nor comforted me. My father was outraged. My mother scolded me for even thinking such a thing. Just more incessant, hurtful noise. While watching them, I suddenly realized that I had parents who didn't understand each other, nor did they understand me. Afterwards, I stopped confiding in them. When my younger sister was born, and she joined the familial argument too. At the very least, I can say that she seemed to cope a little better than I did. Whenever it was too much, she'd come to my room, and we'd spend time together ― just the two of us. We'd talk to each other about what we couldn't talk about to our parents. It was healthy. It felt safe. It also felt like the yelling outside of my room would never end, and we accepted that. Looking back, the sound of glass shattering on the cold marble floor was the turning point. Today I'm here. Same, but a little broken inside, just as everyone affected by the toxic relationship is. “You used to smile a lot more, you know?” My mother told me, a few days ago. It wasn't the first time she told me this, and I doubt it will be the last. “You were so happy as a child. You laughed all the time.” I can hear it as clear as day. The silent “What happened?” I find it odd she doesn't know. I could tell her everything I think and feel. But she doesn't deserve it. She tried her best as a parent, and in the end I turned out quite fine. She doesn't need an blame pushed onto her shoulders about a childhood of memories she didn't, and doesn't know how to fix. Nor can she. My father doesn't deserve it either. He has his quirks, sure. But no one can fault him for only wanting the best. And even if I faulted him for expressing his opinions inappropriately, at this point it hardly matters. I've grown up. With his old age, he has gotten softer. There's no point. No point to pointing fingers, or pushing burdens onto others. People don't need to know, because I don't want to change the way they see me. This pain is something I'll carry myself. But this pain didn't have to exist. I'm writing this for my younger sister, who went through most of what I went through as I stood by helplessly. I'm writing this for anyone who's having familial troubles, which includes most of my friends and classmates. I'm writing this for any of you who can't really empathize what I'm talking about. In order for a relationship to work, there has to be communication and tolerance. I wholeheartedly believe this. Don't choose a partner for their looks, their money, or their smarts. Get to know them. Live with them for a while. Meet their family, their friends, discover their interests and preferences. Analyze the things that you two argue or agree about. If you don't see communication and tolerance happening, then I highly suggest you reconsider where your relationship is at before you take the next step ― whether that be marriage, or a child. Because it is a lot easier to start something, than to take it back it afterwards. So there's some food for the thought on who you choose as a partner, and how you might want to parent if the time ever comes.
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