It’s still summer, barely, and as the sun’s going down, there’s the slightest fall edge to the air. He’d met me after work, and we’d had a crêpe snack. We ordered one with strawberries and bananas and Nutella and ice cream and whipped cream, to-go, no less.

“If anyone ever questioned why we work, I think this is the answer,” he said, raising the container of deliciousness. It was exactly what I was thinking, and I made him give me another bite while we waited to cross the street.

We walked the Highline, finally, then wandered back across to Union Square.

“What do you normally do for Christmas?”

I’m not sure he would have asked if he’d known he’d get the hour-by-hour schedule, complete with guest lists, menus, and contingency plans.

“. . . and then I have one cup of coffee with milk and a slice of fruitcake, and then I go to bed. And I was thinking maybe the week between Christmas and New Year’s, you could come visit.”

Then I immediately apologized and backtracked and spun in circles because I’m still sort of getting used to this.

“You realize,” he told me, “that by the time you say these things, I’ve already thought them, right?”

And I’m pretty sure I had this idea in June and I’ve met his second cousins and do you realize that by Christmastime we will have been together eight months? His meeting my family makes sense.

It’s the scheduling that’s the issue.


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I talked to Hugo. We’ve talked a few times since he broke up with his girlfriend. I told him a funny story, and he recalled that time we made cupcakes. Then he told me he can’t even eat a muffin without getting a boner. His word, not mine. He was drunk.

He was hanging out with college friends before going to a wedding rehearsal dinner, and they were rowdy-wasted.

“That doesn’t really seem appropriate.”
“We’re too drunk to remember what’s appropriate. Or acceptable. Or platonic.”

I could hear his old room mate in the background, and Hugo told me, “Knox says you look hot in the Facebook photos Harper posted.”
“From New Orleans? Am I wearing the lowest v-neck ever?”
“I don’t know. But I’m going to save those pictures to my desktop.”
“Yeah, I don’t know how Ted would feel about that.”
“Is he the boss of your Facebook photos?”
“No. I guess he should just be flattered.”
“He should be flattered.”

There were days. . . and months. . . and years. . . when this ten-minute conversation would have shaken my entire life. I would have counted my every mistake. I would have remembered every scrap of hope he’d ever given me. I would have recited the letter he gave me that night. And, for the ten-thousandth time, I would have written the happy ending the way I knew it could still happen.

But today I can laugh sincerely. I tell him yes, it’s ok if he sends me drunken text messages tonight and even ok if he and Knox drunk dial. I can say goodbye without opening the scar that runs from sternum to navel. And I’m pretty sure I can move on.

(Also, to my knowledge, Harper hasn’t posted any photos of me in ages. So who knows.)


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It was very late to be eating a huge slice of lasagna at Odessa Café. It’s Odessa like Russia, not Texas, though neither of those seems to be especially well-known for baked pasta dishes. And it’s dark in here, but his eyes are darker, and I love his eyebrows. He’s drunk, but on my end hungry and exhausted are battling for dominance, though it appears hungry has taken the lead, and the lasagna is disappearing.

Do you know he has perfect hands? His fingers are long and beautiful, and I think they could probably paint a portrait or play a piano or fold origami cranes or build houses out of cards, but for now they’re just reaching out to me across the table. And I love his fingers, but also his cheekbones and his ears and the way his legs are taking over my under-the-table space.

We paid with a credit card. And I thought he forgot about the part you have to sign when he stood up. But he wasn’t leaving. He came around the booth, and sat down beside me, right up close, because he says he likes it better here.


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blah blah babies gross blah

I was the tiniest bit concerned that Pete would try to make this thing with Pamela work just to. . . be done. And on some level, I told him, I would understand that.

“Yeah, but you are young. I’m old. You have time.”
“I know, I know. But I’m a girl, so I have a shorter shelf-life. And I don’t want to be one of those women who bores everyone by talking about her fertility treatments.”*

I have a few simple life goals: I never want to live in New Jersey, I never want to work in a cubicle, and I never, never want to become one of those crazy girls who’s just out to catch a husband.

But it doesn’t mean I don’t know how to think like a crazy girl.

I remember coming up with a formula while sitting in the backseat of someone’s car, rolling down Magazine Street. Evie was there, and we couldn’t have been more than twenty-one. Here’s how it went:

If I want the option of having babies by the time I’m 30,
It might take a year to make that happen. = 29

It makes sense to have two years of newlywed bliss before any of that nonsense. = 27

I’ll need to be engaged for a year to plan a dream wedding. = 26

I need to know someone for a year before I decide to marry him.
Therefore, I need to meet the boy I’m going to marry by the time I’m 25.

No one in the car could argue with this flawless logic. But if you aren’t willing to compromise your promise to yourself to not just marry someone because you know he’d do it, you could end up two years behind that schedule you made. At least two years. Two years at the barest minimum.


We couldn’t go to the beach because of the weather, so we went to the American Museum of Natural History. A museum with dinosaur bones and lots of animals on a rainy Saturday just before the start of the school year meant one thing-- the place was positively swarming with children.

It turns out we aren’t used to being around the below-the-knees set, and we kept having to catch each other by the arms to prevent the accidental backing over of toddlers.

We saw the whole museum, stopped for a cupcake break in the hallway, were generally mushy and gross, and (at least half of us) were alternately entranced by and trying to ignore the millions of babies.

In the whale room, a tiny girl (6 months old? 9 months old? A whole year maybe? I don’t know these things.) passed us in a stroller. Her hand was up, fingers splayed, and she was looking at Ted with liquid-blue eyes and a uterus-wrenching smile.

“Did she blow you a kiss?”
He half shrugged, “I made a face.”


Why am I even thinking about babies?

Babies. . . well. . . They mostly gross me out. First they’re a little person inside a regular person, which is gross like morning sickness and parasites and aliens. Then they’ve got to come out, which is gross like stretching and tearing and forget wearing your skinny jeans ever again. And then you’ve got a baby. . . for. . . forever. Which is a long time. And that’s gross like diapers and making plans for a sitter and college funds.

And what would I even do with one if I had one? I’m not just talking about where would I put it (though Ted insists that his parents kept him in a drawer), but what would I do with it. When I tried to hold my new baby cousin, his sister, 7 years old at the time, laughed at me because I looked so funny and because he just wouldn’t stop crying. “Maybe you should get a pillow,” she told me, “He might like a little more cushion.” It was a two-pronged jab at my lack of both baby-holding skills and any bosom to speak of.

So it’s possible that I don’t want any babies at all. But I’d like to keep my options open.

*For the record: I would never actually use any sort of fertility treatment. Expensive, invasive, and leaving you at risk of never being able to remember all the names or own any normal sort of car (John and Kate - style), I think that fertility treatments are unnecessary given the number of children already out there looking for parents.


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i can't believe i actually had this conversation

We were on one of the trains with the orange seats. Ted smiled an embarrassed sort of smile and looked out the window at nothing.

“Nothing. I was just thinking of something even scarier than what you said yesterday.”*
“What was it?”
“I was just thinking that if we had munchkins, there’s a good chance they’d have blue eyes. My dad has blue eyes, and my brother. And yours. . . .”
“That’d be good.”
“Yeah. Blue eyes and black hair. . . killer combination.”
“Yeah. And we’d hope for curls. . . . That’s even scarier than that dream I had.”
The one about the dresses?”
“No. Last night. About the ugliest ring ever.”
“Well, you are just lucky I have good taste.”
“Oh, right.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll ask for a female opinion before I buy a ring.”

*I didn’t know which scary thing he was referencing, then or now.


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decisions, decisions

The band became two in the front, diverged, left a space for a square of metal with an inset diamond. It was, in short, the ugliest ring ever. And it was at least three sizes too big.

The moral dilemma: I like this boy. A lot. I want to say yes. But I’ve spent years not only believing but preaching that an ugly ring means that a boy doesn’t know you well enough to marry you.

I was only too happy to wake up from this nightmare. It was early, and I told Ted about it, because these days I tell him everything. I told him about it before we broke the futon again and before we fell back asleep perpendicularly so as not to have to lie in the ditch of the collapsed frame.


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laughing through tears. . .

One time my mom was sick and in the hospital, and I was in New York and with David who couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to go to a birthday party with him. He was angry and frustrated at my tears, and he said, “Do you know what I did when my dad died? I went for a run.”

I didn’t even know what that meant. My mom wasn’t dying, but I cried harder. And a run is not a birthday party for a friend he’s never even mentioned before.

I met Ted on Friday after work. The week was long: a fight with Fin, a project that just would not come out right, a million things left on the to-do list. We’d deserved the gimmlets we had before we left that afternoon. As I was getting in the elevator, my mom called to tell me some bad news. Her voice broke; she sounded so sad.

I felt like I’d forgotten something while I was walking, and I wished it would stop raining because I was getting sort of wet. Fifteen blocks later, I realized I’d forgotten my umbrella. I might have been a little drunk when I got to Ted’s.

And we split some pita chips and a six-pack (proportionally according to weight and alcohol tolerance, meaning I had 2 and he had 4) while we watched a movie. I could blame it all on being a little drunk.

Because even I was surprised when my breathing caught in my chest and fat tears showed up on my cheeks. I’m sobbing. And I’m honest-- when we say nothing’s wrong, we don’t mean it. I made a list-- a long, liberating list of worries.

And he’s beautiful. He’s just rational enough to be believable. He takes me seriously while he squelches my irrational fears. This boy says all the right things.

And it’s the strangest feeling. The tears are still flowing like mad, and I’m pretty sure I deserve every one after this week. But I’m laughing. Because I’m unbelievably happy. It’s unbelievable in the truest sense of the word. It feels like shedding a skin or like a seed must feel when it sprouts.

So maybe I’m drunk. Or maybe I’m crazy or maybe I’m just caught up in this whole love business. But I could get used to being myself. For someone who seems to get it.


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time lapse

I was wearing summer clothes, but the morning felt slightly more like fall. Time has been moving so fast. When I first met Ted, it wasn’t even spring yet. It’s been significantly more than four months. We’ve broken some sort of record, and I guess I’ve sort of settled into it.

That’s what I was thinking. This is what I was wearing: a navy tank top, a kelly green mini skirt, gold flip-flops, and gold aviators. I looked like summer.

And when I rounded the corner by work, there was snow in the gutters and doorways.

It wasn’t a dream or a meaningful cinematic time-lapse or a metaphor-become-real, just every day around here. People were huddled around an enormous camera, and someone tried to steer me out of the shot. They were just filming something I’ll probably never see.


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There was one day when I stopped dreaming about a boy who’d take me to swanky restaurants and on opulent vacations and buy me an enormous house with balconies and generally lavish me with expensive gifts and started dreaming about maybe one day having enough counter space for a waffle iron and a medium-sized closet and maybe, in my wildest dreams, my own washer and dryer. And there was one day when I stopped dreaming about steamy bedroom scenes and started dreaming about a different sort of bedroom scene altogether. I just wanted to find a boy who’d lie around in bed with me, reading books.

So here we are, me and Ted, our legs woven together, my head on his bicep. Occasionally he’ll pause and kiss me on my hair before I feel a page of his magazine brush past my forehead. I’ve swiped his Harry Potter, which rests against my forearm and his. I curl my toes against his leg, and he finds my foot with his. Who knew toes could feel so nice?

Yes, here we are, full from brunch, stripped down to our underwear with the box fan on high-- a vision of nerd porn straight from my wildest fantasies.


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battle scars

A snippet of drunken poetry via text message:

Aww I’m dill
At stacia’s buy I’ll call you if I
Am coming to teds
At a

I assumed Sam was having a fun night, especially when, at 3 a.m., as Ted and I were recycling the bottles from the third installment of his birthday celebration, he texted again to tell me he was in a neighborhood far from home. But if he was having so much fun, what was he doing texting me?

“He BIT me. I have BITE MARKS,” Sam told me the next morning.

It was the worst hookup of his life, he claimed, and when I saw the damage on Monday morning, I believed him. A devastating hickey, teeth prints, the works.

And he’s dodging phone calls and texts and facebook friend requests from the culprit, unsure if he should somehow tell this boy that he’s doing it all wrong.

(Also we learned about some gel you can get from Whole Foods that makes bruises go away. Despite my skepticism, it seems to work.)


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happy birthday

I am barely a grownup.

I don’t have a table. And this two-person celebration has been forced to become an indoor picnic.

I cooked. And it turns out my oven does work.

I didn’t have plates. I bought two just for today. And two forks and two knives and three spoons; one of them is big.

I was going to cook meat for you because it was a special occasion. But my mother reminded me that I don’t know how. That chicken came from Whole Foods. I threw away the package.

I made your gift. So I can only hope that minutes mean more to you than money.

And it’s hard to open because I used packing tape. I ran out of the regular kind.

The ice cream melted. It seems easier to move in four months than to defrost the freezer.

I put on a party dress for you and pearls, because I thought you’d like that. I just didn’t have time to do anything to my hair.

I was going to take a picture because it will never be your 26th birthday ever again, and we should commemorate. I just forgot.

I am barely a grown up. I probably shouldn’t buy any of those cute aprons from Anthropologie. But I am in the healthiest relationship of my entire life. Thank you for that. And thank you for spending your birthday with me.


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“For breakfast I had French toast and some pineapple and some grapes. . . and a bowl of Cocoa Puffs. . . and a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. . . and that’s all. . . . Oh, and coffee.”
“Sometimes you say something like that, and I think there’s a reason we’re together.”

Ted told me all about his weekend away before the topic shifted. He spent a semester of college in Berlin, and he told me about it over sandwiches-- Cuban this time, with plantain chips. Since I was in maybe fifth grade, I’d thought I’d do a year in France. I even had the paperwork, that winter break when I turned twenty. I just didn’t sign it and I didn’t return it and I didn’t go.

“I don’t regret it, though. I try not to regret anything, but I’m glad I stayed that year. I wouldn’t have Hugo. And I’d be a different person, and I never would have lived with Harper. . . .”
“. . . and you wouldn’t have started the blog. . .”
“. . . and I wouldn’t have met you.”

And looking across the table at each other, we suddenly see all the paths we might have taken and could have taken, drawn all over the world like yellow arrows on a football replay. But the only two that matter, right now, today, are the ones that led us to this table in this restaurant full of music that makes you want to dance, here on a sweaty August Sunday night in Alphabet City.


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I spied the email address over his shoulder while he was typing.

I was careful to use capital letters where appropriate. I want her to like me. And since Lazy Pinky Syndrome is only something I made up, I use them.

Since when is this my life? Sending a secret note to my boyfriend’s mom to make sure it’s ok if I bring a cake to his family birthday dinner?

Maybe there’s some sort of girlfriend instinct. Maybe my body has released a hormone that makes me want to cook and bake and tidy and plan.

She said to please call her Alice. That’s one of my favorite names.


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in english this time

The whole table was focused on Pete.

“What’d he say?” we all demanded as soon as the waiter left.

Even though I suppose he looks the part, it always surprises me when I’m on the phone with him and he’s picking up his laundry: he speaks Chinese. Somehow the waiter at this restaurant sensed this.

“He said he’d bring us some more water. . . ,” Pete fills us in. “. . . in English.”

I’d say the night was a roaring success. I’d never really met any of Pete’s friends, but he’d included me in this small get-together to celebrate his birthday. They are bright and funny, and. . . well. . . no wonder he’s friends with them.

And all night he kept clasping hands and locking eyes with Pamela, his new girlfriend. She’s cute, and she brought a cake.

As we were all walking toward the train, one of the guys asked me how I knew Pete and Pam. They’ve been together three weeks, and they’ve already become this inseparable unit. I hope they are happy.

The boys wanted to see a movie, but Pete got off the train with Pamela at his stop and one couple had to get home because they had a babysitter and the other girl was going their way. I had to work in the morning, and a movie would have been over too late.

But Pete promised he’d invite me again next time.


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girls will be girls

I admitted to Sam, “Last night I had such a crazy-girl moment. I was thinking, oh, I can make that delicious macaroon recipe for Passover.”

He laughs a little, rolls his eyes. Passover is at least 8 months away.

But it’s my turn for eye-rolling later.

Our former co-worker stopped by with her three-month-old baby who just learned to laugh.

“She’s like a whole little person!” Sam has an epiphany, “I want one!”


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