Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Place Like No Other.

The summer after his first year of college he lived it up. For the first time in his life he was experiencing true independence and finding his sense of self. With his baggage gone and his guard lifted he was finally enjoying his burgeoning steps into adulthood. Once he was settled at home, he was overwhelmed by a sense of freedom as he sped away in his car and expertly navigated his way around the city, he felt comfort as he walked into a town center that he knew like the back of his hand, and he displayed a confidence that could only come from leaving home.

When the novelty of being home wore off he got his old summer job back. His first day at work was like he never left, he walked in like he owned the place. He held his head high with an aura that everyone was immediately drawn to. He sauntered into the establishment and knew that everyone was whispering about who the "new guy" was and he got such satisfaction when he corrected them and said he wasn't new at all. He made friends instantly, reconnecting with old coworkers and starting relationships with newbies. It seemed like everyone wanted to talk to him and ask him what he was doing after work and if he wanted to hang. He couldn't believe that he was connecting with people so fast whereas in school, it took him an entire year to make one friend that would probably forgot his name over the summer. He assumed his ease in making new friends was because he was back in this comfort zone and could just be himself, he never once thought that maybe going away had changed him in ways that everyone but him saw.

That first summer he overindulged himself in pleasures and vices that he had never known before and lost himself in a superficial haze that he thought cured himself from the miserable loneliness and constant self doubt that plagued him while he was in school. He tried to escape from all his insecurities to prove to himself that he was not the shy, scared little boy that left and was really the outgoing, life of the party that he had become when he was out all night doing every drug under the sun. He felt as if this experimentation told the world that he was a rogue risk taker who lived life on the edge and face anything that he met head on. He believed if he delved into the party lifestyle maybe eventually he wouldn't need to try so hard and one day he would just be that person. If he only knew that his out of control life style was hurting his family, the people he loved, the very people he longed to be with when he was away. He wasn't showing them that he had grown up, rather that he had grown into a person they didn't know, a person that was on the path to destruction.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Honest Scrap.

This post is a little different from what I usually write on this blog, although not entirely out of character. I got tagged by J & K a Journey with the Honest Scrap award! I feel very privileged to have received this particular award from her. K shares very personal and candid experiences that reflect the conflict and anxieties that I think a lot of people feel when just starting out with a new career and a new marriage. I appreciate her honesty and this award!

So the way this works is:

1) Tell your readers 10 things that are true that they might not know
2) Tag 10 other bloggers to do the same

Here are my truths:

1) I used to lie compulsively about things that didn't matter until they did start to matter and then I wished I didn't lie so much about insignificant things because sooner or later everything matters.

2) Peas, pineapples, and coconuts are my least favorite foods (people think this is weird because I'm from Hawaii so I should love pineapples and coconuts! bleh!)

3) I sometimes I have fits of rage that are so consuming and out of control I'm afraid that I will hurt myself or worse, someone else.

4) When I was younger I kept a journal with my dad because he worked at night and when I was not able to see him, I would write to him about my day and when he came home he would read it and write back to me.

5) I never wanted to grow up to be like my mother until I because an adult and realized that I would be lucky to be half the person my mother is. She is so amazingly strong it's beautiful.

6) I love my brother more than anyone in the world.

7) I like certain dishes because of the sauce that accompanies it rather than the food itself.

8) I am very cautious about meeting new people and I'm still figuring out if it's because I have trust issues or if I'm afraid of being close to others and showing them the real me.

9) I am finally with someone that I want to be with for the rest of my life.

10) I have a fear of clusters of small uniform shapes, mostly dots. I thought this was unique to me until I found out my best friend had the same phobia! Go figure.

Here are my tags:

1) Kahea at What's Past is Prologue

2) Joe at ink for thought

3) Ferdnerd at Urbanomical

4) Mr. S at Chased in a Dream

5) Rachael at A guide to Household Management

6) Mia at Confessions of a Social Whore

7) Jacob at Busy Busy Busy

8) Paige at La Vie a vernelle

9) Emily at Little Miss Pissy

10) Monica Confession Pearls

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Home for Good.

He didn't know how he made it though his first year of college with a 3.8 average. He barely paid attention in class, didn't put any effort into his assignments, and spent more time counting down the days until summer than he did studying for his finals. His first year away from home put a lot of things into perspective. He never considered staying home for college; he always knew he would go away. He was so confident that he didn't even apply to the University in his home town. But after a year of being a way, he realized that gaining new experiences and getting a quality education were second to feeling comfortable and safe in your own skin.

During the ending of this last quarter, he briefly made contact with some people from Hawaii and was finally able to let his guard down a little, he could laugh at jokes that only someone who grew up there would get and reminisce about life on the island. He went to their parties and totally let loose and wondered why he didn't join the Hawaii club if he missed home so much. He would find out later that he created a false sense of security and manipulated himself to think that being with these people was where he belonged. The very reason he went away was to meet different people with different ways of thinking. He felt in some ways that being born and raised in Hawaii came with deeply ingrained prejudices that he did not want to perpetuate, find would learn later that Hawaii isn't the only place haunted by it's past. But he wasn't aware of that at the time and he needed another point of view so he left; although he could never figure out why he always want to go back.

When summer finally came, he went back home a new person; the opposite of who he was when he left. He realized what was important to him and knew he had to make some major revisions in his life. When the plane touched down at the Honolulu International Airport, he felt an enormous weight lifted off his shoulders. He felt very accomplished and proud of himself for making it through a whole year away from home, he also knew that now that he was home, he was never leaving again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Home Again.

The first year he was away, his gains were imperceptible, at least to himself. Everyone else saw him as a changed man and heard it in his voice too, he lost the sing-songy tone that always seemed to ask a question even though he was just commenting on the weather. Perhaps the reason why he couldn't see what he was gaining was because he went home too often. He was always looking for excuses to go home and fortunately for him, his father's employee status with the airlines allowed him to do so. He became such a pro at flying standby, he knew when the best times were to fly and knew how many seats were open and was grateful that he had his father's 20 year seniority so he almost always got a seat. He looked at his long weekend trips with six hours flights, three hour time differences, and too many classes missed, as necessary to keep his sanity. With 10 week long quarters, plus an extra week for finals, three months being away from home was too long for him to handle.

The first time he took his long weekend was two week after he left. He started planning this trip back home on the second day he was away. He was done with classes and it was only 11:30 AM. He had the whole day ahead of him and all he could do was think about home.

Thanks salihan!

He thought about calling but it was only 830 in the morning and he knew his parents were just getting to work and his friends were probably still sleeping. He decided to write emails instead and tell his family and friends about all the cool people he met and how inspiring his classes were and the awesome party he was looking forward to on Friday. In reality, he still hadn't made any friends because he always kept his head down and stood far away from everyone else so no one would talk to him because these new people just made him miss his old friends more. In class he just doodled and daydreamed about what he would be doing if he was back home and he didn't want to admit that to anyone. He didn't want people to know how miserable he was because just five months ago, when he got accepted to this school, he was ecstatic and could hardly wait to leave and venture out into the real world. Now, he was finally on his own and all he could think about was being back in his comfort zone.

As he was writing his emails, he decided to check on flights for the following weekend just for fun but the more he looked, the more he saw an opportunity and before he was even done with his first email, he had listed himself on the first flight out of town next week Friday. It was only later that he realized he missed so much of the college experience by wishing he was home, but now it didn't matter because he had something to look forward to and it was only 10 days away. As the days passed, he didn't try to make friends or get settled in because all he was thinking about was his upcoming four day weekend. He went to bed each night just a little bit more excited that his trip was one day closer. By the time Thursday night rolled around he was too excited to sleep. He decided to stay up since it was already midnight and he had to be up by four to catch his flight at 6. He planned it perfectly so he knew he would get on the flight and it was just his luck that he got the last open seat in first class. He was riding on a high that he never knew before. He felt so liberated and relieved that he was going back home to the place where he could be comfortable and let this guard down and be surrounded by the people he loved most.

Thanks polarpaul!

When the plane was making it's final decent, he raised his window shade and witnessed the most beautiful scene. It was a landscape that he had grown up with and had seen countless times, but this time he saw it with new eyes ; the water was bluer, the sun was brighter, the green was crisper and he felt a pang in his heart as he felt a strange sense of ownership that he couldn't quite explain then as the plane touch the ground he realized that this was it, he was home.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Going Home.

He sat in the airport drinking coffee, he glance across the table and she smiled at him. It was a smile that could make any man weak in the knees. He loved her for that; for smiling at him the way she did just then. He reached across the table and squeezed her hand. He was going home and he was taking her with him. He went back home a lot in the past 10 years and every time he did, he went home a different person - and this time was no exception.

When he first moved away, going home was what made leaving worth it. He would leave and feel so grown up because he got to "get off the rock' and move on to bigger and better things. But secretly he was jealous of all the well wishers sending him off at the airport, and he smiled tentatively as they gave him hugs and told him to do well in school. He promised he'd keep in touch and send everyone back home picture of his new college friends. He put on the bravest face he could and thought he could see envy in their eyes because he made it and he was leaving, he hoped that his true feelings didn't show plainly on his face. When the final boarding call was announced, he tried to hold back tears as he handed his boarding pass to the ticket agent and made his way down the jet-way. From the moment he stepped on the plane, all he could think about was going back home. He was glad that it was a red eye flight and the cabin was dark so he could curl up under his blanket and let the tears come. In his own private cocoon, he cried for everything he was leaving behind and everything he was giving up, he never once thought that maybe, just maybe he would gain more than a little by leaving.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Change of Heart.

"Move out of the way!"

She was jolted forward as the Lawyer grabbed her arm and tried unsuccessfully to pull her away from the homeless man. Since she was crouched down with her weight supported on 4 inch stilettos, the momentum of being propelled forward caused her to lose her balance. She felt her ankle twist as she fell towards the ground and landed on her forearms.

As she grimaced in pain, she heard the homeless man's grunting get louder and she felt his hands hitting her back. It was only later when she felt the bruises on her back that she realized how hard he swung at her. The only thing she noticed at the time was the throbbing pain of her ankle that was beginning to swell and turn purple. She wished she didn't ask the Lawyer to sick around, the way she saw things, he made this whole situation worse and as if right on cue, he began shouting,

"Help! Help! We need help over here!"

"Stop yelling. No one is around!"

She managed to stand herself up balancing on one foot and saw that the homeless man had settled down and was lying placidly on the floor. She assumed this outburst was because he was startled at being woken up.

"See! This is why I don't get involved! He was about to attack you! Did you see how he hit you?"

"Attack me?! Is that when you swooped in to rescue me?! By pulling me so -"

"Wait just a minute! You're trying to blame me?! It's not my fault you got hurt!"

"Jeez! I'm not blaming you for anything. I'm just saying that he wasn't - you know what forget it."

She was beginning to get extremely frustrated at the situation. She didn't know what she was trying to do anymore. She thought she was trying to help, but it seemed like her efforts combined with the overly anxious Lawyer was creating nothing but problems. She heard some movement behind her and when she turned she saw the homeless man gathering his things and she was sure she heard him mumbling apologies. She immediately felt ashamed. Here was a man for whatever reason down on his luck and probably grateful that he found shelter in the otherwise wet and dreary streets, saying sorry for inconveniencing them. If anything, she should be the one apologizing for disturbing his sleep. If he's not bothering anyone or causing trouble who was she to impose on him? It was her first day at a new job and this wasn't her turf. While she was beating herself up over this, she glanced towards the Lawyer who stood with his hands on his hips glaring at the other man. She felt embarrassed by his behavior and could feel her cheeks starting to turn red. She turned her head away and took deep breaths to calm herself down. When she turned back, the man was walking away.

"Excuse me! Sir!" This time she didn't even think twice about calling him sir as she opened her bag and took out her lunch sack.

"Here, you must be hungry. There's a ham sandwich and an apple." He reached out excitedly and took the food, then lowered his head and shuffled away. He turned back with his head still down and said, "Thank you Miss and God Bless."

Monday, June 8, 2009

Close Encounters.

She stood with her mouth gaping open as she stared down at the body. She should have felt shocked, taken aback, horrified at finding a body that may or may not be alive on the elevator floor, but somehow, she felt it was almost appropriate given where her office was. She would have been more shocked if the elevator opened and soft music invited her in. She stood staring at the body wondering if she should nudge it with her foot to see if it was alive and then if it was, if she should ride up with it or take the stairs even though she didn't know where that was. As she stood pondering, someone came up behind her.

"Well, they say three's a crowd."

She turned, her mouth still hanging open, to face a man with a little stubble on his face, wire rim glasses, and beady eyes. It was something about the way he held himself or was it the look in his eyes or the tone of his voice, she couldn't quite figure it out, but she was immediately on guard.

"Riiight," she said, still a little wary. "So,-"

"This happens all the time," the man said abruptly. "Homeless people are always sleeping down in the garage and sometimes in the elevator if it's not locked at night."

"So, he's alive? Should we call 911 or an ambulance or something?

"God no! I'm not security or management. I'm a goddamn lawyer. If I wanted to deal with low life, scum bags like this, I would have been a public defender! Come on let's take the stairs, you're heading up right? This way."

Now she was shocked and taken aback and absolutely horrified at this guys attitude. Sure it was her first day, and she wasn't security, or management or a lawyer, but she was a decent human being who had some compassion for people. She could put aside her surprise at finding a homeless person sleeping in the elevator and she could do something to help him.

"You go ahead. I'm going to see if I can wake him up."

"Are you out of your mind?! He could attack you or God forbid, rape you."

"Then maybe you should be a gentleman and stick around to make sure that doesn't happen, or do lawyers not do that either?" She was pretty impressed with herself for making such a bold retort.

"Fine. I'll help you, but I'm going to be late for work you know."

"Yeah, well so am I, but I am going to assume that my boss is a decent person who will understand this situation, since it happens all the time right," she spat back sarcastically.

She felt a tingle coursing throughout her body and wanted to believe it was because for once in her life she actually said what was on her mind and put this jerk in his place. What she didn't want to think about was her increasing nerves because she had never actually been this close to a homeless person.

Thanks Carlo Nicora!

Sure she wanted to come across as kind hearted and whether the body was breathing was suspect, but she was never one to stick her nose in other people's business. If she saw something happening on the street, she was not the good Samaritan who offered help, she was the one who pretended she didn't see and looked the other way. Maybe it was this guy's blatant disregard that put things into perspective for her or maybe she was simply trying to delay the inevitable of starting her first day, but she felt it was her duty to help.

"Hello? Hello! Are you okay?" She held her breath and cringed as she touched him.

The body moved a little and made a grunting sound. She thought about calling him 'sir' but that somehow felt inappropriate. She turned to look at the man with the stubble as if to ask him what she should do next. He stared blankly at her as if telling her that this was her battle, but she continued to look at him expectantly. Suddenly his eyes got really big and his mouth opened to yell.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day One.

She got the job just like she knew she would and the worth that she waited for wasn't exactly what she expected, but she couldn't be too picky. Her boss asked when she could start and she told him that she needed two weeks to get her affairs in order even though she could have started right away. She didn't want to admit that she was scared and wanted to postpone starting a new job for as long as possible. But for two weeks she twiddled her thumbs and stressed herself out by second guessing her decision and almost convinced herself that she should decline the offer. Then before she knew it she was waking up to John in the morning on her radio at 7:30 and feeling a pit in her stomach because this was it. She tried to pick out an outfit the night before, but when she put it on she realized how unprofessional it looked. She did think about buying new clothes before she started but she didn't have the money to buy business casual clothes and her clunky shoes looked like a flash back to the nineties. She felt defeated before she even left the house but tired not to let it make her too self conscious.

She got to the bus stop and waited for ten minutes, feeling completely exposed the entire time as she stood out in the open, all alone, waiting; this was the one time she would admit that she wished someone was there for her to lean on. When the bus finally showed up she nodded to the driver and kept her head down and took the first open seat. She put her headphones on and glazed her eyes over so no one would see how nervous she was. If she could see herself sitting stiff and upright, clutching her bag to her chest and incessantly tapping her foot, she would have known that she was not pulling off the I'm-so-cool-I-don't-give-a-shit look, but she didn't know that, which was good because that thought alone gave her just enough confidence to mumble thank you to the driver when she got off the bus downtown.

Her eyes darted back and forth as she tried to make her way to her next bus stop. She still tried to maintain that she knew where she was going even though she couldn't remember which way the street numbers went and she looked left then right before deciding that the numbers increased left to right and she should go left to get to third because she was on 5th? Right? Her palms got sweaty when she remembered the last time she was alone downtown meeting a friend for lunch and her instructions were to go toward the shopping district but she actually walked away from the stores because her memory was foggy, she hoped her memory wouldn't fail her now. It didn't.

She knew she could catch one of three buses that would take her right outside her office and she got on the first one that came. She noticed that the people on this second bus were vastly different from the strictly commuters that rode with her into downtown. As the variety of people increased with each stop, so did the odor that hung in the air. She caught whiffs of alcohol and tobacco, garbage and homelessness; she was glad she took a seat close to the driver although on second thought, this driver's demeanor matched the passengers and she wondered if she should take her chances with the drunks in the back of the bus. She thought back to the last time she was taking this route and how she didn't seem to notice any of the vulgarity because he was with her. She thought briefly about what it would be like not to spend all day with him as they passed the time together of unemployed life.

When finally got to her building and stopped before going to the elevator. She wished she could call him and get some encouragement from the sound of his voice, but she knew it was too early and it would just go to voicemail. it took everything she and to press the elevator button and when she finally did, the doors opened and a body lay haplessly on the floor.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Step In The Right Direction.

40 minutes max turned into 95 minutes total. She definitely had her doubts as she sat in the bright orange chair that had some kind of weird stain on it . She tried to go over in her head what she

Thanks chotda!

would say during the interview, but she couldn't concentrate because it sounded like people were yelling in 6 different languages. For such a small office, it could get really loud in here, little did she know, that no one was yelling and only one different language was being spoken.

Her uncertainties about the validity of the place were shelved when she entered the office of her potential new boss and took a seat across his massive mahogany desk. The space between them grew smaller as he explained to her about his business and how he left corporate America to work for the little guys, for the immigrants who sometimes found it hard to have their voice heard. The more he talked, the more she started picturing herself working there and she thought about how good she would feel at the end of each day because she knew that she wasn't working for the man, she was working for the people. When it was her turn, she wowed him with her best face showing him how determined she was, how goal oriented she was, how committed she was to social equality and justice for all, how this job would be an introduction to a very promising future in the legal field. By the one hour mark, she relaxed in her chair and easily swapped stories about college and family like she was talking to an old friend. Her potential new boss asked her if she had any other offers on the table, she said she did, because she thought a little fib wouldn't hurt. He told her not to accept anything from anyone else until he called her references and talked with his bookkeeper to see how much he could offer her. She hesitated in agreeing because she knew she had this in the bag and wanted to make him sweat a little, just because she knew she could. She told him she was really interested in the prospect of working for him and so she would wait for him to get back to her, but only for a week. He told her, it would be worth the wait, she suspected it was his way of telling her that she did not hold all the cards. She wondered if he was onto her and if she should have played it differently, but at this point it didn't matter, he was walking her to the door and pausing at the front desk to scribble his cell phone number on the back on his card. He told her to call him, if she needed anything from him. She flashed him her winning smile, a perfect blend of charm and mystery, but when she heard the clanging of the plastic venetian blinds against the door, as she walked out, she cringed at the tacky sound.

While she walked to the elevator, she wondered if her vanity would overshadow her need for a job. Did it really matter what part of town the firm was in if they did legitimate work? Would it bother her that none of the clientèle could speak English and she would have to dumb down both her speech and writing after she worked so hard to get an English degree? It was like as soon as she left the office all of her doubt immediately returned. She thought about what that meant as she stepped off the elevator and her Manolo Blahniks got tangled in the pile of garbage. She tried to gracefully shake the trash from her heel and when she was unsuccessful and because she refused to touch it with her hand, she walked a couple of paces and hoped the momentum of her steps would be enough to take it off; it didn't.

Her frustration was immediately soothed, when she saw him sitting on a planter waiting patiently for her. She apologized, but he stopped her and said it wasn't necessary. He complained just once about there not being any free weekly newspapers to read and the only thing he could find were papers in Vietnamese or Chinese. He wasn't much of a talker and she often wondered how she ended up with someone so shy and passive which was the exact opposite of herself, but when he grabbed her hand and gave her a reassuring look that spoke to her in a way that words could never express, she knew it was moments like those that she lived for because no one could relax her like he could.

Thanks urbanflyer!

She thought he sensed what she was feeling and knew she would use him as a sounding board to work out the mixed emotions she was having about the job, but all that would come in good time. For now she was content to let him lead her to the bus stop and wait for their ride home.

The silence between them spoke volumes, but their actions towards each other said more. They stepped onto a nearly empty bus and instead of sitting far away, she took a seat right next to him. He smiled at her, because when she wasn't looking, he stepped on the piece of trash and removed it from her heel.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Helping Hand.

She was 25 but she still needed someone to hold her hand, it wasn't because she couldn't do things by herself, she was in fact very capable. She liked to think she could do anything and everything on her own. Why she couldn't go to her job interview alone was not something she would think about too much because it didn't count compared to all the other things she could do by herself.

She had an idea of where she was going, but she would feel less nervous is he was there and could tell her where to get off the bus. It was a good thing he came because when the bus kept going up the hill and went under the freeway, she knew she was entering completely new territory. He rang the stop and motioned to her that it was time to get off. It was funny how she sat far away from him even though there were plenty of empty seats, did she even realize the irony of the situation? It was another thing she wouldn't think about too much.

When the bus doors opened, she immediately inhaled a smell that made her want to vomit. She had to swallow hard to combat the heaves that were on it's way up. She couldn't quite pin point the smell, it was a combination of dead fish mixed with the odor of feet that were in shoes too long. She hesitated and turned around with questioning eyes that asked, 'are you sure this is our stop?' He nodded a yes and gave her a little nudge. She paid her fare and stepped out onto a street that matched the deteriorating smell. This was the part of the city that was ignored by the tax payers money, a refuge for those that would put up with rats and garbage because the rent was cheap. It was the part of the city where shop owners put bars on their windows and would buzz their customers in because they always kept their doors locked even during business hours.

Thanks Chris P!

It was the part of the city where the newspaper stands remained empty because someone forgot that there are people who speak English in this part of town who would like the daily news. It was the part of the city where the streets were used as wastebaskets and trash would pile up so high that children who didn't know the difference would jump into it and play like they see the kids on TV do with piles of leaves. It wasn't the part of the city where she wanted to be in, but she did have an interview and she always kept her appointments.

He held her hand as they walked and said that she should text him when she was done. She assured him it would be about half an hour, 40 minutes max.

Thanks Ruslik!

As they approached the building, she thought it looked like a section of an outdoor strip mall, rather than the tall posh office buildings that her bus passed going through downtown. If there wasn't a sign, haphazardly leaning in the window and a florescent light buzzing with the name of the firm, she would still think it was the wrong place. In all her fantasies about having a grown up job, working in a place that shared a wall with a Chinese restaurant and perpetually had bird shit on the window never even entered her mind. People like herself, well dressed, college educated, mild mannered people were not the kind of people who worked in places like this. She thought about bombing the interview on purpose, but deep down she knew she wouldn't because she was six months into the job hunt and was desperate for anything she could get.

Thanks Wolf Soul!

He walked her to the elevator and squeezed her hand for good luck before walking away. There she was alone, on her own just like she prided herself for and as the elevator doors closed she thought she saw the reflection of a confident, self sufficient person who was going to nail this interview, even if she did need someone to hold her hand to get here.