One blush means I’m amused (or have done something stupid). Two blushes = definitely interested. Three blushes, and the deal is sealed.
I have a crush.
Once upon a time… fate, genetics, and a healthy sense of humor got together one night and created my complexion.
We’re talking seriously pale here, folks. To the point of multiple childhood nicknames and countless burns. (I once got a sunburn sitting on a cafe patio by the time I finished lunch. [Okay, it's happened more than once.]) So the general exertion of walking from A to B, thinking hard, or even the general frustration of where I left my phone– they visibly show. I wear my heart on my skin tone.
Sometimes, I’m like reading a book. I can play a mean game of RISK, and a decent hand of poker… but certain emotions are easy to tell. Denying a crush would be like me calling a ream of paper white; the pot and kettle have nothing on me. So, color me intrigued– literally.
An honest to God, old school, makes-me-blush crush.
We run in the same group of friends, so I can’t tell you who it is. But I can tell you what he’s like.
He’s tall [no surprise], strong [makes me shiver], and goofy as hell [is there any other type I like?]. He’s the kind of guy every girl sits up a little straighter for when he enters a room, but doesn’t notice. He simply knows who he is, and puts it out there in a confident, natural way. Such a straightforward personality is refreshing in a city of professional ladder climbers and social manipulators. The world zeros in when he’s around, to the point where I’m more aware of his proximity to me than whatever I’m actively doing. The rest of life is just on auto-pilot. I’m not just saying he’s attractive; he’s actually beautiful. A lean build, great smile when I tease him, and perfect eye contact. The kind you can’t look away from; as if you would even want to. [Like in oncoming traffic? Doubtful.] I can be quite the cool cucumber, but he’s tripped me up more than once into being damn flustered. And I don’t get flustered.
He’s not the only one I’m sweet on, though.
I pick up crushes like baseball cards. Like this one, most don’t amount to anything more than simple appreciation. I like picking up on something that fascinates me about a person and admiring it. That’s the beauty of crushes. And any little thing can kick start it. A common one lately seems to be a cute guy sitting at My Bar ordering a great beer and shot of Jameson. That one gets me every time– there is something admirably simple about ordering the working-man’s boilermaker that pulls me. Especially when followed by great, easy conversation with an attractive smartass. (I’ve said it before: you DC kids really need to step it up and put yourselves on the line more. Hint: a free drink means the bartender is interested.) This week definitely introduced a new rockstar crush of the boilermaker variety. He only got me to blush twice; we’ll see if he returns as promised to earn the third.
But more than the tripwire that spins me into infatuation are the qualities that keep me there. A quick mind and clever tongue. Culture and curiosity. A sweet nature and spontaneity. Impulsive ideas and the confidence to see them through. Assertive smartasses really steal my heart; no wonder I moved to DC. Right now, I want someone who actually thinks, recognizes their impact on others, and puts it to good use. I’m a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of girl.
I put serious effort into making other people smile with random stunts or little gestures on a daily basis; I like to think there are kindred spirits out there. I even see small moments like someone offering their metro seat, or running after an elderly man to return his dropped glove [happened in front of My Bar Saturday afternoon]. Today, I watched a businessman– fresh off the train with a suitcase and the distinctly-DC running-late look– stop to give a homeless guy two $20′s and tell him things will look up eventually. Heart = warmed. But apparently my personal karma is playing it a bit sadistically these days. Life’s been throwing a number of sharp hardballs my way, and I’ve have a rough time of it. Nothing terrible, just consistently difficult. So I thoroughly enjoy fun times when they come, and safe-keep the sweet moments in my pocket for later.
That translates into when a sweet friend-crush interrupts me to say I have beautiful eyes, or a cute bar patron says I’m trouble and will have to visit again next week….. well, those are the butterflies I keep to make me smile again later. I take these little moments to heart– so don’t break them.
Everyone needs a little more love in their lives. I’m not just talking about candy hearts and teddy bears (though I won’t reject the classics). I mean acknowledging the homeless person you breeze past every day outside Farragut North, or the Metro Express lady in Columbia Heights (who is a real sweet woman). How about helping the mother off the bus with her toddlers and stroller, or giving the elderly a hand. And yes, maybe even bringing a flower to that cute someone who comes to mind, or asking them for a drink. Happiness and romance don’t have to be grand gestures at the Empire State Building or airport terminals. They also don’t have to have some weighted end-game of commitment or marriage. They can be little things. Like just saying, “Hi, I think you’re cool– want to go for a walk?”
So here is my challenge to the City of Politics and Pride: how about you try making a random gesture to brighten someone ELSE’S day, with no goal in mind beyond making someone smile. If you want to share it with the world, tell me about it and I’d love to have a follow-up article of stories. If you want to make it selfless and keep it to yourself, more power to you. But just try it– it’ll make this week more bearable for everyone involved. I promise, warm fuzzies are contagious.
And since I will be working Thursday night: Happy Valentine’s Day, world. This gem is thanks to an NYU Improv friend:
Happy MLK-Obama Day!
Ooooh, I’m excited enough to burst. Two of my favoritest people in the world are renewing their vows this weekend, and I couldn’t be happier! Barry and Joe have been together for four years, and what a whirlwind their relationship has stirred. They’ve had their ups and downs, but in the end, the struggles made their bond stronger. And as a girl with starry eyes for Biden [literally] since birth, it makes me proud to see him with a worthy partner. In addition to Jill, of course.
Everyone knows you never forget your first time, and this is mine. Though the last time around was my first chance to vote [and what a vote!], I was still at university and couldn’t come down for the celebration. [I heard it was cold, did any of you die?] So I’m not missing my second chance!
Which means it’s going to be a long weekend. The housemates all have friends in town, so the Clubhouse will be at full capacity. Jules Junior, Fabala, and Abigail are trekking down from the Motherland for the occasion. And it’s Fabala’s birthday to boot! Friday, I will be working. But only because my friend’s band, Jonny Grave and the Tombstones, will be playing and I adore them. Saturday morning, the Brunch Bartender Extraordinaire will be serving hangover cures and love until five, and then switching over to serve a few more hours. Then I’ll be off for the event I’m excited for…
SATURDAY NIGHT: The Shitkicker’s Ball So. Stoked. I love the Looking Glass Lounge any day of the week, but this is a whole new experience. Want to join? I’m not even going to paraphrase the description.
From the big man behind it all, “Shitkicking is about starting dance parties where even the fucking dudes who wear tucked in shirts and try to hit on women using their LinkedIn accounts wind up breaking out the funky chicken; and when everybody shares not just phone numbers, but sacred family recipes from the old country for drunk food… Shitkicking is about standing up for the people that nobody gives a fuck about in this town. It’s about staying in the kitchen because you love the goddamn heat. As Omar put it in the Wire “How you expect to run with the wolves come night when you spend all day sparring with the puppies?”
Now THAT is my version of an Inaugural Ball! I’d wonder what to wear, but they are pretty explicit.
For the rest of the weekend, the Clubhouse will be an explosion of madness. Literally and figuratively. I’m taking advantage of all the people, and will be cooking on Sunday. So many things to celebrate! Barry and Joe’s vow renewal, my sister’s birthday, MLK’s memory, surviving the Mayan Apocalypse, being awesome people in general… You know how much I love celebrations. Specialty cocktails will be made. Food will be consumed. Bonfires, firecrackers, and sparklers will ABSOLUTELY be involved. And all done in time to wake up at the crack-of-death 5 a.m., in time to catch the metro and beat some of the crowd for space near speakers on the Mall. What are the chances Park Police would confiscate thermoses? Because I’d survive much happier with a lot more Irish than coffee in my system…
INAUGURATION: [better details]
5 a.m. Wake up, throw coffee in our faces, and race to the metro. Time subject to change.
11:30 Vow renewal, on the steps of Our Nation’s Capitol. From a view of a million feet, back in the nosebleed section. Likely will be hugging a jumbotron for warmth somewhere back near the Washington Monument. Did anyone else see that Kelly Clarkson is singing? Lame.
2:30 Ba-Rocking Parade! Unsure of my attendance. Might physically require sustenance by this point, and belligerently demand alcohol. Return to Columbia Heights imminent.
MONDAY NIGHT: TBD. So many options, so little of me to go around. Did you know that, for the mere price of a quarter of my rent, you could go to an official Inaugural Ball? Yea, that’s one of the reasons why these might be better. [For a full list of all bars open until 4am on Inauguration, check out my friend at Guest of a Guest.] Madam’s, R&R Hotel, El Centro, and more will be Ba-rocking the body republic all night, and I plan on fulfilling my civic duty.
Where will you be celebrating this grand weekend?
Tomorrow, I will be seeing my high school sweetheart for the first time in eight years.
It’s a crazy thought on so many levels. The fact I’m getting to see him; the fact we’ve kept in touch over the years– hell, the fact it’s been EIGHT YEARS. I’m not even close to old enough to have that long since I’ve seen someone significant, but there it is.
I should start at the beginning.
We were just kids when we met. When I started high school, I went on a volunteer trip with my church group. This one guy was a bit older, and I had a harmless schoolgirl crush on him. That is, until we talked a lot the last night of the trip and found out he liked me, too. Our group had stayed at the church we were rebuilding in the Blue Ridge mountains. We started talking about his training in the Army Reserve and plans to join after high school, and my particular hippie leanings as a pacifist. We wandered around the grounds and ended up in the field behind the church, under the night sky. Epic, adorable, romantic. Sparks flew. My teenage heart didn’t stand a chance.
And neither did our relationship. When my mom found out how old he was, she was [ok, fine, somewhat understandably] unsettled. I was a freshman, he was a senior. Three years is a pretty big difference, at that age. But I had always been an old soul, and a damn stubborn one at that. We fought over it. I had my first real taste of teenage rebellion, and relished the secret online contact and late-night phone calls that ended in us falling asleep. We talked constantly. I daydreamed in school. He wanted me to visit, meet his family, even go to Prom. I was smitten with the whole Romeo and Juliet vibe of it all. Not only was he a soon-to-be solider and I a card-carrying pacifist, but our families didn’t remotely approve.
This continued for months, until we had another church trip that winter. By then, the strain of distance and family disapproval had weighed on me. The adult supervisors were keen to the situation, and it soured the experience. It was bittersweet to see him, knowing I might not again. I crumbled under the pressure, and we agreed to get emotional distance to match the physical separation. I gave him a peace sign ring I always wore, as a joke to remember me by. I was utterly heartbroken.
In retrospect, I was a kid and bounced back just fine. We hadn’t been exclusive the entire time, so it wasn’t much of a social change for me, but the emotional impact felt real. The romance was over.
But the story didn’t end. We looked each other up over the years, and kept in contact pretty consistently. I found out that after we lost touch after the initial break, he did actually sign up with the Army. He was deployed to Iraq from ’05-’06, and was injured twice. The second injury was enough to have him sent home.
I heard through the grapevine that something had happened to him, and tracked him down via the wonderful interwebs. It had been two years since we’d talked. He said he had wanted to find me the second he got home from Iraq, but didn’t think I wanted to hear from him. Absurd. Of course I wanted to hear that he was alright. So we caught each other up, and went back into a sort of pen pal connection. We’d talk about our days, what kept us busy, who we were seeing, the heartaches, the happiness. Our favorite color. That awesome band we just saw live. The usual conversations of our age. Friendship.
There were sweeter moments, too. On nights when he couldn’t sleep after work, or I was up late writing a paper for college, we’d talk about that summer night under the stars, or the winter trip in the snow. It was fun to think back. When that movie, Dear John, came out about an Iraq War romance, we both watched it online together. [The movie is total crap, don't watch it; we ended up just laughing the whole time.] At some point over the years, he confessed how often he thought of me in Iraq. It comforted him to have someone to fight for, and it brightened his day to think of how I would have hated him holding a gun in the first place. Said he could hear me in his head sometimes, railing against the concept of war. Surrounded by bombs thundering and guns firing, I made him smile.
One night, he told me that he even brought the ring I had given him with to Iraq, and sometimes kept it on his dog tags for good luck. The second time he was injured, his Humvee was blown up. The explosion tore away both his tags and our ring. He told me how furious he was to have lost it. He always thought to come home safe, find me, and show me that it had been his good luck charm. I cried that it hadn’t been good enough to keep him safe. He replied that it did work; he was alive, wasn’t he?
Our relationship has represented a sort of romantic nostalgia over the years. It’s mellowed into a calm, warm place inside me. No matter how small other heartbreaks might tear me, those memories can always piece me back into a smile. He’s my chicken soup.
And now I get to see him, after all these years. He’s from Silver Spring, so he’s back this week for the holiday family visit, and we’re meeting up tomorrow. Jules Junior asked if I’m nervous– I can’t lie, butterflies have invaded my stomach. He hasn’t seen me since I was fifteen! Now that we’re adults, is this going to be weird? What the hell should I wear? And I’m concerned that he might want to initiate something! I don’t want to ruin what we have together by reigniting long-distance yearnings that spoil it. [And if Fairfax is too far away for me to date, South Carolina is practically the moon!] But it will be unreal to be in the same place just the same.
We’re going to meet on the steps of Natural History and kick around the museums and monuments. He hasn’t been down to DC proper in years, despite being a semi-local, so we’ll play at being tourists. Apparently we have a knack for being a picturesque, cliché duo. I’m not complaining. I’m pretty confident about our status in each other’s futures as the bright light/ chicken soup, and am bubbling with butterflies at the chance to add another day of memories to the story.
You know you’re just as excited for the sequel.
To be continued….
It has been a full year since I moved here to the day, and this is now officially the longest relationship I’ve been in– way to break my record! Honestly, if anyone could do it, it would be Washington. This city has stamina.
And it seems like, for anniversary presents, DC is sending a bunch of changes and exciting things my way. Hooray! I love surprises!
First and foremost, my sister has come to stay for the summer! The lucky little genius is interning at one of those extra-important buildings downtown, which security measures prevent me from naming at this time [though I'm told I'll be allowed to divulge this after her program is over]. So this means we’re time-travelling back to the good ol’ days when we shared a room way back in the 90′s. [She will hereafter be known as Jules Jr., Junior, JJ, or any other inanity that strikes my fancy. Especially Ducky, her character from Land Before Time when we were kids.] Yessirree, it’s going to be a summer-long slumber party, backyard potluck, and city life sisterhood– with the added big-kid-bonus of [mostly-] legally-obtained adult beverages.
Everyone’s response to the news seems to be a cautiously probing, “So… is this a good thing?” And my answer is always an ecstatic “YES!” Junior and I are perfectly alike and wonderfully different in all those fun, symbiotic ways that make sisters awesome. I’d say it’s worth giving up some privacy [and yes, certain adult uses of the bedroom] to share an epic summer with my Second in Command. Call it the honeymoon phase, but it’s been a week, and we’re having a blast. We will be hosting our first shared soiree this Saturday, and it’s sure to be full of memorable, wodkamelon-induced shenanigans.
That’s right, there have been some moves on the job-front. Last week, I found a wonderfully enthusiastic staffing agency that’s excited to help, and within 24 hours, secured me an interview. I ran over to the development firm interested in meeting me and had a fantastic interview; unfortunately, they went with someone more qualified.
In an effort for full honesty, I was a bit broken-hearted after the news yesterday. I called my mom, reached out to some friends, had a therapeutic cry, then went to the restaurant for work. At work, everyone seemed to pick up on the mood and were extra-adorable in playing around with me. It turned into a pretty zen night, despite the chaos of a surprisingly hectic turnout for a Monday night. I think I find my inner balance way easier when surrounded by chaos– my place in hospitality and politics should be no surprise.
C’est la vie, right? At least they wanted to meet me in the first place! Now waiting for the next interview to be lined up, so fingers crossed that big changes come my way.
Heatin’ Up for the Summer
And I’m not just talking about the weather… That’s right, I’m rather taken with a guy. Next post will cough up the dirt, I promise, but I’ll just say this: the Classicist is absolutely fascinating. It was out of nowhere, and is still surprising me, but I’m loving it. No, I’m still stuck in my monoga-me lifestyle, so no domestication is in sight. But now I can explore the new concept of ‘affair’ I’ve been toying with. More to come [pun intended?].
I’m recommitting to writing here. After recent advice [of both the maternal and friendly varieties], I’ve accepted that I can only keep truckin’ to fight the job market. But until then… I should try to figure out what it is I genuinely enjoy doing, and maybe find a way to make a living with it. I know I deeply love growing this site and expanding its possibilities, so that’s my mission for the summer. Take Dating the District to a new level, and see where it in turn takes me– are you ready, DC?
And the ultimate summer feel-good tunes:
It’s just one of those ubiquitous childhood lessons, no matter where, when, and how you’re born. Sure, Sesame Street had a heavy hand in the wording for my generation, but it’s taught everywhere. And it doesn’t get old—no matter what age you are, the truth stays strong, in every type of relationship. Especially romantic ones.
It takes many forms in relationships, though I’m not talking about sharing partners for the most part [polyamory is seeing a rationalized comeback, but not a part of my personal lifestyle]. No, I’m talking more about sharing yourself. Being open and receptive. It’s tough to be an open book; it takes a lot of trust in the reader, and this is just a harsh world to trust new people sometimes.
When I look at the people around me, and hear about their romantic woes and failures, it all comes down to trusting yourself and another. It’s a damn vulnerable feeling, laying yourself bare to another’s scrutiny, but it’s also one of the most liberating phenomena in the human experience.
Some people only want to share parts of themselves with others—they are serial daters. Not monogamists, but daters. They hop from person to person like a bee bouncing around the wallflowers, content to enjoy the activity for a time before going back to their hive without keeping anyone special in mind. There’s nothing wrong with the lifestyle [and for the most part is my own life of choice, for now], because these bees are perfectly happy on their adventures, knowing their home is sweet enough without needing anyone else there. I have a blast going on dates with new people all the time, even if several aren’t repeated, because I am happy with myself. I don’t date to fill a void, I date to meet new and exciting people, and share my life with others. I don’t have any one special person in particular because I haven’t met the right person yet, but that’s peachy keen with me. I’d rather be awesome and single than settling for someone that doesn’t quite fit—we’re still young, this is the time to explore.
What I’ve noticed, between my friends and these various suitors, is that a lot of people don’t trust the dating game. We’ve grown to become quite the cynical generation. Raised on Disney fairy tales, fed the belief in love-at-first-sight and dreams-come-true, but experiencing the reality of an ever-increasing divorce rate and the nightmare of nasty break-ups. It’s tough to trust your dreams when it seems like they’re only real in cartoons—even MTV only airs the failed romances. If beautiful, awesome people like Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore can’t make it, how can we expect to?
We all have our preconceived notions and ‘ideal mate’ daydreams, but are too protective of it and ourselves to share with potential realities. It’s almost as if we’re hoarding our dreams, because admitting them to someone risks the chance of it happening. Like a birthday wish—you can’t TELL anyone what you wish when you blow out your birthday candles, because then it won’t happen!
So we make lists. Get clinical, and you feel less absurd. Come up with dealbreakers to explain the breakup before it happens, rather than admit the relationships fail because you were too terrified to commit and give it your all. Cobble together all the attractive qualities from various celebrities you fantasize about, and convince yourself the result is out there somewhere. It’s a twisted arts’n’crafts collage setting us all up for disaster. And when the end comes, we tell ourselves ‘I told you so’ as if that takes the sting out of loneliness.
Love is an all-or-nothing bet. You can’t ask everything of someone else if you refuse to open up. We’ve all heard it, the ‘two-way street’ bit, and all. You know the sayings—your mama told you them often enough as a kid. They’re clichés for a reason, you know.
So take a leap—sharing is caring. If you want someone to care about you, then you have to SHARE you. Sometimes it really is just that easy.
You know how in that moment just before a kiss, when the tension is palpable and you can almost see the intensity rippling in the air, you can’t help but wonder if it will actually match up to the perfection you envisioned in your dreams? [And the unfortunate fact that a lot of the time, it falls painfully short and leaves you dissatisfied.] I was worried that my long-awaited move to Washington DC would turn out like that.
Yea, this is not one of those times. The past few months have been a perfect first kiss of fireworks, chemistry, and a lot of ‘getting to know you wayyyy better’ late nights. DC and I went into this knowing we were wholly compatible on paper, but needing to test drive the car a bit before accepting the knowledge that we were meant to be. Now, it’s settled. The District and I are going steady.
I just moved to DC this summer. Some say I’m still in the honeymoon phase, but they don’t know me very well–I belong here. Most dreamers grow up yearning for the Big Apple or Hollywood, but my geek ass self has wanted to relocate to the capital for years. Mission accomplished! Mazol tov to me, and yes, I get a cookie.
Now comes the hard part: actually living the dream.
Only it hasn’t been THAT hard, in the grand scheme of things. Sure, I’m an unpaid and under-appreciated intern in the pretty small office of a relatively unknown non-profit/advocacy group. We might be known very well within our circle, but the average Joe would probably be baffled. Yes, I pay my bills by working at a restaurant, despite my university degree in a highly specialized and in-demand field. Of course, I’m poor as hell, eating food from my restaurant’s kitchen every night and wondering how I’ll keep from getting evicted and chased down by student-loan-sharks if I don’t get a Big Kid Job soon. But honestly?
I love the freedom of part-time work, find intellectual fulfillment on my own if needed, and have enjoyed the ‘poor kid weight loss plan’ that my impoverished diet has created. For the first time, I am entirely surrounded by intelligent, ambitious people with the drive to be both intense and playful at the same time. It has been liberating. I am not one of the only crazy passionate people in the room, and my political jokes actually get laughs. [Can I also say... there are TALL men here! More to discuss later.] There are attractive men, assertive individuals, and artistic activities. I’m covered on all bases.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t come from some severely rural area where the combined IQ could hide in the corner of my brain and get lost. I’m not the only intellectual from my town– nor am I the only one in my own family and circle of friends. I have awesome roots. I come from intelligent people, accomplished friends, and diverse backgrounds. but every bird needs to fly the coop, and DC has always been my migration destination.
I belong, and this kiss is sweeter and hotter than I ever imagined.