Profoundly Grateful

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Ok, I’ve decided to name him. From now on, I’ll refer to him (even though I promised myself not to write about him) as Allan. What can I say? I like A-names.

This week has been one of ups and downs – and it’s only Wednesday. Through it all, Allan has been there in a serious way. I’m so touched and grateful for his support and his presence in these situations (which I will explain) that I’m actually at a loss for words. It feels impossible to accurately put down on paper how grateful and touched and humbled and gracious and appreciative and embarrassed a bit and confused I am by Allan’s kindness and generosity and support. I’m actually sitting here with tears welling up in my eyes thinking about it.

Here’s what’s going on…maybe you can make heads or tails out of it:
On Monday, I officially started my new apartment search. I need to be out of my current apartment by June 1. To kick off the search, I went over to Allan’s seeking his help with the Hebrew website. We spent a good hour or so sifting through listings and he helped me gather about 7 that were call-worthy. This already seems like a major pain in the butt to do, so I was thankful.

On Tuesday (yesterday), I went to see the apartments during the day and actually found two that might have been workable. I wasn’t really sure about either of them though so I called Allan to bounce the ideas off of him. I told him that I would really like a second opinion and that I would buy him dinner for his trouble. He happily agreed, came right from work to one of the apartments, saw them both with me, and then talked me off the ledge of jumping into one of them that wasn’t the right one. “We still have plenty of time.” “We will keep looking. There’s no need to stress.” Not you. Not it’s your life, do what you want. We. THEN when I tried to buy him dinner as I promised, he turned around and took me to a really fancy Japanese restaurant and bought me dinner.

Then, last night, after being home from dinner for a few hours, there was something really wrong with my dog. I watched her get worse and worse as the night went on and around 11:30PM, I decided that I had seen enough and we needed a vet NOW. I called Allan in a panic. Jessie was not eating, not drinking, unable to lie down comfortably…she was standing the corner of the room facing the wall, and just panting really hard. Her heart was racing, she wouldn’t take a treat and she wouldn’t lie down with me. I didn’t know what was wrong with her. Was she poisoned by something? Was she in pain? This is all very out of character for her, who usually uses her tail as a wrecking ball as it wags and is always jumping up on the sofa and crawling all over me or constantly chewing on one of her many bones. PetWebMD said the staring and panting was a sign of a seizure or a neurological disorder so I panicked, calling Allan in scared tears. He jumped into action, found an open vet and met us there while I got Jessie out and into a cab.

Of course, as soon as she saw Allan her adrenaline kicked in and she appeared like everything was fine, embarrassing me greatly but I knew in my heart something was wrong with her despite the brave/normal face she was trying to show the world.

An hour later, we established that she had a fever and a high white blood cell count from some type of infection. We got antibiotics and a shot of painkiller to help her rest. Allan stayed with us the whole time, held her tightly when they were drawing blood, scratched her ears to calm her down and talked to the vet with me. Then the bill came. 500NIS for meds, the visit, and the tests. As I was about to give my credit card to the vet and ask to pay in two installments, Allan swooped in and insisted that he pay her vet bill. This was way too much. First a very expensive dinner and giving of his time to help me find an apartment, then being so proactive when Jessie was sick, and now paying for the vet? It’s too much. I tried to stop him and in the end, the best I could do was agree to let him pay half.

We left the vet; it was almost 1AM. We walked a bit to see how Jessie was responding to the medicines and then he invited us back to his place for a bit to relax. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone, but I wanted to and I agreed. We sat and talked and watched TV until about 2AM, then Jessie and I went home.

Of course, Allan called first thing this morning to check on Jessie. And of course, I texted him a long note of appreciation and gratitude that he is in my life and so supportive and present. His response? “It’s totally my pleasure! I was just really worried about the dog so it had nothing to do with you ;)”

All this behavior adds up to one basic conclusion for me. Allan is feeling things. Let me remind you, dear readers, we are not together. We haven’t ever been together officially. According to Allan, we will never be together and it’s not a good idea for us to be together. And yet… (Thank you Nicole Krauss: _History of Love_)

I have to learn how to accept help and accept love. It’s hard for me because I’m so used to doing everything on my own – or, reaching out for help and not receiving any. It’s so different with Allan though. He’s not obligated or required to be there for me and still he is, every time. And yet.

Well, like I’ve said before, I can’t predict the future and the best I can do is keep on keeping on and see where the road takes me. But, how could I or anyone ever say that I need to cut ties with this amazing man just because we’re not in a serious relationship? He might be the best man I have ever known and I’m lucky to have him in my life.

Col Beseder b’Layla Seder

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Everything is alright on seder night.

I know I’ve written before about the emotions associated with the holidays for me. Living away from my family and closest friends makes the holidays especially challenging some times. Every major holiday I’m faced with options:
1. Spend it alone – this is usually what happens. Israel is so family oriented that everyone spends the holidays at home. This usually means an over crowded table, people in a stressed state, and a lack of awareness of anyone else around. Of course, significant others are considered family here so I’ve been waiting and hoping for the day I’m with someone who wants to allow me to share his family, if only a couple times a year. That, obviously, hasn’t happened yet. So, as the city quiets down and people gather around their mom’s table, I am usually home, alone, thinking about what I would be doing if I were in the US.
2. Travel – this is a great option if you can afford to do it. Sadly, with moving apartments on the horizon, traveling just isn’t something I can afford right now (or ever really). Plus, if traveling means going back to the states for holiday, I have a hard time justifying a week in a place I don’t enjoy for a night of family and tradition (just to avoid being alone on the actual holiday). It seems extreme to me.
3. Spend it with the random person who invites you in for the night – this is what I used to do when I first moved here. I felt that it was important to be with people on the holidays instead of being alone. I was wrong. Numerous holidays were ruined for me by strangers assuming I’m some kind of idiot because I don’t speak Hebrew, pop quizzing me on Jewish things to prove that I know what’s going on, conversations that didn’t include me, and food that I had to force down in the name of being polite. Last year, a colleague invited me to her cousin’s house for the Passover Seder and I was stuck there for HOURS while her crazy family did the WHOLE hagada. And the food was terrible on top of it.
4. Hope and pray that a real friend invites you to spend the holiday with them – on the rare occasion this happens, it can be tricky. People are self conscious about their families and sometimes you see a side of your friend you didn’t know was there… But, usually, your friend’s family is your family when the invite comes and the night is warm and open. This has only happened three times in my tenure of living in Israel and every time has been better than the previous.

Tonight, Layla Seder, my original plan was stay home alone. Maybe I’d make a small pot of matzoh ball soup and a chicken salad sandwich, but I’ve learned that it’s better to be alone and let the holiday wash over me than it is to be with strangers for the sake of being with people. I know some people going to a community seder for new olim, a few teachers have invited me to join them with their families (including the same family from last year), but I chose to decline every invitation. I kept telling people I had plans with friends, as to not hurt their feelings by saying I’d rather be alone.

Then, magically, my very close friends Bella and Alex invited me to go with them to Bella’s mom’s house for the seder. I jumped at the opportunity! Having plans for the holidays that I’m actually excited about, feeling as though I’m not going to be with strangers, and being welcomed in not as a sympathy “we don’t want you to be alone” invitation is an amazing feeling. It really has shown me what good friends I’ve made here and how they really have become my family. The ones who have kept me at arm’s length have more or less faded into the background, but my real friends – people like Bella, Alex, Ben, and him – these are the best people in the whole world and I am lucky to be able to count them as my friends.

Update on him: saw him last night, had a great night with lots of great sex. I’m physically bruised with bite marks today, just the way I like it! But we did sort of decide that this was it for awhile. He didn’t want to have sex at first and I kept pushing and pushing, like I do. He started by saying just simply “it’s not a good idea.” Then, “I’ll touch you but we’re not going to have sex.” Then after some verbal encouragement from me, the clothes came flying off and we spent the next 2 hours in tangled bliss. I’m not proud of it, but if the sex that came out of the pushing is going to be it for awhile, that’s fine. It was good and fulfilling. Is that it forever? No. Obviously. But, it will be it physically for awhile, I think. We already have plans on Monday for him to help me with my apartment hunt. We also have already promised to keep our hands to ourselves when we see each other on Monday. Listen, I have no excuses for my behavior. Things are complicated and messy. That’s life. I’m not sorry this keeps happening. I treasure my time with him.

On that note, hag sameach (happy holiday) to everyone! Hug your loved ones a bit harder tonight and be grateful you have each other. Now is a time for thankfulness, not regret or envy.

Lemons into Lemonade

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Last night, I spilled the extreme frustration I was feeling before I was supposed to go out on that second date… well, if you’re curious, I did end up canceling and I definitely made the right decision.

After getting my mom’s opinion on the situation, the answer was clear: if I went out, I wouldn’t have had a good time. The night had already started on the wrong foot. What girl wants to hear right before a date “can we meet later because my nap and hummus were more important than keeping my date with you?” Not me, that’s for sure.

So, after thinking about it and venting, I texted him and said “hey listen I’ve been thinking and since you already postponed and it doesn’t sound like you have a plan for tonight maybe we should just go out another night. I’m not in the mood to wander aimlessly after the busy week I had.” There was some back-and-forthing after that, but my decision was already made and he seemed to understand. Not that I was looking for understanding from him.

But since I had already showered, picked out clothes, and painted my nails, I could not let the night go to waste. I called my friend (the complicated one…I need to come up with a name for him…) and asked if he was busy. He said he didn’t have plans and I said I wanted to go out so he suggested I go over to his place and we take it from there.

Within minutes of walking into his apartment, I asked “what’s the plan?” And he had one! He suggested we go get a drink at a local beer garden pub. Perfect! No coaching, no story, no stress. A man with a plan!

We walked to the pub, shared a bottle of wine and some food, talked for hours and went back to his place. Things with him are so easy and good. When he asked what my original plan for the night was, I told him about the date and how I canceled and why. It was strange to tell him that I’m actively dating (since things between us are muddy and complicated when it comes to commitment – i.e. I would marry him tomorrow if he asked me, but he’s not asking.) But, after hearing the story of my night, he totally agreed with me that I’m not asking for too much and that I did the right thing.

Here’s a bit of background on him:

We’ve been romantically involved (see: having sex) for over a year. We were good friends for a year before we became involved. The sex brought us closer. Sex turned into feelings (for both of us) but where I was willing and excited to take the leap into committed relationship status with him, he was not. It wasn’t a “why buy the cow” scenario because there were a lot of extenuating circumstances making things more difficult for him than for me, so I hung in there. Recently, we decided (for the 5th time) that us having sex isn’t helping anyone or doing us any favors so if we’re not going to be together for real, then we should just un-complicate things and just be platonic friends. That works for a while but we always end up back in bed every now and then. We know each others’ siblings and get along well with them. We are good with each others’ friends too. He’s smart, sexy, funny, warm hearted, kind, and reliable. He has some minor flaws as well that just add character to him and certainly do not detract from all the amazing things about him. I love him. He’s important to me. Am I in love with him? I don’t think so…but I think I could be if he would give me permission to fall. For now, there’s no falling because it would just be falling into a deep dark hole with no good ending in sight – mainly because he still doesn’t see us as ever being able to successfully be together. But there is love. Big love.

Now you know. Most of it. There’s more, but it’s not relevant just now.

When I told him yesterday that I was supposed to go on a second date, it was the first time I ever brought up that I am actively seeing other people. We’ve talked in the past about how we’re both using dating apps with little to no success and we’ve even been matched (and liked each other!) on tinder. You would think that would have been awkward, but it wasn’t. Anyway, I think I told him the truth about my night so that he could 1. see that I’m not sitting around waiting for him and that any moment I could meet someone and he could lose me and 2. that I’m extremely picky and have standards. It’s important for me to be honest with him and there’s no reason not to be. This isn’t a tactic; it’s just the simple truth. He already knew the second point from past dating stories but I felt like it was important for him to see that I don’t just fall for anyone and that he should feel pretty special to be someone I feel strongly about. I’m not looking for a man for the sake of being in a relationship. I’m looking for my happy ending with the right man.

In the end, we had a great night. Yes, sex was involved and that was great too (it always is with him). Even though I don’t know what is going on between us or if anything will ever be more serious, I’m ok just doing what I’m doing. I’m dating and I’ve got him as my best friend and occasional lover. I have a good life filled with happiness and love in many forms. I’m a lucky girl.

A lot of people say I won’t be able to meet someone while I’m still involved with him and to just cut him off so I can move on. Life isn’t black and white. Life cannot be lived in extremes and feelings are not an all-or-nothing phenomenon with me.

If I meet someone special tomorrow, great. If he wakes up tomorrow and says “it’s you, it’s always been you,” even better. What will be will be; the best I can do is enjoy the ride.

Maybe This is Why You’re Single?

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I’m completely frustrated.

I’m supposed to go out on a second date in 2 hours and I’m not even sure I want to go anymore… Let me start from the beginning.

Since my most recent complicated and emotional ending with someone special to me, I have been trying to date. Trying being the operative word. I’m on Tinder (which, believe it or not has a high success rate of creating real relationships in Tel Aviv) and I’m on OKCupid. I meet men at the dog park, at the coffee place, on the bus, and other such lovely places in my daily life. Here is the biggest problem I’m facing with nearly all the men I’m meeting these days: they are fucking lazy.

Men seem to expect us, as women who are looking for a relationship, to do all the work. Initiate conversation, flirt, look nice, smell good, suggest a date, plan the date, smile, make conversation, offer to pay, drop blatant hints that we want to go out with you again, rinse and repeat the process for date two.

Here is the example I’m dealing with right now (as in, I need to be dressed and out the door in 1 hour and 45 minutes). I met a man on OKCupid. He’s 37 and a musician but he’s also a teacher and getting his MA in Music and Education. Yofi. We chat intermittently on the app and then he surprises me by asking me out for a date. We went out once. We had one beer each. He paid the bill. He brought me home (well, he dropped me off in the neighborhood…he couldn’t figure out how to stop the car in front of my building despite driving past it 3 times.). It was fine. Not amazing. Not awful. Normal. Uneventful.

Yesterday, he texts me and says “We can meet tomorrow if you want.” This is a weird way to ask someone out but I attributed the weirdness to his poor English and agreed to go out tonight. He said he’d come by to pick me up at 9pm and I agreed.

Today, at 6:30, he texts me and says “I just woke up from a long nap, I ate some hummus…it’s better if we meet later. Ok?”

Sigh.

I asked what time he was thinking and he said between 9:30 and 10pm. Fine, I guess. I wasn’t happy. I told him that it was ok but that 9:30 is better than 10 because Friday night is a terrible night to go out in this city (which he should already know) and asked him what we were going to do. I thought maybe if he had a small hidden spot in mind where the tourists and children don’t go 10pm might be just fine, but in typical lazy male form, he said to me “I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

Listen, buddy. I’m the girl and you’re the boy. It’s my job to look pretty, smell nice, and be sweet  all in time for you to come pick me up. It’s your job to make the plan and take me out. Making me do all the work is not sexy.

So I told him as much, but nicer. I said “haha you tell me! I plan things all week! It’s the man’s job to plan the date. :)”

He then tried to tell me that my area is better than his for going out. Tel Aviv is not a giant city. He knows my area just as much, if not better having lived here forever, as I do. I told him that my area is very touristy and crowded, especially on the weekend. He retorted with “don’t you know anywhere we can sit?” I asked, “don’t you?”

Then he suggested that we just hang out at my place and I can “play a concert for him.” At this point, I’m really losing interest in even going out tonight because clearly unless I plan the date, we’re just going to be sitting on my stoop staring at each other because no way is he coming upstairs. You’ve gotta work for that.

So, to give him once last chance to redeem his manhood, I said “don’t count on it. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll figure out a nice place we can go.” Could I be any more clear than that?

His response? “We’ll find something.”

So. To all the men of the world who are looking for a relationship: don’t be fucking lazy. Plan the date. Pick up the girl. Pay for her drink. And treat her like the nice delicate flower she deserves to be treated as, at first. Woo her. Court her. Put some effort into it. A man who can’t make a simple decision like where to take a woman on a date is not sexy.

1 hour and 20 minutes to go. I might cancel.

Is it worth getting dressed, doing my hair, and putting make-up on for this child? I’m thinking no.

New Beginnings

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Last weekend, a man asked for me number at the dog park. The weather was perfect and everyone was in their light spring clothes, sunglasses, and high spirits. Needless to say, Jessie and I were no exception to this.

When this guy stopped us and struck up a conversation on my way out of the park, I was surprised. It’s been ages since someone new has hit on me, let alone asked for my number. And the few first dates I’ve forced myself to go on lately (to cure myself of the last failed attempt at something real) have been just awful. But, here was Guy chatting me up at the gate of the dogpark: wide smile, kind eyes, very tall, and clearly fit. We talked for a few minutes and then he directly asked me if I had a boyfriend. Upon hearing that I am single, he asked for my number and then we parted ways.

He called on Monday, just as I was starting to wonder if he was the exception to the “Israeli men always call” rule. Not 5 minutes into the conversation he was asking me if I wanted to go out with him that evening.

Sure, why not? So, what that it was short notice? The rest of my week was going to be very busy and I knew it, so I jumped at the opportunity to get to know him better.

We went out and talked nonstop for hours. Then we left the bar and went back to his place, with the understanding that he was to have no expectations. We continued to talk, we smoked, and then we spent an hour making-out on the sofa like teenagers: fully dressed, hearts pounding, adrenaline pumping.

Then I left. After the best 4-hour date in recent history, I could basically float home.

That was Monday. Today is Saturday and even though we chatted a bit and had a failed attempt at last minute plans on Wednesday, I’m hopeful that maybe this weekend we’ll be able to connect again.

Guy is smart, kind, funny, charming, and very attractive. If this doesn’t work out, at least he has restored my faith in finding a man with all these qualities. I am lucky that he popped into my life just as I was beginning to doubt the possibility of such people existing.

Even though the weather took a turn for the worst and it was actually snowing here in the holyland yesterday, spring is definitely coming and with spring comes new beginnings, new hopes, and new possibilities. All good things to look forward to! And, as always, keep your fingers crossed for me with Guy!

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