Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This Is What A Relationship Looks Like From The Inside

Me (sniffing armpit): Do I smell?

spiceboy (leans over, sniffs my armpit): No. I don't smell anything.

Me: Are you sure? I think I smell a little bit today.

spiceboy (sniffs again): Well, maybe a little, but I think it's okay.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Oh, Sheet!

Approximately 8 months ago, spiceboy and I took our first tentative steps down that long and adventure filled rabbit hole known as matrimony. The wedding is behind us, for the most part, except for one nagging thing: The gift cards.

Rather than attempting to cram even more stuff into our miniscule living space, we thought it would be smart to register for gift cards.

In those strange, soupy, blurry first months following the wedding, spiceboy and I wandered from store to store, our new wedding bands flashing in the summer sunlight, gift cards clutched in our hands. Time after time, we found ourselves standing in front of the espresso machines at Sur La Table, the kitchen gadgets section at Crate and Barrel, the bedding section at Pottery Barn, unable to decide what to purchase, paralyzed by the sheer amount of choice, disappointed because nothing in any of these stores really seemed like “us”. One weekend, as we stood in front of the duvet covers in Pottery Barn for what seemed like the 50th time, I turned to spiceboy.

“I fucking hate Pottery Barn,” I said.

So we gave up on the gift cards for awhile. And until recently, they stayed in a drawer, in a little red packet with Chinese writing on it, which means luck or wealth or something like that.

A couple of weeks ago, while spiceboy was out of town on spicebusiness, I once again found myself standing in the cool hush of the Pottery Barn bedding department, shiny plastic gift cards clutched in my hand. Forty-five minutes later, I returned home cardless and with 600 thread count sheets, pillowcases, and a duvet cover--all in pure, snowy, gorgeous white. And as I shoved my tattered Ikea sheets into a laundry bag and placed my new sheets lovingly on my bed for the first time, I smoothed my hand over the fluffy duvet and thought:

I am a woman who sleeps in pristine, snowy white sheets.

Are the sheets fabulous? They are so fabulous. Every night when I crawl into bed, it’s like my bed is hugging me back. Basically, the sheets are perfect. They summon forth images of immaculate, tastefully decorated apartments inhabited by immaculate, tasteful adults.

But as comfortable and luscious as these sheets are, life as I know it has been divided into specific time periods: BWS (before white sheets) and Now.

For example: BWS, it was not unusual for me to fling my wet towels across the bed after my shower and leave them there. Now, I find myself hanging them neatly in the bathroom. BWS, there were certain nights that I fell into bed without bothering to wash the makeup or grime from my face (ew). Now, before I crawl into bed, drunk or sober, sick or healthy, I go through a rigorous nighttime cleansing ritual to remove all traces of makeup and other New York grime from my face, my body, and even my feet, for fear of dirtying my sheets.

Last week, when spiceboy returned from his spicebusiness, exhausted from days of battling snowstorms and airports, he flung himself--with his crusty slushy shoes still on his feet--onto the pristine white surface of our bed and proclaimed, “I am so happy to be home!”

BWS, I would have jumped onto the bed with him and curled my body around his and whispered against his ear: I’m so happy you’re home, too! Now, my response was: OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING????? GET OFF OF THE BED! GET OFF OF THE BED RIGHT NOW BEFORE YOU GET IT DIRTY!

It was really hard not to hate myself a little bit after that outburst.

Having these sheets has made me think about the type of woman I am—the type of woman I’m still becoming. I spend so much time heaping these silly little pressures and (sometimes) unreasonable expectations onto myself that I don't very often give myself the chance to relax into who I really am.

And the truth of who I really am goes something like this: I am not perfect. Or immaculate. Or tasteful. At least not in a “Pottery Barn catalog” type of way. My apartment is cluttered with stuff, some of it useful, lots of it useless. My fingers leave smudges on clean surfaces more often than I would like. And BWS, there were instances in which my bed went unmade for weeks at a time.

But this is now, and the white sheets are mine, for better or for worse. And for the time being, I suppose it’s my fate to make the bed every day, waiting and watching for that first black smudge to mar the smooth surface of my pristine duvet, for that first blue ink spot to appear on the corner of my fluffy pillowcase.

And when it finally happens, I’m sure I’ll have a moment of crushing disappointment, followed by a huge surge of relief.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Spring is Right Around the New York Corner

As I was trudging out to work this morning, I noticed something different in the air. It is warmer today—noticeably warmer than it’s been lately. And when I passed by the bodega on the corner, the 8 am sunshine illuminated the tulips on display outside, and I thought of spring for the first time since last year—sunlight and Easter eggs and small green leaves on the skinny brown tree branches in Central Park, and I felt my whole body sigh with relief. Spring.

Standing on the corner in that gorgeous sunlight, I was seized with the urge to shirk my better judgment, to shake my hair out of my itchy cap, to peel off my gloves.

Then a speeding cab threw a horrible wave of black slush onto the curb right at my feet, and I remembered the sleet from last week, the terrible cold I’ve not quite gotten over, the fact that it’s only February 20th. So I pulled my scarf a little more tightly around my neck and hunkered down a little deeper in my wool coat. I gave the tulips one last loving glance, sidestepped an icy puddle, picked my way over a frozen snowdrift at the crosswalk on 69th Street, and continued down the long, icy avenue toward spring.