I don’t need ‘tcha

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Knowing how to take care of yourself and the ability to say no are paramount in the life of a healthy individual. A woman who says no to a relationship but who knows how to do it without the man asking for one not getting hurt (all that much) can be even sexier than one who drops in the arms of any man. Our society is so twisted that it’s just a short walk to falling into the trap of regarding a woman who too easily accepts to enter relationships as an easy woman. Better to be a strong woman convinced about what you want than to fall into the former category. Not wanting any relationships at all, at the moment, is being…well…me for the past few years…so nothing too fancy or too amazingly new, thank you very much! 🙂 ⇒⇓

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I am lonely, that’s true. But I’d rather have someone with which to communicate everything for years to come than have some hurried up relationship and end up not talking to that person again. It’s extremely difficult to be friends with certain women, but it may very well be worth it and bring much more joy than a relationship which could prove to be ephemeral. My brain accepts, understands and does not contest the validity of such a judgment, even if my heart is not so sure…not at all, actually. But since I’m a cerebral creature I’ll have to tell my heart to fuck off as she’s not calling the shots.

Finding an extraordinary woman is difficult, but finding a true friend is equally so. I’m told that I should end a friendship in which I want more and the other does not. But that would be cowardice and foolishness. I never said that I need a relationship, I said that it would (probably) be a good thing. I’m cerebral enough to keep myself in check and accept a friendship which I deeply desire and about which I think would bring me a lot of joy…for an indefinite amount of time. One that’s not likely to stumble upon fights & stuff.

So I’m content. I’m a good guy like that.

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The Awakening Chapter 15: Fickle business

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Part I: The Awakening

Chapter 15: Fickle business

The days passed us by so quickly that when we were getting ready to leave it seemed like we’ve just arrived in Ambleside. James had the time of his life, Alice and Mark were completely relaxed, Martha and Ben were happy to have company, while me and Maria kept seeing each other. We met mostly in gardens, Martha’s or Maria’s uncle’s, usually either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. We were always left to our own affairs, as if nobody wanted to disturb us from our much too important tasks and discussions.

The girl next door proved to be something else that one would normally expect: not your usual neighbor’s daughter, niece or anything like that who’s got nothing else to do but hang out with whomever happens to live around where they live. Maria was not like that…she was much more…and demanded much more of me. I say demanded and I mean that she silently imposed a certain behavior around her.

It’s not like she expressly said “do this or that and be like this, talk like that”. No. Her way of being actually demanded me to act in a certain way, there was no need for her to explain anything. She just acted in a way that made the others around her take great care about how they behaved. Quite awesome, right?

She was interested in everything in which one could possibly be interested in. Anything which is even remotely cultural or at least very fun. You could rarely hear her say anything else than “I’ve something to do”,”I’m in the middle of something”,”I’m occupied”… She was always in the middle of something, be it singing, painting, reading, composing a song, learning something new…basically anything but wasting time. A lot of ‘something’, I know…Despite all that, she always had time for everybody. She never refused to see me, but happily invited me to watch what she was doing at a certain point.

Mind-blowing, really. I, for one, could never bring myself to concentrate properly but on one thing and one thing only. I could never, for example, paint and talk to somebody at the same time. I’m limited like that. Therefore, she came as a shock. Her way of multi-tasking allowed her to be able to pay attention to more than one thing without being in any way affected. On the contrary, she seemed to find inspiration easier while having somebody around her. I could never understand how she managed it, but I felt more and more attracted to her, with each passing day. For more and more reasons. Not simply because she was beautiful, but because of a whole range of various reasons, various traits which worked and joined together to make her what she was. The sad thing was that I knew I would have to leave at some point. Alice and Mark were not spending the whole summer at her auntie…

So of course I wanted Maria to know that I felt something. That despite my leaving maybe, just maybe, there was some slight chance of something happening after a couple of months, years…but I could not bring myself to do anything. It’s like she was the most approachable creature in the whole world but at the same time a closed-up enigma I dared not disturb. I wanted to say to her a lot of things, but what I desired most was to kiss her. The thing is that I staggered. I intended to, but somehow I thought that maybe it was too much. She was a woman, yeah, but maybe she was just of a too friendly nature to not instantly make friends with everybody. Maybe I was interpreting everything wrong. The current state of affairs was all right but I feared a mistake might irremediably affect it.

The impasse makes me think about a quote of John Green’s which fits perfectly to what I felt just then:

  • “The act of leaning in to kiss someone, or asking to kiss them, is fraught with the possibility of rejection, so the person least likely to get rejected should do the leaning in or the asking. And that person, at least in high-school heterosexual relationships, is definitely the girl. Think about it: boys, basically, want to kiss girls. Guys want to make out. There’s rarely a time when a boy is thinking: ‘Eh, I think I’d rather not kiss a girl today.’ Maybe if a guy is actually, literally on fire, he won’t be thinking about hooking up. But that’s about it. Whereas girls are very fickle about the business of kissing. Sometimes they want to make out; sometimes they don’t. They’re an impenetrable fortress of unknowability, really.
  • Ergo: girls should always make the first move, because (a) they are, on the whole, less likely to be rejected than guys, and (b) that way, girls will never get kissed unless they want to be kissed.” (Green, John, An Abundance of Katherines) ⇒⇓

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Yeah, yeah, my situation was a little different than that described by John Green, but still… I was not your typical boy who “wants to make out” but I was a boy nonetheless. I did not feel in a certain way because it was ‘normal’, ‘a guy’s thing’, but because I had all the possible reasons to. It felt natural to want to kiss her, but unlike all those guys who’d probably think of more, I did not. I thought it God given to have the chance to kiss her, like the ultimate goal which could be achieved. Most guys would’ve want to bed her, at least soon enough, again, ‘naturally’… but I just wanted to kiss her, and by doing this, to know for sure if she liked me that way or not; if everything was not merely her way of acting towards everybody, due to her openness and kind soul.

But everything felt exactly like in the quote above: it felt as I’d breach a circle of trust if I leaned in to kiss her. There were a lot of moments which seemed opportune enough but still, I was afraid. Which sounded stupid: who could ever be afraid of someone like Maria? The kindest of creatures? Who? ⇒⇓

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One day, the last before my departure, Maria was trying to figure out some stuff about painting human faces. Portraits, basically. She had a large tome on her desk, wherein were explained, both in writing and in a visually pleasing way, the steps one had to make in order to successfully paint a human’s face. Maria wasn’t talented per se, she just had a lot of ambition channeled with care towards each and every one of her endeavors. Of course she wasn’t always successful in everything she put her mind into, but she tried very hard to make the most of what she was capable of achieving.

Looking rather disappointed of her progress, Maria asked me: “Luck, I know I sound silly, but do you think I have at least a tiny-bitsy amount of potential in painting humans?” Her question came after sixty minutes or so of me staring at her giving her best but achieving not all that much.

“I’m really no expert, all I could ever paint came in the form of abstract paintings, which were never any good because I had much talent, but because I had the patience required,” I said, reminiscing about the days when I used to paint some pretty complicated abstract ‘art’. “I had no talent, just patience, which anybody can have. But I guess anyone could paint bodies and similar stuff if only they put their minds to it. Upon trying a lot, they might succeed. But it takes more than simple patience.” I added.

“Hm…” she sighed. She started playing with her hair, which never seemed to be a habit of her. She did that only when she felt lost. One of those unfortunate moments was just happening just then. “I want to, I really do, but somehow it feels like I’m not moving forward. Ugh, damn it all!” she complained, throwing a brush sky-high in the air.

“Well, what you’ve painted so far is not exactly attractive, you know, but it’s a start. I won’t lie and say that you’ve made much progress since I started watching you paint, but I’ve only been here for a couple of days. As far as I know you, your portraits must be getting better all the time, but I really can’t say, I’ve had little time to assess it,” I said, trying to be both delicate and truthful.

She knew that already, she just wanted a confirmation. “This man is not pretty, you know?” she started. “He looks hideous…rightly so, he’s painted by me!” A touch of irony and a sprinkle of self-pity could be seen in her changing attitude and rising tone. “This book is no good…I mean, it is good, it’s me who’s faulty. There’s nothing pretty in my painting, I was looking at you and I tried to use some of your features, but nothing matches. Nothing’s pretty!” She was distraught, that much was sure. But what was the thing with pretty men, pretty me, pretty painting?

“I don’t think you should call men pretty, at most handsome, so maybe he’s hideous because you wanted to make him way too feminine,” I said, trying to change the tone of the discussion, which felt like going into some ‘I’m-gonna-cry’-Moment™.

“Eh, semantics! The way I paint is not about semantics. If I were to paint a pretty woman she’d look just as hideous. You’re not helping at all!” She sort of yelled, but at the same time she sort of laughed. She continued: “And besides, maybe I find men pretty…”

Maybe she did. Maybe that’s the sole reason she stood by my side when I was lying in bed in Martha’s house. Maybe she liked watching men, ’cause they seemed pretty to her. Handsome, whatever. It felt odd, all that ‘finding-men-pretty‘. Not because of the way the English language employs the term, but because men, in any culture or language, are not regarded exactly as the most beautiful of beings. One does not marry them because of their looks. I’m saying that men should marry women because of their being pretty, but even if they marry for entirely different reasons the fact that a woman is beautiful is still something which counts. A lot. Though it’s still a bonus…

One does not paint a man to look pretty. True, her painting resembled a much-uglier-than-average looking man, but even beautifying him could only go to a certain extent, before falling into SF, Photoshop, bodybuilding, steroids…stuff like that.

Men don’t usually say to each other that they look good, while women do it all the time. One could hear his grandma saying that about a girl in her twenties…and a girl could say the same about an elderly woman she met on a bus. It feels odd, but we men have to live with it. I know it’s like beginning to philosophize from a puny start-point, but it always felt like that. What should men feel when they’re told they’re handsome (or pretty)? They should feel good about themselves? What exactly should they feel? ‘Cause as sure as hell it doesn’t matter much, generally speaking.

We talked on the subject for some time, steering further and further away from the initial starting point. It started feeling too much, like we were going to fight for one of the most ludicrous reasons imaginable.

“We’re going into a grey area,” I said to Maria. “Of course semantics don’t matter, your drawing does…and your hurt ambition, but I couldn’t help not saying it. I told you all that not because I needed to or because it had any relevance. But I’m feeling tormented by something and all this divagating was some sort of self-defense mechanism. There’s something  I’d like to say to you and I don’t know how. I’m afraid that you’ll get it all wrong, about the consequences…but here it goes:

I must’ve looked soo foolish…”You are the pretty one here, not I, not that portrait of yours. You are! And you’re killing me with your beauty and your smile and your intelligence, ambition, purity, femininity, everything, really. You’re simply killing me. There, I said it.” I blushed. So intense that I felt like an alien heating up and becoming a living torch.

If I had planned that it never would have worked out like that. It worked because it was spontaneous. She did what I did not dare to: she leaned it, with those big blue eyes of her and that lovely smile and kissed me. The way she did it could never be described, as it was otherworldly, truly so. She must’ve known that I wouldn’t do it, but she wanted such a declaration all the same. She did not want to lean in before hearing something like what I had just said. At least I think she thought that way. We did not kiss for minutes, but it felt like we did…hours even. “So that’s how time flows around her…it dilates or what?” I said to myself.

I was about to leave the following day. Bugger! If I could, I would’ve told Alice that I simply couldn’t, but let’s face it, what was I going to do instead? I had to leave. So the following day came and everything went as planned…except that I stopped being a part of the plan.

Chapter 16

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The Awakening Chapter 12: The girl next door

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Part I: The Awakening

Chapter 12: The girl next door

At midday, I was having a little siesta, after our apple-pie fiesta, when suddenly a knock on the door woke me up. “Strange”, I though, because I’d told Alice that I’d sleep for a while before we went for a walk through town. “She can’t be it, she’d let me sleep.” She was not it. It was another her, in fact. As I opened the door, I saw that which made me mad a while back that day: Maria. Not that she had a name-tag stuck to her dress or anything of the sort, but it must’ve been her, it had to be her. With my ‘luck‘ I’d never have imagined such a creature to have willingly wanted to stay by my side as I slept. But there she was, a medium blond, blue-towards-green-eyed, thin little creature, dressed in a simple blue dress, as simple as it went, but so…so unbelievably nice. It looked nice on her, it was perfect in tandem with her blue eyes. And I never used to examine clothing…never!

“Hi,” I said, in a low voice, so that I’d not disturb her somehow…as if she came by because she was afraid of being disturbed. “Dummy, you were criticizing her a while ago and now you’re petrified. What kind of a man are you?” a voice told me…or I told myself, I couldn’t make out which was it. In any case, it felt like I had lost all control of my senses, as if she was some vampire out on the hunt not for human blood, but for someone’s senses. My senses.

“Hi, I’m Maria,” she said while standing on the porch with a lovable smile. Then, changing her attitude and facial composition, looking upset all of a sudden, she added: “I hear you hated it, having me watch you the other day?!?”

Oh damn, “why Martha, why, why did you have to tell her that? Why did you have to do it? You hate me so much?” I thought, embarrassed and desperately trying to go for some intelligent excuse who’d wash everything clean. “You don’t do that to a shy person, you just don’t,” my brains were telling me. “What am I to do now? She thinks me either awkward or a wussy, for being afraid of a girl. What am I to say?” So I said the worst possible thing, what else:

“I was only joking” —- hell,”what was that, why did I say that, what did I hope it would bring?” I thought, wanting to bang my head on a wall. Which would’ve looked even more stupid. So I abstained myself.

Maria looked at me in a curios way, like she did not expect me to say that. Anything but, probably. “You were not joking. Martha told me that and she was not joking either, I know her too well for that. Why would you fear me and why would you lie? I was only trying to be nice. Can’t a girl do something nice for a boy, ’cause all hell brakes loose…I was not stalking you, you know?” she said.

I felt completely disarmed. A naked knight, no armor, no helmet, no shield…and no sword. Nothing seemed to be able to defend me anymore, and I was the one who attacked. Not that I had the right ‘tool’ to attack…I attacked like a madman.

“Come on, say something. Ok then, I’ll say something: I was the one joking, when I asked you if you hated me. I realize you did not hate it (or me), you’re a guy, after all, you’re all probably dreaming of fair maidens leaving you flowers around…”, she said, but probably while really thinking: “dreaming of you know what, not flowers…”

Her tone changed. I felt like a jerk, but she was right, even if she may have not realized it. I, for one, was always dreaming of such maidens. And not only while I slept. Anytime, actually. And stupidly, when one such maiden came and did just that, stuff brought out of romantic novels, I felt stalked. What was wrong with me? Gay was I not, that much was sure.

“I reacted hastily. I should’ve let Martha finish her ‘story’ about you. I’m sorry. You can come back anytime and watch me sleep, if you wish.” I was telling her that, oh my, what had happened to me? Soo geeky!

“Maybe you should watch me sleep so that we’re quits. I hear I’m charming when I’m sleeping, my father used to tell me that. I want you to know that Martha did not ‘betray’ you, I sort of interrogated her and it slipped her mouth, but she sure did convince me that you’ve only reacted like that ’cause you didn’t let her finish what she intended to say. You’re forgiven and all that,” she said, bringing some confidence back into my body.

She was so nice, she knew how to relax the person she was speaking with, she seemed to take an interest in me…oh, she was very beautiful…and what was I doing, but feeling overwhelmed by the situation? I’d always wanted something like this, I’d always complained that most girls were nowhere near feminine enough, sweet and innocent, but with open minds…and when one such creature seemed to fall upon me, I acted like an idiot. “I deserve to be forever alone,” I thought. For a long time I said nothing, instead of thanking her for her carnation or something like that, anything, just not the lack of any reaction at all.

“You’re intimidated by me, I can see that. I can come back later, when you’ll act all manly again,” she said, mocking me. And I sure deserved it.

My tongue felt ready then: “Oh no, don’t leave. Please don’t. I’m a lot of things, but not a jerk. Even if sometimes I act like one, I do so not of my own volition. I don’t know who’s volition that is, but it’s not mine. Believe me. I loved your little present…and the way you left it. And I admire you for being so curious about me. I would be just as curious if we were to change places, but I’d most likely not act on it. I don’t think I’d have the guts to ask to watch a stranger, and a girl like you…You’re braver than me, and a woman, so that’s like two times braver than brave.” I said, wanting to make it all right.

She smiled and said that she was not mad or anything. She understood…of course she understood, she’d probably seen it all before…half-witted guys who could not help but break into pieces in front of her. ⇒⇓

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There was a tension between us, which felt both good and awkward. It was difficult not to like Maria for her glee, piece of mind and general openness. She was a little odd, I had to give her that, but in that peculiarity of her resided a lot of wonderful qualities, part of which anyone could see, part which needed to be discovered. It was exactly those parts of her which needed quite some work in order to be discovered that made me so curious about her. A creature stood before me, which was hard to decipher, but charmingly so. Invitingly so.

Maria was not afraid of what the ‘world‘ thought of her. She could care less about the opinions of people who were not tied to her in any way. I came to understand that soon after meeting her. She could walk around town dressed like some country girl from a couple of centuries back and not give a damn about it. She rarely imagined herself as a princess and dressed accordingly. She’d rather she was the initial Cinderella, with some hand-made, worn from all that work gown, than the Cinderella who lost her shoes at the end of the ball. In fact, she’d rather she wore no shoes at all, if she could help it.

If she admired a dress, then it did not matter whether or not that said dress was in fact meant to be worn just during a certain ceremony, a ball or something like that. Or if it was meant for the daughter of the blacksmith in some play. And that applied to everything else concerning her, not just dresses. She looked great in almost everything, so she played with that as much as she could. And she felt confident, so she played with everyone.

She was thin, almost too thin, but the thin which is made wonderful by well-chosen clothing. “She’d not look all that great naked,” I thought, “her charm is in her very good taste coupled with some excellent providers of clothing and accessories”. I was not the man to think about women like that, so it did not matter to me in the least, I’m just saying. “But I had thought about it, even if for a brief moment,”I thought. She was perfect just the way she was. I hated those who kept saying that women should have curves. They should have a lot of things before having those. If they don’t have what’s needed to make them feminine, delicate, charming, etc. then no curves could save them, I thought. And I think.

We talked for a bit that afternoon, but most of what I’m saying now about Maria comes from a more general understanding of her based on multiple days spent at least partially together and quite a lot of info about her coming from Martha.

I wished to be as rakish as she was, I wanted to wear some pirate’s garb while walking around town and not give a damn about it. I still wish it,though I’ve not come around, in spite of all that wishing. It all pointed towards the fact that she was in a different league than me, with some common ground, yeah, but still a different league. I kept wondering for weeks and months to come why she seemed attracted by me. What did she see that I did not realize myself? It must’ve been something pretty great, no doubt about it. I thought that I did not posses what it takes to be ‘worthy’ of her. But she thought otherwise, it seemed.

She broke the ice after all that silence which followed our little ‘introduction’ of sorts. “How come you ended up with Alice and Mark?” Maria asked, at some point, curiously.

“I wanted to come to Britain one way or another. I did not know how else, so I did it this way. I spent a lot of time with my sister when she was little so it’s not like kids are something new for me. I found an ad of Alice’s on some au-pair site and I contacted her…or she contacted me, I forgot how the whole thing actually took place,” I said.

“That’s nice. You’re from Romania, right?” she asked. I nodded. “I’ve never been abroad. I’d wish that I did, but I had no opportunity. At least I live in London, and that is the closest one can be to the real thing, to crossing borders.”

“Yeah, I know. So multicultural, it’s true. It feels like the world is moving to London, in an attempt to make it the capital of multiculturalism or something. Not that it’s the only city like that. But still… Glad to hear you’re from there. Where exactly is it that you live?” I asked, feeling great for having someone to talk to about London. Alice only had briefly visited it, so she was not much help.

“I’m not from London, I just live there. I moved there ten years ago or such. I’m actually from Stoke-on-Trent, some ways north of London. I live in Harrow, Harrow on the Hill, to be more precise. I moved there when my father died,” she explained to me, a thin tear falling down along her right cheek.

“I’m sorry, so sorry. You shouldn’t have mentioned that. I know it’s awful to say it out loud, especially when it’s about parents gone too soon,” I said. I never progressed further past the usual words one says when one hears someone’s died. Therefore I did not know what to say to her. “No, no, I have to get used to it sometime. For ten years I pitied myself…or rather daddy, I don’t know whom, in fact.” She sighed. I said: “He must’ve been a great dad, for you to think of him this way even after ten years…”

I was right, not that it was a hard guess. It was only natural that she’d shed tears for him after so much time precisely because he was great. She leaned on my shoulder and started crying. It was sad, but cute all the same. I don’t want to seem insensible,  but that’s how it went. “Great, just what I need, a charming blond muse crying on my shoulder.” I should’ve realized that it was something good, but I interpreted it as a bad omen. Like it was bad that I somehow made her sad. I found her cute when sad, crying and all that, but I saw it as a bad omen. What kind of brilliant thinking was that? Pick: sad or cute?

When she realized that I was not sleeping any more, Alice called me, wanting to go for a walk with Mark and James. I excused myself, telling Maria that we’d have time to talk some other time. “Of course we’ll have, I live next door,” she said, snapping out of her sadness. We left it at that. “Probably for the best, I thought.”

Imagine that, she even lived next door. It felt like too much, like the stupidest Hollywood cliché, but hey, nobody says no to such a type of too much! If it actually happens!

Chapter 13

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