My culture is drunk on weddings. It was something that I despised when I became old enough for the matronly mamas at social events to start asking me whether I had managed to snag a potential husband yet. Young ladies were expected to be married off at a very specific age, and the sooner one was able to pull off that feat, the more accolades she could acquire as personal trophies. What one did with those invisible trophies was anyone’s guess because I always had this sneaky suspicion they weren’t keeping anyone warm at night. It was obvious to me that the ring on my finger wouldn’t soothe my upset late at night when I was unhappy if I had only pursued it to prove a point to gossiping busybodies. At some point I started despising the Olympic-style competition for weddings so much that I became averse to the idea of dating at all. There were moments in my life that when a man crossed my imaginary boundaries in pursuit of dating me, I would have severe panic attacks. This also led to toxic relationships that I would only allow because I always subconsciously knew that the relationships would never lead to marriage. It was a self defeating cycle, one that I am genuinely relieved to be able to say I am breaking free from. To this day when in serious conversations about things that break my heart, people mistakenly, albeit with good intentions, slap the ol’ “we need to find you a boyfriend” bandaid on the whole thing. I am always taken aback because in essence they are saying that a love interest will fix all the things have been incredibly grievous to me in my human experience. Sure, I am not averse to love, but I am, and will always be, vehemently opposed to finding love for all the wrong reasons.
Ukrainians don’t say, “I love you” to each other. We could love someone fiercely and yet still cringe when it comes to verbally expressing that emotion. I remember the first time my mom told me she loved me, I cringed so hard that I kind of just wanted to crawl into a corner somewhere and hide. It made me feel so exposed. “Why are you doing this to me?” I thought to myself. It was something she had picked up from her American client whom she is a caregiver for, and she thought it would be a really nice ‘Americanism’ to incorporate into our inner lifestyle. I dreaded it. Every time I had a phone conversation with her and we were nearing the end of the conversation, I kind of hated that inevitable moment when she would tell me she loves me. So many times I just quickly hung up without saying anything in response. Yet it never deterred her. She would also start out her texts to me (when she finally learned how to text) by bestowing a blessing on me and wishing me all the best that God could possibly give, and that was easier for me to handle because texting “I love you” back wasn’t as hard. I could hide behind my screen, after all.
Over the years, I slowly got used to my mom telling us she loves us when it was time to hang up the phone or when leaving the house. Honestly, it wasn’t until very long ago that I started telling her and my dad that I love them, and it took moving out and living on my own to be able to really respond in kind. Weirdly enough, I am actually happy that we didn’t grow up hearing those three words, “I love you” bandied about because it taught me what it really means to be able to utter those words to someone. Every time you say it, you expose your most vulnerable self—something that does not come easy to a Slavic person. I had to choose to be vulnerable and consciously tell my parents that I love them, and when I say it, I mean it with every particle of my being. Something tells me I wouldn’t mean it as deeply as I do if it was something I had cut my teeth on and took for granted.
Men and women are so different. The contrast fascinates me all the time, until sometimes, it doesn’t. Like when men and women cannot read each other’s signs or body language they are giving off.
There is this little grocery store down the street from my neighborhood that I frequent because it is so convenient. Well, one of the workers there recently took a shine to me. He works behind the seafood counter and maybe he interpreted my questioning him what type of salmon was the best to buy as an interest in him, I’m not sure. Well, the next time I ran into him in the store, he asked me for a hug. Being a little taken aback and not wanting to be rude, I said sure. So we hugged. Well, that quickly escalated into him exhibiting stalkerish behavior. Every time I go into that store, even when I’m nowhere near the seafood section, he will pop up right beside me and start chatting. And now he goes in for a hug without asking me. It’s making me hesitate as to whether or not I even want to go there anymore, and I hate that because it is so convenient for me! I know the best thing for me to do is to tell him straight out that he needs to tone it down because my silent hints of avoiding that side of the store are not carrying over, but honestly, that is so much easier said than done. Ugh what to do what to do 😕
On the flip side, I tend to read way too much into something when I like a guy, especially if I’m not certain if he likes me back, and I’ve certainly lost my sh*t before in former relationships where I misread or overthought a situation. You would think that with all this information at our fingertips in this day and age, we would certainly learn how to communicate more effectively, but nope. We revert to our lizard brain when certain chemicals are triggered in the brain.
Ahh..if my love for traveling and how it makes me feel can be immortalized in verse, this is it ♥️
I left bits and pieces of my heart in all of the places I have been. I close my eyes and find myself in the labyrinth of my mind. There, the sunlight glinting off of the bronze statue as you drive by, your head resting against the coolness of the window. There I am, splashing…
via Scattered — Coffee Flavored Thoughts
My love appeared to me in the hour
in the dusky hour heavy with the
weight of unspilled secrets. Tell me,
where do you gaily frolic in the hours
you are apart from me? ‘I toil ‘neath
the scorching sun,
weaving love’s incessant yearning like
the beams of bridges to find my way
My heart is made of sandalwood, I trail
myrrh and fragrant spices
It happened late that Thursday night after all the guests had gone home. Technically, it was already Friday because it was sometime after midnight when the visitor came. That year, I had volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my parents house and I had gone to great lengths to ensure that the evening would go off flawlessly—arranging the table centerpiece with care, decorating the house with Fall and Winter hues to inspire coziness and conversation, and putting just the right amount of red paprika on the deviled eggs. The guests had started arriving, filling the house with laughter and conversation and a steady stream of food being brought in to the kitchen. There was a sense of contented relaxation in the air, with soft music playing in the background and twinkling lights hung up in preparation for Christmas to further add to the ambience. Even I was able to sense the joy in the evening through my haze of hopelessness. The evening progressed and we said our prayers, thanking God for everything He had given us that year, and then we proceeded to have a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. After the tea and dessert were consumed and the guests were warm and sleepy, the families started packing up and heading home. It was approximately after 10:00pm when the last guest had left and I didn’t want to go to sleep without first bringing the house to order and cleaning up after the entire affair. By the time I had washed the last dish and was ready to retire to my room, it was well after midnight. My parents had long since gone to bed so I quietly let myself out of their house and stepped out into the pitch-black and deathly silent night of the countryside. Situated on 5 acres in a farming town, they lived well out on the outskirts of the town amidst their neighbors who also owned large swaths of land. I picked my way through the yard to where a small guest dwelling sat on the very edge of their property, bypassing dark shapes in the form of bushes and skeletal trees that I kept reminding myself were not reaching for me in the dark. Making it safely to the small dwelling place, I quickly stepped inside and locked the door. Turning on the electric fireplace mounted on the wall in the room, I started preparing for bed. Feeling chilled and somewhat jittery, I sensed that something about the night felt off, but I couldn’t quite put a finger on it. My skin felt too tight on my frame, like it was trying to shrink itself to become less visible. Chafing my arms with my hands, I forced myself to start thinking about how positive the night had gone and thanking God for helping to pull it off. Not feeling comforted, I started thinking about all the things I was grateful for while still resuming to put away the dress clothes I had been wearing that evening. Then, an ominous cold descended on the room. I felt myself starting to hyperventilate and cast about frantically in my mind about what to do. I knew that running outside into the freezing, deserted night was not an option, and yet I was alone in the room and possibly the only one awake at that hour. The ominous feeling turned malicious, and I started fearing that I was going to be hurt in some way. I darted to my phone and with shaking hands turned on some music. Rising up and spinning around to the closet, I was standing there attempting to calm myself when I heard something angrily hit the heavy drapes hanging on the window. Jumping clear out of my skin, I turned with eyes wide as saucers to see the drapes go flying from the force. Time froze. I was a solid block of ice for what seemed an eternity and yet only lasted for about 3 seconds. In my frozen and shocked state, I also happened to register that after that angry outburst from the invisible presence, the ominous feeling of danger had lifted and was no longer present. Still shocked and not quite believing what I had just seen and heard, I tiptoed to the drapes and forced myself to peer behind them to see if there was anyone there. There was no one.