*MOVING IN

A few weeks before my sister’s wedding, (while sitting in my SUV) Sonodoro produced a tiny box from his pocket. In it was another ring, but this one had a stone! He told me it would have to do until he could afford a diamond.

5-30-14 Glass stone ring

My quick logic was:

  1. We’re a pretty new couple; this can’t be a proposal.
  2. He’s not on one knee; this can’t be a proposal.
  3. It’s not a diamond; this can’t be a proposal.

I accepted (this non-proposal).

While helping with the wedding preparation in Connecticut, my parents seeing this ring paired with the previous ring Sonodoro gave me, they thought we were married. I told them we weren’t married or engaged. At the time, I believed we weren’t engaged. But, looking ten years into the past, I can no longer say with certainty we weren’t engaged.

Growing up in rural Connecticut seeing someone who wasn’t White was like seeing a rainbow. It happens, it just doesn’t happen that much. My parents knew there was a larger world beyond the tiny town of 2,000— They taught my sister and me to love everyone. And, we did. She married a Jew and I brought my Guatemalan boyfriend to her wedding.

IT WAS AWESOME.

5-30-14 Jupa

Prior to traveling to Connecticut for my sister’s wedding, I had a hateful job at a European Canadian co-Production company. I took the job, with the caveat I needed two weeks off in June to help my sister with her wedding. They agreed.

On the morning of my first day back, the boss called from his home in the hills. The temp answered, and the conversation went something like, “No, (name) I’m not going to do it… You do it.”

After a couple rounds of her telling the boss this phrase, she eventually passed the phone over to me. The boss fired me.

Like an idiot I stayed that day to train the temp (aka my replacement) on additional responsibilities of the desk. The end of my working tenure ended only a few weeks before I expected as I was planning on leaving when my job as a page at Paramount Pictures started.

The time off was good; It let my ulcer heal and I was able to exercise to lose the stress weight. One of these days I got a call from my parents. My grandfather died during heart surgery. They told me to stay in Los Angeles, citing I had just seen my grandfather in happier times and since I had just lost my job I should save my money.

I decided to walk to the grocery store. This would give me time to clear my head.

Sonodoro came over for dinner.  That night was similar to the rest of the nights he came for dinner; he asked to help. As always, I had him wash my pots. (It worked with PK, and it seemed like a worthy test of any man wanting to date me.)

5-30-14 Dirty dishes

A ghetto bird chirped outside my window. I didn’t notice; Sonodoro had to point it out to me. It was moments like this he seemed to enjoy teasing me about how nonchalant I became with my surroundings. I think he even found it endearing. I thought of myself like Daphne from Devil in a Blue Dress, I was able to traverse between two worlds. For me, these worlds were rural Connecticut and Los Angeles.

On this particular night he regaled me with what he saw early in the morning on his way to his 7am shift: He saw a pimp driving a car down Sunset Blvd (at Alexandria) tailing two of his employees. The pimp informed them he was just released from jail and they needed to come back and work for him. Sonodoro said the employees looked like a pinball as they darted back and forth across the road.

Sonodoro never elaborated if the pimp was trying to run the girls over or if he was just trying to talk with them and they were afraid and were avoiding the conversation.

 

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I thought the story was charming. One could even argue that it gave my neighborhood character.

Having seen where I grew up, (it was a lot like Mayberry), during dinner, Sonodoro pointed out our differences. He reminded me he ran through the LA Riots to get home from school. He liked my childhood. He didn’t like where I lived now and he he didn’t like I was accustomed to living in a rough area. (It was only rough-ish.) He didn’t feel safe having me live there and he didn’t feel safe coming to visit me. He to pointed to chipped and bent door and doorframe, where someone used a crowbar to enter the apartment. Now, the gap allowed light from the hall to enter. He pointed out all our differences. Then he asked me to move in with him into his apartment in suburban Glendale.

Part of Sonodoro’s rationale for moving in together was so I could work part time at Paramount and write the rest of the time. It was a sweet gesture he believed in my creativity so much. I wasn’t sure about this. We had only been dating four months and I was still getting to know him. But, we got along very well and my family liked him. I had a key to Sonodoro’s place already. (A gift that happened in the first two weeks.) Despite our familiarity, I needed time to think.

I went grocery shopping.

5-30-14 Vons Glendale

I was at the Von’s in Glendale when I ran into the son of a college professor. He was living in Glendale with his fiancée. I told him what was happening and that Sonodoro invited me to move in with him. His advice, “you seem like you’re in love; go for it.”

And, I did.

*WEDDED BLISS

Sonodoro and I met when I believed love could happen in an instant. I was a girl with little experience who was well-satiated on a diet of romance and romantic comedy films. The Bachelor was only in its second season and love in an instant seemed possible.

5-30-14 The Bachelor logo

Sonodoro and I were completely fascinated by our differences. He called me exotic, but growing up in rural Connecticut, I only saw myself as plain vanilla. I liked knowing he played tackle football on concrete; it was terribly masculine (a characteristic my college boyfriend lacked). We marveled at our differences… even celebrated them. Take for example how we we observed the Fourth of July: I grew up watching fireworks in a pasture with milking cows (and rest of the town) while he stayed inside because neighbors would discharge their firearms into the air.

5-30-14 Vanilla ice cream

Despite our attraction and my idea of love in an instant, I clung to a strong desire to abstain from sex before marriage. My desire not to have sex was muddy. I had sexy times before, but a large part of me wanted to reserve this pastime for the confines of marriage. This made sex with Sonodoro enigmatic. Hell, one of my besties from freshman year of college told me he stopped fornicating and because of that his virginity was reborn. He elaborated, “even though you can’t undo biology, you can become a virgin from a spiritual standpoint.” I loved his complete honesty (I also loved that he used fornicating in a sentence). But, I digress….

So, according to my friend’s logic, even though I had fornicated, I can reclaim a spiritual virginity, and essentially undo the sex.

THAT’S WHAT I WANTED TO DO!

I explained my NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE decree to Sonodoro. He wanted to make me happy, so he agreed to it. Every time he kissed me or touched my hand, I felt conflicted. We’d kiss and caress… I’d back away and we’d stop. Then, we’d start kissing again. The pattern continued several times before his soft sell (I’m aware of the pun) continued before I indulged. When we had sex, we both felt bad— he with his Catholic guilt for “pushing” and me for letting myself and God down. But, even with our guilt, it didn’t stop us from having sex. We just REALLY liked each other’s company. He didn’t force me; I let it happen. After the act, he would always apologize and kiss me sweetly; I thought it was nice he felt bad. After that, we’d go for weeks of not having sex. (Well, it might not have been weeks, but it sure felt like it.)

So, early in our relationship we were feeling bad about having sex and letting each other down. While on one of our dates to Sonodoro’s old neighborhood, he showed me the little wedding chapel where he and his first wife got married.

Ok…. So my fabulous new boyfriend who I thought is relatively untouched has an ex-wife!?

5-30-14 Princess Wedding Cake Topper

What do I do?

I guess I’ll keep dating him.

“But, when we go back home,” I told him, “You can’t tell Mom and Dad you were married.”

He agreed.

Yes, this hopeless romantic and love in the age of Instant Pudding girl was taking her new boyfriend to her baby sister’s wedding in Connecticut.

5-30-14 Instant Pudding

 

 

 

*SEGUE

On Friday, December 10, 2010 I collapsed at work. Paramedics drove a new-model ambulance to visit me; my boss insisted I return to the hospital with them. Going to the hospital was not part of my Friday night plans. I had a first date and he was taking me to an art reception. But, I made the best of the ride and got eligibility status on one of the paramedics for a co-worker. (He had a girlfriend.)

3-21-14 LA Ambulance

I sent two texts from the ambulance. One was to one of my best friends inviting her to join me in the ER if she had no plans and the other was to my date, “some girls will do anything to get out of going on a first date…  I’m going to the Emergency Room.”

His reply: Ok.

I thought the dizziness, back spasms, and fever I was suffering from was the flu, but several hours and one MRI later, I was diagnoses with “a mass” on my brain. The doctors admitted me and encouraged a weekend stay.

Saturday morning, I got a text from Southern Man. (We already had several dates.) He got a late start on his return trip from San Diego and asked if a late morning hike would be okay. I told him I was in the hospital. Even though I was looking forward to seeing him for the hike, I asked him not to visit.

He obliged.

I got a text from a guy I had a phone conversation with several weeks earlier. In that conversation he told me he was in a wheel chair from a car accident.

Ok. 

He followed it up saying he didn’t want anyone with health baggage (since he had his own). During the conversation I wondered:

If we are in an LTR and anything makes me “unhealthy” would he have the capacity to love me?

Later in the conversation, I gave him a modified “It’s Not You It’s Me” speech.

Apparently, something piqued his interest. Not knowing any of what happened in the last 24 hours, he sent me a text asking to meet up for coffee and try it again. I replied that I had a lot of stuff I was dealing with and didn’t want to talk. He said he could be a good friend. I responded, “I have enough friends.”

He didn’t respond.

To think of where I started to having a weekend where I rejected three men still astounds me. The dating journey since brain surgery has been different still. But, those are for other stories.

The forthcoming blog posts will resemble the classic song, “Jump Around” (they will not be in chronological order). To aid with digestion, I will group the stories by man.

*IN THE BEGINNING

There was loneliness. 

I was painfully shy growing up and had major body image issues that made me feel like Quasimodo. These insecurities led me to being nearly mute around people I considered close friends. My friendship circle consisted of people I barely spoke to, people that made me feel like I was on a rollercoaster and my sister. Even though I felt close to those I was nearly mute around, we didn’t hang out beyond school walls. Through it all and despite typical sibling disagreements, my sister was my closest friend. It was hard enough for me to make friends, the idea of making myself vulnerable to date was incomprehensible.

When I was in high school, the contemporary version of Sabrina was released. I immediately connected. I wanted that beauty, class, and for men to see my full potential. (I subsequently saw Billy Wilder’s version and fell in love with the food.) When I was younger I desperately hoped by traveling away from my hometown I would magically transform into a sophisticated woman men would fight over.

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From Paramount Pictures’ 1995 Remake of Sabrina.

I first moved to Boston (where I have the esteem of being the subject of a drunken bar fight…), then I moved to Los Angeles (no bar fights yet). The internal me still sees myself as squatty (I’m 5 feet tall) and painfully shy. Genetics doomed me to being short, but, like Sabrina, life experiences changed and matured me (like a fine wine).

Nonetheless, dating has still been a challenge.

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From Paramount Pictures’ 1954 Sabrina. Here, the baron explains why Sabrina’s souffle did not rise.

I almost went to culinary school, but didn’t want a career cooking for strangers. I realized my inadequate dating skills could benefit from my love of cooking. I’ll be the first to admit that my favorite part of dating is cooking, and I’ve probably overlooked some early incompatibility signs all for the excuse to get into the kitchen. Going on dates with the goal of it leading to the kitchen gives the experience a unique shape. I like learning about people and using food preferences to steer the conversation. “You like Mexican. You don’t like bell peppers. Oh, you have a peanut allergy…” These are important points to know when you’re preparing your first meal for the object of your affection. While many practice the “traditional 3 date standard” before they give up the goods, it’s usually 3 dates before I cook.

I had one long-term relationship in college, followed by another in my mid-twenties with a third in my early thirties. Sprinkled around these three questionably long relationships are men. Some got to my kitchen (and only my kitchen), and some stories are included because the early dates were such a fantastic disaster it’d be criminal not to include them.

When you first like someone, you look for the smallest thing to connect to: “You breathe air, oh my God, me too! We’re meant to be together.”  It has been a work in progress, but I’ve figured out what I need (and it’s more than the similarity of breathing air).