Monthly Archives: June 2012

Labels, Labels, Labels

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“Don’t you use gmail labels to organize your life?” 

Seriously, is that even an argument? Sometimes, I think Shiva is completely incapable of having a conversation. I love him to the end of the universe and back, but his brain operates in such different ways than mine does! 

We were discussing the issue I have with his labels. Basically, for the first 9 months that we were together, I wasn’t his “girlfriend.” I don’t know what I was, or what we were doing, but everyone and their brother and their cousin, and their cousins best friend would have called it “dating”. We lived together, went everywhere together, ate together, bathed together, SLEPT together…you get the point. Anyway, it took him nine months of that behavior (after three months of hours long intimate conversations in my kitchen), to label me, “girlfriend”. 
That lasted for all of a few months before he was “breaking up” with me because of the situation with his parents and all the tantrums his father is apparently so good at throwing and I became, “ex-girlfriend.” In that time, I moved my entire life to be with Shiva and then we were back to my “pre-girlfriend” status of doing everything together, including living together AGAIN.” Of course, he would remind me that we were not “dating”. My answer remained as much as ever, “a duck is a duck, regardless of what you call it.” That status lasted until literally about an hour before his parent’s plane touched ground in the US and in that time he rushed most of his belongings to his sibling’s place under the pretense that he’s been living with his sibling the whole time he was actually living with me. 
During this time, my label has undulated between “ex-girlfriend” and “good friend.” Today, I earned the label, “best friend”. This conversation arose during Shiva’s attempt at explaining that although he had said I could meet his parents, now he just couldn’t make that happen and I was explaining that my promise (ultimatum for some who prefer that label) to vacate myself from his life should he continue to act in ways that illustrate a preference for my invisibility to the people that matter most still stood. That’s right, Shiva. I meant what I said, when I told you that if they go back home to Nepal and I do not meet them, I will no longer be your “friend”, “girlfriend”, “ex-girlfriend”, “roommate”…I will be NOTHING, because I will not be in your life, at all. 
It isn’t that I want to be out of his life, but I’ve been vacillating from one label to another for almost two years and I’m really over it  If I matter, then I matter and if I don’t, then let me go. He kept saying that he can never truly be with me, never marry me, never give me what I want because he can never take on the label of “step-father”. Okay, but when pressed, he lacks a definition for his label. He says he isn’t ready to be a “step-father” now and that is fine, but when did I ask that of him? I asked him to have the same relationship with my daughter that he has always had, which has been a positive loving one up until now. But he just can’t move past the labels. 
He kept telling me about how I’m not “Asian” and all of the “Asians” he knows understand what he means. That’s right Shiva, keep going with the labels, I wasn’t Asian when you met me, I never will be, this isn’t new news, but somehow is an important label to mention I lack. But then he actually argues that he doesn’t want to have his life without me. His argument against my label of “nothing” is that I’m actually his “best friend.” What does that mean?
Shiva’s definition of best friend is apparently, “girl that loves me with all she can and does anything for me. She also brightens my world with her sentences that are a mix of Nepali, Newari, and Hindi, her ability to sing along to soundtracks from Dil To Pagal Hai, Dil Se, and Veer Zara. He then went on to tell me that I I’m the most fun to argue with and he doesn’t know what to do with me.” (Didn’t he just finish telling me that he doesn’t know what to do without me either?) He hugs me and holds my hand and leans in close and looks deep into my eyes and all I want is to label him a self-deceiver. Shiva, my love, these are not the actions of a “best friend” these are the actions of a “lover”. So, while we are at this junction discussing labels, lets start applying them realistically. 
ps- We are still on for meeting the parents once he realized that it was still either he’s in or out on this one and I wasn’t wavering. As for what label he’s going to provide to the parents, we’ll just to have to see.  

He Said Yes!

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Ok, so I didn’t ask him to marry me and he flat out says this doesn’t mean we will get married. But Shiva did call me tonight to tell me that he has decided to introduce his parents and I. He told me over and over not to get my hopes up, and I don’t know that I am. If anything, I’m panicking a little.
He hasn’t told his father yet, but he asked his mom about it and says if anything, she is “indifferent.” I’m being given somewhere in the way of two weeks before we meet. Shiva’s plead, “Exercise profusely and get a nice tan on your vacation.” I don’t know how to take that, as if turning my yellow skin, golden could help much, I’ll never look brown, no matter how tan I get. And the sun will only turn my golden hair even closer to white.
But, I don’t care about any of that. I am just so happy to be meeting them. Had to share. Now to jump up the Nepali practice. Any advice is welcome 🙂

My New Baba

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When I moved to my new and present home, I left my family behind. My daughter came with me and without her, I wouldn’t have moved. Shiva was already here and I moved in most part for him. However, my mother, father, step-parents, four siblings, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins all remained 3000 or so miles away. I was most worried about my daughter growing up without those family roles present in her life. 

But the Universe delivered us a new baba (grandmother in Bulgarian). Our nextdoor apartment neighbors are from Bulgaria and have a daughter very near in age to my daughter. Natural playmates, although there are some communication breakdowns. They have only been speaking Bulgarian in their home in order to ensure their daughter learns the language fluently. She hasn’t been to formal school yet and has only picked up English from leaving the home and be exposed through other friends. Her English is definitely a little broken. 

My daughter has no qualms with this as last year we lived with a woman from China and her four year old. Her four year old hadn’t ever spoken English before coming to the US and somehow my daughter and her’s figured out how to communicate while speaking two different languages. 

Today, I was able to experience one of those conversations. I was outside watering my plants on the balcony we share with our neighbors and Baba was outside.Baba was sweeping and pouring water all over the ground. I smiled and kept on watering and then she started talking to me. It was in Bulgarian but she gestured to the chalk art all over the balcony floor. She kept talking and throwing water down and sweeping up the chalk marks. I’m sure I understood something to the effect of “I clean this floor and these kids come over and over to mess it up again.” I’ll never know because it was all Bulgarian and I know maybe five words so far. I used the remainder of my watering can to pour over chalk as she was sweeping it off and I felt like she was thanking me for helping her. I went and go my broom and some more water and we set about cleaning the porch. She’d shout at me in Bulgarian (in the firm comforting way grandmothers do) and point to some spot and I’d clean it. And that was it. I went inside, she went in her apartment and I’m sure we both felt some satisfaction over cleaning the porch together. 
 

We’ve been bonding slowly over the past few weeks, although I’ve always felt that she was very sweet towards me. Its just hard to bond when you don’t share a language. And then there are the times, when you really don’t need to translate. 

Speechless

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I’ve been absent a lot lately, mostly due to the fact that Shiva and I were back living together and our spare time was shared among each other. Then, literally hours before his parent’s plane landed, he took the bare essentials with him and moved to his sibling’s home. 

We’ve had more than a fair share of disagreements, maybe even an argument or two on the subject of meeting his parents. He says that there is no point because they will never approve a marriage and he doesn’t feel comfortable with jumping straight into parenthood so marriage isn’t what he wants either. All he can say is that I am a good friend, and you don’t just introduce your parents to every good “friend” that also happens to be a girl you’ve lived with on and off over a year and with whom you had a serious relationship…serious enough to prompt a cross-country move. I’m still not okay with this end. I cannot make him introduce us, but I know that I cannot keep doing this if he isn’t even going to bother giving a face, a name, a person to the collection of stereotypes that his parents hold about me.

I helped plan the sibling’s graduation/parents welcoming/american and nepali family reunion party  that Shiva hosted recently. I found the venue, helped pick the menu, negotiated the price, and drove Shiva, child, and I all around for a week to visit all the contenders for the event and spent even more hours than that discussing the pros and cons of each, doing financial analysis of each, etc. What an exhausting time! And I loved doing that for him and his family. It mattered to me that they had exactly what they wanted and I had a lot more experience than Shiva at planning parties for large groups, so it seemed natural to help him. I wasn’t invited and that went without saying. What really got me was that he wouldn’t even tell his sibling who is well aware of our “true” situation that I had such a role in planning this event. I just wanted the sibling to know, and he wouldn’t even agree to that. 
Since “moving out” he’s had a sneak dinner with child and I while he was really somewhere else as far as his family knew. He calls really late at night as he whispers while hiding under his covers so that his family (also staying at sibling’s home) do not hear his late night check-ins with me. I want to be understanding and I think I have been so far. But I just want to meet them. My words to him only the night before last…”I just want to look them in the eyes.”

Enter the Universe: ever the joker. Last night I got exactly what I asked for, just not in the way I ever imagined it would happen. I was outside with my daughter on our apartment balcony that oversees our courtyard. And without explanation she bolts down the stairs and heads straight for the sidewalk. There were two walkers coming down the sidewalk and I barely noticed anything than there were two people. I got her to stop right as we reached the steps from our courtyard to the sidewalk. I looked up from my daughter and was staring directly into Shiva’s mother’s eyes.

Even if I’d never seen pictures of them, I would have known exactly who she was. I could see his eyes in her so clearly that it shocked me for a moment before I could even take in her whole face. I saw his sibling in her as well. Then I looked at her partner, exactly as I’ve seen his father pictured, including the same jacket, it was like looking at an older balding Shiva with different eyes. I only glanced at his father a second as his mother was staring at me with her mouth open. 

After a moment that lasted far too long to accurately count, his father began to leave. But his mother just stood there. She would break eye contact only long enough to glance at my daughter and then straight back to my eyes. I wanted to speak, but I couldn’t. I wanted to stand up and offer my hand, but I couldn’t. We just stood there, looking at each other, speechless. My daughter pulling on me, Shiva’s father pulling on her, and we couldn’t break the trance we found ourselves in. Finally, I looked down, I don’t think I took a single breath the whole time we were staring. She kept on with Shiva’s father and I stood to look after them. She turned and looked at me 3 times before they were out of view.

The anxiety had taken all my sense away, It took the ability to think, or speak. My daughter grabbed my hands and only snapped me back to awareness by performing a backflip with my assistance. I finally could breath again and just played with my little one, still reeling from the encounter. Then I saw her eyes again. They had turned around and were walking by again. His father was smiling, with the same pursed lips Shiva has when he smirks at me. I smiled back, wondering if he’d be smiling at me if he knew who I was or if he was smiling at me because he knew who I was. I was wearing a university shirt and wondering if they noticed the connection between my university hometown and Shiva.  His mother was frowning but not in a sad or angry way, I couldn’t place the emotion. But she just held eye contact with me as she walked along with Shiva’s father. 

I didn’t say anything. I still can’t believe it. I can’t believed I look right at them and couldn’t say a word. The gift I made them ages ago resting only a flight of stairs away, us only a handshake away and a few words away from meeting. And there she and I stood, both hypnotized by the other, and speechless.