Saturday, October 14, 2006

Back from hiatus

My uncle's dead. He died a couple of days ago, only a week or two after he was re-diagnosed with cancer. My dad's in Beijing right now with the rest of my extended Mandarin family. No news from him yet. I IM'd my cousin to ask him how he was feeling (in absence of a more intimate form of communication). He didn't say much. It took me over an hour to piece together the Chinese characters I needed to give him my condolences over email. I later realized, had it not been for the back button, that my message arrived in his inbox as groups of question marks: ??? ????? ??. He eventually received it in the intended format.

I told him I was sorry for his loss. That words cannot describe the feelings we're all dealing with. I asked him to tell his other dying parent how much I miss her, how much I love her, and how much I regret not telling her more often this summer. She's my favourite aunt and I became distraught the evening I was told, wiping my nose on MArt's shirt as he held me 'til my eyes grew swollen.

Shotgun Toter's dad was told by his doctor that she hoped to see him in "weeks, months, a year." Shotgun later told me that the "a year" wasn't lost to everyone in the room. Her cousin dropped dead only a few days ago (she was morbidly obese): "She was the daughter of the only sibling my dad still stayed in touch with."

Another friend, also a roommate of MArt's, is dealing with his father's impending death (measured in hours and days) when the cancer unexpectedly spread to his brain, leaving him conscious but with symptoms similar to Alzheimer's.

A friend and classmate was mugged at knife point last night when he decided to wander home drunk from MArt's place.

My mom might be dealing with an ulcer. (She didn't go into detail except that she bought a bunch of meds.) My dad has gallstones.

And MArt's dad is taking me -- us -- out to dinner when he comes up in a few weeks.


MArt and I have become quite ... serious. How it came to be, I don't really know. He recently deleted his entire computer porn stash. All 30 GBs of it. To make room for "legitimate" movies, he says. This obviously illustrates that he meant business. He's crazy to be with me, to be sure. Always patiently waiting for me to share my life with him. Not that I don't. It's just that, as Cat observed, I tend to do a lot of things alone. "The most out of anyone I know," she added. "Sometimes," MArt complained during a recent argument, "there's '[MArt] and Lily's world' and there's 'Lily's world.'" (The latter, he implied, an impenetrable entity.)

The other night, he came to my place, buzzed from too much beer and a blackout-inducing amount of red wine. We argued about something I said to someone about him -- in essence, my gossiping. It was the first time I've ever seen him genuinely frustrated with me. "Stop putting me on the defensive!" I yelled. "Girls talk. We forget what we talk about. If you surmised that it was me who told her, then it must be me. What's the big deal? I'm sorry!" Never having been a screamer, he instead retreated to the couch a few feet away, continuing to vent. After another couple of minutes of hearing him bitch, I turned around, put my iron down, unplugged it, and said, "It's over, [MArt]," and locked myself in the bathroom. Through the wall, I could hear him talking to me, but I stayed silent. Then I heard him getting up to walk somewhere:

"I'm going to iron your dress now," he said, aggressively.

"Don't touch my dress!"

"I'm going to do it!"

"Don't touch my dress!"

Seconds later:

"Where do you want me to hang it?"

"Put my dress down! I don't care, on the floor!"

"I'm not going to put something I just ironed on the floor!"

I sat back down on the toilet just as I heard a rap, tap, tap against the doorknob. It continued. I told him to get away from the door.

"Open the door, Lily," he said.

"No."

"Open the door. Please, Lily."

"No."

The tapping continued, so I begrudgingly opened it.

There was MArt, in only his boxer-briefs, with a bobby-pin in his hand trying to pick the lock while the red triangle on his bicep from the hot iron he had earlier placed on his arm to "prove" that he wasn't "drunk" began to peel and blister.

He apologized (and again the following morning). MArt carried me to the bed and played with my hair from above. "Stop looking at me like that," he said.

"Like what?"

"Stop looking at me."

"Why?"

*Sniff, sniff, blink*

I had made him damn near cry at the thought of losing me, turning this tough guy into mashed potatoes.

He's right though. I don't hold our relationship as sacred as he does. Or I didn't use to. I am always, as he says, first and foremost thinking about myself before I do the relationship: what benefits "us" comes after what I deem to be beneficial or convenient to me. My mother has taught me that men -- specifically, whomever you happen to be with -- comes second. Family might eventually replace yourself as your top priority, but don't count on a man to give you what you want. And don't let a man be the only thing you want.

MArt understands my indoctrination. He says it's the reason he's fine with making concessions: he knows I'm really trying to adjust. It's hard-as-hell work though. But that's why they call it amore, baby.

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