Snowflakes in France

Reflections of a 20-something woman in publishing

Category: memories

The School Girl in Me

It’s 75 and sunny, with a nice cool breeze outside. An anomaly for this summer, when the temperature seems to dip below 92 only when it’s raining. My sinuses are reacting as if this is the beginning of fall, and I can’t help but agree. Anthropologie is sending me emails about sweaters, magazines are advertising school supplies and my little sister is beginning her first year at college.

I’m ready for the change. Summer has always been nice — no school, pools are open for days of fun, and now, there’s no reason to make excuses when I feel like having a cocktail on a Saturday morning, especially if I’m at the beach. But the laziness tends to bore me after a while, and my pale skin tends to look better in fall clothes.

For me, Fall is about new beginnings. More so than New Years Eve or the coming of Spring. It’s a time to buy new jeans, get new notebooks, figure out this year’s signature fall color and root out that top from five years ago that suddenly seems like a good thing to wear.

Yeah, I was that little girl who couldn’t wait to go back to school. To see who I would sit next to, what my teacher would be like and whether there were any cute boys in my class. So when weather like this rolls around, I still feel a little bit of a thrill, wondering what this Fall will hold in store for me. A perfect dress, a new best friend, a promotion for me or my husband? Maybe I’ll actually join an orchestra this fall, or find a new hobby for the season. The city of New York is my limit…which of course doesn’t limit me much at all.

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Weekend! Wee!

Today I’m returning to Boston via my old friend Bolt Bus. It’s the first time I’ve been there since Jon moved here. And how appropriate that I’m going back for my final wedding dress fitting.

In truth, I can’t wait to visit our old haunts. The little Turkish coffee shop near Harvard where words drifted up from corner tables to the wooden beams of the ceiling — most of the time the languages evoked thoughts of spices and colors, my own mental symbols of the East. Of course there were the occasional hung-over college kids. Even Harvard students turn to alcohol during college.

I’m really hoping that we can make it to Red Bones, the best BBQ joint north of … well…Kentucky I suppose. It was right around the corner of Jon’s old apartment in Cambridge.

Paul Revere's statue in the North End

And lest I be too focused on food, I must mention the shops on Beacon Hill where one might find the perfect unique stationary set or child’s birthday gift. Most of all, I look forward to the feeling of history and liveliness that swells up from the North End amidst the cemeteries, statues, markets and pubs.

It reminds me that while Boston holds my own story, the story of how Jon and I dated and fell in love, it also holds the stories of countless others. Happy weekend readers! I’m off to The Olde Towne.

Fading Friendship

What was ice and slush yesterday is finally just wet concrete. I trudge to work in my rain boots, which are a bit overkill at this point, but they are also the most likely to keep the cold out. I notice a man wearing tennis shoes, walking so fast in his pressed slacks that I wonder if he always wears jogging shoes, or if he needed to jog today to arrive at work on time.

A man wearing inconspicuous black shoes greets another. They’re both young, look like bar tenders, and I notice the other guy is wearing a pair of Vans, the symbol peeking out from under long wide jeans. Suddenly I think of Carter, and how my sister made fun of his Vans years ago.

I think of how odd it is that people I hardly know are invited to the wedding, but Carter, one of my dearest friends from high school and college, who has seen me through several breakups (including our own brief fling in high school), one of few to win the affection of my parents, and one of the few I still try to meet for coffee when I’m in town, is not invited.

But I know why. He’s still friends with my ex. And on some level, I’m trying not to hurt that boy any more than I already have. For his best friend to have an invitation to my wedding on his fridge seems a bit cruel.

So yes, I’d like to have Carter there. He could sit at the table with my high school girls. He’d dance the night away and be the life of the party — he always is. But I took him off the guest list because it seems selfish of me to invite him. I hope he understands, but I have a sad feeling that we won’t be getting coffee the next time I visit.

New Year, New You

It’s a week after New Year’s now, but you know what, it’s also my birthday. For me, this is the new year. Maybe not the beginning of 2011, but it is the beginning of year 25.

Someone asked me last night, why Snowflakes in France? And at first I couldn’t remember. Then I thought my summer in France, how it tore apart my safe relationship back home and opened up the possibilities of being single, of being hurt and being proud, of learning what it is to be a feminist, responsible for my own choices even when I want to blame someone else.

Snowflake was a nickname that a boy gave to me in 7th grade. He may have been the first boy to toy with me, flirt with no intentions and no abandon, and at the time I was naive enough to blush and smile and think it was nice. But when I traveled to France in college, I began to grow into a more realistic — and more bitter — version of that girl.

That was five years ago. I’ve grown a lot since then, but people say you should write about what you know. I know a lot of teenage angst, dashed dreams, YA novels and puppy love. (And now I know of happy endings, but for some reason my writing is never very good when I write about that)

So here at my quarter-life mark, I’m going to make a resolution to write about what I know, and not to analyze it in the process. And this time, I’ll try to do it in fiction. I have a hunch that a little writing group in town might be my saving grace in this endeavor.

Bosom Buddies

“A bosom friend–an intimate friend, you know–a really
kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul.  I’ve
dreamed of meeting her all my life.  I never really supposed
I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true
all at once that perhaps this one will, too.  Do you think
it’s possible?”

-Anne of Green Gables

Jennifer and I traded secrets in the plastic playhouse in her backyard when we were seven years old, banning our younger sisters as we drank imaginary tea and pinky swore that we would be bridesmaids at each others’ weddings.

Giggling back and forth between our houses on Davis Street, we watched as our moms both grew pregnant in 1993, we looked pretty together in our little white communion dresses, I wept when her dog died and we hugged tightly when she moved across town to a new house. I had had friends before her, but she was my first best friend.

And then I moved to Kentucky, about 7 hours away.

It’s easy to make new friends, and I did. But each of them always had an older friend, a friend who had been there years before me. That friend knew her when her parents were together, cut her bangs behind the house with scissors and cried when her first dog died. That friend had always been her best friend, she couldn’t be replaced.

Jenn just got married this year. I’ve looked at the wedding photos on Facebook and wonder if we still would have been friends. I think of the girls I’ve known in Kentucky, and how many of us have grown apart in just five or six years. Would Jenn and I have possibly survived 17?

But then again, my sisters and I have survived that long. Jenn’s bridesmaids were her two sisters and three other girls. A mirror of my own bridal party in April. I’ve trusted my secrets to my two sisters for their entire lives; they are my oldest friends. They’ll be standing up there with me, just as Jenn’s sisters were, just as Jenn and I promised that we would have if we were still friends.

Sisters