Third-Wheeling: Dinner with the significant others

Of others obviously, not mine. I don’t have any – all my friends do though. I was having dinner last night with a good friend from college and her boyfriend when I realized something. Most of my nights out with friends consists of a friend, the friend’s significant other and me. Her, him and me makes three.

Two nights ago, I had dinner with my childhood friend and her new boyfriend (our dinners almost always includes a boyfriend and the boyfriend is always hers). A few weeks ago, my best friend celebrated her birthday with her boyfriend and me. In February, I went out with a close friend of mine from high school and his girlfriend.

Basically, I get invited to a lot of dates. Either that or I invite myself to meet the significant others.

And you know what? I love it. Not kidding. I feel like it’s a super power of mine – to feel naturally comfortable sitting alone on one side of the table across two people who, I like to think, are in love with each other, while not making either of them feel that they have to treat me like I’m a lost puppy or a super spy watchdog.

Over the years, I’ve found that being in the presence of two people who are connected to each other is wonderfully fascinating. There’s always a story there. I like watching how they treat each other, how they talk to each other or how they act around each other. I know my being there changes things a bit but that’s the whole point. I get to understand my relationship with my friends more when I understand how their relationships are with their partners.

There’s something about being able to witness real relationships – old, new, short and true – even if I’m not actually a part of it, that captivates me. I see two people and so much more. I’ve seen the awkwardness of a friend who’s trying to get me to like her date without making it seem like she’s trying too hard. I’ve seen the anxiety in the eyes of a friend’s new boyfriend who’s internally figuring out whether I approve of him or not. I’ve seen affection, companionship, friendship, lust and infatuation. Sometimes, I see love, and if I’m lucky, I can even feel it.

I’ve been told once, quite publicly too, that I am the ultimate third wheel. It’s true, I realize that now. But I don’t see it as something to be embarrassed about, nor do I see it as a constant, blaring reminder of me not being in a relationship. I like being single and being with people who are in a relationship. Truth be told, I actually enjoy being part of these dates more than being with a big group.

Take note, I’m talking to you, guy who labeled me as the third wheel, I used the phrase being part of instead of tagging along, because I may be a third wheel but I’m the wheel in the front. Unlike you, I don’t need a boyfriend to spend time with my best friend and his girlfriend. I don’t force my friend to invite another single friend before I agree to meet with her and her boyfriend. And unlike you, I know how to have fun in all my singleness with people in all their ‘couple-ness’ and, you know what, they also have fun with me.

I may be a third wheel but, damnit, I third wheel like a boss. That, my single and most probably insecure friend, is how I roll.

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Tell me a secret. And I’ll tell you one of mine.

I’m testing this idea I thought of earlier today – that we sometimes find it easier to tell our secrets to people who we’ve never actually met and/or seen in person.

I’ve never met you so there’s no reputation for you to uphold or protect. I’ve never seen you so I can’t possibly come up with preconceived notions based on your appearance.

As someone who has her own secrets, I think the nicest thing about keeping a secret is that moment when you finally share it with someone who you know will never tell it to anyone else. On the flip side, the worst thing about keeping a secret is not having anyone you feel you can tell it to without being judged or criticized.

So stranger, are you game? It doesn’t even have to be dark or profound, it could be that you pick your nose when no one’s watching or whatever: something you’re embarrassed about, a something you’re afraid someone you know will find out (hopefully, it’s not something illegal) or maybe something you’ve never felt like sharing with the people around you.

If you’re feeling generous with your secret or alone because of your secret, I’m all ears. If you tell me one of yours, I’ll gladly tell you one of mine. Of course, what I’m going to tell you depends on what you’re going to tell me. It doesn’t seem fair if your secret is about nose-picking and mine is about, I don’t know, classified government information.

For some secret sharing, email scribblesforthesoul@yahoo.com

We love who we love

When I was younger, I’d watch the news and see all these bad people do these horrible things, and I’d wonder how they could have people who love them. Then I grew up and I realized that bad people, like all others, have the capacity to love, and that sometimes they can even love “better” than good people. And then I entered college where I met some of the most annoying people I’ve ever met, and I thought to myself, I can understand why people could love a bad person but it completely boggles my mind how this irritating egotistical bonehead could possibly have people who can tolerate them, much less love them. 

And then I grew up some more, and I realized that I too have some people in my life who, generally speaking, aren’t any different from the ones I met in college. I guess I’ve known this all along but I never really took the time to actually digest it until recently – I love some really complicated people. And by complicated people, I mean people who, I imagine, you’d probably dislike with a passion if you ever get the chance to meet them.

One such person is this guy I love who thinks he knows it all and isn’t afraid to tell it to every human being around him. This smart ass will never admit his mistakes and will constantly remind you of yours to your humiliation and to his delight. What he sometimes mistakes for charm and appeal when he “socializes” with other people is really condescension and smugness. There are many moments when I am tempted to list down all his flaws and errors one by one to his face and in front of everyone he’s ever embarrassed just so that his ginormous head would shrink a little. But I don’t because this arrogant fellow happens to be my brother.

I love this girl who can be very hard to love. She’s hard to love because she’s hard to please. She’s hard to please because she has a tendency to feel that she deserves everything she wants, and that not getting what she wants is unacceptable. Criticizing the people around her – and trust me, this girl criticizes like a pro – is something she never gets tired of doing. I will not be surprised if she has compared you to an animal or an ugly inanimate object if you’ve been unfortunate enough to be in the same room as her during one of her diva moments. She acts like a baby which sometimes forces me to act like her nanny. There have been times when I’d want to just shove a bottle in her mouth to stop the whining. But I don’t because it’s not in my nature to do something like that to a person I’ve been friends with since childhood.

And then there’s this other girl who I love truly and dearly but who everyone else seems to have problems with. She often feels that the world has conspired against her to make her life miserable, and that her family is out to make her feel unloved and misunderstood. During the many times she has confided in me, she’s told me how alone she feels and how no one is there for her. This pinches my heart a little bit because I’ve never been more there for anyone than her. Countless of times I would willingly cancel my plans whenever she’d ask me if we could meet, only to have her cancel at the last minute. Countless of times. But I’ve never held it against her because I know the shit she’s been through. Lately though, I’ve been thinking that maybe, just maybe, the reason why her life never got better in her eyes is because she’s never considered getting a pair of glasses. Do you know what I mean? When you’re around people who do not agree with you, it’s easy to feel that you’re misunderstood. It’s a lot harder to actually try and be the one to understand them. But even if she would rather sit in her dark little hole than just take the hand I’ve been constantly reaching out to her, it doesn’t matter. She’s my best friend and I couldn’t care less if the whole world thinks ill of her. I’m staying until she drags me away from her, and even then I’d have no problems crawling back.

To be honest though, if these people weren’t in my life right now and if I just happen to bump into them at a party, I’d probably stay far, far away from them. But they are in my life, and difficult as they are, I love them.

Love used to be an extremely complex idea to me. I used to think that there are plenty of factors that go into loving someone, and that these factors vary when loving different people. Like, I could love a man who has a sever case of road rage if that man was my dad. Or I could love a woman who’s constantly running low on patience if she were my mom. But I would never love someone like that if I weren’t related to them by blood.

A few days ago, I was asked to define what love is. In my entire life, I have never been asked that question. Sure I’ve thought about it in my head, and of course I’ve had my own concept of love throughout my life. I’ve felt love for family, love for friends, love for a hobby and love for a significant other. But I was never asked the question point-blank. I’ve never had to say my answer out loud. At the time, I was already typing the first few paragraphs to this post, which got me even deeper into thinking, which, in turn, led me to this.

We don’t love people because they’re not bad or annoying or difficult. The same way we don’t love people just because they’re good or nice or beautiful. We love people because of reasons that will never be fully understood nor appreciated by the ones who are simply observing, sometimes not even by us.

We love who we love because, well, because we love them. And I think that’s all the “reason” we need.

In response to the question, I answered, “Love is willingly giving your heart to someone without reservation and without expectation.” You don’t love a person if. You don’t love a person only when. You just love them. And you don’t love a person and expect him to make you feel a certain way. You don’t love a person and expect him to be the kind of person you feel he ought to be. You just love them.

Thoughts from a New Orleans-themed restaurant

Written earlier today, when I didn’t have my laptop with me so I had to wait ’til I got home to actually post this… 

At this very moment, the sun is disappearing underneath the pale blue clouds. And the sight of it makes me want to write something. Anything. So here I am.

I’m in a New Orleans-themed restaurant, trying to finish the smoked salmon pizza that I ordered. I know I won’t be able to. I have five slices left and my stomach already feels like it’s about to explode. This happens a lot when I eat out alone. I always order more food than I can finish. I think I do this on purpose because I love eating leftovers at home. I’m in no hurry to leave this place. It’s been months since I was last able to go out by myself so I’m taking my time.

And while I do, I want to tell you what’s it like. Being here. In a New Orleans-themed restaurant. With a plate of five slices of smoked salmon pizza in front of me, waiting to be taken home.

There are four other customers here besides me and they’re all paired up. Two of them are obviously a couple since they came in hand in hand. I can’t tell you what they look like because one, I’m not good at describing people’s physical appearances; and two, they’re sitting behind me which means I won’t be able to look at them without making myself look like a creepy stalker person. With the other two, I’m not so sure. I have a feeling they’re one of those married couples who have been together for so long but still see each other as strangers. That would be sad. Then again, they might just be friends. Or lovers. Or friends with benefits. I don’t really know. What I do know is that it’s none of my business so I’ll move on to other things now. 

The restaurant is in the second floor of a five-story building with huge glass windows and I’m seated right next to a table that’s right by one so I can see what’s happening on the street below. To be honest, it’s pretty boring, just cars and people. 

Wait. No, it’s not. My sister, Karen, and I used to play this game when we hung out in the mall. We’d sit down and make up stories about the people that were walking by. One time, I was looking for someone to create a story about when my eyes fell upon this man who looked so unhappy. I think that’s when I realized that the people I see everyday aren’t just people. They’re stories – and they aren’t made up ones. So no, they’re not boring. They’re just unknown. 

Oh you have got to see the sky right now. When I started earlier, the sky was still the usual pale blue. Now it’s a darker shade of blue with thick streaks of violet, coral, red and orange. It’s not breathtaking. It’s not anything special or unusual. I see this almost everyday but I never get tired of this image. It’s the simple kind of beautiful. It’s not the kind that takes your breath away – it’s the kind that makes you breathe. Does that make any sense? There’s something about seeing things like this that makes me think of God. And after a long day of work without once having thought of Him, it’s kind of refreshing to remember Him now. 

Can you sigh on paper? I just let out a sigh and I feel I should write it down because it says a lot about what I’m feeling right now. I treasure moments like this. I’m not sure why, but it’s in these times when I’m pretty confident that I’m doing this whole Life thing right.

Breakfast conversations with my grandparents

It’s been a while since I had breakfast with my grandparents. I forgot how much fun and interesting spending time with them could be. Good thing I was reminded of it earlier today when my sisters and I took our grandparents out to breakfast.

I was taking a bite off my mushroom and cheese ciabatta when my grandfather asked, “Kathryn, how many Spanish units did you take?”

“Just two,” I replied.

My grandmother, who studied in an all-girls school, said, “The only thing I remember about studying Spanish was that my professor was a man, we called him Señor, and that my classmates made him cry a lot.”

“Girls are horrible,” my grandfather said with his trademark mischievous grin.

He was joking of course, as he usually does whenever he’s in the mood to relive childhood which, I must say, happens quite often.

My sisters and I feigned shock and acted like we were insulted. My grandmother laughed.

I turned to her and said, “Did you hear what he said? Your husband just called you horrible.”

She laughed some more before saying something that made me think and made me even more grateful to have such wonderful people in my life.

She said, “You know, when the person is in front of you, he doesn’t mean it. When he’s behind you, that’s when he does.”

It is my sincere and evil hope that you are as annoyed at me as I am at you.

I’m sorry. Just this once I will allow my immaturity to get the best of me.

YOU. You think of yourself above everyone else, even your own friends. You’re used to ordering people around and expecting them to willingly comply while you sit there and do absolutely nothing. And you get away with it all because you can be one terrifying she-devil (I have another, more appropriate word in mind but…) and mostly everyone is scared of you.

Unfortunately, it’s not in my nature to be confrontational. You’re making me want to be, though. And you’re definitely pushing me in that direction. Right now, I’m just trying to stop myself from thinking really bad thoughts about you and, honestly, it’s more for my sake than yours.

So I’m letting it out and letting it go.

You. Annoy. Me. Immensely. And. I. Sincerely. Wish. That. I. Annoy. You. As. Well.