Square Peg [ 2004-07-17, 9:45 p.m. ]

I�m currently (regretfully) hungover and not entirely convinced that my eyeballs aren�t actually bleeding. The mirror shows no blood, but the burning pain behind each of them begs to differ. And in my hung-over state, I finally have a free block of time to sit down and attempt to put letters together, then words, then hopefully some sentences. Hopefully.

I started an entry earlier in the week, soon after Kent and I got back from Cincinnati, but I�ve had barely 10 free minutes this week, so it�s sat here, neglected for a few days. I started out writing about Cincinnati, and how � even after five years � I have a hard time visiting Kent�s family and friends. I wrote a forced and BAD analogy, recalling the game �Concentration,� circa When I Was About 8, in which players scramble to fit various puzzle pieces into corresponding �holes� on the board before time is up and the entire board pops up and the pieces go flying. In this BAD and strained analogy, I was some sort of trapezoid and Cincinnati was a starburst-shaped hole, or something like that. I don�t fit, basically.

Sunday night was a perfect example: Kent and I had dinner with his parents and grandfather (which, in the name of Keepin� It Positive To Avoid Bad Family Karma, I won�t even touch) then went out to meet up with a few of his friends. At their regular bar, Miss Kitty�s. Which is in a strip mall. And they were all coming from the Kiss/Poison concert. I�ve got no problem with dive bars, strip malls, Kiss or Poison, but nonetheless, when you combine all those elements and invite me to come along, it just doesn�t seem to work. (I�ve been to Miss Kitty�s before. Many, many times � I�ve played Corn Hole in the back, I�ve chauffeured the super-drunk friends home, I�ve done nasty shots with stupid names, I�ve selected AC/DC and Garth Brooks from the jukebox in lieu of anything else to choose from.) So there I am, with Kent and a few friends of his. Guys he went to high school with filter in and out of the bar, they all look the same to me, none introduce themselves to me. His friends ignore me. I hate it. I hate how universally �other� I always feel in Kent�s hometown. Maybe my exterior shows me to be a snob, maybe I�m not trying hard enough, but whatever the reason, the crowd at Miss Kitty�s ain�t buying what I�m sellin�.

It�s the feeling of being invisible in the middle of a crowd, or of twenty people looking at me and thinking, who IS this person? It sucked. Sucks.

(I want to also make the point that Cincinnati is a big city with lots of different neighborhoods and areas, some are lovely and have interesting restaurants and shops and people and parks. Some are not. Kent�s family lives not in those areas. But the city has a lot to offer and I feel badly for bemoaning it so much.)

I don�t fit in with his family, I don�t fit in with his friends, and when we�re in Ohio I feel Kent straining, trying to balance me with his roots. He ends up tense, uncomfortable, caught in the middle somehow, and I feel alienated and his friends and family just look at me blankly. Maybe I don�t try hard enough, but I think I�m an approachable person. I certainly don�t show up teetering around in Choos, begging for a Flirtini to drink and sushi for dinner. Still, I usually feel like I�m standing in a crowded room with a sign around my neck that reads, �ASSHOLE.�

Feeling left out is one of the worst feelings, right up there with jealousy and spite and abdominal cramps. As much fun I make of Cincinnati and my in-laws and Kent�s friends, I want them to like me. I want to feel good around them and look forward to holidays. But I just don�t. I was thrilled on Monday to have a reprieve from the West Side of Cincinnati as Kent and I shopped and ate in Hyde Park, and then � best of all! � I had time on my own downtown. I went to the Contemporary Art Center, which was amazing. Provocative and beautiful and serene and exciting. I loved it, and I loved being there alone, to look and observe and breathe, uninterrupted. Then, I met Dawn(ie)for a drink, which made my day. I hadn�t met her before, and as I am still quite new to the whole �internet people are also real people and you can MEET them and everything!� phenomenon, I babbled and babbled for an hour, but it was so refreshing to have time in Ohio that was MINE, to do as I wanted, with whomever I wanted. I felt like myself, like I belonged.

Then it was time for Kent to pick me up and I turned back into the reticent pumpkin I�d been before, and we met my in-laws for dinner at their local pizza parlor. Yummy, but strained. As per the norm.

That night as Kent and I were falling asleep, he told me that he felt sad, that he was sad to be leaving his parents and his hometown. �These are the streets I know,� was the best way he could explain his feelings. I�m still a new-ish wife, and I am learning more and more every day about what it takes to sustain a loving, thriving marriage, so somewhere in my mind, I knew I was supposed to be gentle. To hug him and tell him I understood. But I felt that scary rage creeping up on me � are you familiar with it? The kind of anger that crawls up your back and makes your face hot and your eyes ache. That�s what I felt � in the deepest, darkest part of me I wanted to scream, WHAT IS GOOD HERE, and stomp my feet. I don�t want to be That Girl, the one who wants things her way, all the time, all THE TIME, but I cannot figure out how to bring all my worlds and selves together. Kent is my priority, and I want to be able to slip effortlessly between New York and California and Ohio, kisses and hugs and good times all around. But it ain�t that way. My mother-in-law cries AT LEAST twice every visit (once upon arrival, once upon departure), often more. Kent reverts and gets all tense and immature. I get angry. His friends get drunk. And so on and so on and so on.

I�m not quite secure or mature enough to be able to say, Hey, this is me, like me or don�t, I�m confident in my worth as a human being either way. I�m still a little closer to Hey, I�m smart, I swear, and I can be funny too, let�s be friends! Immature? Oh yeah.

(I should interject that I am trying valiantly to finish this entry � any entry � tonight, and that this is the 4th time I�ve sat down and tried to write. I have NO free time these days, and the few times I�ve been in front of the computer have coincided with TOO MANY drinks. So any incoherence can be blamed on�well, me. Because I keep overextending myself and have no time to do important things, like fuck around on the computer.)

So where was I?? Bitching about feeling like the Big �L� in Cincinnati, I believe. Because I really, really did feel sad and lonely. In this big, bad world we find kindred spirits in the most unlikely places, and there are no guarantees that your beloved, your best friend, your confident, will come from a background that yins where you yang. It�s tough. Well worth it, but tough. I stood alone in Miss Kitty�s for a while my husband�s hand found its way to mine.

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