Bodega

She knew him as one of the boys that liked to hang out outside of the bodega. He was always nice and she would always smile. But while she could recognize him, point him out from a crowd, she didn’t know his name.

One night she dropped her keys and it all changed. He held the door open for her when it happened, caught them in midair before she could react. They laughed. They talked, and it was as if they had known each other for years, so that hours later they were still sitting on her front stoop, dreading the moment they would have to say good bye.

They never did, instead making plans for the next night and the next, until they were spending every waking moment together.

He shared his favorite games with her, his favorite songs, his favorite restaurants. She shared with him her favorite movies, her favorite plays. Her favorite musicals.

They made big plans to go to the ballet. Christmas was two weeks away and they both wanted to see the Nutcracker live, classic that it was.

She wore a dress with a full tulle skirt, the kind that made her feel like a ballerina herself, and as she watched him arrive from the ballet hall steps, she saw that he wore slacks and a button down shirt.

It was the first time he had dressed formally in the time she had known him. It was the first time he had dressed formally in his life.

He’d gone to the city, shopped at one of those suit stores he’d seen on TV and even had the pants tailored. As he crossed the street, watching her smile widen on the other side, he thought about how she made him want to be a better man.

He didn’t hear his friends as they approached. He didn’t see them as he crossed the street, so that by the time they crossed his path and stopped him, they had witnessed the worst of his joy and clowned him for it.

They made fun of his new pants for the way they were belted at the waist, the way they snugly fit, the way he carried himself in them of all things. They clowned his corny smile, the fact that he was going to a ballet, and as his expression began to change, they reminded him that it was all in good fun and there was no point in being sensitive.

She watched it all from those steps, unsure of what it all meant from a distance, but aware that it was best that she stay put, that she would only make it worse, whatever it was. But when he finally came to her it didn’t matter, because she could sense that something inside of him had fundamentally changed.

They watched the performance in stiff silence. Any attempt to talk or incite a smile was met with one word answers and grunts. He held her just long enough until it was okay to let go, and even before the play was over he was all set to go.

He forgot to kiss her goodbye. He didn’t call. He didn’t reply. He didn’t even hang outside of the bodega anymore, and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t figure what she’d done wrong.

Time passed. Weeks bled into months and suddenly, miraculously, she saw him on the train. Their eyes met. He turned away. He was with his friends. Just like that, it was over before it began. And no, they never said goodbye.

Exes & Ø’s

exes

My father died last week, and after I got the news, I coped how I know best. I wrote about it, and the ensuing outpour of support was much more than I expected.

I thought that I would be socially punished for posting private things about my family and my time growing up. In part, this is why I hesitate when it comes to writing about my own experience, even though I have wells of information to draw from. So when friends near and far came out to give their condolences, I was truly touched.

Some friends reached out to tell me that my story reminded me of their own relationships with their fathers. Others just wanted me to know that they understood the complicated feelings I have for my father through my story, and others just wanted to check in and let me know that I always have an ear with them.

Even my former next door neighbor, a high school friend who doesn’t have Facebook, called to check in with me. However, as the days passed, it became more and more obvious that I had not heard from a very specific group: any one of my exes.

You see, I’ve had about, say, five great loves in my life, all guys who were friends first. Three of those men are people that, if they came back to me offering love and support and companionship for real, I would drop everything for.

At varying points in my life, these men, without fail, have popped back into my life. Some have come back after we dated, admitting that they took me for granted and wishing for a second chances. And the others, the ones that I never really ‘dated’ but were significant to me all the same, ‘bump’ into me socially, often pretending that they don’t remember the reason I severed ties with them in the first place, sometimes even giving me a really good reason why things went down the way they did. A  variation of, “You see? I’m not really as horrible as you thought, you just had the wrong impression this whole time!”

I’m sad to admit that it took until my late twenties for me to notice this pattern, that I was in these endless cycles with guys that are perpetually Not Ready For A Relationship but kept me on the back burner all the same, whether as a safe bet or a backup plan or just for the attention. And too often, when they came back into my life, I’d be so happy to hear from them that I’d be too willing to forgive and forget.

But I realized that nothing ever changed. In fact, I noticed something that made me stop in my tracks. These guys, these guys I loved with all their flaws, really thought they could say horrible things to me, treat me like an option and not a person, and all they had to do was wait until I’d be willing to forget.

On guy didn’t disclose that he’d been sexually active with other women when we had been involved, and when I called him out on it, he told me he was a shark, you see, and it was my own fault for not knowing. Another treated me like I should be grateful for the attention our entire relationship, only to hit me up a few months after his wife left him, asking me to come back to Hartford, as if I had been sitting by the phone for his call.

And the last one, the one that hurt the most, didn’t tell me he had been in a long term relationship the entire time we’d been messaging each other. His response? I only talk to you when I need a break from my kids (as if we hadn’t been sending each other explicit messages since we were both teens) and, anything I said to you was true at the time. 

(Plan another funeral, because I died from that.)

It seems to me that as a woman, giving love and being there for others are not just parts of who we are, but they are parts of us that are often expected and taken for granted. I have never been mistreated more than the times when I had uncontrollable crushes on guys that were just my type: Hispanic, tall, smart, and often, trouble.

Once I got to New York, I dated and hooked up with guys all over the spectrum, until the only common denominator was Hispanic, and I found that many of these guys fell within two different camps: the guys that are used to having girls tripping all over themselves to get to them, so they never have to make an effort, and the guys who wished they were the type of guys that had girls tripping all over themselves for them.

And it all came down to this: being taken for granted. Random disappearances or silences when bringing up something they didn’t want to discuss. Getting gas-lighted into taking the blame for something I couldn’t have known or something they did. Or being used as a temporary girlfriend while their real girlfriend was out of town. (That last one, by the way, is some scum of the earth behavior.)

We still live in a world that assumes that women exist to make men happy, and it’s a world that teaches women this expectation from puberty. I was not allowed to talk about boys or date, but my primary training at home was cleaning and learning how to be pretty and docile. The docility never took.

And the thing was, I was as boy crazy as the next girl. All I wanted was a boyfriend, and as I hit puberty, I thought I was so hideous that no boy would ever like me. The boys I liked were so mean that it only reinforced this idea, and when I finally met a guy who liked me, I was so relieved it was ridiculous.

But as I dated as a teen, I never understood why they boys I loved treated me like crap. I didn’t understand why the guys I loved did underhanded things, acting like it was my job to accept it once I found out. The big one was other women, and most often, I was the other woman without even knowing it. I realized then that relationships with these men were not really about love, but what I could do for them. The girl that makes me most comfortable wins.

I couldn’t be a part of that. As an adult, I made the decision to not be a part of that, understanding that it would lead to a very lonely life. But it would be a  life that belonged to me and no one else.

So why am I pissed right now? Because giving condolences after someone’s father dies is a sign of sincerity. If any of those guys who lied to me, treated me like I should be grateful for the scraps of attention they paid me, side-chicked me, or kept me in the dark like a fool, if any of those guys had made the slightest effort to be there for me, then I would have known the gesture to be true, because it had been for me, not for them.

Not one of them did. And I won’t forget. Just ask my dad.

The New York Diaries Are On Hiatus

As if you didn’t already notice. 😉

I am a neglectful blogger who scolds other people for neglecting their blogs!But seriously, I have a lot on my plate at this time.

To give you an idea of everything I am working on, I spent two solid months writing a manuscript I planned to submit to Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest due today, but this weekend decided against submitting because it needs heavy editing. I spent so much time working on getting my word count up that I repeat myself a lot, ramble, and flat out don’t make sense. So yeah, I have 90% of a first draft of a first draft.

I also submitted my piece for Round #2 of NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Competition with seconds to spare, and I’m dicking around with the idea of submitting to this contest today. I am simply moving away from journaling and towards completing projects. I realized that for years, I’ve kept journals with ideas here and there to flesh out later. Now I am starting to realize that I need to take those ideas and turn them into completed projects to build a catalog that, unfortunately, I won’t be posting here because a lot of places are very particular about pieces that have been previously published.

So what does that mean for my blog? I will still post my experiences, but probably a lot less frequently. But anything that gets published I will link here. Otherwise, thank you so much for reading. I will not let this blog go just yet, it’s still a big part of me, but I can’t update as frequently.

If it’s any consolation, any future works will (hopefully) be of much higher quality.

But now, back to writing.

Andrea Obaez 

About Me

My name is Andrea Obaez, eyeliner lover, cookie-demolisher and occasional pen thief.

A long, long time ago we now know as the 90’s, I  was given the opportunity to write as a student contributor for The Hartford Courant, the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States. 

The opportunity came to me through a school counselor, who noted my talent and passion for writing.  I loved that paper, and spent every Friday night in that news office throughout my senior year. That summer, I was awarded a  first-time summer internship as a Courant staff writer, and spent those three months being trained by and shadowing some of the best that The Courant and The Associated Press had to offer.

This blog was originally born out of a need to save my work somewhere I could always find it. I stopped writing as actively in college, and switched majors from Professional and Technical Writing to Social Work. I also had a habit of not backing up old work or saving it on obsolete technology like floppy disks. 

In April 2013, after realizing that a normal, quiet life wasn’t for me, I packed my car and moved to New York. It turned out to be the the biggest challenge I’ve had in a very long time. It was like waking up suddenly after spending an entire weekend Netflix binge-watching in bed only to realize there was a test covering my entire life. It was hard like untangling your hair after neglecting it for weeks is hard. 

Making a life in New York has forced me to apply every social work, survival, budgeting, group dynamics, networking, and critical thinking skill I’ve had at my disposal. I strongly believe that there’s no way I could’ve done this before. I simply wasn’t ready.

After much encouragement from the friends I’ve made here, I started writing about that first year finding a home in New York. And so this blog became The New York Diaries. My journey was far from easy, and at times my decisions were deeply flawed and naive. As much as I wish some (okay, many) things had happened differently, it got me to where I am, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

All of the work you see here is either mine or something I’ve been featured in. Some is still evolving and being edited over time. All is deeply personal. 

Go to The New York Diaries and read more about my journey and if you have any feedback, email me at ladysweetface(a)gmail.com.

The New York Me

When I arrived in New York I created a tumblr account titled The New York Me. A year ago, I lived in the Bronx by Arthur Avenue and The Bronx Zoo. I also had a car and and drove to New Rochelle and White Plains regularly, and many of the older pictures are from that time.

A lot has changed in a year. As I inched closer and closer to Manhattan, the subjects in my pictures have changed. Pictures that I could once take during the day, I can now only take at night when the city is empty and the world feels like it’s mine.

I have more pictures coming, of the New York me I have now become. And as always, these are all original pictures I have taken as I continue to experience New York in many new ways.