Tag Archives: newlyweds

Happy Newish Year! Happy Annishversary!

Oh, dear. I’ve done it again. I know, my absence has been inexcusable. I mean, we’ve been over this—you’re now all well aware of my shortcomings, my tendencies towards listlessness and USA Network original programming marathons. Let’s not dwell, okay? My therapist has that covered, which is annoying enough. When I hit upon the deep-seated feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing from which my laziness doubtless stems, I promise to keep you all in the loop. How about I make a newish year’s resolution to write more often? Like once a month, at minimum. Hold me to it, because I really need the push. So, you understand that now it’s on you and nothing is my fault if you don’t remind me sotoolatenobacksies.

Anyhoo, next Wednesday marks the one monthiversary of our FIRST ANNIVERSARY, which is when I should have written this in the first place. Pretty big deal! We’ve been married for a whole year + a month, which is nothing to sneeze at. Side note: I cannot stand it when people use “anniversary” to describe monthly and weekly landmarks. It’s not an anniversary, because it isn’t annual. It’s probably something else deriving from Latin, don’t ask me. I don’t know everything. You’re the one who insists on celebrating monthly achievements, you look it up. Okay I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be mean. Let’s make up. I drank too much wine this week, cut me some slack. The Steelers lost on Sunday, did you hear? This affects me in the sense that it affects Matt profoundly, so I kept myself preemptively sauced to deal with the storm cloud of black feelings and the sadness to end all days which settled into the apartment last Sunday night.

He was one sad monkey.

Anyhoooo, our actual anniversary date fell on the Sunday night of a three-day weekend, so being the nauseatingly romantic couple we are, we made it a regular Mardi Gras.

Friday night: we took ourselves out to Daniel using a gift certificate we’d been saving since the wedding. Highlights included too much wine followed by a mild coma, and a free dessert presented aside a life-sized, solid chocolate bust of a woman. Sorry, no photo, because I am the classy type of person who doesn’t take pictures of her food in super fancy restaurants. It’s also possible I brought my camera and was scolded by a mortified Matt when I took it out of my bag.

Saturday night: We went to a lovely wine and cheese class which was given to me as a birthday gift and conveniently fell on our anniversary weekend! Oh wait, no, we canceled last minute and stayed home and watched football.

Sunday morning: We prepared a lovely breakfast for two of mimosas, coffee, and the top layer of our wedding cake. It was delightful.

See? No joke here. Sometimes we're actually nice.

Sunday night: We stayed in and had a cozy, romantic evening. No, wait, we went out to our favorite restaurant and had a cozy, romantic evening. Oh no, I totally remember now. Matt went out for an annual guys’ dinner and I went out for the counterpart girls’ dinner, then we all met up and stayed out until 2AM. Highlights included a bouquet of anniversary flowers from one of the girls, and the revolutionary offer of simultaneous half-portions of TWO pastas when I simply couldn’t make a decision. Best waiter ever.

Honestly, my world will never be the same.

I know what you’re going to say: “Aaaw, you guys are sickeningly sweet. Gross me out.” Right? I know, we’re totally THAT couple.

Really, though, while I was happy and excited to be celebrating our first whole year of marriage, I’m a lot more annoyed that our actual nine year tally has been erased. Sure we’ve had our ups and downs this year, and in many ways we felt them more strongly given the underlying knowledge that we’re legally stuck together forever. But we’ve weathered many more difficult times by far, and that was before we had the security of a contract that can ideally only be broken by invoking the death clause. I feel a little silly putting so much importance on year one of a lifetime. And that’s another thing. Part of me feels like if we make too big a deal out of one year of marriage, what do we do with the next 50 some-odd? I’d like to imagine that the accomplishment of staying married year after year gets more impressive as time goes on. This one was kind of a gimme.

I think celebrating in our strangely disjointed and haphazard way, a portion of which was spent apart, was sort of perfect for us. Marriage isn’t hard yet, nor should it be. We’re still young and relatively unfettered by weighty responsibilities like property and child ownership. Our worries and arguments are rarely earth-shattering, and neither of us has secretly begun to wonder if the other would ever consider some minor cosmetic surgery, you know, just around the eyes. Why shouldn’t we honor that by feeling relaxed enough to have separate dinners and meet up later in a drunken group? This year already felt special just by virtue of being the first! Let’s not shoot our wad so early that we can’t make the future decades feel exceptional, too. Hooray for us! Hurrah for the Schwajaks! We are a modern couple with new ideals! We are confident and capable of a self-awareness and perspective on our lives which suggests a maturity far beyond our years! We are sometimes only okay at planning! And that’s okay!

Oh, also, we’re going to Paris in March when the weather is a little warmer. Perhaps I ought to have mentioned that.

Huzzah!

On falling off the wagon (no, not that one, I was never on that one)

Let’s play a game. It’s called: List the diets you have tried at some point in your life. I’ll go first:

  • Calorie counting (Endless possibilities, never goes out of style.)
  • Atkins (Lasted 4 days before I caved and ate a salad. I have never craved roughage so badly in my life.)
  • Grapefruit diet (Eat 2 grapefruits a day? A grapefruit for breakfast? I have no memory of what this was, only that it was as awful as it sounds.)
  • Special K diet (As it turns out, a “serving” of Special K cereal could pretty much fit in the palm of my hand. No shit you lose weight. See above: calorie counting.)
  • Slim Fast (A shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, eat your own foot out of boredom and desperation, and a sensible dinner!)
  • Peanut butter diet (No joke, you eat a tablespoon of peanut butter in between meals. As it turns out, food is an amazing appetite-suppressant!  Side note here: has anyone heard of “fullbar”? Where you eat a bar before you eat a meal and it makes you eat less at that meal because you have already eaten something? I mean, by that logic, everything is a “fullbar,” from a banana to an ice cream cone to any other snack bar by any other company. Someone, somewhere, is making actual money off of this. )
  • Cabbage soup diet (Had to be quarantined and colon very nearly exploded.)
  • Ephedrine diet pills (Starring me, in my very own version of the Jessie Spano caffeine pill freakout scene. Classic.)
  • Weight Watchers Core (I wound up eating an absurd amount of fat free cheese products and probably shaved a few years off my life in the process.)
  • Weight Watchers Points (It works, except for when I cheat all the time.)
  • Drunkorexia (This worked in college. Since then, attempting it has pretty much consistently led me to get uncontrollably hammered, inevitably ending in a 3AM pizza-binge followed by deep, deep regret.)
  • The Master Cleanse (Within 3 days, I was on the edge of madness. A bunch of really TMI stuff happened vis-a-vis the bathroom, from which I will spare you. After 10 days, I nearly cried when I took my first bite of dressing-free lettuce. A week after that, I’d gained back every ounce. Damn you, Oprah! I ought make you drink all that laxative tea I bought. That shit was expensive. Literally! Ha ha.)
  • And untold others far more fleeting even to remember, not to mention the smattering of mostly harmless and crashingly unsuccessful flirtations with your more run-of-the-mill eating disorders, as is the rite of passage of any good Westchester Jewish girl.

Actually, now that I’m rereading what I wrote, this list is way more hilariously tragic than I’d realized. There is a terrifying number of bullets up there. It’s like, a gory drive-by barrage of bullets. Especially when you consider the fact that the amount of time I’ve been truly, objectively, get-that-girl-a-pizza skinny probably accumulates to roughly six months out of my entire life.

 

Oh, goddamn it, now I want pizza.

Luckily, or rather, totally deliberately, several of those months occurred leading up to my wedding. It was always my plan and my hope that I would get in great shape and wear a smoking hot, form fitting gown. And for all the times I’d tried and failed to lose weight, or lost and then gained it back in 5 minutes, I knew I HAD to try harder for this singular event in my life. I mean, this is my WEDDING. These are photos I’ll look back on forever, and a dress I’ll only wear once! This is a day I’d fantasized about for years, and that fantasy always involved looking just fucking amazing. Call it superficial, call it shortsighted, but there is an army of angry, hungry, determined bride-orexics who can back me up on this one. The pizza could wait (Shhh, my darling, patience. You know I’d never leave you for good). There was work to be done and there was no time to slack. And you know what? I did it! I did the work and I ate mountains of tofu shirataki noodles and I didn’t starve myself but I did make it back to college-thin and I looked pretty darn good, if I may say. What I really wanted was this:

 

Person 1: Hey gang, didn't Nina look great at her wedding? People 2-4: Hm, I don't know. I thought she looked too skinny. People 5-7: I disagree, she looked terrific. {general murmuring, rutabega rutabega}

So there was that. And then it was done, and I was so sure I was going to keep the weight off for the first time in my life. I wasn’t going to let that hard work go to waste. Plus, I had just bought a whole bunch of new clothes for the honeymoon and to celebrate my awesome bridal body! I was going to stick to my hard won good habits for as long as I could. As it turns out, that number is approximately 15 hours. Upon arriving at the terminal for our flight to Argentina, I beelined it to an airport bar and ordered a cheeseburger, fries and a beer. I mean, I was on my honeymoon! I was a newlywed! I DESERVED it. And all married people let themselves go a little, right? Well, as they say, there’s no time like the present. And as they also say, a cheeseburger in the hand is worth two…in the…not…

The point is, I blew it, and I did it quick. Almost pathologically so. So quick, unfortunately, that I didn’t make the most delicious choice I could have. On the other hand, it was phenomenally greasy and fatty. And revelatory. Before the guilt had time to settle into my arteries, I realized that to attempt to maintain my wedding diet on my honeymoon—in the land of beef and wine, no less—would be both foolhardy and regrettable. So I lived it up. Ate enough chorizo and steak to last me a lifetime, and built my alcohol tolerance back up to its rightful place.

Besides, I had just worked my ass off for months. Two weeks in Argentina could hardly set me back for long. And it’s true, it didn’t. What set me back was the month post-honeymoon during which I pretended I’d never ever belonged to a gym. Also, the countless dinners out to welcome us home, during which I made excellent use of my newly redeveloped hollow leg. Not to mention the “meh, I’m married” response to most extremely momentary moments of pause at the eatey end of a forkful of pasta/cake/pizza/pizza/pizza.

Should I feel badly for Matt? It’s only been six months, and his slender bride is now…well…she’s a lot more fun, for starters. She can also beat him in an eating contest any day of the week. And really, the girl with whom he fell in love at the heady age of 19 was already a veteran yo yo dieter. I’m not letting myself go. I’m picking myself back up where I left off.

Sorry, there’s no uplifting life lesson or moment of clarity here. I’m not really going to learn anything or evolve or gain any deeper insights into my relationship with food. Now pass me that cheesecake, it’s time for my fullbar.

q.e.d.

 

 

 

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Shame on me.

Oh, dear. Dear, dear me. I haven’t posted in two months! This is terrible and shameful. I started something, I pulled you in, I got you involved, and then I just abandoned it. Or, well, paused it. Left you in the lurch. Left you on the corner in the rain. Left you with a roast in the oven and a bottle of cab decanting on the table. Oh wait, no, I’m quite sure I took the wine. Sorry, but I wouldn’t have left the wine (ref: fig. 1).

Fig. 1

But listen, it’s not like I MEANT to abandon anybody. You were always on my mind. I kept meaning to write, honest. It’s just that things get so busy! Soooooo beeeesy! There was the…hm. And that…well. Yes. Huh.

Awkward.

It just doesn't get any more awkward.

Okay? I can’t believe I posted that. Now you know how sorry I am, how shameful I feel. There you go. You’re welcome. Thanks a lot, Mom, for going along with the whole bangs decision. Could nobody have let me in on the fact that there are people whose entire lives are dedicated to eyebrow-depilation? Can we please put this behind us and move on?

Oh, great. Seriously, this is so great. I love you, too.

See? Marriage is all about patience and understanding. I’m so goddamn good at this shit! I’ve realized something, though, and this may somewhat explain my past two months of silence. The fact is that being married can be a bit…slow placid. Wedding: done. Honeymoon: done. Gifts: received, thank you’s: sent. Apartment: found, moved, furnished. I know I’ve touched on this, but what I’m talking about is not the same as post-nuptial depression. It’s not depression at all. Quite the contrary: it’s lovely. I’ve never felt so secure, so stable, so sure of myself and my future. But the thing is, it’s forever. Until death, in fact. So, basically, there’s no hurry. Nothing needs to happen right now. We have successfully progressed together, and now it’s life on the plateau for a little while. Which, in all honestly, I love. Unfortunately for all of us, I have a lazy, complacent, obese monster living inside of me. She is extremely fond of salami and cheese sandwiches and this one time? They had to cut the couch in half because it had fused to her thighs, which were covered in a thick layer of orange snack food product dust. It’s not a pretty image, I know, believe me. I rarely lose control of her. In fact, only one known picture exists:

She's losing and growing hair in ALL the wrong places

Being married has fed her while I wasn’t looking, and things got a little out of hand. The more settled I felt, the stronger she became. The stronger she became, the more episodes of Law & Order she discovered on cable. I won’t lie — it got ugly. But I’ve awoken to the situation and I won’t let it happen any longer. I’m back, and I vow to be both married AND productive.

Note to self: Do not become housewife.

Sidenote: do you know what comes up when you google image search "housewife?" People are sick.

Welcome to my closet, I live here now.

Hello, friends, readers, and friendly readers!

Isn’t it a beautiful day? Doesn’t the sky look unusually blue, the sun particularly…shiny? Don’t you just love life? Don’t you just love New York? Somehow, lately, everything seems brighter, better, happi–

What was that? Do you hear something? It sounds like…singing. Wait, I think it’s coming from my new bedroom. Yes, it’s getting louder as I near my brand new, very own, personal, nobody-can-share-it-with-me closet. It sounds like…perhaps…a choir of heavenly voices? But it’s sort of muffled. Let me just dramatically fling open this door which is mine and only mine alone…

Click here for the full effect

I wish that you could be here, too, to share and bask in this warm, golden light which emanates from within my very own closet. To be specific, by that I mean I don’t actually wish you here in person to bask with me. I was going for more of a theoretical sharing. Only I may bask. Nina’s basking only. Get your own magical closet/gateway to Heaven.

Please don’t judge me or think me selfish and rude. It’s nothing personal. But you must understand that for the last five years, Matt and I have been sharing closet space in some of the least accommodating apartments on the Northeastern seaboard.

The closet in our last place. That's the previous tenant.

I know it seems trivial and materialistic, but I can’t quite describe to you how happy it makes me to have all my clothes hanging neatly side-by-side, not smushed together or falling on the floor (or, for that matter, heaped in a mountainous piles around the bedroom). And sure, some might argue that it has never had anything to do with the space I was given and I am just a lazy, messy person prone to throwing socks on the floor while watching television. To them I would say, okay, fine, you have a point. On the other hand, get out of my house. You are forever banished from my closet and its surrounding areas. Don’t ruin this for me.

For oh, it is so much more than a sacred little room for my possessions and no one else’s. This closet represents my graduation to the part of my adulthood in which I live in a space that is both comfortable and attractive. It represents my entry into a lifestyle which easily allows me to put my skirt away at night and keep my shoes lined up and out of sight, not strewn about the apartment in the manner of a lunatic hoarder. I can invite people over without having to spend three hours cleaning and trying to stash our things in heavily abused bureau drawers, already groaning under the weight of the crap that won’t fit anywhere else. It exists in a home which I am proud to show to those I consider grown-ups, where I can be in the kitchen yet not ALSO in the bathroom. Where I can turn out the lights in one room and still read in another. Where I can say something to Matt, and he won’t necessarily be able to hear me (because he actually can’t hear me, not because he has adapted to instinctively deafen to my frequency). Where I can select a measuring cup from the cabinet without triggering an avalanche of utensils upon my head. It represents a wonderful new kind of freedom, that while I’ve committed to share the rest of my life with someone, I no longer have to share EVERYTHING else with him, too. No more waiting for him to choose a tie before I grab the jaws of life to extract a dress from its sardine-like spot on my side of the closet. No more deciding who is later for work than whom, and who gets in there first. We can dress at the same time, together, but not on top of each other! Truly, we are now separate and equal. And isn’t that what every married couple should aspire to be?

You like where I took that? Yeah. Did I mention I commandeered the entire double dresser, too?

It's mine...ALL MINE!!!!!

 

Schwajak Cagematch

So, we’re moving, and things have gotten ugly in the Schwajak household.

It is T minus two days until our big relo. Tensions are running high. The other night I found myself flinging cardboard boxes and stomping around the apartment without purpose as Matt angrily demonstrated how he had been wrapping up our mugs and how I should continue to do so (stupidly, I might add). Then we both declared our packing materials insufficient, and I decided we should instead focus on that OTHER looming task, our thank you notes. So we sat down and spent the rest of the evening irritably passing the stamps back and forth and quietly fuming at each other as we wrote. (Friends, our gratitude is no less heartfelt, I promise.)

Yesterday, we got into a fight outside our building over whether we should put the junk we’re ditching out of sight for fear of being bad neighbors (Matt), or out on the curb for the trash-pickers who might REALLY want a third-hand menorah or several extremely used curtain rods (me, obviously).

Last night I nearly lost it when I saw Matt’s old shoes sitting in a shopping bag with two brand new pairs of my pants which need tailoring. When I rescued it from the trash pile and tossed the shoes out onto the floor, we devolved into an argument over whose possessions should “find a new home.” I won based on loudness and the valid logic that my pants lived in the bag first. And also, get outta here.

Tonight, somebody will die.

Also, I will grudgingly throw away some extremely old jars of spices.

Stay tuned.

"I'm...keeping...the...HUNGARIAN PAPRIKAAAAA!!!"

Sadie, Sadie, Married Lady…Now What?

I have to say, I had a bit of a rough landing from Argentina into the Terminal of Reality (it’s actually part of JFK, across the Tarmac of Tough Luck  — you have to take a shuttle bus to get there, it’s a total bitch).

It was brilliant to leave almost zero time between the wedding and the honeymoon. It allowed us to float around in a carefree, blissfully happy bubble for a full two weeks, which felt like a lifetime. So much so that when we got home, I could not remember how to go about my ACTUAL life. I mean, I knew I did stuff. I definitely did some stuff. But when I was prompted to resume those activities — work, gym, food shopping, laundry — I really struggled to remember why, and in some cases, how. It was like I was an amnesia patient, or I’d just dropped into my own sideways reality, Lost-style.

Am I being dramatic? Maybe. Am I a whiny, spoiled brat? Hey, shut up.

The bottom line is, I clearly realized that having a wedding and going on a honeymoon weren’t going to become my permanent lifestyle. But I did allow that major event to take over my thoughts and trump all other priorities for a period of roughly 15 months. And the other part of it is, apparently that was okay with everybody else. I had a total bye during the year-plus that I was engaged. Everyone seemed to want to hear about my plans, fawned over my exciting bride-to-be-ness, and generally corroborated my harbored suspicions that I was, indeed, very special. And when we got back, well, I was just married. And what’s cool about that? Our grandparents are married.

So I’d forgotten about the mundaneness of life , I’d been demoted from “Super Special Princess Bride” to “Married,” and what’s worse, now I had no wedding left to plan! I happened to love planning our wedding. I thrived on it. As soon as we got engaged, I was transformed from a disorganized, chronically lazy person into a whirling dervish of thorough research, spreadsheets, and productivity. The honeymoon provided a welcome break from all that, but when we got back to New York and started clearing away the wedding-related detritus littering our apartment, I felt massive post-nuptial depression. I was left with nothing to do but unpack, look at wedding photos, and try to remember why I have my own office at work. (If anyone from work is reading this, I am completely back in touch with this, don’t worry). Luckily, I am a bridesmaid in 47 weddings between now and next January, so I have fully devoted myself to the practice of giving lengthy and unsolicited bridal advice. And, oh yeah, I started this blog. I’m like one of those kids who peaked in high school who spends the rest of her life attempting to recapture her glory days, only I so did not peak in high school.

Except, I can’t seem to stay focused on all that, much as I enjoy the art of complaining. The fact is, I actually love being married. Look, we’ve been together for eight years, we know each other as well as two people can know each other at our age, and our relationship was very strong before we got engaged. And yet, there is an invisible and extremely perceivable difference in the way we function as a couple now. I thought we were as solid as two people can be before the wedding. In fact, I assumed nothing would change aside from our names and bank accounts (still waiting on that one, come to think of it). But somehow, without any conscious effort on either side, we’ve synced up more, closed the gap between us a little tighter. We’re a team, we’re unified. We’re a family.

So fine, being married isn’t as fun as getting married. And working full-time and doing dishes isn’t as exciting as choosing centerpieces or traveling through South America. But it’s been a happy surprise to find out that it’s actually way more fun than being not married to each other. Which is something. Or everything.

Incidentally, to my engaged friends, I’ve photocopied my wedding binder and personalized copies for each of you according to your plans thus far. We can connect this week to set up individual meetings.

El finale: Home is where you hang your head and sigh

Okay. I have been told — and I fully realize — that I may be lingering far too long in the land of steak, wine, and dulce de leche. It’s a little self-indulgent, perhaps, and I get it! I totally do. While this armchair travel experience has been both hilariously entertaining and culturally educational for my readers, you are eager to get back to our dear homeland, where the grass is asphalt and the steak is hot dogs. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. Still amn’t. But I need to face facts and admit that we’ve actually been back in New York for the past month and a half, and no matter how hard I shut my eyes and hope against hope, the Fine Living Network isn’t calling to ask me to do an extended, intensive investigation of Argentina’s Ten Most Flamboyant and Revoltingly Luxurious Hotels.

As my grandmother used to say, here we are, so that’s where we’ll be. But before we got here, we were there: among the only hotel guests of a sprawling vineyard and resort in San Rafael, in the Mendoza (read: wine) region of Argentina. Our last three days of honeymoon bliss read like one of those ridiculous Celebrity Cruise lines commercials: we indulged in an outdoor cooking class with the hotel’s chef, I received an olive oil massage out on a patio overlooking the pool, we were given a complementary, 3-hour private wine-tasting class, and oh yeah, we had our own golf cart with which to freely explore the sprawling farm and untamed brush.

Pretty darn pretty

It was pretty perfect, in all, though the experience wasn’t without some valuable life lessons. For instance, while it may seem like too good an opportunity to pass up, one oughtn’t eat two consecutive meals featuring provoleta, chorizo, and half a bottle of wine (among other things). For if one does, one will wind up with a wretched case of “food poisoning” the day one is forced to wait 3 hours in a tiny airport and then make the 12-hour journey back to New York. And by food poisoning, I mean self-inflicted overdose, much like what would happen to a dog if you left the entire bag of kibble within reach. On the bright side, sun poisoning + food poisoning = honeymoon bingo! I win!

These plates represent the number of chorizo-topped grilled cheese blobs I consumed in a 12-hour period.

I also learned that after a 3-hour wine tasting, if one chooses to then consume half a bottle of rose poolside, one probably ought to wait a little while before jumping in and “swimming.” Didn’t my mother and camp counselors warn me about this when I was little? As it turns out, wine + pool = something of a mess, and I think I wound up consuming an equal amount of chlorinated water as I did alcohol. It was super fun, mostly because I didn’t actually drown to death!

You can't tell, but in all likelihood this book is actually upside-down.

Those sterling nuggets (ew) of wisdom aside, there was one exercise we just couldn’t master. We’d heard about how late people eat dinner in Argentina. And we tried to assimilate, tried to adjust our internal clocks and do as they did. But no matter how much effort we put into making late reservations, no matter how many times we were sure we’d gotten it right, we just kept winding up alone in restaurants. Fancy restaurants, trendy restaurants, wildly popular restaurants. We were always, always completely alone. We just could not figure it out. We’d show up at 10pm and leave at 11:30, never seeing another diner. We’d show up at 10:45pm and leave after midnight, and maybe catch a glimpse of an honest-to-god Argentinean couple sauntering in with a bright-eyed toddler in tow. At first, it was kind of nice. Two newlyweds, oblivious to others around us, absorbed in each other and our food and wine. No obnoxious table-neighbors drowning out our conversation, no competition for the water guy. But after the first couple of evenings like that, we both realized how awkward and uncomfortable it felt to be sitting in a big, empty establishment, with one guy waiting on us and the rest of the waiters milling around. Or worse, all of them serving us at once — sometimes we’d have a bread guy, a wine pourer, a water-glass-filler AND a crumber, all in addition to our server. Occasionally, there would be another family or couple seated, and we would perk up. Perhaps we’d cracked the code and been tacitly welcomed into the Forbidden City! But inevitably, within minutes their loud, American voices would reverberate across the room, serving as a sharp and shameful reminder of our lame tourist status, broadcasting our loserdom in our own heads. We are those travelers who really like to think we’re cooler and smarter and more sophisticated than your average Ugly American. I mean, we’re worldly, we’re from New York, we dig the restaurant scene, we’ve even been known to hang out at a hip bar or two. But throughout the entire country of Argentina, we may as well have been clipping coupons out of The Pennysaver for the early bird special. As silly as it sounds, it was humbling, but more than that it was just sort of frustrating. It was like all the Argentinians had conspired together to stay hidden until we were safely on the way back to our hotel. If only I’d looked in that urn by the bathroom.

Here’s the thing of it: Matt and I loved being on vacation together. We hardly fought, we typically wanted to do all the same things, got hungry around the same time, even our sleep cycles managed to sync up. But even traveling as a team, as closely knit as they come, being in a foreign country can feel very lonely. And when it seems like everyone is somewhere you will never find, it only heightens your sense of being an outsider. I’m aware that many people would pay for the privilege of emptying out a beautiful restaurant. But if I’m out in the world, I want the other residents to show their faces and be there with me.

So that brings us, inexorably, to the island of Manhattan. I’m back to spending my days elbow to elbow with far too many people. They cram onto the subway platforms, angling for a straight shot at the doors with no intention of letting people out of the car first; they dodge and weave aggressively around one another on the sidewalks; they groan and sigh loudly when a tourist takes too long making a decision at Cosi; they’re rude to customer service professionals and fiercely territorial at restaurants and bars. They’re loud, mean, impatient, entitled, and competitive, and they’re everywhere, all the time.

I guess it’s sort of nice to be home, jerks.

Fine Living Network, I work cheap.