does soon mean not now?

Vera Wang Luxe Gown
(This is my wedding dress, never worn, marriage numero uno. Yes, I still own it)

"I’m giving you a shelf life," I said knowing he’d think it was an ultimatum. 
"Great, when do I expire, in 2010 with your Pamprin?" 
"No, I’m giving you a shelf not an expiration."  He told me it was more like a life sentence with his silence.  "Or not."

It’s one thing when you leave a toothbrush and a bottle of hair gel at his place.  He can claim they’re his if anyone asks.  The tampons take things to a girl level he might have a harder time explaining to another female guest.  No one believes he’s keeping that shit under the bathroom sink for when his sister visits.  It’s called a travel bag; we’re sure she has one.  So please.  It’s quite another when it’s your clothing, things you’ll want back if it ends.  Because with these items come arrangements and explanations to doormen.  It’s safe when there’s nothing to leave behind, in case you are.

I have a friend who would only allow her boyfriend a Henri Bendel shopping bag, the small kind you’d get if you purchased a hand cream or scarf.  "Whatever you can fit in the bag," she warned, "nothing more.  There’s just not enough room."  She meant in her life for him, not square footage.  She still missed him once it was over, but there was less to carry on without.
I’d make room in the bathroom for his shaving cream and saline solution, sure a toothbrush and Aveda pomade.  All of it could have been mine, and if we ended, he could buy new.  That was the replaceable in us.  Finding space in my armoire would be a battle.  With myself.  I think the comfort of a living partner comes in waves like pain or excitement. 

I had to move out, look for a new smaller apartment I could afford, then pay $8000 to a broker who basically did little more than put a key in a door.  Packing tape.  Clutter.  Paint.  Moving is on the top ten list of stress inducers, in part because it involves moving out, leaving a life that seemed to fit for some time.  But now it doesn’t. 

Once the place was finally mine, I cried; I didn’t know their flavor.  I was excited I didn’t need to stock wheels of tuna fish in my cabinets, but I was full of miss, wishing someone were there to use the other half of the bed, the closet, my life.  I regretted the times I’d complained about his underwear on the floor.  If I could grab the complaints back, maybe it would afford us more time, crawling into bed with him, telling stories of our someday beneath a top sheet.  Instead, I would move forward with another relationship. With a someone. Because, more than anything, I wanted another relationship to fill what was missing.  Me. 

Then that relationship ends because I was repeating all my same behaviors, this time with an opposite of the last guy.  He wasn’t the answer.  I was.  So, bring out the Hefty bags.  I needed to trash the items I could, the ones that reminded me, I was an "us."  The back of my closet has his photograph, the little notes he left for me around the apartment, the ones with words like "forever."  The comfort of having a living partner materialized from what was missing, what felt really right, but really wasn’t.

I began to use the whole bed, falling asleep with a movie, not worried Linus would bite someone in the middle of the night.  I was happy in my space.  There’s no room in this apartment for anything more.  Really, look.  But that’s not really the issue.  It never is. I might as well have said, "soon." 
Soon means "not now."  There’s no space for a baby, but soon, when raises come, when the house is sold, once I settle into this new position.  I’ll start again on Monday.  In the suburbs, once the kids are out of the house.  I promise.  There’s not enough time right now.  For you. For more.  But soon.  You’ll see. Baby, I promise.  Soon.
"Soon" is short for "someday;" it’s a wake for possibility.  As long as everything becomes an excuse, someday stays where it is; it’s always soon.  We make space in our lives for what matters, now.  Not in promises and soons, but on mantels with sterling frames, in shelves we clear to make room for our now.  Everything else is talk. 
"The shelf is there when you’re ready for it.  It just might not expire."
"Great, see you soon."



  1. Very thoughtful. I'm young, so I haven't had the dating experience to have figured out the conclusions you've come to. But what you said makes great sense to me, psychologically.

    It made me think about the so-call high school sweetheart of mine, and how I didn't even keep a picture of him in my room, despite sleeping with him.

  2. This post reminds me of the SATC episode where Carrie keeps trying to leave little momentos at Big's apartment and he brings them back to her in a neat little bag. Hair drier, tampons, etc. etc. At the end, she finds a picture of the two of them stuffed into his drawer and realizes she doesn't have to leave anything behind because she is "already there". If this was written in past tense one would suspect you already leaned that lesson. If it pertains to a current dating dilema, good luck — it's a definate turning point in every adult relationship.

  3. I'm a new reader, a woman a little older than you (34) and a dater, who (mistakenly) moved from NY to LA a year and a half ago for a guy. A relationship that effectively ended when we landed at LAX. Needless to say, I've been somewhat traumatized, but more so about missing NY than the end of the relationship. NY was always a better boyfriend than he was.

    Anyway — at the risk of seeming corny — your writing comforts me. I mean, it has actually helped! Not only do I get fond memories of NY, but I'm comforted by the fact that you admit to feelings that I have when I'm lying in bed with my version of Linus (Chester the Cat).

    Your writing is so good, I find myself (a voracious reader) wondering what books you appreciate…in searching some of your previous posts, I noticed that you were looking for books for a book club. May I suggest: (1) Random Family, by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2) The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel, (3) Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison…at least, these are the ones I can think of on west coast time.

    I can't wait for your book.

  4. I think too many people promise 'forever', when in fact, nothing is forever, or promised for that matter. My ex-girlfriend always used the term 'forever', are we together still? No. I remember packing all her toiletries in my bathroom, making room in my closet and drawers for her 'stay over' clothes, and making room for her dog- and kept dog treats and food for the pup. It's sad when any relationship doesn't work out, and this post hit me hard. I just hear those words echo in my head, "I want to be with you forever." "Forever". Sometimes I even get upset over it…even angry. Anger is never good, so when a promise is broken, it can be devistating. Crushed hopes and dreams that simply go down the drain.

    I love your idea. "Soon"… It's real. Thanks for posting this.

    Living in the moment and enjoying one another's time 'now' is all we can do. No one can predict the future, unless, of course you're Sylvia Browne. That's a whole other blog. *blah*

    Great blog!

  5. "I'm getting a divorce," I said. "So am I," he said. Four years and a broken heart later, I was and he wasn't. Lesson learned.

  6. Forever has always ben a frightening word for me. In fact, the last time that word was said to me by a woman who used it in a phrase regarding "us"…24 hours later she ran away, scared and afraid of what she said to me. No explaination, just departure from my life. Forever is far more permanent than love. Contrary to fairy tales, love can die. Forever is infinite in its reality. However, when forever depends on an opinion or a heart that can change direction, it loses all permanence and lots of its meaning. I've sat up nights wondering if its cruelty to use such a term and then turn your back on it. Then I bring myself out o the philosophical world and back to what is real. Hugging my parents, a laugh with my oldest and dearest friends, the recorded sounds of Kenny Burrell's guitar. None of this involves forever, but its all real. My parents wont be here forever, nor will my friends. My hearing can go tomorrow, and I can no longer hear the sounds I love. But they are all here, right now. There are two things you can do for your future…make smart investments and don't smoke. The old Chinese proverb says "Dignity and self-reliance". Go with it…

  7. I try not to offer people the platitudes of "forever" and "always" because I understand too well how life and circumstances can intervene. Am I a fatalist because I'll say things like "as long as I'm able" or "as long as I can", knowing that ability and choice can give you an exit clause? I'm twenty-five years old, now three years removed from the death of my own "forever". Let "soon" be "now". Don't wait.

  8. Forever only comes into play, (or at least theoretically), when the ring is slipped on the finger. Not a promise ring, but a ring with carats .
    (Must be ABOVE a .05 carat weight.) Anything less is just wrong.

  9. I've had two women in my life who've received a "shelf life", but in both their cases, there was an expiration date. One just came up the other day coincidentally.

  10. I also "got" the apartment, and she moved out. Good fucking riddance. I thought that remaining in the apartment would expose me to ghosts of the marriage. It's really no big deal. When I find something like a picture, I toss it and move on. When I find something like tampons, it is a further reminder of what a bitch she was.

  11. I just got a shelf life — actually more. I picked up my life and moved 528 miles south, much too far below the Mason Dixon line than I thought I would ever live, because he promised me forever.

    As I unpacked my entire life, all of which comforably filled half of a ten foot U-Haul truck, and tried to make them fit into his seemingly complete life, I realized moving in together was more than sharing a bed and closet space. We now shared our lives. A thought that scared me, scares me. But not sharing my life with him is worse.

    So I'll live with all of the "what if's" that climb in to my head for as long as "forever" lasts.

  12. I think y'all need to reconsider the word 'forever'. It just seems to me that some of you think that the mention of this word somehow guarantees that whatever is promised will never end. It's impossible to guarantee anything. the only promise that this word should imply is they the person wants it to last forever. It certainly doesn't guarantee that, if their partner does every single wrong thing that they can think of, they will continue to come back. You wouldn't, you shouldn't, and they wouldn't and they shouldn't.

  13. I don't think any couple, even people who genuinely love each other, really needs to say the words "forever" or "always" to each other. When you know, you just know. Those words are reserved for cheesy "soft rock" tearjerker love songs, which generally have no basis in reality. To give another example, I also do not think any couple should tattoo each others' names on themselves. It implies stagnation at a reached destination, rather than two explorers on a continuous lifelong journey together, which is what a real relationship is.

  14. This weekend I cleaned out my closet. Something I would normally never miss a girl's brunch and a go-go dance lesson for but I wanted to make room- room for my new life.

    I organized all my clothes. Bras and underwear, lingerie, swimsuits, work shirts and suits.

    I placed his clothing on the right-side towards the back. It seemed to be in the way of my order. I moved his articles on the left-side of the closet- on the other side of the free hangers. Didn't feel right either- there was a separation between my clothes and the limp hangers that just hung, waiting as I had done for him. I decided he belonged in the back on the left.

    He fits there. It is where my clothes end, behind the fancy dresses that impressed all the wrong guys, and his t-shirts begin.

    This morning he left and also left behind two t-shirts, one pair of khakis and two sets of boxers. I guess I finally found the perfect place.

  15. I just moved in , having read about your blog in a magazine back in greece . It actually seems to be interesting to look into someones life so i ll stick with it . Talking about shelves now , the most critical personal object than never , ever has to be found on a bachelors shelf is the toothbrush . Diving into a mans brain you ll easily find out that (mis)placement of a toothbrush is one tiny step before the wedding ring
    See you around

  16. when you are cropping your paunchy gut and dimpled rump out of your photos does your mind ever drift to the plight of others? say children of sudan or the thousands of innocents being slaughtered in Iraq? I mean it must be exhausting thinking of ways to fulfill your insatiable gut and poosy 24/7. Also, please give us hicks, err, your fan base, some media biz insight. do publishers just throw money at a slew of 20-30 something trainwrecks willing to prostitute themselves in hopes that a few will be mildly interesting and thereby commercially viable?

    lastly, since you claim to be miss truthful please update us on your weight and cup size. or, more interesting, how bout a reader contest? Me first: 142 lbs and B cup,

  17. Did I read correctly that there will be time, room, space on a shelf for someone in your life…..soon? A baby, roommate or significant other? How could that be? There seems scarcely room to breath anywhere near you. Your space is so filled with YOU!

    I appreciate that it's "your" blog and "your" life stories. It just seems a bit too self involved. I've read once or twice that you are on a quest for a relationship. One that is meaningful and will stand the test of time. I feel that perhaps you must move some of you out, in order for that someone to move in.

    Just a suggestion.

  18. hater, didn't your mother ever tell you to stop making such a face; it might freeze that way.

  19. There should be no space for nasty comments- only praise or constructive criticism. Stephanie, stop indulging these angry, abusive readers who attack you personally. Please hit DELETE!

  20. as yes .. the days when, as a single man in the great gotham… a drawer here, a shelf there.. coincidently, a drawer of mine to share, bathroom space, as limited as it was.. ceded to my current.. tampons ?? conditioner ?? nail polish remover ?? make-up remover ?? what were these foreign products doing in my..MY.. space.. suffice to say, it later became our space and then her space.. my little black bag of razors, after-shave, deodorant and nail clippers.. ever so small.. ever so portable.. ever more so

  21. Out here in the west the Mexicans have the perfect word for your use of 'soon'. The simple statement 'manyana'.

  22. The razor he left behind was a bitter little remnant of memory. I hid it on a shelf I couldn't see so I wouldn't have to remember when he used it every morning in front of my mirror.

    But now my razor is on the shelf of someone new in another little New York apartment and I was glad to have that little remnant to make my legs smooth this morning. That's when you realize that the only difference between "Mach3" and "Venus" is the color of the plastic and the angle of the marketing campaign.

  23. This piece jumps around in time more than Bruce Willis in "12 Monkeys": The first paragraph quotes a conversation from a specific past relationship. The next paragraph is a generality. Then a vignette from a friend. Then some thoughts in the subjunctive mood ("would"). Then some past, some subjunctive, some progression in time, and a paragraph written in the present tense ("…this relationship ends…") that I think refers to the boyfriend after the one in the first paragraph. Finally, into imagined future. Nothing about TODAY. The ending: Is that something you said, or something you wish you'd said? To which boyfriend? Help, I've got vertigo!

    Which all begs the question: Is your intent to make this blog just a stream-of-consciousness diary, or does it purport to contain crafted writing?

    And by the way, Regina, there is a difference between "small bag" and "Henri Bendel bag": the latter is generally better writing.

    Self-indulgence is forgiven if the writing is good. That's how SATC survived and thrived. Consider this constructive criticism from a fan. Your last piece, "play" was so good. I know you have it in you.


  24. forever doesn't exist. but we can make soon happen, well, sooner or better yet, now.
    thanks. I'm going to work on my soons.

  25. "I began to use the whole bed, falling asleep with a movie, not worried Linus would bite someone in the middle of the night."

    Seriously? Aren't you concerned about this behavior? If not, you should be- that dog is a lawsuit waiting to happen (as well as significant injury for some unlucky guy) if you don't take it to obedience class.

  26. I, for one, immensely enjoyed this entry. Especially hearing 'soon' coming out of the mouths of family and exes–and, of course, being continually disappointed with the end result. 'Soon' is a staller meaning to appease the hopeful party and maybe even yourself.

    As for pig hater and Rene, I doubt this blog was meant to discuss the issues in Sudan. I would guess it's cathartic and supposed to be about Stephanie's life and experiences. That's typically what blogs are.

  27. Forever is a ghost that haunts everybody. I lost my forever a few months ago, and forever is the space that fills up friday and saturdays, out on the little town, when everybody knows you and where you've been, and forever is the thought in your head when you have to tell your friends, "We just weren't meant to be". Forever is the "tagging" that she left in my car-a lighter for those obnoxious 120's, a cheap pair of sunglasses for those times that she forgets the good ones, and a picture of the two of us when we were happy. Tagging her forever, making it my never, making sure that any possible date who may be in my car would see that I once was happy with someone else.

    Forever? You can reheat the dish, but it doesn't warm well in the microwave. So from now on, if you don't mean it, neither do I.

    Call me bitter, call me callus, call me cold, but don't call me satisfied with the mediocre anymore. Thanks for the great post Stephanie.

  28. God forbid someone tell the great stephanie klein that she's something other than wonderful. It might pop the huge ego balloon. All we'll hear is a loud rush of hot air. Oh, wait, that wouldn't change anything.

  29. There's a stark contrast in the dichotomy of square footage and an Henri Bendel shopping bag and the complete vs. complement theory. It's always nice to have someone to occupy the other half of the bed, yet it's always a problem when there's underwear on the floor to complain about.

    The grass is always greener.

    Great stuff.

  30. Sharing my mindPictures.. all by myself in Urbino (I)..
    and a song..

    "Il cielo è fosforo
    La terra è cenere
    Sferraglia celere
    Il treno e va
    Sui batimenti
    Va la fanfara
    La terra implora
    Un altro brindisi"

  31. Spell check, my dear. "Incase" is NEVER one word. It's "in case." Two words. Always.

  32. Pig hater rocks! Thanks for saying what I've been thinking. My guess is that when one's first book is an autobiography, there's nothing left to say in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th book. SK, don't be so quick to quit yer day job.

  33. Stephanie: you can write. Man, you can write. Thank you. Alan from Harrisburg might be wrong about this post jumping around in time. It does, but perhaps it was meant to: the pressing in of the past on your memory, or of the unexpected appearance of a photo of a old beau, on a new life, a new apt. The intersection of these in your mind and life at times is turbulent. As SK seems to put it, soon is a condemnation of your present self because it is a weak promise of the future. Jump around? Welcome to life! (respectfully), DB

    What might have been and what has been
    Point to one end, which is always present.
    Footfalls echo in the memory
    Down the passage which we did not take
    Towards the door we never opened
    Into the rose-garden. My words echo
    Thus, in your mind.
    TS Eliot, Burnt Norton (Four Quartets)

  34. Time and Space

    I guess everyone somewhat looks for 'forever' in that next go round.

    If you have thoughts of the "forever" from the past. Maybe your not ready? Maybe your not past yesterday?

    I believe that one has to be willing to let 'forever' happen. "Forever happens one day at a time." Hard to promise something you build together.

    On a different note, I identify with your want of sharing your "time and space" with someone. Cold feet and the warm side of the bed syndrome. 'Moving on' has it's supply and demand sides. You miss the supply of the filled void in your life, but then again, don't really miss the demands that were levied upon you. Double-edged sword.

    Things being what they are in relationships, the 'soon' can be scared off with the 'forever'.

    I really enjoy your blog.

  35. "when you are cropping your paunchy gut and dimpled rump out of your photos does your mind ever drift to the plight of others? say children of sudan or the thousands of innocents being slaughtered in Iraq?"


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