14 Things I’m Giving Up in 2014

The past week has been unusually warm in Manhattan. The air feels crisp and inviting, the atmosphere of the streets lively and fresh, and the people – myself included – invigorated for a New Year. I always make resolutions and oddly enough, I do actually keep them. There’s something about January 1 that makes me feel like I get a second chance (or a 26th one…) to improve bad habits or start great ones.

In 2012, I spent a lot of time holding back and not compromising. If my friends wanted to go out, I almost always selfishly insisted on the west side so I’d have an easier commute. If I was asked out on a date by a potentially wonderful man – but he suggested the Lower East Side on a Tuesday – I would have politely declined. But in 2013, I made a vow to say “yes” more – and that’s exactly what I did:

I said “yes” to Mexico in April. I said “yes” to late nights and early mornings. Yes to training for (and completing!) a half-marathon. Yes to kissing a nameless man on the corner of West 4th at 2 a.m. Yes to walking all the way across the park with Lucy in tow to the east side to visit friends. Yes to going all the way to Brooklyn for brunch — and thoroughly enjoying myself. Yes to trips to North Carolina three times, yes to new foods and new drinks, new clothes I normally wouldn’t wear, yes, yes, yes!

But in 2013, I also said “yes” to a lot of negativity.

And even more fear. I said “yes” to those really terrible thoughts that made me feel like everything that could possibly go wrong, did. I said “yes” at the expense of myself, sometimes sacrificing what I really wanted to make someone – anyone – happy. I said “yes” to thinking the absolute worst in every situation, every person, every date that left a bad taste in my mind. I did learn how to take those chances and change my attitude, but in ways that made me stronger.. and weaker, too.

What I want the most out of 2014 is to be happy. And so many things can contribute to happiness: health, friends, career, love, travel, new experiences. I don’t want to limit myself or put pressure on a timeline, but I do want to live better. I want to live with the same kind of passion, that same drive and hopefulness that made me who I am and made me a success in New York. I miss that beat in my step, that faith in my heart, that smart, sharp, kind, enthusiastic spirit that made me feel unstoppable.

And to get that firecracker Tigar back, I need to let go of some very small and very big things that are holding me back or keeping me down. These aren’t quite resolutions – just a little guide to help me along the new journey of 2014. Because really, with some of these out-of-the-way, my resolution to be happy again, might just be a reality.

In no particular order, here are 14 things I’m giving up in 2014:

1- Duck Face
Guilty as charged: if you stalk my Instagram, you’ll see so many duck face examples, it’s quite embarrassing. Sure, it can be cute. If you’re, like, 15, not, ya know, 25.

2- Investing in People Who Don’t Invest in Me
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as an adult is that friendships change. We all expect relationships to be difficult, life-changing experiences, but friendships are that way too. Even if you’ve been friends for years or just a short period of time, if someone isn’t making your life better by being in it, then get them out. People who are worth your time, will make time to invest in you.

3- Biting My Tongue
Maybe it’s my recently damped self-confidence or just the anxiety of saying the wrong thing, but in my life and in my career, I’ve had a tendency to not say what I really think. But this year, it’s time to lean in. I can’t move up – or move forward – by being silent.

4- Hitting Snooze
I desperately want to be a morning runner but snuggling in bed with Lucy is so much nicer than a 6:30 a.m. wake up call. But think of all the time I’d have to do things post-work if I got that 3-5 miler finished before my morning coffee!

5- Having Another Drink When I Don’t Want One
Sure, Saturday nights are great for having a bit too much. But a random Wednesday? With a guy I know I will never, ever want to go out with again? Forget saving feelings or following the crowd, my liver demands better. And I’d rather have less of those paralyzing hangovers post-25.

6- Judging People For Their Choices
I try my very best to be understanding and considerate, but it’s human nature to raise an eyebrow when a friend (or even a stranger) does something that isn’t quite the route you’d take in the same situation. You can’t change people, you can only be honest and caring, and thus, changing yourself. We’re each climbing our own hill and we’ll all get to the top in our own way.

7- Forgetting to Dream
I put in the hard work to get to New York and once I landed in my little apartment with my big NBC job and my big, popular blog, I sat down. It’s time to get up. I’m not finished yet – I’m merely getting started.

8- Buying Lunch Every Day
I work in Chelsea Market. For New Yorkers, I need not say more. For everyone else: imagine every delicious, decadent, expensive food you could ever imagine – from lobster to truffle tacos – a few steps away from you every. single. day. I could save so much more money (and travel so much more often) if I could plan ahead better.

9- Keeping Up My Routine
I’m a Virgo, and I love, love, love plans. I’m often the person sending out a group e-mail, trying to get my friends on-board to a new idea. But I go back to the same restaurants. I do basically the same thing every weekend. Not anymore though: I already signed up for Italian lessons and philosophy (yes, philosophy!) lessons. Time to switch it up.

10- Using the Word “Should”
It’s a dangerous word, that one. And it creeps it’s way into every worry I have: I should make more money. I should be thinner. I should have a boyfriend by now. I should live alone at this point in my life. I should save this extra $100. I should be more responsible. The only should I’ll say this year is: I should be me, exactly how I am today.

11- Getting Angry Over Things I Can’t Control
Like a long line at Starbucks. Or train delays. Or friends bailing at the last second. Or a guy with an attitude problem. Or people who don’t agree with me. Or the fact I’ll never be a size two (this girl has hips for miles). If I can find peace in every moment, I can find peace in every outcome.

12- Mentioning the Mr’s + Relying On Tinder
I’ve wasted far too much space (in my heart and on this blog) on the Mr’s I used to love. It’s time to let go of what was so I can find what will be. The archives will always be there. On the other hand, I can’t just rely on a dating app that’s basically “hot or not” to provide me with quality dating material. Bye, bye iTunes Store dating. Hello, just getting out of the apartment and into life.

13- Focusing on What’s Hard Instead of What’s Good
If everything was smooth sailing and easy, then would I appreciate the life I’ve built? If I never had to say good-bye to a friend because they moved on their own or because they were forced? If I never had my heart-broken or my dreams crushed? If I never cried out of frustration or desperation? If I never heard really bad, scary news? Life will always have it’s hard parts, but it’s never without goodness. I just have to breathe enough to feel it.

14- Being Afraid To Do It Alone
My friends won’t always want to volunteer at the soup kitchen with me. Or go to that new pub around the corner. Or sign up for a pizza making class or join a running group. But instead of dwelling in the fear of going alone, I choose to dwell in the possibility that something really amazing can come from taking a leap of faith. After all, that’s what I used to do every single day before I developed my life here.

Surely, I can do it again. Surely, I can do it with even more courage. Surely, I can open my heart to the New Year, and the new me, that’s waiting in 2014.

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I Don’t Need an Umbrella Anymore

Though I love it when it rains in New York, I’m almost always without a umbrella.

You would think since I’m always checking the weather and I walk the dog before walking myself to work, I’d be better about grabbing one. But more often than not, I find myself staring out my desk window, willing the heavens to part the clouds just long enough for me to catch the 1 train. But the funny thing is, unless I have somewhere important to be, the subtle, often sudden, rainfall doesn’t bother me. I find it surprising, and when I just let my hair down to savor the mist, exhilarating. It makes my mind stop racing and rushing, and I enjoy the hush of the city, the splendor of a slower pace.

But on this blog — and if I’m honest, with my heart — I’m constantly sheltering myself with some sort of an umbrella, physically or emotionally. Though love looks like it trickles down steadily, and hope washes these pages and this girl, clean of our bitter stain — the truth is, I’m still kind of in hiding. I’m afraid of really getting out there. Really making a change. Really, truly, letting myself go. Letting myself grow up.

Until now.

I started this blog more than three years ago, sitting in an old Victorian tub, bathing in my own misery, wishing love would find me. Now, I’m still betting on pennies and first stars that a wonderful man is in my cards and will be part of my fate, but I’m not sad. I’m bitter at times, yes. But I’m not angry at the universe, and I certainly enjoy the independence that I have. I go from date to date, and though the terrible ones still get to me, I’m better about brushing it off and moving on, chalking it up to experience and paying my dues. I’m a bolder, brighter and (in my eyes) more beautiful woman than I was when I first scribbled this blog. I’m more accustomed to myself, far more accepting of my flaws and my freedoms, willing to take it all in stride, all with a lot of self-love.

Now, I don’t need protection or shelter, so like I usually do every day, anyway, I’m forgetting the umbrella. I’m stepping out from underneath the storm and the rain, to dance in it and eventually, enjoy the sun that comes after.

I’m kissing this beautiful city that’s brought me so much love — and all of you, who have made this blog so well-read. I hope you’ll like the new look – and the new direction of Love Addict.

Though I’ll still write confessional blogs, I’ll also show you more of the things that I love. And more of the things I’m doing and risks I’m taking that are shaping my life. So much of this blog is about love, having it, making it, getting over it, wanting it, believing in it — but even once you’ve stumbled into the person you’ll share your life with, you (hopefully) don’t stop being you. You don’t stop loving things other than that man. There are many more things I love other than men (like great food, fun travel, new restaurants, music, beauty and art!), and I want to share them.

And I want you to share your confessionals, too.

This space wouldn’t be what it is without your loyal reading and commenting and tweeting. I’m blessed that you continue to click my posts and share your thoughts, so I invite you to share them in a bigger way. (Read how here.)

Though part of me will miss the umbrella and the shower of love that layered the love addict, I think I’ll enjoy the freedom, the fresh air, and the fun that comes from letting go and starting fresh. I don’t want to shield myself from a downpour of the good stuff — the love, the trial, the hurt, the Louie Armstrong moments, the dreams, the days, and yes, the men — that make my New York life everything that it is:

Unexpected. Exhilarating. Inconvenient. Lovely. A lot like rain, a lot like me.

Again.

My first winter in New York was my favorite one. I was a few months past 22 and a few years away from being slightly hardened by the city. Then – while I was writing the inaugural posts of this blog – I was captivated by every first that I experienced:

My first time seeing snow in the city. The first time I realized I was falling in love in New York. The first time I went home for the holidays, feeling much more grown-up then I actually was. The first time it really, truly felt like Christmas and magic unfolded all around me.

Even though at the time I was actually rather miserable at my job and fighting off stomach-worry-pains over Mr. P and his fleeting fidelity, and even though I barely made any money post-taxes, there was a gentle happiness that I almost always felt. Because I was still new, because the city still had it’s freshness about it, because I knew there was still so much to accomplish and so much to achieve, so much to enjoy and so much to learn – I didn’t think too far ahead. I didn’t miss anything in my past and I though I wondered what was next, I knew I had time to make mistakes. I still had time to figure it all out and come up with an escape route or an alternative direction if I needed it. I had picked New York and yes, it had picked me right back, but I hadn’t conquered it yet. It didn’t belong to me – I was still it’s visitor, waiting to be accepted, waiting to feel like I was at home.

Three years later, Manhattan is my address. It’s where I’m registered to vote. It’s where my dentist and my dermatologist are. My home is lived in and worn, my dog leaves her paw tracks wherever she goes. My most frequently called friends live no more than a few blocks or subway rides away, and I have memories in almost every neighborhood on the island. I can get from point-A to point-B without a map (most of the time) and I have areas that I almost flat-out refuse to go to (looking at you Murray Hill). I am settled and I feel extremely comfortable on these streets, at my grocery store, at the coffee shop where the barista knows my order and invites me to her birthday party. And this winter, I saw all the sights, yet again – from the shops at Union to the skaters at Rockefeller - and though it wasn’t the same simple happiness I used to feel, it was still something.

Something older, maybe. Something jaded, just a bit. Something… new.

There has been so much change, and yet so very little change this year for me. Though I’ve loved my job, I’ve been aching for new challenges. Though I love my city, I’ve wondered what’s next and what else is out there for me to explore. Though I love my friends, we’re all on different pages and listening to different songs, trying to figure out our own quarter-life crisis without belittling each other’s. Though I love the warmth of the Upper West Side, I long for the excitement (but not the pricetag) of downtown. Though I love most of what I’ve created and discovered here, I’ve felt so incredibly bored most of 2013 that everything felt common, uninteresting, redundant.. and just so not like how it used to.

But I think that just means – finally! – I’ve arrived in New York. It’s actually my home now. My life is firmly cemented here. My roots have started to spread. Because after all of that hard work of moving here, applying wildly for a job, looking widely for a man, smiling pretty and joining clubs to find friends, locating an apartment and saving money since March of 2010…

…I get to do it all over again. And again.

And I’ve been fighting it. Hard. Because it was so much work to build friendships, to meet Mr. Possibility, to get my first job and my second one, to explore a new part of town, to find new groups and new clubs and new things to try. But I was happier when I was open. When I put myself out there and I challenged myself to do something different. When I wasn’t afraid of failure, when I wasn’t terrified that I was running out of time.

Because that is what time is: always circular, always moving, always changing. That’s the part everyone forgets to tell you: your 20s are for learning the good, hard-working skills that you’ll use the rest of your life.

You learn how to make friends so you can enrich the friendships you have, and make new ones as the old ones fall and grow apart. You learn how to find a job so you know how to hire new people, how to keep your current one and how to make a move when the time is right. You learn how to date so you know what you like and what you don’t, with the hope that someone will one day fit your bill. You learn how to cook, manage your money, manage your time, manage your expectations and everything else, so you never forget your independence.

You don’t just learn things once – you keep learning again and again so you can keep growing.

And so, even though this winter isn’t my first and won’t be my last in New York, it’s the first one in my new cycle. My new beginning in the city I fell in love with so long ago. It’s time to go back to where it all began, so I can remember how to move forward. It’s time to find that drive that made me do everything I could to get a step ahead or at least a toe into some door. It’s time to find that energy that was rich and powerful. It’s time to find that softness again that made me see the good in people, and especially in men. Especially in my friends. Especially in me. It’s time to find that beauty in the process, not in the destination.

It’s time to walk away from everything that fell apart, so I can start building an even better tomorrow… again.

The Best of the Worst Pick Up Lines From 2013

It’s true -I’m a little hard on men.

It’s not that I need a giant gesture or the perfect everything to be interested, but a clever — appropriate — message online or on an app goes a long way. Or dare I say it – in person? The easiest way for a man to steal my attention is to be sincere, say something intelligent and be a gentleman. More often than not, I’m reminded that these three things rarely coexist together – and when they do, you find one hell of a person worth going out with.

This year hasn’t been the best for dating, but it has been rather entertaining in terms of terrible, awful, no good dates — and even worse pick-up attempts. In the spirit of a New Year to come, I say let’s go out with the bad so we can bring in the great in 2014. From my experiences to yours, let’s get a final laugh at these sorry guys and move onto… the men!

My Worst Ones…
Wrong Bar, Wrong Time
While standing at a classy, expensive, upscale lounge, a well-dressed man came up to me and smiled. I smiled back, thinking he might be a good connection. He looked me up and down (blatantly) and then said, “I think we should just go ahead and fuck somewhere, let’s skip the introductions.” To which, I replied, “Hmm. I’ll pass” and ordered another glass of wine.

Ew. No Eye Contact
While staring directly at me for several minutes, sweating, he mutters: “I want to go there.” I promptly run away.

No Hot Chocolate For You
“How you doing so lonely and complaining of being cold?I am NAME and I wonder if you are ready to share a cup of hot chocolate with me….I promise I will not bite lol so don t e afraid to answer back.”

Noah is a 45-Year-Old Man in Florida Trying to Pick Up a 25-Year-Old in NYC
Message one:
“Hey, something about your profile caught my eye. I think it was the fact that you seem like you might be more three-dimensional than your photos, which appears to be a rare quality among the attractive women on this site…

Anyways, I’d like to learn more about you. I noticed you also enjoy travel, so tell me… if someone offered you an all-expense-paid trip to anywhere in the world leaving tomorrow, where would you head?

Noah”

Message two:
I realize that you’re probably in the middle of writing me a long, detailed response, but I just wanted to let you know, you don’t have to take that much time with me. You can just copy and paste one of the following:

1. Yes Noah you’re very hot, and unfortunately your email got lost in the sea of jackasses, but I would love to get together with you.

2. You’re very hot but you’re not my type, and good luck with your search.

3. I don’t think any of this is funny, and I take myself way too seriously, and I actually have to go now cause I have a therapy appointment… but yes you are very hot.

Wait, What?
“Quite shocking modesty and overwhelming eloquence apparently indicative of a fascinatingly eclectic persona… And what did you dream last Sunday by the way?”

At The End Of Our Date…
…that was going well (in my opinion), he asks: “So my place isn’t far from here, I’d really like to have sex with you.” I blankly stare back and him and say something like, “Um, I don’t think so, but thanks for the drinks.” He shrugs his shoulders and go, “Oh well, I have a date tomorrow night, too.”

Not a Chance For a Friend
After having a mediocre date with a guy, he texted me the next morning to ask me for another date. I politely respond (instead of ignoring) that I actually saw more of a friendship connection and his response: “I definitely have enough friends, but I thought you’d make a good sexual partner. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

Your Worst Ones…

Did He Really Just Say Breast Milk?
“I can see you breastfeeding my kids one day.” Fortunately, I was quick enough to come back with, “Um, I think my milk just dried up.” – Jess

Cheesy Baseball
A former baseball player came in and said “I know you can fix broken bones but do you have anything to fix a broken heart?” -Courtney, an athletic trainer

No Sir.
I was 19 years old and waiting for my flight in the Salt Lake City airport. A 40-ish year old guy sits down next to me and says, “Hi. My name is Dave. I have 6 children, am recently divorced & looking for a new wife. Are you dating anyone?” – Angela

Glove Size?
“Do you know what they say about penis length? You know that it is directly related to glove size. Check out my gloves? So what are you doing tonight?” I WISH I WERE KIDDING. -Ryn

Sexual Misconception
“I know you’re sexually attracted to me, and that’s okay because we’re human and it’s natural.” -Allison

Christmas Misfortune
“No lie, heard this from a super drunk guy who approached my group of friends one night: “I bet you taste like a candy cane on Christmas morning.” – Jennifer

Would Rather Be Lost
“Hey girls. Are you lost? I have a compass.” Said to my roommate and me shortly after moving to NYC while looking at a map, trying to find a bar that we had visited before and she wanted to return to for her birthday. Sadly… I dated that guy. His pickup lines didn’t get any better. Neither did he. Live and learn. – Whitney

Not Romantic At All
“You’re a writer? How interesting because my favorite genre is romance, and I’m looking to romance you, pretty.” Vomit. -Gigi

He Said What?
“Heyyo, how you doing? You know that if you were the gas in my butt, I would never fart for fear of losing you, cause you’re the shit.” -Danielle

Just Look at the Ring, Bud
“So, are you and your husband serious, or no?” -Nikki

Go Away Fratty
I was dancing and singing along to “I Knew You Were Trouble” with a friend at an NYU bar, when two guys managed to swoop in between us, effectively ending our dance party. “I know why you’re singing this,” one of them told me. He was cute in a preppy way, but my TSwift jams are NOT to be interrupted. “Why?” I said. “Cause you knew I was trouble when I walked in.” Dude, your shirt is from Vineyard Vines! I didn’t know frat guys were edgy now. -Carina

I Tried to Hate Christmas

It snowed for the first (real) time in New York on Saturday.

I woke up hazily hungover and tired, wondering how I’d ever make it to midtown east for Lucy’s vet appointment when my mouth still tasted like red wine. My little pup blended in with my comforter, snuggled between my feet like she likes to do, and I laid in bed, listening to the quiet. I relished in those peaceful, stolen moments before I have to force myself out of bed and into the chaos below. My room was colder than usual, only warmed by the bright white glow outside, and I opened the curtains just enough to inquire about the weather.. and there they were:

Perfect, fragile snowflakes, falling gracefully to the ground I can’t see below.

I watched them build up on the rooftops and though I’m 20 years too old to get so excited over such little things, I smiled and eagerly told Lucy it was snowing. She licked my face and went back to sleep, unimpressed and obviously not-human. I didn’t care though – I slung on my boots and dressed her in a (probably not necessary) coat and outside we went to see the snow.

As I walked down to the friendly Starbucks that lets me bring her inside when it’s cold, I kicked the snow underneath my feet and I laughed as Lucy played with it, hopping on the small piles and seeing the flakes flutter on her nose. The upper west side was alive and happy, excited for this wintery-mix that makes this dirty, darkened city seem more pure, more hopeful than before.

And like the snow lightened the push-and-the-shove of Manhattan (and Brooklyn and Queens, and maybe even New Jersey), it did the same for me. I’ve been adamantly against Christmas this year. In fact, I was so not looking forward to this time of year that I convinced myself that I wouldn’t be full of the holiday spirit, instead, I’d be a scrooge. I’d hate Christmas with all of my might.

After such a difficult year, with so much bad and so little good, why would I invest my heart and my expectations in December? Why would I think that the end of the year would be any better than the rest of it? Why waste money on decorations and holiday cards, postage and gifts, if in the end, I’d be miserably humming around a fake Christmas tree, mulling over everything I didn’t have? Over everything that didn’t happen or unfortunately did happen?

Why celebrate 2013 at all?

Maybe it was the snowflakes – or how the shift in the seasons shifted something for me, too, but I couldn’t keep my love of the holidays at bay. I couldn’t be negative about it. Even though New York and I have had our trials this year, the city wouldn’t let me forget about Christmas. Not with it’s street fairs and it’s subway performers singing “My Favorite Things.” Not with it’s lights and it’s weather, it’s people dressed in puffy coats and stockings from head-to-toe. Not with smiling kids and (surprisingly) grinning adults, even with it’s happy tourists seeing this place I call home for the first time, in the snow. Not with Macy’s windows and Fifth Avenue shops, not with splitting a bottle of wine with my friend in a cozy Parisian restaurant in the West Village. Not with all the truly magical parts of New York – from people to places and everything in between – that seem to glow with those silly white lights at this special time of year.

Though things haven’t quite gone my way and I’ve had more learning pains than triumphs this year, it only gives me better reason to show my thanks at Christmas and as 2014 begins. It might not have been the easiest of months, but they were necessary to teach me something. To be stronger and to take more chances. To believe in things that you can’t feel, see or imagine. To trust in something bigger than you, some force that you might not always believe in. To know that everything has it’s time and it’s place, that we will figure it out as we go, if we have enough hope to see it through.

I wanted to hate Christmas this year, I really did. But I don’t. I can’t. I won’t…

I sent out 50 holiday cards.

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E hosted (yet another) amazing Thanksgiving dinner.

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My friend A came to visit.

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I made a wreath (for $10!).

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My roommates put up a tree and I hung stockings.

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Lucy got a new red coat.

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And a new pillow (thanks Pottery Barn!)

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J threw quite the party with some deadly jingle juice.

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I shopped for Christmas gifts with M while looking at a lovely view.

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iVillage named me the Best Party Planner at our holiday party.

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This is my view while writing this blog.

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And best of all… my family will be here in less than a week for our very first Christmas in New York City.

I might not be exactly where I thought I’d be at the end of 2013, but I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, learning what I need to know. And maybe one day, I’ll have a Christmas with a man I love, watching the children we made open presents in a home or apartment we bought together. Maybe I’ll have the best year yet in 2014, maybe it’ll be harder than all the rest. Maybe I’ll move abroad, maybe I’ll keep falling back in love with New York.

Maybe it all doesn’t matter – as long as I’m thankful enough to realize that regardless of how it all turns out or what I have, I’m so incredibly blessed. And so very loved.

How to Be Alone

I climbed into my bed, engulfing myself in the white down comforter that I bought a year ago, feeling like I finally had the taste of an adult, buying for warmth and practicality over cheap and colorful. My iMac in one hand, my bowl of popcorn in the other, walking on my knees until I could sit them both down, I battled a minor case of Y.O.L.O while listening to the rain outside.

It was a rainy, cold Friday night in December in New York City and I was alone.

I felt the tiny draft from the tiny hole in between the window and the world, flow into my bed and freeze my bare legs, and something tiny inside of me felt a tiny pang of sadness. This is not the first time I’ve stayed home on a weekend-night instead of braving the bars and the boys, the booze and the belligerence. This is not the first time I’ve declined invites instead of accepting them. This isn’t the first time I’ve wondered if I’m actually older than what I really am, desiring relaxation over a 4 a.m. nights out more times than not. But looking around this room I’ve made a home, with it’s photos and it’s dog toys decorating every inch, I decided that maybe this difficult year has taught me something hard, but something important:

How to be alone.

I could have texted any of my many wonderful friends and I’m sure they would have wanted to grab a drink or a movie. I could have spent 10 minutes on Tinder and met someone I probably wouldn’t have liked, around the corner and made small talk enough for me not to feel totally lame. I could have gone to the gym five blocks down and ran for an hour, watching people outside run from the rain while I ran away from the pain. But no, instead, I picked Netflix and this bed, this apartment, quiet except for the sirens buzzing by on Amsterdam.

I grew up an only child, the product of a great love between a fiery Southerner and a Northerner who loved her at first sight. I was fine playing make-believe in my room or on my tree swing, floating between the bright green fields outside my backdoor and the fantasy lands I created in my ever-growing imagination. It is there in that old house that sits at the bottom of a hill I used to roll down that I first became a writer – sitting on the porch Indian-style making up stories about the life I didn’t live and the life I wanted to live many, many miles away in a city I had only been to once. I’ve always had many friends and a few best friends, but I’ve also never minded being alone.

Mostly anyway.

It wasn’t until I started middle school and felt the need to fit in – a feeling that frankly, only starts to fade in your mid-20s when you realize those who are meant to be in your life will stay in it – that I developed a fear of being alone. And it’s that fear that’s fed me ever since. I met teachers in high school who I thought were so lovely, so amazing, and yet, they had never married. In college, I met professors who experienced the same. When I first moved to New York, those who had already paid their dating dues warned me of the difficulty of finding a decent man in the concrete jungle, but I dismissed their silly precautions. A few months later, I met Mr. Possibility and believed I was one of the lucky ones who never had to deal with that messy NYC scene. A year-and-half later when we broke up, I was so frustrated by his actions and his lack of luster that I was more confident than ever that someone better, someone more loving was out there for me.

Two years and two months later, I’m still wondering where that someone might be.

And while I find myself complaining about the fact that my luck hasn’t changed in that department (and this year, in many departments) – if there’s anything that I can say with confidence, it’s that being single and better yet, deciding to be single, has taught me how to be with myself. If I wanted just any boyfriend, I would have one – but the truth is, I’d rather be alone than to be with just anyone. I’d rather choose myself than choose a dead-end relationship or a dead-beat guy or a dead look in someone’s eyes who doesn’t really love me in the way I want. Or the way I deserve.

Because even when it does all work out – as they all promise us it will one ordinarily, magical day – we will still be alone. Not in the dramatic, depressing sense of that statement, but in the way that finding the love your life doesn’t change that you still have your own life.

In the best of relationships, the healthiest of couples, you develop things outside of your one-bedroom-apartments that don’t have to do with one another. You might always come home to them, but sometimes you don’t want to because you miss that time you used to have alone. You don’t always want to be wrapped up with them in your down comforter that you used to dream of before you met them. And when you find yourself on a different page than your friends or when they move away because they have to or just because they want to, you learn to let go a little. You still depend on them, but only while depending on your ability to be without them, too. And when you have a baby, when you’re going on a few hours of sleep for months beyond end, you feel kind of alone. Trapped in this nursery, with this beautiful creature that you love, that changes everything you used to know about yourself. And when those kids grow up faster than you want them to, when they leave your home and they go off to make a new one, you feel that emptiness all over again. And when that love you wanted to find so much, has been around for 30 years, you might find yourself still happy, but lonely for your youth, for that spirit that made you feel so very much alive.

But maybe that’s why we must spend time alone when we’re young.

When we’re still impressionable and flighty, when the thought of leaving everything behind and moving abroad doesn’t seem so far-fetched. When our responsibilities are only to ourselves and to our thirst for adventure, our quest to experience it all while we’re still fresh enough to believe in splendor. When we can still get up, day after day and month after month, finding some sliver of hope to make us keep going, keep trusting, keep dreaming of what our lives will really be.

Learning how to be alone isn’t an easy fear to get over, but it’s just as important as learning how to love. Because you can’t learn how to really, really be in love until you learn how to be without any love but your own. That’s the love, that’s the place you’ll always come back to, no matter whatever else you might find.

Why Can’t Something Just Give?

My breath smelled like tortilla chips.

The cool spring air hit my back harshly, seeping right through my shiny, new (p)leather jacket. I was suddenly acutely aware of everything around me – the sound of the cars passing by on the highway, the heavy way my sunglasses pressed against my cheek, the redness of my dad’s face, the sadness in my mom’s eyes. I had already known when he told me — that’s why I had flown home with just a few weeks’ notice.  Those restless, sleepless nights where something gnawed at my stomach, urging me to see my father. When he said — with a shy grin on his face, taking a big sip of margarita — that he had colon cancer and then he had surgery to remove it — it wasn’t a surprise. It wasn’t even surprising that they waited to tell me in person because they didn’t want me to worry. Not with my big life in the big city. It still wasn’t surprising that had I not hopped a flight in late March, they would not have told me until months later when we found out if he was cancer free or needed treatment.

Even though I was not shocked, I cried at that Mexican restaurant anyway. Like I was six years old again, I crawled into my dad’s lap, careful not to rest on his scary incision and I cried. I didn’t care who was around or what our waiter must have thought about this family of three at his table. That night after everyone went to bed and yet again, I couldn’t sleep, I laid outside on our back porch, looking up at the clear blanket of stars, trying to make a bargain with God to keep him healthy. To make that cancer go away, to make all of these terrifying feelings go away. After I sobbed in only the way you can in the deep thick of the South, where no one but the tree frogs and the deer can hear you, I still wore my anger like a jacket, protecting me from the frost in the air that was making my breath white. And I asked the universe, why? Why my family? Why couldn’t something just give?

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I spent entirely too much money on this dress that no one noticed.

Well, no man anyway. It was one of those sticky summer nights where the city smells rather terrible but glows under the colorful, never-ending sunset on the river. I sat with my friends at a boat-turned restaurant called The Frying Pan, drinking Coronas and eating French fries, pretending I didn’t have to be in a bikini the next day. I smiled and laughed through our conversation, some of it intense, the rest of it meaninglessness, trying my best not to compare myself to the women I’ve grown so close to in New York. Two and then three years passed so quickly that I felt like I missed some memo, didn’t catch any boat but this boozy one, and while they all ended up in new jobs or in apartments-for-one with their boyfriends (or rather, probably the men they would marry) I was still here. Still going to the same bars and logging into the same dating sites. Still answering calls and emails from people I knew better than to entertain. Still running, maybe just in Central Park, or away from something I didn’t even know I was afraid of. As I tuned out, staring at the minimal NJ skyline, reapplying my signature red lipstick while they talked about things I tried not to be jealous of, one lady exclaimed to no one and everyone: isn’t it gorgeous tonight? I grinned and nodded, widening my eyes for effect, but inside I was asking myself, why? Why can’t something give? When will it be my turn to be excited again?

I wanted a third drink after the second, but my mind reminded me it needed to win tonight.

He sat there so casually at the tapas restaurant a few blocks from my job. I don’t know why the 25-year-old me decided it would be a brilliant idea to see my ex-boyfriend after all of this time apart, after all of those oceans that separated us helped me move on this past year. I convinced myself I needed closure while my friends tried to persuade me I didn’t, but I let him buy me dinner anyway. I tried my best to stomach my way through our small talk, growing increasingly annoyed that I was sitting across from him, feeling oddly comfortable and terribly suffocated, too. He suggested another drink, I suggested a walk on the highline. And there, watching the taxis spin and the streets glow green and then yellow and then red, I tried to ignore the bittersweet analogy those traffic lights made with our relationship. I asked him the question I needed to know, that one thing that I knew would break my heart, regardless of the answer, just so I could push myself over the edge of lingering hope. Just so I could crumble that cliff at its peak. Once we said our goodbyes – for the 100th and final time – I fled to my best friend’s Upper East Side apartment. I didn’t know if it was her hug or her big glass of red wine that make me feel instantly better, but I savored them both. She listened while I explained, she questioned when I didn’t cry and she sweetly reminded me that now is when it would be tough. I stared at my phone on the bus ride back to my apartment, deleting every trace of him from it, feeling my chest tighten and harden just a little bit, watching the buildings appear and disappear as we sped by. Why? Why does it still hurt after so much time? Why can’t something give?

It was the first email I saw on a Friday morning.

I wasn’t fully awake yet, browsing through Instagram and Twitter, when I went to check my work email and then my personal. But it was there, in black-and-white and sent from his iPhone. Deported. He’s being deported. I said it out loud, as if it wasn’t real until I heard it. As if those paragraphs from his lawyer weren’t actually fact, but fiction, an email forwarded to me as a joke, as a silly play on words that we’d laugh about together over happy hour drinks. I called him, sitting straight up in bed, placing my hand on my heart to keep it from racing. No answer. I texted furiously and as he always does, he reassured me that this was just temporary, that London isn’t quite so far, that it’ll be a nice change, that he’ll be back again. I cried in the shower, thinking of my handsome best friend, my gay husband, the first man that ever stole my attention and my love in New York. That night as I walked from Chelsea Market to his apartment, stopping to buy flowers because I didn’t know what else to bring, I tried to imagine this place without him. Without our quick trips to each other’s places, without our annual Halloween party, without his constant reassurance that my breasts are in fact perfect, without our joint costumes and weekend jaunts. I thought it was ironic that the moon was full, promising a shift in the stars, when inside all I could beg for was for something to give. Why can’t something just give?

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They called us in one-by-one.

It was like some strange twist on Noah’s Arc – there would just be a few of us who had our jobs by the end of the day. The company, my dream company, the place I looked forward to going to with people I admired greatly, was closing. Folding into another website. I was one of the ones left behind, as I watched the people I’ve worked with for two-and-a-half-years emerge from an office, holding their walking papers with brave smiles and positive attitudes, reminding me that in the midst of change, there can still be some hope. The survivor’s guilt was tremendous. My safe haven of a job, my fun day-to-day would be morphed into something entirely different, something I didn’t – and still don’t – know what will be. I sat at my desk, trying my best to relay my fear to my friends via Gchat, but the only words I could think to type were: why can’t something just give?

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The sky was so blue yesterday as I walked through the Upper West Side.

I had barely any sleep after a night out with friends from far away. I had laundry and errands to do, a dog to walk and groceries to buy, but I just wanted to take it easy. I walked down Broadway and then down Amsterdam, criss-crossing and thinking about 2013. The hell of a year that I’ve almost survived. The year that I thought would bring me love and new beginnings, but instead, it was full of painful moments and undefined changes. It helped me earn those stripes, those Lindsay Tigar-specific stripes that made me stronger. That made those stripes even thicker. But it also taught me one powerful lesson:

When you keep asking for something to give, the thing that has to give is you.

And not give up – but give in to the universe and it’s unpredictable, unimaginable ways. You have no control over many things in your life, no matter how badly you wish otherwise. So give in. Let it go. It’s all going to happen regardless – so stop asking for something to give and start living instead.

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