Happy After Him

Not everyone has the luxury of their exes going to Singapore and France for a year.

But I do.

It had been many months of silence between Mr. Possibility and I, when last Sunday I received an email at 9 a.m. I wasn’t yet awake when I read it for the first time, and it was only when I dreamt about Mr. P until noon, that I realized it was real, not something my hungover-self imagined.

The email was short and sweet, saying everything I’ve needed to hear since we broke up. It’s true that people can surprise you, and for the first time, maybe ever, Mr. P did just that. Before getting up to greet the day, I probably read those five paragraphs a dozen times — savoring the sincerity and feeling so happy that while it absolutley touched my heart…

… it didn’t break it. Instead of those old, familiar feelings of longing, I felt something else: closure.

It’s an odd word and odd thing to request of someone you used to be with, but it’s something we all wished we could have more of. Some of my friends don’t believe it’s important to make amends, others are convinced no story ever has an official end, that as long as we’re open to something — or rather, someone — then anything can come to be.

I think more along the lines of: tie-a-pretty-bow around everything and make sure everyone is happy with the outcome and has warm, loving feelings and memories from the time we spent together. I’m obviously the least realistic in my views about breakups, hence why most of them don’t stick for the first few months and why I usually end up disappointed — again and again — by someone who I broke up with for… well, continually disappointing me.

Shocking, right?

While I’ve dated other people and forgiven Mr. P — I never felt like he gave me the things, the words I needed to completely move on. It’s not his responsibility, I realize, it’s totally mine– but yet, I hoped one day, he’d come around and see things differently.

And just like that, with his passport ready to go, he did.

I spent a good portion of the day mulling over the email, trying to figure out if I should respond, opening myself up to a possible downward spiral of bad decisions or if I should just take the letter for what it’s worth and cherish it. I didn’t want to get back into a mess I worked so (incredibly!) hard to get myself out of. But on the other hand– I knew I’d regret it if something happened to him on his overseas educational excursion and I never thanked him or told him goodbye.

And so, standing on one foot, baking cupcakes and trying to get my senses about me, I called a number I wish I didn’t have memorized.

He left on Saturday and he won’t be back until next summer. With him goes a piece of my heart, just like pieces are still in North Carolina from past loves. I said a prayer to keep him safe while finds the person he’s been trying to find for nearly 32 years… and then I felt a tremendous weight lift off of me. I felt freedom.

The city is mine again. There are no opportunities to run into him, perhaps with a new girl he’s seeing, at some place we both happen to like. There is no late night drunken temptations to fight when loneliness wins over logic. There is no way to go backwards when the past is so far away, you can’t hop on the subway to see it. There is no need to wonder if it’s the end when the only thing ahead is tomorrow. There is no questioning what could have been or should have been or will be, when I can actually see our lives going in different directions. Him to faraway schools and places, me to the job I love and city that loves me.

Because I’m overly romantic for my own good, I went to Bryant Park — a place that holds so many memories between Mr. P and I. It’s the place we had out first date — which was meant to be a quick
coffee and turned into a six-hour conversation followed by Chinese food. It’s where he took me, six months after that day, when it was absolutely freezing and I only stopped complaining about wanting to go inside when he spun me around, dipped and kissed me and said: “It’s been six months today.” It’s the place we went ice skating and drank hot chocolate together, the place he laid his head in my lap in the grass while we both read our news source of choice and kissed me in between pages. It’s the place I always thought he’d propose, if our relationship ever grew to that, if he could ever open his heart wide enough to let me in.

For a long time, even nearly a year after we have been broken up, Bryant Park was a difficult place for me to go. It reminded me of the love that went wrong, the foolish mistake I made of hanging on for far too long. It reminded me of everything I loved and hated about Mr P, and how I was convinced our memories in this park meant far more to me than they ever did to him.

And those same feelings came rushing back when I set foot yesterday. But instead of being bittersweet, painful memories– they were happy ones. Loving ones. They were memories I shared with a man who made a big impact on my life, who showed me that I really can love unconditionally. They remind me of the smile I used to love to watch, and the intimate moments and conversations we shared in this NYC landmark. They reminded me of the very first love I found in this city, and made me excited about the next. They reminded me that I meant something to someone, something more than he ever let me know until recently. They reminded me that while only one love truly last forever, the ones before still have significance.

They reminded me of the man who is now far away, much like he always was in some way, that while he couldn’t be how he wanted or how I needed, he did love the best he could. He says he doesn’t read this blog anymore — he wanted to give me privacy to sort through my emotions how I do best — but if he happens to stumble across this one, I hope he knows I wish for him the same thing I’ve always wished for him: happiness. Because after a long time, after lots of wondering and pain, he’s finally help me find my happy after him.

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A Love Affair Down There

If you ask my friend N – a lovely woman with an unstoppable drive and unconditional heart – what her first memory of me was, it isn’t exactly what you’d expect. As her editor at the college newspaper, I once stated in an overly-girly fashion that my favorite color was cervix pink. Yeah, you read that correctly – cervix, as in the lower part of my uterus. Rightfully shocked and bewildered by my preference, she questioned how I knew what it looked like and the story goes a little something like this:

During a pap smear  in college, as I laid spread uncomfortably in front of the campus gyno and her nurse, my eyes shut in an effort to relax in such a compromising position, I was told to take a deep breath in. As I always do in the presence of a doctor or someone who has my vulnerability in the palm of their hand or strangely close to their face, I listened and breathed slowly and surely, as an icy-silver tool made its way inside. A few moments later, the chipper gyno with far too much blush asked “Would you like to see your cervix?”

I instantly opened my eyes and was blinded by the unflattering flourescent lighting and as I blinked to adjust my vision, the nurse smiled at me and encouraged, “You should look. It is fascinating.” Rather confused by what they were offering me – I had no idea I could see that far into my vagina – I whispered in agreement. Probably having shown hundreds of university women their most private of areas, the gyno pulled out a mirror and instructed me to lean slightly to the right to see. It wasn’t a Charlotte-falling-off-of-her-bed situation, but what I saw such a lovely shade of pink that I can’t describe other than, well what it is: cervix pink.

And it was in that five-minute span, at 19-years-old that my love affair with myself…down there…began.

Sure, I’ve always know my female anatomy since inquiring about the difference between boys and girls as a child, where my mother sweetly showed me a visual diagram that haunted me for years. I remember the first discovery of pubic hair in the bathtub and I’m not sure if I was more surprised or my father was more upset when he was informed I was starting the hell of adolescence at the tender age of 10. I was unsure of what to do with my newfound figure, how to dress it, and how to own it – and as my body has adapted to each fluctuation of size and shape, I’ve had to redesign my wardrobe and my mentality. When I became sexually active, my lady parts (or whatever you’d like to call them) took on a new meaning – a place not to be hidden underneath those fancy thongs my mother despised – but a garden of pleasure. Even if it would be several years before I experienced what true ecstasy feels like with a real man and not a high school quarterback – or should I say jack hammer?

The older I got and the more my look shifted from child to adult – the more in love I fell with being a woman. This love translated into a genuine investment in women’s interests and studies. And while this blog may not illustrate my convictions and clips about women’s rights internationally and stateside, college was spent working toward a minor in sociology of women and writing columns about suffrage and dissing Sarah Palin – among many other things. I had the opportunity to meet Gloria Steinem and help with The Vagina Monologues, as well as the Women’s Leadership Conference, and all of these experiences have shaped my feminist views (more on feminism on Sunday).

While I already had what I thought was a pretty solid, yet liberal, perspective on sex and a woman’s right to be and to sleep with whoever she’d like (and not be labeled things like ‘slut’ or ‘whore’ when her male counterpart is simply applauded for his conquests) – I didn’t start to liberate myself until I moved here.

You see, New York women are a phenomenally fabulous different breed. They don’t make excuses for their numbers (if they know them). They don’t think twice about having a lover for explosive sex, not for making commitments and babies. They celebrate their vaginas in ways a Southerner would see as a luxury – laser treatments, waxing, and specialty products for that region. They buy expensive silk lingerie to wear under a suit, with or without intending on someone ripping their hosiery. They don’t ask permission from their friends or from the heavens to have a damn good orgasm and if they’re with someone who isn’t performing or stimulating, they aren’t afraid to walk away.

They don’t talk about their sexuality because it isn’t something that’s up for negotiation.  It is just part of who they are, plain and simple. Their choices in the bedroom (or the elevator or the bathroom of a fancy restaurant) belong to them and they aren’t afraid to talk about it. They treat their bodies and especially their own personal lady, with respect and care, and when a visitor visits them – they ensure they’re the ones in control, exuding independence and power to make a sexually-charged decision.

Sure, I’m stereotyping women based on their address, but generally speaking, mating in New York is just as much a woman’s game as it is a man’s – and to be frank, it’s less of a strategy for women, we tend to hold the cards anyways. And when we decide to play our hand, we play it very well, even if we refuse to put on a poker face because faking just isn’t acceptable anymore. If you continuously have to fake, he has to break – life is too short to have mediocre sex. And truth be told – the man isn’t even the important part – it is your parts – it is impossible to love yourself or to find love if you don’t accept your body, and yes, your vagina, as the beautiful, radiating thing it is.

While I’ll never reveal my own modest number,  I will also never be afraid of my confidence and my thankfulness in being a woman. My favorite color may not be cervix pink anymore, but I’ve grown accustomed to treating myself and my possibilities to the pampering we deserve. No budget too small or excuse acceptable.

And so, as I walked toward the flat iron building yesterday, following my second incredible Brazilian wax at Completely Bare, and a bystander called out “Girl, you’re so fine” to me – I couldn’t help but think if he only knew what was underneath this Steve Madden trenchcoat, he’d be speechless.

PS: Check out Completely Bare’s product line. I especially like the Bikini Bump Blaster, the Completely Smooth for Body, and the Model Tan. 

You Probably Think This Post is About You

I’m overly analytic of nearly everything in my life, which is probably the reason why I’ve been able to consecutively blog for such a long time. My friends always comment on how they’re amazed how a single moment can cause me to spew a 1,000 word post in twenty minutes. I can’t explain it other than I feel like I was born to write because it comes easier to me than anything else and I’m lucky to have it as my day and night job.

So, with idle time this weekend after finally finding the perfect apartment for me (more details to come), I spent some time in the back-end of this blog, figuring out what I could about the people who visit and the readers who comment. Always interested to see what works and what doesn’t, I went through the posts to see what topped the list. As trite and overly cliché as it seems, I was under the impression that the most read and most liked daily journals would be the ones I considered empowering and demanding. The ones that slap you in the face with their boldness and their dedication to being fiercely single and satisfied. The posts that I wrote when I felt completely content being alone and celebrated the fact that any opportunity was around the corner, and if it wasn’t, I was more than okay stomping to the beat of my own Louies, while telling the man of the hour or the man of forever to hell with himself.

And as I usually am when I think I’m right about something – I was totally wrong.

Apart from the blog that made it to the homepage of WordPress (and is primarily the reason many of you are reading), “Frankly, I Do Give a Damn” – the most read posts have to do with one thing and one thing only: Mr. Possibility.

This discovery not only annoyed me but confused me: why is he the breakout star of my blog? Why do I receive more traffic when I write something about what he does or how I feel about him? Why does he matter so much in a space that’s supposed to be about declaring independence and breaking away from whatever bounds restrict us to the need to feel completed by a dude? In a blog that’s about the journey to learning to love myself, why is everyone so concerned with who I possibly could be falling for? Why does Mr. Possibility get all the attention?

Equally intrigued and irritated, I painstakingly went back through all of the top 20 posts, 13 of which mentioned, referred or described Mr. Possibility in some fashion, and re-read them. I looked for trending topics and themes, the style of writing and the language I used. I tried to pinpoint my tone or the overall conclusion I reached by the end of the topic-of-the-day. I read through comments, I checked the links I linked to, and even Gchatted a few friends to see if they would join me in my rather unimportant research.

Could it be that everyone loves a love story? I suppose if there was a “Mr. Big” of the blog, Mr. Possibility would hold that title. We did see a Broadway show starring Chris Noth, so maybe that analogy isn’t so far-fetched. Nevertheless, is it the possibility that something more could unfold, that I could find happiness in romantic love while blogging the e-pages of the endless tangled web of WordPress? Is it the ups and the downs we’ve experienced, the drama that’s unnecessarily unfolded, and the fact that the ending is undetermined as happily ever or undefined? Is it that we relate to a character who shows promise, who grows on us, who we give a second chance to, or even just a first if we’re so jaded that we often refuse to give anyone a window into our hearts? Is it from the lovers who want to see love, or the haters who would like to see me crumpled on the cold New York pavement, that so many hopefuls like myself, have found themselves, in the decades before?

Or is it the honesty? Is it the willingness to go on record (even if it is just my own) and say how I feel before a world of strangers? In front of people I’ve never met and most likely never will? Is it that while you can share your name on an online space that belongs to you, there is a sense of anonymity in blogging – real names, real emails, real anything not required to begin, comment, or share? Is it inspiring, entertaining, and comforting to read about the dating dilemmas we all have in common? Is it that we’ve all felt the same things at different points in varying towns from California and Georgia to South Africa and London? I mean, isn’t any man a Mr. Possibility until he proves to be the right guy or another in the long list of Mr. Wrongs?

Or is it me?

In re-reading through the posts, trying to take an outsider’s perspective on my own experiences, I discovered that somehow, along my path to self-love, I took a different direction. Instead of being a single gal parading about town, dismissing guys as quickly as I tempt them to buy me a drink, I found myself pretty connected to one person. And while my blog was always about finding self-love, with or without a relationship, when the prospect of being a couple doesn’t seem so scary or so far away, things change. Along with priorities and perspectives. And hype is built, along with hopes and plans of what a future could hold regardless of how likely or unlikely such a thing is. Somehow in those pursuits, I found myself swept and carried away, writing and rambling about my love life because that’s what I’ve always done. That’s the pattern. When someone new and exciting who brings me joy in a way others haven’t before, I get excited. The only difference now, is that I have a record showing the progression and the story I’m writing with Mr. Possibility merely a click away. There is no hiding from a published post, no matter how hard you try.

And so I realized again, as I tend to realize quite frequently these days, that I’m human. That when I like someone, I don’t hide it. When I’m upset, I write it. When I’m pleased, I proclaim it. When I’m tired, I damn it. When I’m hurt, I walk away. And when a Mr. Possibility is a possibility, I pour so much into the post, so much of that brutal honesty that readers seem to click.

I may have been so vain to think this post, this blog, is about me and maybe I was right. But popularity apparently is not based on the blogs that entice independence and make me look powerful in my super high heels. It is tracked, however, by the ones that get – and deserve - the most attention because they get to the heart of the matter. The heart of the person writing. The heart of the person who is dwelling in possibility or in impossibility, depending on the day or the time or the guest star.

And Mr. Possibility is currently deserving of that role, even if the length of his stardom is undetermined. My guess is though, should he lose, gain, or denounce that title, and another man takes it – the clicks will be just the same. I mean, he, just like me, can’t be as vain to think this post is about him. It’s about every Mr. Possibility who has ever been a possibility for any Lindsay or any anyone who has ever saw a glimmer of love that could make a someone into a something.

Could I Be Happy?

Last night, as I was picking up groceries that make up my diet – orange juice, humus, grapes, bananas, Greek yogurt, and dark chocolate – I was forced to wait in a ridiculously long line. The grocery store by my current apartment is new and attracts customers from dozens of blocks away, and therefore, is always crowded. I usually don’t mind – it gives me the opportunity to eavesdrop and people watch.

Curving around the escalator, I noticed a good-looking man in front of me. He looked early to mid-30’s, was well-dressed and groomed, and had a simple basket full of good food and good beer. Not really inclined to say much of anything to anyone, when he looked back and shared a grin with me, I returned one, and then took my eyes in a different direction. A few moments later, as I casually looked his way again – a family had appeared. His arm was around a lanky young boy in soccer clothes, and a pretty curly-haired blonde in boots was laughing with a little girl whose face mirrored her’s.

The children had been in the bakery, picking out the one sweet treat they are allowed to have with their mom, and when they returned – so did the light in the man’s face. As the kids were somehow entertaining themselves with a display of sugar cookies (seeing who could reach the top), the man leaned over and kissed the side of his wife’s face, and as she probably has since they met, she warmly laughed, and looked into his eyes. They were about the same height but she looked tiny next to him and their body language was so easy and so loving, I noticed the others behind me watching them too.

As any child would do, the brother and sister duo returned, begging for cookies on top of their goody from the bakery. The man automatically dismissed their pleas but mom chimed in by teasing, “But Dad, they are peanut butter. Your favorite.” Blushing at what seemed like an inside joke, he agreed they were his top pick, and allowed the kids to have them – under the condition that they couldn’t have eat any tonight. At 8 p.m., I thought that was a smart decision on his part, having baby-sitted and mistakenly given sugar way too late. Excited, the siblings returned to pick out the best dozen, and mom teased again asking, “But I want one tonight, can I have one tonight?” Dad wrapped his arms around her waist, squeezed her hand, and in a sweet-and-sexy tone promised, “Oh yes, you can have one tonight.

I had zoned in so deeply to their conversation and watching the family interact, that I hadn’t noticed my arm had fallen asleep holding a heavy basket, or that I was next in line. Minutes later after selecting debit and thanking a cashier that didn’t say anything to me, I walked the two blocks back to my packed-up apartment and for the first time, in a long time, I felt sad.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m really happy with my life. My weeks are spent writing articles and blogs, attending events and happy hours, trying new foods and neighborhoods, and spending time with friends I love and a Mr. Possibility I adore. Soon, I’ll be able to run in Central Park and this summer is filled with trips I’m counting down to, and within a few weeks, I’ll move into a new place on this island. My life is constantly in transition, I have more freedom than I know what to do with, and much of the beauty of my 20s is that they are unplanned, unknown, and uninhibited.

I’ve spent 203 posts – or 203 days - reaching this point of content. Of being ale to feel secure in my single shoes, of not feeling like a man is the end-all-be-all to my existence, of not feeling incomplete without admiration from the opposite sex. I’ve developed a security in myself and should Mr. Possibility and his many possibilities walk away tomorrow, I would be upset, but I would be fine. His presence isn’t the most important component of my life, it’s just a bright one. I’m no longer defined by a man and I don’t feel this incredibly intoxicating urge to be in a relationship or to be reminded of how wonderful I am by a guy. I think I’m pretty great without someone telling me, as I should – I’ve worked hard and loved long to get to where I am.

So why did I feel sad after witnessing a healthy, engaging, and adjusted family? Why did it leave a poor taste in my mouth and make me feel like my life was hollow – filled with boozing and blasé brunching? Even though I know I’m nowhere close to wanting or being prepared for marriage and children, why did I instantly want both of those responsibility-ridden things in that moment?

Well, because I want them. One day, that is. And while I can push at the American dream and work as hard as I can to raise myself up from my heelstraps, move to the city I always knew I belonged in, and go on countless amazing and awful dates – I cannot control success in love. Or in creating a family.

And maybe that’s what is the hardest about being single – the lack of control. Even if you do all of the right things, find a peace inside yourself, and love the life you lead – if you want children and you want to get married one day, you want it. It isn’t something you can or you should change, it is just part of who you are – encoded in a DNA that few understand. And if we observe the world around us, the women who have found it and the women who have not, we realize which category we’d like to end up in. Sure, happiness isn’t defined by if you get Cartier or if you are able to produce offspring, and there are splendors a career can give that nothing else can match -but for me, and the life I hope to have, I don’t want to kiss or be kissed goodnight by my byline forever.

The question is – if I’m not among the lucky who finds someone they can tolerate and agree to share a bed and bathroom sink with until death parts us, or if I can’t carry a baby or afford to adopt or if my eggs becoming infertile by the time I become ready for that chapter – then what?

Can I still be happy? As satisfied and blessed I feel to be where I am today – miles and miles away from needing to even worry or think about such things – I can’t answer that question. I’d like to think I could find happiness anywhere with anything - but I also know that I wouldn’t want to do it without anyone. I’d rather have a someone and few little somethings.

All Hyped Up on Love

Though I may only be a 20-something, I’ve been through quite some pop culture and trends.

I grew up on everything from TGIF, Sister Sister, The Adventures of Mary Kate & Ashley, Full House, The Secret World of Alex Mac, Figure it Out, Clarissa Explains it All, and Rugrats to All That, Hey Arnold!, Saved by the Bell, and Boy Meets World. By some strike of fate or stupidity, my mother eventually allowed me to watch MTV and Friends (where I appropriately flooded her with questions), and some ex boyfriends introduced me to shows like Alf, long after they were off the air.

I convinced myself I could sing just like Mandy Moore – breathy and incredibly too dramatic and all. Outside, with that same recorder I used to interview people with, I’d belt out a Mariah Carey with the neighborhood kids, who at one point, all got together and formed a band, The Butterflies. I always wanted to ride places in my dad’s truck because it had one of those new CD players and if I was careful not to scratch them, I could listen to The Beatles, the Beach Boys, The Temptations, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and Jim Croce while we were driving around town. He’d always serenade me with “My Girl” and hearing it still makes me smile today, though I’m positive I prefer his voice over the original. With my belly button visible, I danced in front of the mirror to Britney Spears, I cried over a Backstreet Boys song when Mr. Curls didn’t show up to my seventh grade birthday party, and I lost my virginity to “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boys II Men.

Being an early bloomer who sprouted out of training bras and into the real ones the summer between fifth and sixth grade, I was amazed with my new curves and unsure of what to do with them. I did, however, notice the looks older boys gave me. So did my mother. I can’t count how many times she left me at home because I refused to change into something more age appropriate, and then I’d call her on her cell phone that was the size of my forearm, and beg her to come back and get me in my jeans and unflattering t-shirt. I wore the platform shoes like The Spice Girls, I braided my hair with a colored strand, I wore glitter on my eyes, and though I thought Abercrombie was cool, even at a young age, I realized how ridiculously overpriced it was. I also didn’t enjoy being choked to death by cologne ten steps before the store front.

I lived, breathed, and loved all of these hypes.

They came, they served a purpose, and they left. I was onto the next band, the next technology, the next style that would fade faster than I could begin to afford it. It took until junior year in college for me to stop caring so much about hypes or what’s hot and to focus more on what I wanted instead of what was new.

This week, to keep my spirits up and to lower my peeking stress level, I’ve been listening to 80’s music. I wasn’t alive in the early 80’s, but some of my youngest memories involve my mom dancing in hot shorts to Michael Jackson or Fine Young Cannibal’s “She Drives Me Crazy” while cleaning. Because my office is in the process of moving, we’re all packing up and my “You Make My Dreams Come True” Pandora station proved to be exactly what we needed. As the songs were playing, I’d notice how certain songs remind me of men I’ve loved or guys who have introduced me to a band I didn’t know. Some of the other women in the office would start singing and then proclaim who they were dating when that particular song came on. Somehow, the best of the 80’s translates into the best and the worse of men of the 80’s for those who lived through it – or discovered the music later on.

Listening to the stories while pouring what I owned into a large Staples cardboard box, I wondered if love is one continuous hype.

We’re sucked in early with fairytales and if we’re lucky, by watching our parents verbalize their admiration for one another. I didn’t really go through the “boys had cooties” phase, I was more concerned with my kindergarten boyfriend, but all of my friends were repulsed by the opposite sex (funny thing is, they’re all married now, and I’m happily not). Once that period comes to a close, we transition into middle school where holding hands and doodling our names with hearts and “forever-ever-and-ever-and-always” seems like the only important thing in the world. High school introduces us to sex, college we have a lot of sex, and in our 20’s we discover what great, incredible sex is, and wonder what we were thinking (or who we were doing) the years previous.

For most, it is one date after another, one relationship after another, one bed and then another, one romance and then ten more. The personalities change, along with the clothes and the mannerisms, but the men essentially are all the same, each time – we get ourselves all hyped up on love. And when it’s good, when it has promise, we’ll go as far to think we’ll never feel it again. That this feeling, whatever it is, is impossible with another man. We’ll get so dead-set on this hype that we’ll become depressed thinking he is the end-all-be-all and we’re doomed if this doesn’t work out…or worse yet, if we screw it up.

If that was the case, Buffy the Vampire Slayer would still be making shows. So would Dawson’s Creek. We’d all still be listening to LFO, eating Dunkaroos, and wearing those god-awful acid-wash jeans (keep in mind Williamsburg is excused from this analogy). We’d all carry mobile phones that don’t fit in our bags and our dial-up internet would greet us with “You’ve Got Mail!”

Things change, so do people. We fall in love and we fall out. We think he’s The One and then we want him to be the one who never comes back. We are addicted to our pair of skinny jeans until our bodies grow some curve, some place, and they don’t fit anymore. We buy into something until it becomes a commodity and we got for a cheaper alternative. Much of life is a hype – but the one thing that remains consistent is me. I’ve been through all the hypes, all the love, all the coming and the going, and I’m still who I am. I’ve adapted and learned, grown up and become a woman, and while I don’t forget the trends I trended through, I realize I’m always going to trend through something.

And if a particular style doesn’t look right on me or a musician doesn’t get me moving, or a man doesn’t hit the spots I need him to hit – I rest easy knowing the next hype is closer than I think.

Me, Myself, and My Shadows

I’m usually not forgetful. Really, I’m one of those odd characters who remarkably recalls something that happened six years ago in a fleeting moment. But yesterday – I could not have been more absent-minded.

I won’t make excuses, but this week has been superbly busy. One of our biggest issues of the year is in the making, our office is moving to a new location next week, I’m on the mad search for a new apartment, I’m running daily, attending a happy hour or two, Skyping with Mr. Possibility extremely early or late my time or his, and you know, this, writing daily blog posts. Not to mention some Twittering, Facebooking, Tumbling, and when I’m lucky, maybe getting seven hours of sleep.

I’m not complaining – I consider myself extremely lucky and blessed to have a life that’s full, that’s ever-evolving, that’s full of the best things a city could offer: great friends and grand adventures. Nevertheless, sometimes with so much going on and residing in a place that encourages less rest, hard work, and more play – I’ve found myself a little off my A-game recently.

Case in point, after work and after viewing yet another vacancy on the Upper West Side, I made my way to the gym, excited about releasing all of my stress with a healthy four-miler. When I arrived, I was happy to see a moderately-empty place and a treadmill readily available for me. I rushed to the locker room to change so no one would take my coveted machine before I had time to dress down and throw my hair up. After putting on my running shorts, I discovered not only had I forgotten a sports bra, but also a hair tie and socks. For a successful, focused sprint, all three of these items are necessary – even if the ladies aren’t exactly luscious, they do deserve and need support.

Frustrated with my forgetfulness, I did a few reps to relieve stress on the abs, arm, and leg machines, and then decided I was brave enough to brave the semi-chilly weather outside. After dropping off my gym bag and Longchamp at my temporary apartment, I hit the pavement…well, running, of course.

Though the sound of my own feet beating the road matching the beat of the music usually soothes me and clears my head, last night, I just couldn’t get the rhythm. I wasn’t losing my breath, but I also wasn’t finding my clarity. Out of my zone and continuously burying myself further into my worrying fit, I felt someone behind me. Suddenly on guard and wondering if it was possible to be unsafe at what I consider an early hour, 8:30, I quickened my pace without glancing behind. Though it was only a few seconds, the moment that passed seemed to be in slow motion, but as I turned the corner, I realized the shadowing I noticed was not an intruder, but just my own shadow.

Somehow, on the edge of the park where I was running, the way the street lamps mixed with buildings hovering above caused me to not only have one dark reflection, but three: one behind me (what I saw), one to my left, and one in front of me. I’m sure this has happened to me a dozen times without my recognition, but on Central Park West in that experience, I couldn’t help but watch my threesome of shadows come together as the light changed as I moved.

Symbolically, I felt like I was witnessing my past, my present, and my future mold into what those things make up: me.

Twenty minutes later, walking back to my apartment and stopping for a much-needed Greek yogurt (current food obsession), I thought about how much of what causes me anxiety or worry is stressing about the things I can’t change. And most of those headaches have to do with wondering what will happen in times I’ve yet to experience. Like on May 1 when I move to an unknown location or when Mr. Possibility settles in New York for an extended period of time, after several bouts of traveling. Or where my byline will appear six months, a year from now, or the networking event I’m attending in a few weeks. And then my forehead scrunches up in such a way I’m sure I’ll have wrinkles there one day (we’re ignoring the fact I already sorta do) -I struggle with letting go of what was. Like the friendships that just aren’t the same anymore or the people I should call more, but don’t. Or the battle I have to apologize for pain I caused years ago, when in reality, the wounds are healed, and if not scared over, they’re most likely disappeared forever.

But worse than wrestling with all the places I’ve been and all the places I hope to go, I often forget to value the place I am today. Though I remind myself (and I’m often told) that the only path leading to peace is not really a paved road at all, but the spot I’m standing – I’m often too busy running away from it to realize its beauty. I’m too scared of the past sneaking up on me, too concerned with where I’m going, that I rarely see how all of the pieces come together, effortlessly, in their own way and right, without much trouble at all.

I don’t really believe there is a way to fully release our experiences, nor do I think it is healthy. We must take from our own educational past to continue to grow, and we must have something to go toward, if we’re going to get anywhere. But without accepting, and dare I say, loving the person we are right now- the past and the future don’t matter.

A few steps before my front door, on the phone with my mom, I stopped in the middle of my block, and took note of the shadow before me. Wildly stretched longer than I’ll ever be or would ever care to be, I saw the shape of my body. Without any distinctive features or coloring at all, I didn’t resemble myself – but I knew the street reflection was me.

It was me, myself, and my shadows. With the most important of the trio not the shades of dark and light surrounding my feet, but the part that was real. The part that would still be, even when I walk inside, and leave the rest behind.

No Almost About It

Similar to the dating scene in New York, when you find something that’s incredibly tasty, surprisingly no-hassle, and relatively inexpensive in the city – you keep coming back for more. Such is the story of Corner Bistro.

Tucked away in the West Village at West 4th and Jane, Corner Bistro is the definition of a hole-in-the-wall joint. It’s dark, even mid-day, only accepts cash, and you’re lucky if your waiter does more than grumble at you. It is always, always packed – as it should be. Out of any burger I’ve had in my life, it is the absolute best. It even beats my dad’s – and to pin the olive on top of the bun, their signature burger is a mere $7.

When I discovered this well-known, not-so-hot spot, I instantly became hooked. A week or so ago, when I found myself with a craving for their menu, I gathered three friends and caught the train downtown. A few Blue Moons, three orders of burgers and fries, and an hour worth of catching up later, my friend J decided the next destination would have to be a gay bar less than ten mini-village blocks away.

Happily filled with booze and burgers, the crew trotted toward a hidden address, bumping into Sarah Jessica Parker along the way. While we were appropriately star-struck, it didn’t last long – this is New York after all. If you didn’t pass a celebrity here or there, then you obviously are not going out enough and spending far too much time in your far too small apartment. On the way, we stopped by a pet store to admire the $1,000 frenchies, the $1,200 Cock-a-Poos or Bossi-Poos or Cava-Poos, and then finally made it to the one place to admire the trendiest of all – the Village Drag Queen. With eyelashes curled to the 9’s, liner that goes on for miles, and a push-up that pushes whatever-that-is higher than my ladies are resting – this Mr/Ms was a force to be reckoned with.

Not to mention, s/he was the Bingo keeper. Yes, gay bar bingo. Apparently, sweets, it is the newest thing.

It is also a serious game, even if the commentator walks around flirting with anyone who doesn’t have a vagina, which luckily for him/her is the majority of those in attendance. When I casually asked a neon-wearing gaggle of gay men where to get Bingo stampers, they promptly informed me they brought their own and that I could find golf pencils on my table. Oh, well excuse me  – I thought i looked pretty slammin’ in my blue sweater dress and heels, but apparently not. At least in terms of gay bingo, anyways.

My group pitched in together and bought three cards to split amongst the four of us. We decided if we happened to win the $1,300 jackpot, we’d split it evenly. A few days before, I had given in to the pleas of one of my closest friends to watch The Secret, which is great for giggles, if you feel inclined. While I think the message is true- tell the universe what you want, believe you’ll get it, and you will – the documentary was not well-done. With beer and three mimosas swirling in my tummy thus making my lips a little looser, I encouraged my friends to believe we would win the money. I figured if I’m going to lead my life by a secret I already knew, why not let my friends in on it, too? In my early evening haze, it seemed like a strategic approach to gay bingo.

Twenty minutes later, we were one little box away from winning. By this time, I had told them my reasoning and all of us were suddenly on board, convinced that by having faith, we suddenly had a super weapon against the rest of the players. We had intentionally placed the universe on our side. As if we were waiting to meet our unborn child or on that phone call, offering us our dream job, we lingered on the bingo board, each gripping our inadequate pencils and drinks eagerly.

And then Mr/Ms Village Drag Queen called B9. A man with a high-pitched voice and a blue stamper screamed “Bingo!” We needed B8. We almost won. We almost had the universe at our fingertips.

But what good is almost? The Southern saying, after all, says almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. There are rare  things in life where not hitting the goal, but getting close to it, is just as powerful as reaching it.

In thinking about our loss, I considered all of the things I’ve experienced that were best defined by almost. Mr. Idea was almost the right guy for me, minus a few vastly important characteristics and interests. I almost had that national freelancing gig at a consumer publication, but my tone wasn’t right for the mag. I almost fell asleep at midnight, at one, at two, but couldn’t stop stressing out from my overflowing to-do list. I almost ran five miles, but I gave out at 4.8 out of nothing but utter boredom. I almost achieved that toe curling orgasm, but couldn’t get right there, right where I needed to be.

Almost: It is almost worse than failing in the first place because you know how near you were, and yet, so terribly far away. And yet, it is a word I use constantly.

“Yes, I almost went to that show, but…” “Oh, I almost went out with him, but…” “Well, I almost got that byline, but…” “I almost signed up for that race, but…” “I almost came home early, but…” “I almost initiated The Talk, but…”

Almost, but what? Is almost an excuse or something that we actually experience? If something doesn’t work out, if we don’t sincerely care to do something, if something is not quite what we want, if something is not within reach – then it doesn’t work out, we don’t do it, we don’t have what we want, and we don’t reach it.

It isn’t a matter of almost, it is a matter of fact.

But it doesn’t mean almost doesn’t count – in fact, I’d like to think it always does. Thinking about almost is a way to realize our worth and what we’re capable of. If we just about got there, if we just about found the right person, if we were the forerunner for a great Bingo board win, if we knew we probably could have gone longer and harder – then we know what we’re made of. We know and we believe what’s inside of us – because if we can just about get there, one day, we can definitely get there. No almost about it.

(That is, as long as we have a fancy stampy thing)