I Thought of You Today

I thought of you today while riding the subway downtown to a date I wasn’t quite sure was actually a date or not. I caught myself not being able to turn my attention away from an older couple — sitting next to each other, reading the paper on a Friday night at 8 like it was the most normal thing in this city. They shared the Times, flipping through thoughtfully, digesting each sentence and with care, turning the page. The husband rubbed his wife’s knee from time to time during my 20-minute commute. She turned her attention to him with a casual smile, probably the same look she’s been giving him for decades. The same look that he loves, the same grin that’s gotten him through the tough times and the good ones. They looked insanely comfortable and so beautifully, easily, sweetly with one another.

It was adorable.


And it made me think of you. You — whoever you are. You who I haven’t met yet, or perhaps I have. Maybe we’ve already dated, broken up and lost contact. Maybe we’ve seen one other naked. But no, I don’t think so. I could have caught a glimpse of you while walking my dog or picking up groceries around the block. Perhaps I didn’t catch your name when we were briefly introduced at a loud bar somewhere in the West Village months ago. Maybe, as the psychic predicted, your name begins with J.

Or not.

Whatever your name is — however your last sounds with my first — I try not to think of you. I know better than to imagine and create illustrations and hopes of what you look like or how your voice resonates in my head without actually, ever meeting you. I know that believing in things that feel impossible or totally out of reach at this moment can only make me feel worse. Especially if everything I dreamt of, everything I’ve considered true about love and marriage someday just become things I once thought would happen, instead of things that are. How can I think of you – you, with eyes I haven’t locked with, lips I haven’t actually kissed – when you’re just someone I’ve never known? How can I think of you without one hundred percent knowing your existence is something I can depend on?

That you’re someone I can believe in?

But it’s when the world feels a little lonely and my personal universe is a little uncomfortable or uncertain, that I do think of you. It’s when I dream of you, knowing better and rebelling against logic in romantic spite. It’s when I close my eyes on a crowded train or tucked away at night, looking out at the stars I convince myself I can see, even when I know I don’t. City lights are brilliant and alluring but they conceal the sparkly specs I love to see. I think of you and the days I hope will come, the children I hope I’ll bear. The love I can’t wait to make in our bed I want to share. I think of you in a way that’s unfair and extremely biased — without ever being introduced to you, without tracing your face or feeling your grip on my hip, I both love and hate you. I love you because I hope you’ll be mine, and I hate you for hiding. For taking so long. For not being here…

…Right now. On this train. Next to me. Kissing the side of my head and excited to show me a new downtown joint you discovered. Holding my hand that holds your ring, looking at me in the way my father always promised you would. With love, with admiration. With everything…

…after making it through everything to get to you.

And yet, I try not to think of you. And so usually, I don’t. I pick myself up from that moving train and away from that couple I aspire to be like, and head out to that date. And I smile at a perfectly good guy who doesn’t ignite a spark but insists on walking me to the station. I may kiss him for whatever it’s worth, to disguise the disappointment on my face. I may politely respond to him the next day that I see more of a friendship and I’ll head out to continue with my weekend, trying my very best not to think of you. Trying not to look for you in the cute guys who pass by me or the ones who smile in my direction. I’ll stop myself from thinking of the stories I’d like to tell, the ones I’m dying to write and the adventures that seem so far-fetched that planning them would seem crazy. I won’t think of you that day or the following week, maybe even a month.

But then, on an unusually windy April afternoon, as I walk to pick up a latte after another less-than-interesting Saturday night, I’ll see an elderly man shushing the oncoming cars and taxis as his wife shuffles along with a walker. It’ll take two traffic rotations for her to make it across, but he just tells her to take her time. She’ll be wearing red lipstick and he’ll reach over to make sure she can make it up the sidewalk, and I’ll be standing right there, watching it all unfold in literally, slow motion.

Then I’ll smile. And I’ll think of you, whoever you are, wherever you might be. And I’ll pray that you’ll make your way to me soon because I’d rather walk these streets alone than to meet someone who isn’t you.


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I Want To Meet Someone

I want to meet someone.

Those five words lingered in my head, even as I tried to ignore that they were there. I distracted myself with thoughts of other things and by making to-do lists in my head. I pretended this desire wasn’t bubbling beneath me — but as I sat, overlooking the Hudson with Lucy fast-asleep in puppy dreamland in Riverside Park on Sunday — I couldn’t stop the message my heart sent to my mind.

I want to meet someone.

Though powerful and constant — it’s not a helpless feeling or a dissatisfied longing. It’s different than it was years ago. I don’t feel like something is missing or part of me is still void — I’m not lusting after every man I see or pulling strings and squinting my eyes to make it work with every dude who buys me dinner. I feel no rush and no pressure, no need to speed along a road that I’m not sure how to navigate yet. I don’t believe it’s impossible to find happiness and I do believe I’m meant for a long-term love– and still. Still – after (many) failed relationships, hundreds of blogs debating where I stand on love and loveless and loving, endless conversations with my ever-so patient friends– I still want it.

I still want to fall in love.

But the craving has changed. It’s not wistful and romantic (well, only a little). I’m not looking to be completed or rescued. I’m not hoping to make a married man out of a guy who doesn’t even like to date or is totally emotionally unavailable. I’m not making myself something I’m not so I can be granted the so-called coveted title of girlfriend.

Instead– I want to meet someone… like me?

Someone with a heart that often feels too big for his chest. Someone who can see the good – the possible — in every part of his life, and especially with me. With us. Someone who captivates me, pulls me close and lets me fly. I want to meet someone who accepts himself and does what he can to understand the world. Someone who likes to read and run, travel and learn — explore and make mistakes, dream and slow down. Someone who makes me want to be a better me and be part of a better we than he has before. I want to meet someone who knows how to love– who wants love– who may be afraid of it, but tries it anyway. Who knows how important it is. Someone who has goals for himself and plans he will break for the right thing, the right person, the right place – the right time. Someone who is happy with the someone and the something and the somewhere he is.

I want to meet someone who likes the way the city rests on Sundays and how it’s the perfect day to wake up late, make love and eat pancakes. Someone who wants a family just as much as they want an amazing, fulfilling career, and knows you’ll never be able to be perfect at either. I want to meet who thinks about his future further than Saturday night and deeper than one night stands and tequila shots in Murray Hill. Someone who wants to try new things but also likes to be a regular at places he can’t and won’t stop going to. Someone who knows how to kiss without being rough and knows that love isn’t always enough– but it’s always worth whatever it brings or makes you learn.

I want to meet someone who challenges me and yet, makes me feel comfortable in my running clothes, without any makeup, without any hesitations. Someone who wants to know what I know, who wants to see the town I grew up in. Who can’t wait to share a beer with my dad or go on a walk with my mom. Someone who comes from a place I admire and has a laugh I long to hear. Touch I want to feel. I want to meet someone who is strong enough to stand next to me and sweet enough to let me fall into him when I need it. Or even when I don’t, but want it. Someone who remembers the things I say and can hear the things I don’t, someone who will be there today, tomorrow – always. I want to meet someone who wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here, with me. (And Lucy.)

I want to meet someone.

Someone out there in this big city, living on some street I’ve crossed a million times, taking some train at the same time, thinking about when he would meet… someone like me.

He’s Out There

While you’re sitting here reading this blog, sipping on your coffee and trying to get into the swing of a new week. While you’re going through your emails that always seem to pile up over the weekend and asking your co-workers how their Saturday brunch was. This morning, when you finished that loop around Riverside Park at 7:30 a.m. and you watched the Manhattan skies melt into shades of pink and tones of orange over the rising sun. Last night, when you finally fell asleep after watching too many things on Netflix and having one too many popsicles to soothe your newly root-canaled tooth.

In every moment of each part of your day, of your week – of your entire life – there has been a man living his life, too.

He’s been catching the train uptown and down, going to the gym on the other side of town. He’s been thumbing through his Blackberry at the crack of dawn, checking on the status of a project and replying when it’s urgent (and when it’s not). He’s been having some beers with his group of friends – from college and beyond – watching the Olympics and laughing at the same joke he’s heard for years. He’s been worried and excited for the future, he’s overslept and he’s not been able to fall away. He’s experienced countless things you’ve yet to hear about and has wrinkles around his eyes that you’ve yet to see.

But he’s been somewhere in this city, or somewhere in this world – thinking of you from time to time.

Like when that pretty girl he fell so despairingly in love with broke up with him suddenly. Or when someone he used to bar hop with, picking up ladies and enjoying the single life, proposed to his girlfriend. Maybe it was when he saw his dad lean over to his mom and plant a kiss on her cheek and she returned the gesture with a smile that tells the tale of the decades they’ve spent together. He thought of you when he became an uncle for the first time and held this new life, this tiny little human in his hands and realized it wasn’t just another baby in a stroller, but it was a new person related to him. And then again when the temperature dropped well below freezing and he laid alone in his bed, in his apartment, on that street he paid a broker to live on, and wistfully longed for someone to hold. For someone to really, truly, completely love him.

It’s the same place where he’s wondered, just as you have in scattered moments that are more frequent than you’d care to admit, if that special someone really exists for him.

Is there a beautiful woman who is successful and independent, but loving and thoughtful? Does she have those long, glorious legs that always get him going? Will her smile stand out among the rest? Will he really know that she’s the girl when he’s dated so many in the past and never had a clue? What will they share in common? Will she run? Will she cook? Will she be able to hold a conversation just as easily as she can sit peacefully on a Sunday afternoon, watching something mindless and sharing a beer? Will he be able to see that future he wants, that family he craves – with her? Will she be what he imagined or will she be something more? Or maybe just something different?

What if she’s already crossed his path and he didn’t realize it? Could he have missed his chance – or is it still there? Where is she?

Where is he?

Is he twenty blocks away or across the park? Has he even moved to New York at all – or will he ever? Was he a little off or did something to turn my tastes away and I overlooked this man? Does he turn left in the mornings and I turn right? Is he in the next train or the next building – in the local elevator and not the express I always take? Is he away on business or busy starting one of his own? Has he seen me and not be able to work up the courage talk to me? Have I noticed him and thought I’d never have a chance to be his? Has he made me laugh in passing or is he a face I know, but never considered more?

Is he reading this very post right now?

On any given day, every single day of the week – I couldn’t begin to count the people I pass. Or the strangers I talk to briefly or make eye contact with. How many handsome strangers I share a smile with or a fleeting second that instantly escapes from my memory. In a city that’s full of mostly people you don’t know, but hundreds you see constantly – how do you ever know if any of them will end up being something more? If you did happen to meet someone or see someone who would ultimately become your someone, would you even remember your brief encounters?

In many ways, the anonymity of the city can be overwhelming – and frankly, pretty lonely. But in some sort of magically odd way, it’s that same disguise that can inspire you. Because while you may not know their names or take note of the spark that flew as the train took off or the light turned green – you know that in just another minute, you can feel it again. The energy, the electricity of the streets makes you realize that opportunity exists everywhere. Possibilities are actually quite endless and enduring – if you’re open enough to let them happen.

And if you believe one simple thing – he’s out there. Somewhere. Right now. He may be breathing the same air, looking at the same spot in that big blue August sky, wondering where you are, too. He could be half-way around the world or literally next door. He could be a block away or someplace really far away. Regardless of where he is or where he’s going – the comforting truth is that yes, yes, yes — he is out there. And one day, out of nowhere…he’ll find his way next to you.

The Way I Heal

Months after I officially ended everything with Mr. Possibility, I still found myself responding to emails and text messages, analyzing the intention between the lines, and keeping myself awake long enough to wait for him to arrive at my door. Allowing him to stay in my life – and yes, in my bed – felt easier than ceasing contact.

But even as I held him at an arm’s distance, my heart was already much closer, so letting him hang around and inviting him into my life wasn’t a healthy tactic. Procrastination though, tasted better than swallowing the bittersweet prescription I knew was coming. After many failed attempts to make him want me how I wanted him to desire me, after biting my pillow so he wouldn’t hear me cry at night, after convincing myself that being around him would awaken something that never lived inside of him to begin with, after lying to my friends about where I was and avoiding my mother’s phone calls – I finally got the message loud and clear.

From him, on Gchat.

It was straightforward and blunt, without a hint of consideration or kindness, and worse, void of love. Or at least the kind of love I want and deserve. When I couldn’t make meaning out of emptiness, I signed off and deleted the evidence of the relationship. I finally totally severed communication and packed away anything that took me back to better days so I could finally face the day I was living. And though the art of getting over someone is something I’ve yet to master or totally understand, I set my mind to letting go and moving on, no matter how badly I wanted to reach for the phone, type an email or share a bed with a man I once was in love with.

While I can talk about most anything on this blog, sometimes revealing a bit too much — forgetting that the Internet is truly an irreversible medium — writing about Mr. Possibility and what really followed our dramatic demise has been incredibly difficult for me. The final post of a year of writing – where I valiantly headed out on my own, telling him to go where the sun didn’t shine and standing up for myself, was a true story. I felt empowered in that moment: ready to conquer heartache and eager to be alone.

But if I’m honest, as I always have been in this space – I wanted the chase.

I watched and helped him attempt to win back his previous ex (who is now one of my closest friends and the best dose of reality on the topic of Mr. P), and I listened to him mull over the past he regretted. I heard all of his past love stories and I wrote the one I thought we had, post after post, day after day, praying that I would be the girl who changed the unavailable man. And even in my grand departure, even in that yellow chariot that sounds entirely more fabulous than it really is, a part of my heart was still holding onto the hope that he’d come running. That in my silence, he would find that same ache I’ve had since practically the day I met him — that lingering longing to capture the attention of something that’s unattainable.

But he didn’t come to my rescue.

He didn’t shower me with hand-written letters to why I should give him another chance. There was no romantic gesture, no fight for my love. There wasn’t even much of an apology for the ways he had been cruel when we were together. He happily accepted my offers for companionship and was careful to remind me how amazing I am – but that he still wasn’t in the market for a relationship. A year-and-a-half later I’m in a totally new part of my life, and he’s still almost exactly where he was when I met him: uncertain for the future and unwilling to compromise for anyone else, but sexually inclined to see what this city has to offer.

I didn’t want to admit that I went back to him, thus causing myself more  disappointment than if I had ceased contact in September. I had been down this road before and I knew where it led, but I ventured on the path anyway, fooling myself into thinking the destination would be different.

And when it wasn’t – I was ashamed to confess that still, even after all this time, my heart still hurt. It felt weak and silly to be someone who writes about such topics for a living and can’t take her own advice. To be someone who is mainly open and candid about everything, but unable to reveal that underneath the clever themes and rhythmic sentences, there’s a woman who sings along to Adele and runs to Kelly Clarkson, who wears big sunglasses to cover the tears, concealer to hide the dark circles, and still has to block Mr. Possibility on every social media channel so I don’t draw conclusions from things I can’t confirm. Behind the blogger who dishes on everything, is a woman who had a hard time letting go of a relationship that was one-sided from day one.

But in every bad situation, there’s a turning point. In every dark room, there’s a light. In every corner, there’s a chance to change. And for me, it came two weeks after I stopped responding to anything from Mr. P – even his drunken phone calls and messages – and gave myself a break.

Because while we all experience pain, we process it differently. Because while we all want to not be bothered when the other person doesn’t seem to be upset, you can’t release the pain if you don’t let yourself feel it – or in my case, write it. Because while love is never quite equal, everyone we’ve loved – be it for three years or thirty – affects us in someway, positive or negative. Because while our friends buy us a drink at the start of the end, we buy them drinks at the end of the end, thanking them for their patience with our stupidity and our ability to obsess, even months after the fact. Because while we want to be brave and strong, resilient and uncompromising, there is nothing that dies slower or more painful than a dream – especially one that involves someone you really cared about. Because while the wrong person can seem like the right, the person who matters the most isn’t the one who got away or the one who stays, it’s the person you are after you walk away.

There is no race to finish the moving on process or a correct way to go about it. There is no way to skip the anger and the tears, the late-night words you want to take back or the bed that feels cold at first, but grows warmer. You don’t get better at breakups the more you have them, and you don’t have any better luck or built-up tolerance to letting go because you happen to write about your personal life.

This time isn’t about Mr. Possibility, or how he misses me or how he doesn’t. It’s not about the fact he didn’t turn out as I had hoped or that I didn’t kick him out of my life sooner than later. It’s not about who moves on first or last. It’s not about the relationship that was or the relationship that I wanted. It’s not about how I feel right now, how I felt six months ago or two weeks ago. It’s not about how I’ll feel tomorrow. It’s not about the fact that it hurt – or that at times, it still hurts.

It’s about the fact that I’m letting myself feel it. And by feeling it, but forgiving myself for my tardiness and my endless optimism in love, I become a better me than I was before. While it may make me feel incredibly silly, naive and immature to have a broken heart that lusts after the past – it’s really not about how I feel, it’s about how I heal. Or rather, that I am.

My Chats with God

After a particular stressful evening at the student newspaper in college, I needed some air. So, I decided to do something that always clears my head: go for a run. Not in the mood to go to our 24-hour gym or trot around the track, I decided to just run through town until I couldn’t go anymore.

I was 20 years old and silly – I knew better then to run alone when it was dark outside, and it was nearly midnight. But I went anyway, filled with frustration and stress, wanting nothing more than to feel the wind blowing through my hair and have the cool evening cool my mind. I started at my apartment on the main strip in town, hustled past the Wednesday-night bar-goers, boozy and insisting I join them in my sweats and tee for a $2 PBR. I smiled, refrained and turned up Rihanna to tune them out. Two miles later when I reached our stadium for the second time, I decided to push myself a little further and run up a massive hill (North Carolina is good for those), past the Chancellor’s House, into an abandoned parking lot.

Again, not the smartest move in the world.

Making my final lap around the lot, I noticed a sneaky path that led to a hidden trail behind the trees. I glanced at my phone – almost 1 a.m. and I had class at 10 – did I really want to venture some more? My legs hurt, so did my body, and though I was less upset than a few hours ago, the running wasn’t totally curing me. Was I a complete idiot to go into a dark forest with only a few streetlamps strung along here-and-there? I sure was, but I did it despite the fact. I moved slowly and cautiously, without a soundtrack to serenade my adventure except for the Autumn leaves crunching under my feet. I looked around at my surroundings, braced myself for the billowing wind that whispers its way around the mountaintop my school was nestled on.

And there it was. My spot.

We all have them – a place somewhere in the middle of nothing or the middle of everything, wherever you find that’s right for you, where you can stop and feel at ease. Where you in your own words, in your own way, can think and breathe, relax and let go. Where, if you’re anything like me, can chat with God.

I do pray, mostly when I’m scared or nervous, and also when I’m really thankful. Always when I find a penny. But while in college – I used to talk to God a lot more. I’d have full-blown conversations with him, complete with yelling and crying, asking and pleading. Always in that same spot after a run or when it was really cold, I’d drive and go out for just a bit. This ledge overlooked the campus and I loved how the lights twinkled in the night, reminding me of New York, reminding me of where I wanted to be.

I sometimes sat on a large rock, but mostly I paced and chatted, watched the minimal cars go by and hoped no one would come and interrupt me. If they did, I had mase, just in case. I don’t know if God talks back. The only true way I feel like I get answers is when I find a penny when I’m feeling lost or when something so perfectly designed for me, happens, and I can’t accredit it to anything other than divinity.

I don’t have a spot in New York. I can’t seem to find a place where it’s quiet and comforting, where I feel safe enough to say all of those things out loud to the sky that I could never say to someone’s face or in a crowded space. I hadn’t even realized I didn’t have a spot until Mr. Possibility and I went away for the weekend a few weeks ago, and there, at a house by the water, with the sun cascading down, I felt the urge to talk to God.

Mr. Possibility was inside napping and I was alone with only the sounds of nature around me and the feeling of my toes tickling the top of the surprisingly-cool July lake. I hadn’t talked to God out loud in years, even when I went home to North Carolina for visits, so I wasn’t sure how to start. I glanced around me to make sure no one else was around to hear me, the crazy, 20-something who was jabbering away into the distance to something that didn’t meet the eye.

But once I started, it felt good. It poured out. Years and years of things I’ve needed to say, things I needed to admit to myself and to the universe, though both of us already knew. I talked so much my throat got dry. I cried so hard, I had to breathe out of my mouth. I was there for so long that the porch light came on and I decided it was time to head inside. And when I reached the steps, my eyes puffy with a big, wide smile on my face, Mr. Possibility asked what happened and I simply said, “Just had a nice chat with God. Everything is going to be okay.”

The rest of the weekend, I continued to chat down by the lake at night when no one was around, and when I left, he would say, “Have fun, tell God I say ‘hello!’” and off I’d go. By the time I returned to New York, I felt fresher and energized, ready to unfold yet another chapter in the many chronicles of my twenties.

I still need that spot though. I still need a place to unwind and feel free to spew. So for now, my chats with God are limited to, “Please guide me to a place where we can talk more. Where I can feel closer to the universe, where I can feel closer to myself, where I can feel closer to you.”

Daily Gratitude: I’m thankful for Borders Free Wi-Fi today, where if I stand in the right corner, legs crossed, holding my laptop, I can finally get a signal.