As a thank you for listening to and helping him with a difficult period in his life – Mr. Unavailable, the “New Yorker” (I don’t know Queens technically counts), wanted to show me a night on the town from his perspective. Even though there wasn’t an underlying romantic notion, we both called it “The New York Date”.
He treated me to a chocolate diner, dinner and drinks, followed by a comedy show – and though neither of us is interested in dating one another, it was nice to be around a guy, without putting that pressure on myself. Where I knew there was no need to impress or to dazzle, but instead just be myself (and be accepted for it). I don’t know if I truly believe men and women can ever be friends (thank you, When Harry Met Sally), without a little tension, but for the time being, I’m enjoying the friendly company.
Mid-date, as limos passed by and lights flashed around me; I silently looked out the window of The Standard Hotel’s restaurant in downtown Manhattan and in what seemed like an hour, but was only barely a minute, I caught myself spacing out. I turned to my “date”, smiled and he all-so casually asked me: What are you thinking about over there?
I felt myself blush, smiled back at him, and replied: I just can’t believe this is my life. To think of where I was a year ago and where I am right now – it’s amazing. I’m right where I’ve always wanted to be. It’s real.
Knowing all about the grand adventure to the big city, he grinned and even though we haven’t known each other very long he confidently said: “And you did all of this.”
Now of course, I’ve known that moving to New York, landing my job, and finding an apartment was all of my own doing. If the pavement would have fallen out from underneath me – there would have been no one else to blame but myself. And if I happen to see the whole world crash down around me tomorrow – that’s all on my shoulders, too.
But somehow, in that easy moment with beautiful people surrounding me (and one sitting across from me), the street lights shining in on my face, and a flirty pear-tini in front of me – it sunk in.
It’s not that it took a man for me to realize I’ve “partially made it” – but rather, it was the feeling that I felt in the pit of my stomach so intensely that it made me catch my breath. I could have been anywhere and felt that sensation inside of me. Here in this fancy restaurant that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to afford on my own, it occurred to me that I was living in the moment.
I’ve talked about how I have been doing more of the here-and-the-now lately, and that’s true – but in that experience, in that twilight, I broke new ground.
I realized there is no pushing or pulling or waiting or hoping to live in New York. Or to work in publishing or to be a writer. Given, I don’t think I’ll ever stop working towards the next thing in terms of my career and a fabulous apartment – but the act of actually getting here…is done. I don’t have to pull my hair out wondering if I’ll ever get a byline or pushing myself into reality when I get too-down-in-the-dumps about the cost of living in the city (you really just have to grin and bare it).
And even more impressive, there I was, in a silk dress, my hair curled up on a date with a man I know I’ll never actually date. Not because there is anything wrong with him or wrong with me or wrong with the time we do spend together – but because we’re really just friends. For anyone else, this isn’t a revelation, but for me to willingly be okay with simple friendship with a man I’m attracted to – is also stomping out a completely new pavement.
Because for once, it didn’t matter if I was courting him or if I wanted a relationship or if I didn’t. There were no expectations and I didn’t feel the need to live up to any standard, any qualification, or any look. He’s not my Mr. Right (like I’m not his Mrs) and even if he was, those rules for being perfect no longer apply – because of the progress I’ve made on this journey.
For the duration of our friendship, he’s always been a very vocal and open guy who says he sees big things ahead of me (I won’t disagree) and that I should live and do everything I’ve wanted. I should think on my toes while planning ahead. I shouldn’t let love get away before there is time to say just how much they mean to me. I should travel and I should speak and communicate with the same honesty in which I write. And of course, I should never stop being the me that I am and never compromise any of my own character for a man, for a career – for anything.
He’s right. And yes, I did just agree with a man. Part of why this experience has no age-limit and no selected amount of time that it’ll last is because it’s all about how I feel and about me – as a person who has genuine down days, up days, and all that’s in between. Even if that me, at times, doesn’t live in the moment as easily as I did on Saturday evening. And even if I’ve let love get away or not taken that study abroad because to me, New York is a completely different country.
There is so much more to look forward to, chances to take, lessons to learn, and people to meet, like Mr. Unavailable, for whatever reason – come into your life and help you realize and accept things that have been right before your eyes for months. So why worry about what tomorrow will bring or why yesterday was an awful mess?
Why not, instead, keep chasing the pavement of today until I break a new surface that reveals a whole new chapter, a whole new…me?
Following our dinner, he wanted to show me the highline, which is where old ground-level train tracks were preserved into a trail with breath-taking views. We strolled along and looked at the skyline and I pointed out again, that there were in fact, stars in New York. (See, Queens doesn’t count!)
As we were walking, I must have been unusually quiet and again, he asked me “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
If I was on a serious date, as the pre-recovery me, I probably would have shook my head enthusiastically and not talked about how I was feeling. But not this time. Instead, I was truthful and with my whole heart replied, “I’m really, truly, just happy, right here, right now.”
And I still am.