In New York, there are certain areas of the city that residents stay away from: mainly those ending in “square.” Near Macy’s and the Empire State Building at Madison Square, and with all the shining lights and smelly streets in Times Square, just to name two. Once you see certain things once, there is no need to return, unless you have a guest visiting who has never seen them– and then as a New Yorker (no matter how long you’ve actually lived here), you feel a moral obligation to show them the sights.
While during the winter season, it could be argued Bryant Park is one of those areas to steer clear of with the Trump Ice Skating Rink and little shops – for me, it is a part of town that’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
Maybe it’s because it featured the many timeless houses of couture for decades during Fashion Week or because it is home to the New York Public Library, or maybe because I used to spend Tuesday afternoons listening to a children’s choir and drinking coffee from a local vendor – but Bryant Park, even when it’s crowded with tourists and shoppers, is absolutely beautiful.
As I usually do on Sundays, I spent a large portion of this past Sunday afternoon writing, applying to freelancing positions (base salary just doesn’t cut it!), and coming up with new ideas. It is a time of the week where my obligations are not pressing and I can take a breather to do what landed me in this city in the first place: dreaming. And so, I ventured to my park, set up shop in one of my favorite cafes, appropriately stole Wifi, and went to town.
Two hours, a chicken soup, and hot tea later, I gathered my laptop, bundled up and eagerly went to walk around the park, even if I had to brave the cold. As I crossed the street, prepared to get the same rush of energy I always do – I was hit with a wave of sadness.
You know, that feeling that makes your heart heavy, knocks the air out of you (and not because it’s less than 30 degrees), and you get this almost uncontrollable urge to burst into tears? I tried to brush the odd feeling aside and continue embracing one of my favorite Manhattan scenes, but after about five minutes, I couldn’t take it and knew that if I didn’t catch the train home, I would be that girl on the street, sobbing, and attracting unnecessary attention.
By the time I finally made it to the 100s and into my apartment, I sat down on my bed and let myself cry. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t expected, and it came without a reason. Once the weight lifted off my heart and I felt sturdy enough to stand, I gathered the pieces together and tried to figure out what the hell was wrong with me.
I couldn’t blame it on the menstrual menaces, it didn’t come from an old familiar longing to be with a man, it wasn’t the result of a bad fight with a friend or the loss of a loved one. Really, I had an incredible weekend and up until my Kate Spade boots touched upon the park, I was in a delightful, hopeful mood.
So what happened?
Unsure of what was going on with me and fighting the need to be weak, I escaped to the Internet to take my mind off of my unexplained breakdown – and there it was, waiting in my Gmail, the solution to my regression: an email from Mr. Possibility.
This message wasn’t a bad one, nor have we really repaired anything since he explored other possibilities. We still talk, we’re still friends, and I have no plans to cut him out of my life. But what I realized was – I hadn’t really let myself get upset about what happened.
Regardless if it was merited or not, if either of us wanted a relationship, commitment or exclusivity, or if I had a right to be sad– I was. However, because I am on this journey to standing up for myself, choosing myself before attempting to woo a man into the role of boyfriend, and letting go of these self-defeating thoughts, I thought I needed to be strong. Not just for me, but for the women (and men?) who were walking down this road with me, too.
But that’s the thing about paths, sometimes you need to sit down and rest, sometimes you step on a rock or twist your ankle, or you run out of momentum, and there you are, at a fork in the road, wondering which way is the best route to take. While tenacity and self-love may be the ultimate goal, knowing that it’s okay to be imperfect, to cry when you feel pain, and allow yourself to fall apart when you need it – are all steps along the way.
Maybe I hadn’t realized it at the time, but Bryant Park was part of one of our really memorable dates. He took me ice skating, which really involved waiting in line for an ungodly amount of time and then being nearly knocked down by speeding 12 year olds, while Mr. Possibility and I stood (yes, stood, not skated) in awe of how fast they could go. We laughed, held hands, and I watched his cheeks go from his normal Irish-inspired-white to rosy. It was right around this time that I realized he wasn’t just some guy I was seeing or some guy that would be fleeting from my life in a moment’s notice…but that maybe, just maybe, he was a possibility for something more someday.
I’m not quite sure what I think now, but I realized that by remaining tough in front of all of my friends and on the pages of this blog, I wasn’t being honest with myself. Sure, I’m not broken down. I’m not destroyed. I’m not eating chocolate chip cookie dough like its going out of style. I’m not throwing away everything he ever gave me or deleting emails or writing his name for the entire world to see (nor would I ever about anyone). I’m not beating myself up or blaming myself or thinking his curiosity is due to me.
But I am human.
And though I’m diligently working at finding serenity in my single self, I did meet someone who I could imagine a relationship with down the road. Even though I’ve made great strides in this journey and I did take a dive into unchartered waters, I ended up with most of my hopes drowned. Even though I’m not at a place where I want a relationship, I never wanted my trust to be broken before anything had time to blossom. Even though I never considered him my end-all-be-all and I approached the dating scene with a new-and-improved point of view, what could-be turned out to be something that’s currently-not.
Even though I picked me, he didn’t pick me. And for that Sunday, I let myself feel it, let it out, and let it go. Showing and experiencing weakness doesn’t mean the enthusiasm behind the “recovery” goes a few notches down, it just means that tears are sometimes the trail that leads to peace.
Plus, the best thing about being knocked down and falling (either to a heart break or in love), is that you get to be a single gal who stands up, dusts herself off, and struts her way towards something new, confident in the company of herself and knowing that at times she may stumble and she may plummet, but she will never stay down for long.