It’s unusually warm in New York this season – the only indication that winter’s near are the white holiday lights and the fact that they glow at 5 p.m. I’m enjoying being able to sport my belted light-weighted jacket for more than a week (which is usually how long Fall lasts in the city), but sometimes, I think the weather is simply reflected more inside than out this year.
After a day of shopping for last-minute gifts and some gotta-have-it-can’t-stand-it buys, I caught the uptown train toward my apartment. Instead of reading this month’s book club book, reading my NBC news app on my iPhone or listening to music, I found myself semi-content people watching. But when the sight of the couple across the cart canoodling and the little girl singing “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” adorably to her grandma became all but a bit too much, I turned my attention to a place I hate to go. I started to drown myself in thoughts, though consciously know they are just that: thoughts, not truths, about what my relationship was with Mr. P.
These memories or once-beautifully constructed notions of that man are weakness of my spirit and mentality. They don’t go with the Kate Spade bag I splurged on as a Christmas gift to myself, the faux-fur Vera Wang muff that makes me think I’m classy or the expensive sheets I purchased only because I wanted to lay on something that he hadn’t shared with me. They don’t match my relentless, sometimes irritating (even to me) optimism or the dating advice I give to both those I love and those I’ve never met. They aren’t part of the made up 12-step program that is really a never-ending adventure of learning to love yourself, over and over again, after each and every man who comes and eventually, as they all do but one, leaves. They aren’t healthy for my self-esteem or my waist line, nor do I want them to have a place in any part of my New York story. They don’t correlate with my hopes for the future or the strength I’ve always tried to find in the bad, instead of focusing on all the things I’m afraid to really feel.
Like loneliness. Or feeling terribly alone, even surrounded by my friends. Or longing for someone that really, was never fully mine. Or disappointment, both in Mr. P and in myself. Actually, especially in myself. For believing, even against what everyone thought or said, whatever red flags were waving or what emotional obstacle I was ignoring, that he was something different. That he could be my someone different, that if we had been through so much together, then we’d make it through in the end. Or the pit in the bottom of my throat every time someone asks me about why we broke up (thank you public blog) and I say “it just wasn’t working out, we were in different places” because I know the truth.
The truth that just because I fell in love with him, for him, the idea of him or maybe a great mix of both, it doesn’t mean he had to fall in love with me, too. And he didn’t, so I left to find someone who could.
I get asked a lot how I do it. How everything just seems to work out or how I don’t give up on my dreams or how I have the courage to take chances when so much is often at stake. How I picked up and moved to a place where I knew next-to-no-one and a few years later, have somehow created a life for myself. There was really never any other choice than coming to New York, so I don’t consider myself brave for doing something that just felt natural. I’m hopeful because bitterness doesn’t look good on anyone and I’d rather be sad than to not feel anything at all. I say these things, I mean these things, but underneath the careful illustration of a beautiful life, lives the weakness, the sadness, the fears, the silly obsessions and even sillier fits of frustration that we all have. And that I definitely have, no matter how much I try to conceal with clever word play or under mineral makeup, Jackie-O sunglasses on the train and waterproof Lancome mascara.
Because those parts, those rusted edges, those Adele songs that I’ve practically worn out in the past three months make me ashamed. They make me feel like I’m wasting time and spinning wheels, when I’ve never hesitated or moved slow with any other part of my life. My friends remind me that it only hurts because it meant something, that I will move on and there will be others, that crying is part of healing and it’s just as natural as breathing when recovering from a breakup. I try to go on dates and I fight the urge to call him or text him when something simple reminds me of him or of us, and the days continue on. Some are as brilliant as the cascading street lights I can see outside of my apartment, and others, like today, bring me to tears on the subway that I avoid by staring intently down at my tattered boots.
And it’s nights like this one, where I lay across my bed, typing away because it makes me feel better, drinking red wine because it makes me feel even better, watching the shadows dance outside as I let the tears splash as they should, that I remind myself that it’s not supposed to be perfect. That I’m not supposed to be perfect. That while I might portray myself as the heroine of a sappy romantic comedy cast on Fifth Avenue, I’m really just human. And with that, comes all of the good that I’m so thankful for, and all of the bad that one day, probably, I’ll be thankful for, too. That falling in love with the wrong person is a rite of passage into the great love I hope is in my cards, and that while I may be afraid to try again, I know somewhere deep down, that I will.
That I will love with all that I have, even if it currently feels like it’ll be a little less than what I loved with before. That I will be brave enough to pack away all of those dreams I had for Mr. P and I away in a place that will be pleasant to visit when I’ve moved on and let go. That I will find peace in the ending and beauty in the fact that I stood up for love by leaving because I knew there was no sense in stopping believing. That I will let someone else into the places that barely anyone ever sees, into those parts that I’m ashamed of, of those parts that make me feel weak. That I will be some man’s partner, and for once, he’ll be mine too.
That it won’t be perfect, but because I never gave up on me, because I felt my way through the ways I needed to mend, because I allowed myself to be vulnerable, because I was courageous enough to say that love is possible, it will be. Even if before any of that can happen or before it can matter, it’s going to have to hurt for a while.
And I’m going to have to let it, no matter how imperfect it may feel.