Why do you write? She asked me – her eyes wide and youthful, full of that uncertain certainty only possible fresh out of college. It’s the time before you’ve had to handle the worst kind of rejection and just before you dip your thoughts into the world of paying bills and deciding on your 401K. I may be just a handful of years older than being legal to order the sangria I was sipping, but those years have a way of putting adulthood into perspective.
I smiled and wrinkled my nose, as I always have when I’m trying to think of something thoughtful and profound, something that’ll inspire and provoke. I spat out the things I could think of: because I’m passionate about it, because it relaxes me, because it’s how I express myself, because I’ve just always known that’s what I wanted to do. Because her career goals are similar to what mine were at her age, I knew she was taking in every word, trying desperately to find something to make her feel more at ease in the awful waiting period between where you left and where you want to be. I reassured her that everything works out for a reason, and that finding the right path professionally is a lot like finding your way romantically: you just have to put your whole heart in and hope you’re loved back in return.
The happy hour came and it passed, I shook hands and I gave out a business card or two before heading northwest to my cozy, yet nearly unbearably sticky apartment. Instead of taking the shuttle from Grand Central to Times Square, I decided to walk and inhale the June air. In just a week – or maybe as little as a day – it’d be too hot to be outside anywhere in Manhattan, so I should cherish it for what it was worth now.
I looked straight ahead, pretending my toes weren’t pinched in my brand new wedges that look great but aren’t exactly ideal for strolling avenues. While the lights blazed me forward, my thoughts held me backward – thinking of all I’ve had, what I’ve learned and mostly, what I’ve absorbed. I came to this city full of rose-colored dreams and earnest intentions, hanging onto the belief that if I set my mind to it, I could do it. Whatever it was, no matter the risk, regardless of the outcome.
And somehow, just as I advised, it’s all worked itself out. Not only worked out – but surprised me on how amazing it really can be. I sighed in thanksgiving, remembering the days I thought nothing would ever be what I wanted it to be and I silently said a prayer to the city I love (and the heavens that rest above it) to always keep my spirits high and my brow humble.
But even that remarkable feeling couldn’t get that question out of my head: why do you write?
Why do I write?
I can’t remember far back enough to a time when I didn’t have a pen in my head or something brewing in my mind. I love seeing words stringed together almost as much as I enjoy reading them out loud, listening to the way they flow and they rest in the air. I indulge in the challenge of coming up with a new way to think about something we’ve all thought carelessly about hundreds of times. As any writer will tell you – part of the thrill is seeing you name in print and knowing someone else is affected by something you wrote.
But this blog – which I’ve obviously neglected frequently lately – was just a place to vent. A free, blank space to express what I had held inside for so long. Feelings of insecurity, convictions that I was crazy, worries that I was the only one who ever thoroughly struggled with being single. I never knew it would grow as it has, that it would lead to me things I never imagined would be mine or that I’d reach people from South Africa to Nairobi.
And what it’s taught me about myself as a woman, as a partner, as a friend – and as a writer – has been the best part of all. It’s shown me in black-and-white, in emails, in the faces of strangers who I didn’t know were reading these posts, that…I’m not the only one.
I’m not the first woman who has stayed in a dead-end relationship and swallowed her pride and dignity, with not reward at the end. I’m not the first girl in New York to walk past a gloating couple on the Upper West Side with a newborn wrapped in baby Ralph Lauren and wondered if that’d ever be me. I’m not the first woman to linger by the phone aimlessly waiting for a guy who will never be what I want him to be, even if I love him as hard as my heart will allow. I’m not the first woman to wonder if, really, there are men out there who will desire me even a fraction of what I deserve. I’m not the first – and I won’t be the last – to take a chance on something: a city, a lover, a dream….I’ve yet to feel, taste or see.
And while being single can sometimes seem intolerably lonely and like there will never been a light out of the smoky bars and empty promises – the best part of being solo is knowing that…you’re really not.
You’re not the last single woman standing, and no matter how ridiculous you seem, how scared you may feel, how insignificant fears or people can make you feel – you’re not alone.
And because of all of you, the loyal readers I’ll probably never actually meet, I know that I’m not alone, either.