At the number 1 stop I board and arrive at, there’s a man who plays the guitar. He’s a little thing — probably no taller than me — and he wears a hat, even in this terribly unbearable heat. But he isn’t homeless or at least, he doesn’t appear to be struggling. From the tone of his voice and the sincerity that it rings through the tunnel, you wouldn’t call him anything but happy. He’s been there in the mornings when I’m catching the train to work, and in the early hours of the weekends when I drag myself out of bed to log a few miles at the gym.
Now that he recognizes me, he always nods while granting me a glimpse at some of the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen, along with a smile to match it. I’ve given him a few dollars here and there, and I’m tempted to buy the CDs he has on display (now after writing this, I have to!) – but mostly, I just stand and watch. And of course, I listen.
He doesn’t have great variety in his musical selection – in fact, in the year-plus I’ve lived in this apartment, I’ve only heard him sing two songs. I don’t mind because they just happen to be some of my favorite melodies: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World.” Most of the time, I have to remind myself not to sing along because I know the lyrics to both, and even though I’ve heard his variations of these classic tunes countless times, I still stop whatever I’m reading, doing or listening to – and give him my undivided attention. (Along with some sweet grins, too.)
Last night, while attempting to survive the smoldering underground station on the way to the gym, I glanced across the platform and saw him warming up on the downtown track. He nodded at a few fans and sat down to begin “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Though he was three lanes away from me, I could hear him perfectly and within a few seconds, he noticed me standing and waved at me. I waved back, leaned against one of the columns and he watched me listen until the uptown train broke his view.
When the air conditioning of the cart soothed me, I thought about the words I’ve overlooked so many times, no matter how much joy they bring when they ring in my ears: somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue. Somewhere over the rainbow, the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.
I’m lucky enough to say at a young age that I’ve achieved so many goals, so many things I’ve always wanted…are mine. While I’ll always say hard work and determination get you far – it’s your heart and your humbleness that keeps you there. I feel so fortunate that I wanted to be a writer and editor in New York – and I am. I wanted to explore the place I’ve loved for as long as I can remember, and now it’s my daily stomping ground. I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin and accept myself for whoever I am at whatever point in my life I happen to be at — and for the first time (in maybe ever) – I feel that way.
But then… there’s this little thing called love.
Sure, I’m not that gotta-have-a-boyfriend girl I was when I moved here. I’m not that person who wrote that very first blog on these pages. I’m not even the broken-hearted woman I was just a few months ago. I’ve found a peace – and dare I say it, a happiness – with being single. I’ve danced with strangers and kissed them because it felt right then – even if I wouldn’t see them again. I’ve walked to the gym baring just a sports bra and yoga pants, being proud of my size-6 curves instead of trying to hide or diet them. I’ve said “yes” at a late night invitation to an open mic with my roommates, not because I thought I’d find some magical encounter, but because I wanted to support people I care about. I’m not defining myself by the men who have hurt me or the ones I’ve liked, only to find they weren’t as into me as I’ve wished they were. I’m not really worrying too awful much about meeting someone shiny-and-new, either (though I have an inkling Mr. July will eventually show his handsome face this summer — but more on that later).
And yet, even though it’s not a priority, even if it doesn’t bother me, even if it’s much, much (much!) easier for me to fly solo — the simple truth is that dating is hard. Maybe it’s not as much dating – as it is daring to keep dreaming.
Or rather, daring to keep hoping. For something that there’s really, truly, sadly, no guarantee that it’ll come true.
Especially when there are instances or experiences that seem like they prove it: when a guy you completely forgot about pops into your life and asks you to drinks, but then turns out to be a dud who can’t even plan an hour ahead of time. Or when you spot a guy on the subway looking at his girlfriend (or wife) with such love in his eyes that you realize no one has ever looked at you quite like that, with quite that look. Or when your friends start pairing up and spill the beans that they’ve found the one they want to spend their life with, and you have a hard time committing to Saturday night plans. Or when you’re sitting next to one of your strongest, loveliest of friends and you can see the same disappointment on her face that you often find on your own, and you know that probably for the both of you, it won’t be the last time you stomach such an emotion.
It isn’t easy – but they (those annoyingly adorable coupled folks) tell us it’s worth it. That it all happens for a reason (yeah, yeah), and that one day it’ll just happen… if you have patience. You smile and roll your eyes (either figuratively or later in the presence of your single friends) – and you keep on going. You keep on dating. You keep getting to know people. You try new things. You move on. You keep learning.
You keep daring that same dream. You keep hoping for it…because maybe it really is out there.
Maybe its over city scapes or the Garden Gate. Over warm countrysides or waiting in the evening’s tide. Maybe it’s over in the next cart or just anticipating when it’ll start. Or maybe it’s just across the room or in places new, places you knew. Or it could just be inside of you. And that dream you dared to dream, awaits, for someone like you.
Because if bluebirds can fly, if strangers can find each other, if so many before me can fall in love with the right man, why, oh why, can’t I? Why, oh why, can’t you?