This morning while trying my best to move quickly — even though vacation starts tomorrow — my friend M sent me a screenshot of this day a year ago from the app, TimeHop.
It was a shot of the two of us at the beach, the first week of July 2012, burying each other in the sand while sipping on the mixed beverages we technically weren’t supposed to have on Long Beach. Our hair was wet and our bodies were freckled, and though so much has changed since then, I remember that day so vividly I could almost smell the ocean air.
It was during that time that I had successfully ended contact with Mr. P after six months of post-relationship sex I grew to regret. At that time, I had not spoken to him three months and had painfully ignored every text, voicemail and phone call. A week after that day at the beach, he emailed to say he was moving overseas for a year and could he please see me. Please take me to dinner. It would be another month before I would eventually give in and meet him at Bryant Park, followed by too much wine in the Flat Iron District. And dancing in Madison Square Park at midnight, on a work night. That would be the last time I saw him, looking out the window of the number one train, watching him walk away yet again.
It was at that time last year that I was desperately uncomfortable with my body and pushing myself to get back on a running schedule. I had gained weight and lost confidence in the aftermath of my breakup and the uptick of my responsibilities at work, and though I wanted to turn down a beer (or four), I found myself feeding my insecurities with fatty food and beverages. I couldn’t stand the sight of myself in a bikini or get enough gumption to go up to a guy in a bar with my acne-prone skin and pudgy tummy. It would still be a month from that beach day, where sand covered my muffin top, before I’d pick up running again and another three before I finished my very first 5k in 28 minutes. A month after that, I’d go on Accutane and six months later, relish being makeup free and ten pounds lighter.
It was at that time that M and I were closer than we had ever been, roaming about town as single ladies on a mission for adventure, for intrigue, for some romance, for anything and everything that piqued our interest. It was at this time that we giggled on her couch in Sunnyside, Queens about who would meet someone first and how it would change or not change, shake or not startle our friendship. How we might miss this time being fun and fancy free. It would be another four months before M met her now boyfriend, another three before they moved in together in Brooklyn, and another two before they welcomed a dog into their home.
It was at that time that I had just gone to a psychic that predicted I’d meet the man I would marry by the end of 2012, that I’d be on TV in 2013 and see a big (positive) shift in my bank accounts in 2014. It was at this time that I was starting to feel released from the past, or at least letting go of its bittersweet hold on me. It was at that time that I started to feel so incredibly settled in a city that doesn’t stop for any heartache, any setback, any stint if unemployment or any hesitation. It was at that time that I found myself building up everything I thought I could, and it was at that time that I started to dream about a year from then.
I imagined that by the first week in July of 2013, surely I would be completely over Mr. P and gladly, happily dating someone, if not the the someone. I hoped I’d be lucky enough to still be at my job, still loving the work, even if I sighed over the sweaty commute in the dead heat of summer. I thought that maybe I’d be writing this blog more often, but also wondered if it would be around at all, if something else other than my dating and personal life would take priority in my writing. I didn’t think I’d have a dog or a new apartment, but I smiled at the vision of a one bedroom all by myself and a baby pup to come home to.
I’m far away and closer to where I thought I’d be at this time in my life. I have everything together and managed and yet, feel like nothing is quite going as planned. I want to be madly in love and am slightly terrified of finding the right person and making it work for the rest of my life. I find myself on the verge of wanting to shift and move everything in my life and holding on tight to things just as they are, for fear that something new will turn everything upside down.
But none of that really matters.
Because while I can come up with plans and visions of where I think I’ll be a year from now, just like I did before, I know that whatever I conjure, whatever I put together in my head, will never be entirely correct or terribly incorrect. Honestly, there is only one thing for sure, one thing that the past year has taught me — and that’s that change is undeniable.
Men come and they go. Some stay. Others linger. Jobs grow with you and over you. Some you’ll grow out of. Sometimes the best decisions you make are spontaneous and somehow, bring you more joy than the ones you labor over. Friendships have to be given room to bloom and will never grow in shadows. Acceptance of yourself is the hardest battle you’ll ever fight, but the most important one. Remembering you’re not the only one who doesn’t have their um, s*** together is a hard lesson to learn, but it’s the one that’ll bring you the most peace. Giving yourself a break is easier said than done, but something that’ll help you sleep better at night. You’re never going to remain stationary because you’re far too interesting to be boring, to be the same, forever.
The truth is, I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now, but I do know that I will not be the same woman I am today. And instead of being afraid of changing and growing, loving and possibly losing, dreaming and maybe failing, I’m ready for the challenge. I’m excited to see just how much – and how very little – I know about the person I’ll be a year from now.
And whoever she is, whomever she turns into, I bet she’ll be pretty great. Because even with all the good and the bad of the past year, she’s somehow came out even better than she already was.