During the summer in New York, right around 8 p.m., as we’re heading off to indulge in sangria and sunsets, there is an orange shadow that cascades across the streets, beaming off the buildings, and leaving everything it touches with a crisp, bronzed haze. It is one of my favorite moments in the city all-year-round, and regardless of where I am or who I’m with, just seeing the amber reflection is enough to distract my attention and make me take a big breath.
I was thankful for a moment of clarity before meeting Mr. Unexpected for a celebratory sushi and sake date on Friday night, after a very long, very exasperating week. I had a hard time sleeping every night last week, my nerves never calming down from the many changes of the past few months circling in my head and enticing my heart to race. And though I always get a little anticipant to see Mr. Unexpected, once we start talking, he has a certain way of calming me down, too. Sitting across from him, with the citrus sun still radiating above us, I took another big breath of pure stress release.
In fact, I’ve been reminding myself to breathe a lot lately.
To say this year has been ripe with change, expenses and new experiences would be a vast understatement. If anyone would have told me all of the things that would happen in 2014, I would have never believed them.
Just to recap:
- My dad had unexpected heart surgery at the start of the year.
- I had my last day at iVillage – after three years – on a Thursday in April.
- The next day, I left for a 10-day trip to Paris and Rome with my mom.
- Two days after I got back, I started my exciting, challenging and entertaining job at WEtv.com.
- Then I got in – via raffle – to the NYC marathon.
- Two weeks later I met who I thought would be my roommate for an October 1 move date.
- Then I realized my lease ended on September 1. (You know, when I’ll be in London visiting J for a week.)
- Which means I would have to move by August 15.
- Two weeks later, I met Mr. Unexpected.
- 20+ dates later, we are an actual thing.
- The roommate, who I thought would be moving with me, couldn’t anymore.
- I decided that I couldn’t possibly train for the marathon, go on a big trip, do well in my new job and find an apartment and train for the marathon. So I backed out.
- So with a month to go to find an apartment, I somehow found two roommates.
- And a subletter for my current apartment – for just a month.
- I signed a lease yesterday. To move to the East Village!
The funny thing is that I have wanted so many of these things for such a long time: a new job with more responsibility, management and strategy, a man that surprises me with how easy it is to date him, a lease that keeps me downtown and more in the city, and the financial ability to travel more than I have before. I have been ready for these transformations and these interruptions into my daily routine and life – I suppose I just never thought that it would all happen at one time.
Or within the first six months of 2014.
I wasn’t ready for all of this last year and I guess I didn’t consider if I was ready now, but it’s all happening, so I might as well enjoy it, right? I asked Mr. Unexpected that night.
Are we ever ready for these things? He responded, smiling at me from across the rickety table, drinking his sake much faster than me.
And while I agree – most of the best things and hardest things and most influential things that occur in our lives, we rarely see coming – I also think you have to go through a lot of hardship and endure a lot of complacency before you’re brave enough to make a move. (Literally!)
I might have thought I could go from one side of the city to another (and up my rent quite a bit) last year, but I would have buckled under the stress (and the weight of those security deposit and broker’s fee checks). I might have thought that I would be able to savor and enjoy international travel, but that excursion couldn’t have come at a better time: in between two jobs, without having to think about checking email or wondering what was going on in the office. I might have thought that I had patched up my relationship with my father after his cancer scare last year, but there’s something about the possibility of your dad’s heart almost actually breaking to snap you into gratitude mode. And of course, I might have thought I was ready to invest in a something with a someone, but it takes more than a few failed dates to realize your worth – and what you want in a partner.
So am I ready for these things? A new job, a new apartment, a new man, my third new country to visit in about a month? I considered, falling asleep next to him, staring out my Upper West Side window, the one I’ve looked out of countless times, wishing my life would just change already. I felt Lucy by my feet, curling herself into a ball – and like I always do, I placed my hand on my heart to settle it, but it was calm already. For the first time in weeks. I took in that big breath again and I settled my mind, concluding that I don’t know if I’m ready for anything.
But what I do know that the only thing I have to know is how to breathe. And to trust. I have to remember that if struggles have taught me anything, it’s that I always have myself to depend on in the end, no matter what. And that fact is enough to make me – with all of the stress and the anxiety and the uncertainness of everything roaming my thoughts – relaxed enough to let go.
And with the biggest breath of all, let it happen.