The Misinterpretation of the Palm

Last night with Mr. Possibility and a few fabulous friends in tow, I attended Cosmopolitan’s Summer Splash Party at the Hudson Terrace. It was everything you’d expect out of a Cosmo party – sponsored in part by Durex and Plan B, complete with blow-outs and make-up touchups, bags of beauty goodies and of course, palm readings.

Now – I’ve had palm readings several time in the past. I’ve always wanted to find one of those secret psychics who doesn’t advertise like the rest of the city clairvoyants with services to offer. Those that are hidden away that don’t charge barely anything at all because they just want to help, they just have this special gift they must offer the world. Because I’m not rich and famous and connected to such individuals, I usually settle for whatever I can find. Whoever can give me an unrealistic peace of mind.

As he could have probably guessed, as soon as I saw the palm readers, I signed up for my turn and Mr. Possibility headed to get us drinks. I manged to only be sixth in line and as I sipped my Pinnacle Whipped Vodka that remarkably tasted just like cream soda, I kept one eye on the table, anticipating my glimpse into the crystal ball. A few minutes later, our mutual friends arrived and while Mr. P joined them in a loop around the space, I sat down in front of my personal psychic for the evening.

Having done this countless times before, I knew exactly how to place my hand and I excitedly waited for her to reveal the vision she saw for me in the future. She casually asked my name and I was careful not to reveal anything else, knowing how easy it is to get sucked into a conversation and then they base your entire reading off of what you’ve already told them. She analyzed my palm, turning it over and running her fingers along the lines. She asked if there was any particular subject I was interested in more than another and I requested to chat about my career, as it happens to be the one I’m thinking about the most these days.

Looking deeply in my eyes as a photographer snapped pictures of me, I tried to look intrigued though she hadn’t said anything yet. “So, I see that you’ve never really known what you wanted to do. You had a hard time picking a major in college and now you’re trying to decide what industry to go into. You’re still young, I see, so you have time. Maybe you should try art school or work at a museum or dabble into writing. You might really like writing if you give it a try. You have someone in your family who can support you financially, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Then you can really explore.”

Not one to hide anything I’m feeling, my forehead must have been scrunched up something awful, so she asked, “Is there any other topic you’re interested in knowing about?” I was stunned speechless at her complete inaccuracy – the other psychics at least can come up with some sort of something that’s somewhat true. I have always been a writer, always known what I wanted to do, and if I do have a wealthy relative I’ve never met, I’d love to be introduced. She was still blinking at me intensely, maybe trying to prove herself impressionable when Mr. P came by and dropped a drink next to me. I didn’t respond to thank him, but it reminded me of something I usually ask about:

Love.

“Well, what about my love life?” I asked. She went back to scrutinizing my hand, tilting her head this way and that as I watched, continuing to doubt her. A few moments later she looked up at me and said, “You have mixed feelings about relationships. You have a hard time committing, don’t spend a lot of time obsessing about love and have never been one to be ridiculous about men. You’re not seeing anyone special, but you could be if you would let go of the past. Wait – not the past, the past of your parents. Don’t worry, just because they are split up doesn’t mean that you’ll split up with your husband. You have to take chances or you’ll look back on your life ten years from now and wonder why you never loved anyone.”

Having heard enough, I thanked her for her time and she gave me hand lotion as a parting gift. Mr. P was waiting close by and asked, “So, what’s the future hold, babe?” I rolled my eyes in annoyance and told him what she said. He jokingly asked if he could meet this side of me and I shared the story with the rest of our friends. Maybe being an astrologer’s daughter has ruined me for psychics, or maybe the comfort we seek in a psychic is something that’s impossible and overrated.

Because as much as we’d like, there’s no one to predict our fates. We can’t control what the universe gives us, only what we give it. There’s no way to see the blueprint, only ways to build the life we want to live. No matter how brilliant it would be to know what’s next, who we’re going to end up with, and what success will find us, knowing before isn’t an option to opt into.

So instead we have to just be. We have to take chances and make mistakes, go so big and so hard that going home isn’t in the cards. We have to pray for what we want but understand we usually get what we need. And though we may hope for the very best, perhaps it’s actually best to prepare for the worst, just in case. We have to have faith in ourselves, trust in the master plan that we can’t see, and love those we’ve yet to meet.

There’s no telling what’s next, no matter how many fortune tellers we visit or stars we read. Maybe we design our destinies, maybe it’s all pre-determined – regardless, the point of it all is to just live, hoping that one day it all works out. Perhaps how we imagined, how we planned, how we thought it would.

Or maybe, it turns out in a way so beautiful and complicated that our own palm could have never predicted its path.

Trusting the Fire

It’s an accurate statement that I’m a bit of a pyromaniac. As a fireman’s daughter, I was taught fire safety from a very young age and I still practice stopping, dropping and rolling – only it’s not for the same purposes. Though as much effort as my father put into to teaching me the best practices as they pertain to open flames and gray smoke, if there is a candle around, I still want to dip my finger in the wax. I like lighting matches just for the hell of it and my idea of the perfect end to an August evening is sitting around a campfire, attempting to perfect the toasted marshmallow.

With my experience in fire-loving, I’ve learned a few things about getting one started and about extinguishing them. While the flames are always so appealing and they make you feel so warm to be near, distance is best. If you get too close, you run the risk of getting burned or of putting out the fire before it has time to grow or to really heat up anything. A flame does best when it has something to burn, with a little more added here and there to keep it going. It prefers a soft breeze to a gush of wind and it’ll grow hotter if you give it space.

Being in a relationship and developing trust within it – is a lot like playing with fire. Actually, it’s a lot like flirting with fire. You’re trying to entice success and get close without getting too close, constantly teetering on the edge of a booming romance and damned disaster. At any given moment, it feels like it can go either way.

Mr. Possibility and I obviously had some issues to work out concerning trust. I’m not someone who naturally trusts anyone – I believe it is better to be earned than just given without any consultation. Prove to me you’re trustworthy and I’ll forever trust you, prove to me the opposite and you’ll spend a lot of time earning the trust you never had.

Even so – I’m learning that the natural reaction to developing trust (spending endless amounts of time together) is one that I shouldn’t encourage. Sure, being around someone 24/7, never having to wonder where they are or who they’re with or what they’re doing seems like the perfect way to show their loyalty, but if you squeeze too tightly, you end up putting all the fire out. Like they say, nothing can bloom in shade.

Without room, without giving each other some space to develop true trust, nothing can build, no fire can accumulate. The spark won’t get stronger if you’re constantly fanning it or hovering over it, praying and hoping it won’t go out. To keep it strong, to create something you can rely on, you have to learn to have faith in the space. You have to give it fodder without putting it out.

And you have to believe – in yourself, in your partner and in the relationship. But most of all, you have to believe that sometimes flames start steady and never last, some struggle but end up lighting up the whole room, some are so hot you melt, but burn out quicker than you like, and sometimes, with the right combination of everything, you find a fire that not only keeps you warm, but reminds you why having flames of passion isn’t as important as having trust that it’ll stay lit.

Damn Girl, You’re Lookin’ Good

Back in college, when I was wrestling with the idea of having sex outside of a relationship, a friend of mine asked me something so ordinary that it caught me off guard:

Do you find yourself sexy when you’re all alone?

It’s was an interesting concept, I thought at the time. I looked down at myself wearing a homecoming t-shirt from the year before with baggy sweatpants, my hair pulled up in a clip I’d never be caught dead wearing in New York. My makeup was smudged from the day’s wear and I had just downed at least two pieces of pizza (I won’t admit to anything higher than that). But had I needed to be sexy today?

What had I done anyway? I had gone to class wearing jeans and cute top with heels. I had met friends for lunch, had no intentions of seeing a man that evening or of taking off my clothes in any strip-pole-approved manner. It was just another day – one that ended in my dorm room, next to my friend with green eyes and flawless olive-color skin. She had back muscles – something I’m still figuring out how to develop even with my best gym efforts. I bet she always felt sexy, regardless if a guy was worshiping her or not, I thought as I looked at her. This surely wasn’t a fair question for me to answer – the me who is consistently pale and pimpley.

“I mean, I feel sexy when I dress myself up for a night out or where that little black dress I love,” I replied casually. She rolled her eyes at me in return: “No, silly – I mean when there is no intention of being with anyone or of having sex or of doing anything. Do you ever have a night in with yourself where you just feel sexy on your own?” she asked. I raised an eyebrow in return, silently questioning her. “Oh Linds, I don’t mean like that, I just mean the feeling of being sexy,” she said with exaggeration.

At that point – I hadn’t.

I only put on anything remotely sexy when I thought I would have a reason to take it off. I only splurged on lingerie when there was a special occasion or when I felt the need to up the ante with my partner at the time. I never lathered myself in lotion and expensive perfume just for the hell of it, or laid around in silk bathrobes or lace bras and panties. I didn’t walk around naked, only in my heels and look at myself in the mirror and think, “Damn girl! Look at you!”

I admitted that I don’t feel sexy alone and she made a suggestion: “When I want to feel sexy on my own, I order in a pizza and then I change into my sexiest lingerie and eat it alone on the couch with dim lighting and sensual music.” While that sounded nice, it wasn’t the way I wanted to romance myself.

And to really knock myself off my own feet, I’d have to figure out what was romantic to me. Over the course of the next few weeks when my roommate wasn’t home, I’d try different things. I’d walk around naked with stilettos. I’d eat a big bowl of pasta while wearing silk (and pray not to drip on it). I’d throw something over my lamp to make it sultry and I’d curl up my hair so it flowed around my face. I laid on my bed seductively, attempting to find a position that made me feel like a supermodel. I tried all sorts of things until none of them worked, I lost interest and forgot the conversation.

Maybe my friend had found her inner-sexy at 19, but it took me a little more time. It wasn’t until I moved, when I came home after a day of worked, followed by dinner with a dear friend and poured myself a glass of wine that it clicked. I was standing in a black skirt from work, a black lace push-up bra, my only pair of designer shoes still on, my hair naturally wavy with Merlot resting in my hand and I caught a glimpse of myself. My other hand was turning on the computer, my lips were pieced and my eyes were unusually blue for being indoors and I felt beautiful.

I finally felt sexy.

And it wasn’t that I was doing anything particularly sexy – there were no candles, no soothing music, no anything spectacular. But that was the beauty of it. That was what made it sexy. I realized that without trying, without making a big deal of it, without testing out positions or deciding if silk or stockings gave me more pin-up qualities that I was sexy. I was sexy all on my own, without doing anything at all.

So I don’t really try to romance myself anymore. I wear the right bra with the right shirt, sometimes it is lace and sometimes its not. I buy skirts that fit me, some that hug my hips more than others. I lay however I wish on my bed and I don’t think twice. And I continue to find these moments where I catch a passing reflection of myself on the street or in the privacy of my apartment that I see my inner sex goddess and that Southern drawl comes out all on its own with and it thinks: “Damn girl, you’re lookin’ good!”

If We Were Just Friends

After a slew of difficult conversations with her newlywed husband, one of my dearest friends L called me in a panic last night. Her voice was stuffy and brittle and though I’ve only seen her face-to-face once in the past year, I could imagine her scrunched face and droopy eyes. I’ve always thought her to be one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known, but she’s no chameleon – whatever she’s feeling, she wears it.

Hearing her strain to explain her frustration, I played the part of the level-headed friend who is there for her bestie when she needs her. I can’t say I approve of her husband – they met right when I moved to New York and married less than a year later. She seemed happy while they were dating and always gushing over him. When I finally was introduced to him, he was pleasant and attractive enough. Though he isn’t my type, he seemed as if he adored her and without any reservations from her end, I had no choice but to wish them well.

While the relationship is solid, life around it is affecting them. They did a lot of things at once – they said their “I do’s”, moved across the state, both started looking for jobs, and signed the lease on their first apartment. With all of these changes, it’s normal that their marriage is under stress and because of that, they’re having to figure out how to communicate with one another. You’d think the whole “talking” to your partner thing would be the easiest of all – we all have friendships where we blabber beyond end without thinking twice. Conversation comes casually and naturally and it’s something we take for granted – we’ve always been able to talk to everyone in our lives, so why are men so difficult to talk to?

It’s not they are – it’s that everything seems emotionally-connected to the relationship that any words they say (or don’t say) mean more than anything else. Like one afternoon your boyfriend is super talkative and flirty, affectionately touching you and saying the sorts of things you only hear in rom-coms and then that night, he’s a little moody and sensitive, requesting a bit of space and some time apart. Or you mistakenly set your alarm for early in the morning and it goes off, waking up your partner when it’s their only morning to sleep in the entire week. Annoyed and a little drowsy, they snap at you and roll over, breaking that peaceful nook that is impossible to replace with any “boyfriend pillow” regardless of what wonky promises infomercial make. Or after spending countless nights together, the need for a night alone outweighs that pretty little nook.

I’m not an expert at this – Mr. P can definitely testify to that. He has a tendency to slide open his other girlfriend, his Blackberry, when he can’t sleep. Having read dozens of articles about how that light is particularly harmful to your eyes when you’re trying to fall asleep, it not only keeps me awake, but I know it’s not going to make his arrival in dreamland any sooner. Instead of saying this maturely or making a joke out of it, cranky-me huffs-and-puffs and makes a silly comment, only causing him to sigh heavily – obviously annoyed. These sorts of things – like asking for room so the heart can grow fonder or a guy’s need to veg – I’ve learned how to handle better and more effectively by adopting one single phrase into my vocabulary:

What would I do if we were just friends?

Say the same situation happened while having a girl’s night with my friends. We’re all sharing a Queen or a blowup mattress and one of us can’t sleep so she pulls out her phone to Facebook or check Gmail (though it takes forever to load) – what would I say to her? I’d probably toss a pillow at her and giggle, say something about the guy she flirted with that night and tell her to play a little harder to get. She’d probably throw some playful profanity my way and shut down the phone and fall asleep. And if we woke up to the sound of someone’s alarm clock going off randomly, it wouldn’t cause an argument if we were disgruntled, it’d just be something we’d laugh about over coffee and pancakes at the diner in the morning.

These sorts of irritations and miscommunications happen all the time – but they only seem to matter when they involve someone we’re in love with. But maybe if we approached our partner as a friend, not as this loverboy who holds our band-aided heart in his hands, we’d avoid a lot of arguments. We’d be a little more understanding, lighthearted and relaxed about our relationships. We’d forgive each other easier, treat one another how we would a best friend, and stop thinking that because your guy is a guy, his reactions mean more. As far as I can tell from my own relationships, the best thing you could ever give a man is breathing room. And to you know, treat him like a dude or how you would your own friend.

Because if your boyfriend isn’t someone you’d pick as a friend if you weren’t sleeping with them or in love – then you have no business being with them to begin with. And if you can’t give your guy a break or learn how to listen more than you jump to conclusions – then maybe you’re not ready to be a girlfriend or wife. Those seem like alluring titles when you really want someone to call you yours, but once you have them – you’ve gotta remember that they take a lot of work. And that same patience you’d give your freaking-out-friend on a Sunday evening.

In fact – that same patience times a hundred. Or so.

Playing House

I haven’t been outside today.

I woke up late with Mr. Possibility, made french toast while he made bacon, we watched re-runs of The Sopranos while lying around, aimlessly chatting and working on our own projects. From time-to-time we’d look over at each other and smile, at other times we were content just sitting in the same room. I showered and immersed myself into a freelancing article that’s due tomorrow and he wrapped himself up in the language studies that are occupying his mind.

There was nothing special about this day – now I’m still working on that damn article while writing this blog, munching on leftovers and drinking a glass of Merlot that’s hitting all the right spots. M recently got me hooked on Criminal Minds, so it is serving as a beautiful distraction, the only sound in the room except for the dishwasher running.

I’m not wearing anything fancy nor am I sporting my usual face of makeup, I’m natural with my hair wavy and unbrushed, I’m completely alone in an apartment that’s not mine – and I’m happy in the silence. I’m not sure if I believe in moving in together before becoming engaged, but I do know that playing house can sometimes be a good indicator of how you work with someone on a day-to-day basis.

The daily interactions used to not matter so much to me. I was in college or right out of it and thought that romance and butterflies, sexual tension and candlelit dinners were more important than anything else. I wanted to always have a racing heart, a sweaty palm and the feeling that I couldn’t live without someone. I wanted it to be intense and over-the-top, the kind of irresponsible and uncontrollable love that makes you die a little inside when you think about it.

Sure, I have sparks with Mr. Possibility. There’s definitely passion. But it’s not remarkable chemistry that makes us click – it’s the way we operate as a team. And while we’re not living together, nor will be we be anytime soon, the fact that we can function easily without much tension is a testament to how playing house could translate into making a home.

I’m not at that stage in my life – I couldn’t imagine having days like today over and over again. There are still countries I want to visit, experiences I want to have, people I want to meet, dreams to follow, and mistakes I want to make before I settle into happily-ever-after-home-sweet-home. I want to become a better version of me before I become anyone’s partner for the long run.

But sometimes, on a lazy Sunday with a pretty big week ahead, it’s refreshing to sit around in your guy’s t-shirt, relaxing and writing just as you love to do, enjoying the company of yourself and looking forward to the person you love to come home. I don’t want to be settled down, but it’s nice to have your heart settled in a moment.