Dear Boy

Dear boy who showed up drunk on our very first date.

After you moved our meeting time three times because you were running late. You showed up fifteen minutes past when you said you’d be there, and I watched you stumble in. You looked remarkably like someone I already knew, but I tried not to notice your slight case of alcoholism. I smiled and answered your questions, as awkward and intrusive as they were. I attempted not to judge you when you finished three beers before I finished my first glass of wine and after I declined a second one, I politely waited for you to finish your fourth Bud Light. Though you did insist on paying, you also tried to insist on me coming home with you, though I had to open the cab door for you because you couldn’t open it yourself. I laughed as you asked for my number (when you already had it) and then again when you mentioned how much fun we would have if I would stay the night with you (after I already refused before). When you texted me the next day making a joke about drinking too much, I sweetly let you down, and you responded saying I should be more forgiving and go with the flow.

Dear boy who ignored me when I wouldn’t sleep with you on our third date.

I really did like you. I really did feel such a great, amazing connection with you. It was nice to have an educated, interesting conversation with someone that wasn’t based on the basics of New York: where you’re from, what you do, what part of the city you live in, OMG this weather is awful/awesome. I loved the places you picked for our dates and even more so, how you insisted on walking me home and like a gentleman, kissing me goodnight without pressuring to come upstairs. I liked how you sent me funny memes and remembered things about our conversation that I didn’t even recall, and how you set up another date before the date we were on was over. I thought that maybe you and I would be something, something more than a handful of dates or a drunken encounter – but then you disappeared when I wouldn’t give it up on our last date. A day passed. A week. And I realized that even though you talked about many wonderful things that could possibly be, the thing you wanted more than anything was to get jerked off. Sorry I’m not sorry that I disappointed you.

Dear boy who refused to leave Brooklyn on a Saturday night when the L train was down.

The first time we were supposed to meet up, you got too tipsy with friends you haven’t “seen in a long time” and couldn’t stumble your way to a bar to meet me. It was really considerate of you to cancel less than hour before our date, after I showered, walked the dog and was just about to get on the train. I did actually appreciate your sincere and honest apology, and I thought our first date was intriguing and had easy, casual energy. Your motivation and passion for what you do was inspiring and well, I loved that you were 6’3” and held doors open for me. Your follow-up text message that night and the following day were enticing enough for me to agree to a second date. And though I was hesitant about going to your neighborhood, I agreed anyway. But when the trains stopped working and I asked for a compromise that was equally convenient (or inconvenient) for both of us, and you couldn’t be bothered to move from your street (and let’s be honest, your bed, I’m guessing), I couldn’t be bothered to deal with you.

Dear boy who doesn’t know how tall he is or what he does for a living.

Your text messages were alluring and convincing – I really thought our date would be fascinating. But before I even walked in the door, I knew I had been tricked. I’m sorry, but 6’0” and 5’7” are not the same thing – not even close. Especially when I wear heels to impress you on our first date. And while I still would have gone out with you if you said you were merely interning somewhere, I was annoyed that you claimed you lived and worked here. When in reality, you’re just here for the summer. I would have let all of that slide except that you couldn’t keep eye contact for even a second in the 45-minutes we drug out that one drink. Your eyes met my breasts and my legs, my ass and my knees, but never once did you look at me. I tried to brush it off, but I probably showed my anger when as we went to part ways, you joked: “So next time, let’s just do your place.” Let’s not.

Dear boy who showed up wanting to get laid when I was running 100-degree fever.

I liked the outdoor space where we had a few too many cocktails and then went to your friend’s 30th birthday party. I thought it was odd you wanted to bring me along, but we had so much fun dancing and chatting with everyone you knew that I couldn’t wait to go on another date with you. It was so nice of you to show up not only on time, but early, and to order my favorite glass of wine so it was waiting for me. Though I couldn’t decide how attracted I was to you, I was attracted to your personality and the way you expressed yourself. I told myself not to be so picky, to give you a chance, and so I did, on another date. But then I got sick. And I was going out of town. And though I didn’t want to cancel on you, I could hardly get out of bed and barely breathe through my nose, so I did. You surprised me when you said you’d bring soup and drive me to the airport the next morning. When you showed up sans-chicken noodle and pushed me onto my bed, attempting to rip my clothes off and I stopped you, I was appalled when you said: “What, you don’t want to? It’s our fourth date.” After I sweetly kicked you out and cursed you, I made a mental note to always go with my gut.

Dear boy that I loved for three years too long.

You were the best and the worst of them all. You were a boy before we dated and I dreamed you into a man, nursed you into a gentleman and you turned right back into a boy, fooling me every move, every month, every fuck along the way. Your love and what I hoped for us was felt like a shadow extending over everything that I did – always lurking, always promising something that would never be. It took every ounce of dignity, every last slice of pride, every piece of courage I had to finally walk away from you. To block your number and send your emails to trash. To push you out of my life, my thoughts, my lingering belief in impossible possibilities. I loved you in ways that I didn’t know I could love, and you changed me in powerfully painful ways I didn’t know someone could ever inflict. And though everyone told me that it would happen one uneventful day and I never believed them, my attachment to you released in an instant. The heartstrings let loose, my tears ran dry and though you’ll always be somewhere in my thoughts, you’ll never be anything more than a memory. A bittersweet memory that prepared me for the worst of it in New York. If I can survive you, I can survive anything.

Dear me.

You don’t always think you’re doing it right, and more often than not, you’re embarrassed by your insecurities. You blame yourself for everything that goes wrong with some boy, some relationship, some date, even though it’s not (always) your fault. You constantly obsess about being too much or too little, if you’re pretty enough or far too picky to find that love you look for. You keep going when the going gets tough, and though you have your tantrums, you never lose hope. You never give up. And I’m proud of you for that. For never settling, for standing up for yourself, even when it’s the hardest thing to do. Even when your friends think you’re too harsh and when they give advice you don’t take. I’m inspired by how you lead your life with love, even if the love you want the most is not at reach. I know you don’t want to date yet another boy, but do it anyway. Learn from it. Write about it. Help other women. Let all of those dear boys pass through your life because they’re just making you stronger, getting you one step closer to the you that you’re meant to be.

And if you keep believing, closer to the man – not the boy – that’s meant to be, too.

PS: If you have a “Dear Boy” letter you’d like to share, comment below or email me: I’ll publish them anonymously or linking back to your blog or social account. 

My Year of Happy

On pennies thrown into fountains, birthday candles, Chinese lanterns, first stars and shooting ones, at 11:11, when my necklace clasp gets turned around, while holding my breath going through a tunnel and just about anything else I consider lucky, I’m always making wishes.

Or at least — one wish.

It’s always been to find love. To have that relationship that I’ve wanted since I knew what a relationship was. My wish used to be broad and simple, until my mom suggested being specific with my desires. “The universe needs some guidelines, dear,” she said. So I started getting detailed: this height, that laugh, those eyes, that job, this move in bed, those preferences, this amount of children one day, delivered to me within three months. Or next week. Or ya know, now.

I know you’re not supposed to reveal what you wish for, but I can’t imagine it’ll affect my outcome too terribly much, considering how often I’ve wished almost the same wish, with little – or rather – no result. For my birthday this year, I blew out two sets if candles, one with my family on a cake and the other on top of a mini margarita with the family I’ve found in New York.

And though I thought about it, considered it greatly, I didn’t wish for love.

I just wished for happiness.

I want to be happy more than I want to depend on finding some man, somewhere to make me happy. I want it to come from me. I want that peaceful, easy feeling that comes when you’ve really figured out what you want, who you are, where you want to go and how you like to spend your days, without having to factor another person into the equation. The simplest of wishes, sure, but one that I think is more important than bumping into someone at a bar, the train, a dating event, online – wherever – the boys may be hiding these days.

Though I had so many blessings last year, I spent the majority of 24 thinking about the fact I was turning 25. And all of those things that I wanted this past year to bring me, it didn’t really. It wasn’t a bad span of time and nothing truly terrible happened, it just felt like a year that was totally full of work. I got a puppy, which is equal parts stress and joy. My dad found out be had cancer and then was declared cancer free post-surgery. I’m finally up to running 10 solid miles, but it came with lots of training and pushing myself, my bones, my body. I went on Accutane for 7 of the months to clear my skin, and though it worked, it wasn’t without very dry patches and many nights in, alcohol free. Mr. P moved overseas for the whole year, which made the process of letting go a little easier, but I didn’t meet anyone who I felt even a little bit of luster with. I lost weight and feel much more beautiful than before, but it was not a simple change. Friendships have blossomed and some have fizzled, many of my friends have jumped the single boat for a sweet sail for two, and much of the rough waters, I’ve navigated alone.

And through it all, I did come out better and stronger, more myself than I’ve ever been, bolder and flirtier, hopeful and intrigued. But I haven’t exactly been happy. Healthy, fine, successful and fiery, sure. But happy? Not quite.

And so, I declare this my happy year.

No matter what comes or doesn’t come, who I meet or don’t, what mountains I climb or planes I board, what things that happen or don’t, I will remind myself to see the happy. To seek it. To really, honestly feel it. Because there will always be another wish to make or hope to have, but without the happy, I won’t appreciate any of it. Without the happy, there’s no use in trying anything at all. Without the happy, I won’t know what another kind of happy feels like when it arrives.

My Third Birthday

My Third Birthday

My Sixth Birthday

My Sixth Birthday

My 18th Birthday

My 18th Birthday


My 19th Birthday

My 22nd Birthday (First in NYC!)

My 22nd Birthday (First in NYC!)

My 23rd Birthday

My 23rd Birthday

My 25th Birthday

My 25th Birthday







The Good Stuff

I was splashing, spinning in spiraling circles, watching the waves appear and feeling the pulse of the water around me. The mud underneath my feet crawled in between my toes, and sunk slightly the longer I kept myself planted, looking out into the blue skies of Carolina. The summer sun beat down on my freckled cheeks and I ignored my mother’s calling to come in for a ham and cheese sandwich and another round of sunscreen.

I ignored her, smug with my 13-year-old confidence, sure I knew everything, sure I didn’t need another layer to protect me from this August day. Instead, I’d spend my time here in this lake, dreaming about all the good stuff.

About that faithful day when I would ditch my cutoff jeans and messy braids for a more sophisticated lifestyle. About the time when I would pack my bags just as soon as I grabbed that degree, and head to that city I loved so much. The good stuff would be when I landed somewhere on that island, whose pictures decorated every room I’ve ever had, that island where dreams, magazines and handsome boys are made of. Where that good stuff is — those things and people and experiences and adventures I could picture in my head while laying underneath the endless web of stars or in that Georgia clay mud, wondering when I’d ever get there. When my words would be available for the world to read, when I’d write more than teen advice columns for the local paper, when I’d make a name for myself in that glistening, beautiful and unforgiving city. That’s where all the good stuff was, if I could just make it happen.

The good stuff was out there waiting and I was stuck in its anticipation, too young to have it, too bold to forget it.

I had similar thoughts this past week, as I found myself in the same place, looking at the same view, feeling miles away and like nothing had changed all at the same time. Except now, I trade ham and cheese for a rum and a coke, and I carefully reapply sunscreen, wanting less-leather like skin as I age, instead of working on my temporary tan. I didn’t flail around or spend every second submerged until I was pruny. Instead, I sprawled out on a float we’ve had for ten years, planted my sunglasses and let myself float.

And though I’m nearly 12 years older, and I do in fact have an address in the city where the good stuff is — I found myself staring up at the blue and white, daydreaming about the better stuff. The great stuff I haven’t had yet.

Like a man who needs no prodding or reminder to be captivated by me. Or one that is more of a possibility, and less emotionally unavailable. Or at least one that I can stand past a handful of dates. I thought about the good stuff out there, somewhere — like an apartment all on my own with the pup, where I can come and go as I please, do as I feel and never have to keep up a cleaning schedule or figure out who owes me what for electricity. The good stuff where I don’t have to look at the prices on the menu before I look at ingredients, or when I can invest in a wardrobe that is more about quality than quantity. The good stuff where my bylines appear in publications I highly admire, the good stuff when I figure out what exactly I want to do with my life and which way I want to go. The good stuff where travel is less of something to work toward and more something I do because the mood strikes and the money magically appears. The good stuff where I put on a white dress and feel that sense of peace, and yes, thrill, that there actually is someone out there worth waiting for. And dating to find. The good stuff where that smiling, cooing baby on the train is mine.

I have found such good stuff in my life, things that I wouldn’t trade, but more often than not, I find myself continuously forgetting how good it really is.

Until I look away from the sky and into what’s happening – my parents, married 28 years and dancing without any music at all on the boat, with chipped paint. And a motor that doesn’t always work. Or running through a country trail with my 50-something mother who is trying her best to keep up with me and we run straight through a pack of young, beautiful deer that stare right at us before leaping away. Or while fishing with my father, who wants nothing more than to spend time with me, a rainbow stretches the length of the lake, reminding me to never give up on that precious little thing called hope. Or watching my dog overcome her fear of water and jump into the lake, freeing herself from her city roots and embracing parts of nature she’s never seen. Or when I see a dear friend I haven’t actually spoken to in years strikes up conversation and we pick up right where we left off. Or sitting in my childhood bedroom of the lake house, remembering the first kisses, the first encounters, the first sips of terribly sweet wine coolers, I first discovered in this place.

There might always be better things ahead of us than before us. There might be moments and days to come that we can never prepare for, never wish hard enough for to create. There might be stuff that seems so incredible we can’t wait to see it or feel it or touch it or make it real. But if you’re always looking for what’s better, if you’re always searching for what’s next or what will be or could be or should be, you’ll lose what you’re supposed to be enjoying.

You’ll miss out on all the good stuff.

Because the good stuff happens every second of every day in surprising and ordinary ways. And you can only really savor it if you stop looking ahead, and start looking around you. Start realizing when all the good stuff you’re looking for is already pretty great. And more importantly, already happening.

A Fireman’s Daughter

I’m the product of a love-at-first-sight situation, where a feisty Southern woman finally gave into the forward Northern advances of a man from New Jersey. I came home to a house that was built more than 100 years ago with a dirt basement and unfinished back porch. I grew up on grandiose city dreams that only grew bigger with each passing year, and with every loving, supportive friend and family member who reminded me if I could believe it, I could be it. I’m the type of girl who enjoys slow-starting Sundays, beverages in non-traditional cups and the feel of freshly pressed sheets and blankets after escaping the subtle Autumn breeze.

There are many things that go into creating the me that I am but there’s a fact that’s especially close to my heart, especially today: I’m a fireman’s daughter.

Unless you’re part of the Fire Department’s family, it’s hard to fully comprehend the tremendous love and brotherhood in between those brick walls. I spent countless Thanksgivings and Christmases at the fire station, surrounded by other wives and children, eating and laughing, half-way annoyed that we couldn’t be in the comfort of our home and half-way thankful for a casual gathering that’s accepting of jeans and sweaters instead of holiday ruffles and trinkets. I declared one of the rookies — the young guys just starting out — as my boyfriend in kindergarten and one time as I looked through pictures of myself taken in front of the firetruck, I asked my dad: “Did the truck get smaller as I got older??” I learned how to tie my shoes sitting at the kitchen table and when the sleeping area was clear, they’d let me go in and jump from bed to bed to bed, creating my personal version of “5 Little Monkeys.”

I loved visiting my dad at work and was so amazed that someone could get paid to cook great meals with their friends, watch endless hours of TV, take naps and workout all day. Sometimes, there would be periods without any calls at all but when they did ring, my father got to be the hero, he got to go rescue people in trouble, and in my eyes, no one could be braver than him or his buddies. The fireman were always such happy men, full of laughter and clever jokes, always tickling and calling me pretty (even with my two front teeth missing), and helping me with homework. Though I knew how dangerous their work really was, how every single day, they put their life on the line to save a stranger, the firehouse wasn’t scary. Contrary, the firehouse always felt so very alive.

I was in history class when the first plane hit the North tower. A teacher came and interrupted our class to speak with our substitute teacher – our actual professor was supposed to be on her way to Washington D.C. early that day. We would learn several hours later that she never boarded that flight, thank God. He eyes widened and we all remained quiet, concerned by the concern in their faces. Our subsitute made a brief announcement, saying that there had been an awful accident in New York and he turned on the news. Right as the television flickered on, the second plane hit the South tower and both teachers gasped and covered their mouths in horror. The classroom started to whisper and my good friend looked at me and asked, “What’s going on? How could planes not see those big buildings?”

That’s right about when all realized that this was intentional. We had been attacked and though we were 800 miles away in a small town in North Carolina, we were all very afraid. That fear all strengthened as the day progressed and classes changed, though all lesson plans were forgotten and the real education of the day was screening CNN. I didn’t know it then, but my generation’s “Where were you when JFK was assassinated” would be those moments, those confusing hours before noon when we were all released early.

My mom was crying when she picked me up and she hugged me tighter than usual. I was a young teenager and unsure of what to make of any of this. I didn’t comprehend why someone would want to harm so many innocent people just going about their Tuesday, just going to work as they normally would. Ten years later, I still don’t understand. I doubt anyone really will. We drove in silence on the highways, which were slower than normal — our hushed little town had hushed itself even more. Everyone was in shock and by then D.C. had been attacked too, so we didn’t know what else to expect. We had a large army base on the other end of the state – would they go after that, too? And who is they, anyway?

Holding hands, my mom entered the firehouse the same way we always did – from the side. But the single fireman weren’t sitting outside on the bench, looking for attractive women to walk by. There was no fireman lifting weights by the corner, no one washing the truck’s tires or cooking in the kitchen. Unlike it had ever been before, the station was eerily quiet. I had been uneasy ever since I witnessed the second plane hit, but it wasn’t until we walked into the living room and for the first time, I saw my dad crying, that I became afraid.

We rushed to his side and he wrapped us both up in his arms. He wasn’t sobbing or desperate, he wasn’t even flushed — he was just purely sad. My mom would later tell me that she had to convince him not to go to Ground Zero to help volunteer, but to stay in his community and help those who may have lost a relative. I didn’t know what to do in that moment, watching these tough men vulnerable and exposed watching brothers they’ve never met, perish while trying to save any survivors. Their families were draped on them too and the room was silent except for constant sad updates on the TV and sniffles echoing from every corner. I don’t know how long we were all there, motionless and stunned, trying to figure out what to do next. Or what we could do at all. We eventually peeled ourselves away late at night and my mom shared her bed that night, both crying. I’m not sure I knew what I was crying for then but it felt like the appropriate thing to do.

The weeks after 9/11, every firehouse in Asheville was showered with dishes, baskets and gifts. Elementary schools from all over the county made Crayola thank you cards and my dad came home after each shift with a new story to tell about someone who stopped by just to show their respect. I wore an American pin on my lapel for months and my parents kept our country’s flag raised at half-mass for nearly a year. But times changed, people stopped remembering those fateful hours and the war kept going, taking more of our sons and daughter’s lives with it. We felt that patriotic spirit for a while but then we returned to the status-quo and found a new rut to get stuck in. We promise to never forget September 11 and maybe we haven’t, but we have forgotten what it means to be united.

I visited Ground Zero in 2008 for the first time. It was still just one gut-wrenching empty hole at that point and the sight of it didn’t affect it as much as St. Paul’s chapel a block away. It’s New York’s oldest public building in continuous use, serving as Geroge Washington’s place of worship and surviving both the Great Fire of 1776 and the 9/11 attacks. During the cleanup, volunteers would sleep here, and it still serves as a memorial site today. It houses “Missing ” posters, pieces of the trade center, and places where hundreds have written their prayers. As I walked through the chapel at 19 years old, attempting to remain calm and really try to take in what the city must have been like on that day, I stopped and was frozen in front of the firemen badges. There’s one spot of the memorial that has badges from cities and towns from all over the world, and they all lay together symbolizing that unity and that deep-rooted brotherhood that fireman all have.

I cried, took a picture and sent it to my dad that day with one thing written underneath: “For you dad. I’m so thankful you weren’t a fireman in NYC on 9/11. I’ll never forget what you’ve done to save others. You’re the bravest man I know and I feel so blessed to be your daughter. To be a fireman’s daughter.

When Will Loses its Way

They say where there is a will, there is a way. I’ll agree — but what if there is no will? Then is there a way? Or are they mutually exclusive?

I almost always have a will to do something — even if it’s just to have that Champagne-infused brunch or to see a discounted show for Broadway week. My wills are bigger too –I willed to live in New York, to be an editor, to have the things people come to visit in my backyard. I’ve willed to be better and stronger, more independent and sufficient, and here I am financially, emotionally, adult-ally all on my own. And I’ve willed myself into overcoming an obsession with men and their presence (or often, their absence) in my life. Though I’m teetering between possibility and impossibility, I’m still standing firmly and finally, not compromising what I need to feel needed by a man.

All of this willing has always found me a way to something, to someplace, to someone. It is rarely the something, someplace or someone who I crave – but whatever it is, it’s always there. But what happens when it’s not anymore? What would happen if I lost my will?

My life bloomed when I stopped waiting for it to change and changed it for myself. I was stuck in a pattern that I had made inevitable: meet a guy, fall for him, ask for commitment, be denied, cry, moan, whine, obsess, think I’m the ugliest thing ever, blow my confidence and money away on exercise and Ben & Jerry’s, then meet someone new….and start all over again. My oh my, did I find it exhausting. But I willed to find love and love was what I wanted, so there would be a way, right?

A year and 12-steps later, I wouldn’t say that will is gone but it has most certainly lessened. I don’t long to get married or to start a family. I don’t need an engagement ring to feel settled and secure. I’m not crawling into bedrooms, looking for remarkable sex because I know I’ll most likely just find a heartache hangover the next morning. I don’t feel the pressure to rush down an aisle as my cousins and my childhood friends have done, and when it comes to wondering if the stranger on the next cart is my mate – that curiosity has mostly killed the Tigar.

But does that mean I’ve lost my will? Do I not hope for love anymore? Do I not value how wonderful, how overpowering, how incredible it can feel when it’s right? When the man is right? If there is a man that’s right, that is? If I have indeed lost my will, will love still find its way to me? Or without that will, is there surely no way to one day stumble across holding-hands-in-Central-Park-while-raising-babies-in-a-brownstone-in-Brooklyn bliss?

I’m still willing to be successful, willing to find happiness in my single shoes, willing to make New York more of my home than it already is, and most importantly, willing to just be myself and be okay with that. So a will for love is still there, it’s just not in the spotlight. It doesn’t get front-and-center attention because it’s not at the forefront of my attention. It’s still there in something, in someplace with someone I haven’t met — but it hasn’t disappeared. My love will hasn’t lost its way, it’s just found a new way to exist.

It’s found a way to exist without being all-consuming so that I could do more than just exist. So I could really, remarkably, beautifully, live.