Oh, The Impossibilities

As soon as I ordered the Mac N’ Cheese with bacon at 9 p.m., I instantly regretted it. But I was starving. Mr. Possibility and I returned home from an outing with his family and I was still exhausted from the night before, so I took a nap while he ran errands. It was a restless rest though – my mind was somewhere else. Mainly, it was wondering what I should do and coming up with every excuse to do nothing at all.

He returned to find me freshly showered, my hair curling unpredictably as it always does, on his computer probably writing something for this blog, and wanted to get a drink and some grub before calling it a night. It was Sunday but during my two weeks off before I started my new job, and so against my better judgment, I threw on a cotton black mini and a t-shirt to head outside.

It was raining but Mr. Possibility has something against umbrellas, so I walked slower under the evening shower as he hurried along, trying to find us a place to relax. After considering a few menus and turning our noses away, we settled on a lodge-like establishment just a block away from his Brooklyn apartment.

We’re the only ones here, I whispered as we were seated, feeling guilty for keeping the wait staff here any longer than they had to be. Should we ask when they close? I asked eagerly, hoping Mr. P shared the same blame I did. He shook his head, motioning to some newcomers at the bar. I turned, saw them and sighed. Guess I’m not getting out of this, I concluded silently.

We were nestled indoors but without anything separating us from the outside and my toes could feel the cool water running underneath them. I watched the rain paint abstract shadows in the streetlights while couples held hands underneath printed umbrellas and wore matching Columbia jackets. I counted at least a dozen pairs of Hunter boots and made a mental note to invest in some black ones this winter. I longingly lusted after the cabs that came in perpendicular directions, moving traffic along with their impatience and taking their passenger far, far away from this borough. I wanted to jump up from the table, throw some money for the bill, run to the corner even though it was down-pouring, and wave my hand in desperation until a yellow chariot came to my rescue.

But I never carry cash, I already ordered and I really could never do that to Mr. P – regardless of how impossible he is. Or how impossible we had become. And though I had put off expressing how I felt for some time, it was now near impossible for me to hide how I was feeling anymore. Especially when I picked up the pitcher of water and instead of pouring it into the mason jar of water I was drinking out of, I poured it on the candle that was lighting our table.

Linds? Why did you water the candle? Mr. P asked kindly, half-smirking, half-confused to my agitation. I laughed, nervously apologized and said, for the 100th time that I was tired. He continued to talk about something – which is never just something to me. He used to inspire me – he engaged me with captivating stories of the life he led. And though he has always been some sort of lost soul, I always had faith he’d find his way home, he’d find his future and within that, he’d find how those things put together create…me.

You’re so quiet baby, I’m not used to you being like this. What’s wrong? He asked and cradled my hand, squeezing my fingertips sharply. What’s wrong? I wondered, avoiding his blues, again. What should I tell him that’s wrong?

I could talk about New York. About how it is everything and nothing as I expected. That it makes me remarkably happy and bitterly disappointed all at the same time, but I always resort back to loving it. I could talk about me. How I’m getting ready to start this brilliant, beautiful chapter of my life, finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do. How I finally feel so proud of myself and like I have landed on my own two feet, without any help at all. I could talk about him. How I want to rescue him, how I want to be kind and understanding enough to pull him through anything. How I want him to fall in love with me in a way that I’ve never experienced before. How I worry about him, constantly. Or I could sum it all up and talk about how all those things are as inconsistent as the traffic patterns outside. And that they have been for a while now.

Over the last year, he’s been my tourguide, my confidant, my protector, and my very best friend. I found peace in his arms, a safety in his Cartier-heavy wrist wrapped around my waist, and more than anything, I felt like I belonged in this city when I was with him. But he is eight years my senior, and it is increasingly impossible to ignore the age difference, even if the possibilities of what we could be always seemed to be quite endless. Until I realized how drenched they were in the residue of the past. He chronicled his failures in the way I collected my successes – placed on mental bookshelves, collecting dust and more despair, only to be pulled out in the moments where he needed a reminder of what he was. Or at least, what he thought he was.

And while we created a friendship based on passed grievances, I had moved forward and past the pain I felt and I was now ready for the future. Sitting across from me, talking about something new that’s causing him grief, I couldn’t shake the certainty I felt that he was stuck somewhere between the guy he’s been the last ten years, the man he hopes to become and the stagnant existence he has now.

But what I’m really afraid of is being stranded in the Land of Impossibility with him. I know what I want, he knows what I deserve and we both know that the main thing holding up our relationship is me. He’s been so timid of the word that it takes every bit of courage inside of him to even admit that I’m his girlfriend, regardless of how much love he professes when we’re alone. He’s been up and down, hot and cold, seeing the possibilities and highlighting the impossible the last six months of our exclusivity, and it’s just now, as my life comes together, as I find true happiness and content apart from him…that I find myself afraid of staying. But I’m scared of leaving too. Say something or he’s going to notice something is wrong, I snap myself back into the moment but the moment had already passed.

Linds? Baby? Want to go back? His eyes now glossed over in sincerity, unsure of what to expect from me. I turned my head to the side, grinned at him and finished the last of my locally-brewed beer and sat up straight. How could I put this in words? My job is to put things in words, why can’t I say the right thing here? What is wrong? What am I feeling? Do I want to go back to his apartment? The apartment I have a key to? Back with the man I love but I fear will never love me as I desire? As I need him to?

Silently, without fuss, without causing my cheeks to flush, without causing much of a disruption at all, I felt tears start to stream down my face, paving the way for me to say the only thing that I could. There in that corner restaurant, on that dreary August evening, I confessed to the only man I’ve truly loved: I’m not happy, Mr. P. You don’t make me happy anymore. I don’t want to feel this way, what do you want to do?

A month later, I’m still waiting for that impossible answer.

My New York Skin

Standing, waiting, wishing for the train to come after work today, I tapped my heel in frustration. Why does mass transit in Manhattan come to a stammering halt when there is even the smallest trickle of water outside? 

There are always delays with rain for the MTA, and though I know this, it never fails to irritate me. Sometimes as I’m impatiently pacing the platform, I dream of the days when I could just hop in my car, drive myself home while poorly singing along to the radio with the wind whipping through my hair, and not having to depend on anything but my gas tank to get me from the office to my bed. But then I think how the city looks – even from the streets – in rush hour traffic and I count the simple blessing of a MetroCard.

Nevertheless, with my feet soaking wet and lugging around a gym bag and a purse that’s obnoxiously large for a 5’4″ petite woman, all I wanted to do was zone out, listen to guilty-pleasure playlists on my iPod and arrive at my stop promptly. After five minutes or so of glancing at the arrival screen, casually returning flirty glances with a foreign straphanger and triple-checking that I had my wallet, keys and phone, I heard the announcement I dread: Signal delays are affecting train service, no express service uptown, thank you. 

Without the threat of bar soap or penalties for my actions, I let one-four letter word that rhymes with luck (yet is the opposite of it) slip out of my mouth…several times.

I immediately bowed my head and avoided eye contact with anyone around me, while praying the little girl near me didn’t hear my profanity. I casually walked to the other side of the station, feeling guilty for cursing. It was one of my personal commitments after all – I vowed to never let New York change me into the stereotypical, angry city person who casually dropped the Fbomb in every day conversations. I didn’t want to lose any of that sweet Southern charm or dispose of the class I was brought up believing in. My mother always reminded me that a lady’s language doesn’t include “naughty” words of any form, so if I wanted to be treated with respect, I best respect that advice.

But ya know – New York has a way of making profanity sound eloquent. You’re having a great night out with your friends, sharing champagne and appetizers with the streets buzzing within your view, sometimes there is no better way to describe what you’re feeling than f***ing brilliant. Or when the city gives you these amazing nights, these moments that blow any elegant event North Carolina can serve up. I thought for the longest time that interjecting prohibited words into my vocabulary would make me less attractive and would come across as crass – but really, it’s just part of growing up. And frankly, it’s part of New York.

So I lifted my head up high and straightened out the black dress I was sporting – another rule I broke. A few months after I moved, my friend J said I needed more black in my wardrobe, to which I replied: “I love color! I don’t want to be like every other boring New Yorker that wears one shade.” I thought the same thing about my friend K before she was my friend, when she was still a figment of Mr. Unavailable’s imagination before he became Mr. Possibility – she is proud of her dark closet and the dress I happened to wear today is a K Exclusive Hand-Me-Down. Turns out, just like dirty words aren’t as dirty but can be insightful, black isn’t as black as I thought, but rather reliable, sophisticated and rather sexy.

I’ve ditched my sugary phrases for words that have more of an impact, my flowery high-waisted skirts for sleek, fitted, stylish pieces that give me an extra shine – and I’m not ashamed, I thought as the train arrived, finally. As I went to step up, a woman in a hurry pushed me into the side of the cart, spilling her bottled water all over my outfit, and there that word came again, but instead of shying away from it, I let it slide:

Fuck, my dress! 

She noticed what she did and turned around quickly and responded in true Manhattan fashion: Fuck, honey. I’m sorry! Let me get you somethin’. I shooed her away while thanking her for her concern but a little spill never hurt anyone, and really there’s nothing else she could get me – I’ve finally accepted my New York skin.

Ms. Pixie & Me

Dude, she’s just so cool, Mr. Possibility’s awkwardly handsome friend recently commented while we shared beers in Brooklyn. I mean, she’s just amazing. She’s like a dude but not. She doesn’t pressure me for anything and she doesn’t care if I call her back or not. It’s so cool. The sex is outta control, dude. Dudeee.

While a girlfriend of one of his other friends jabbered away, talking about high school though she was nearly 30, I found myself more distracted by the conversation Mr. P was having than the one I was attempting to avoid. His friend continued to blush about this girl he had met: she was beautiful but aloof, talented but not pretentious, available but unavailable, sexy but not intimidating. He loved that she wasn’t pushing for a title, though from the sounds of it, he is only sleeping with her. He talked about how well they get along, how she is up for anything and that he has no idea what goes on when they’re not together. She’s mysterious it seems and hard to get, yet he has her? Mr. P nodded along and I felt a sting of fear that he wished I was that way still: emotionally unattached, cool and calm, not wanting the relationship to progress from orgasms and Oreoes in bed to talks about the future and what kind of foundation we were building. I lowered my eyes and thought I’m not just not that girl, why do men want that type of woman?

She’s the staple of all romantic comedies: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. You know, Natalie Portman from No Strings Attatched and Garden State, Kate Hudson in Almost Famous, Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. She’s independent and feisty, off in her own little world and uninclined to invite any man into the mix. She usually has some sort of turmoil from her past that keeps her from falling in love or even wanting to, and she’s a tough cookie to crack, until of course, she does. She then turns to her manic side, becoming madly, deeply smitten with the dude who had to work so hard to capture her heart – and in an hour and a half, plus credits, she puts those scars behind her and trusts easily again.

It’s all very romantic, right?

I’ve wanted to be that girl the majority of my dating career (and yes, most of the time it feels like a job). I’ve wanted to not really care if a guy calls me back or even asks for my number. I’ve wanted to be so confident single that I’m not distracted by those silly emotions that lead us into wanting to be coupled up, to be wined-and-dined, and actually wake up with our partner the next day. I’ve wanted to be so caught up in my life, so ridiculously entertained with my own existence that men become disposable creatures that come as easily as they go. I’ve wanted to have frivolous sex, never text a guy before he called me and be so brazen that even the world’s most hideous pimple couldn’t sway my swagger.

But there’s this huge, tender, fragile and brilliant thing in my way: my heart. It makes me as much as it breaks me in the un-wonderful world of love.

I thought through this journey I may become the Ms. Pixie and win the love of jugglers, turn them into recovering players who want nothing more than to worship the pavement I frolic on. I thought maybe I’d extinguish that ruthless desire for happiness in love by focusing so intensely on what I want that I forget that what I want, when it comes down to it, is to be satisfied with myself but also have someone who loves that about me. I thought this journey would cure me of love addiction and perhaps it has – or maybe I diagnosed myself with the wrong addiction. Maybe I’m not really addicted to love, I’m just rather normal. I’d like to think I’m pretty remarkable (I’ll toot my horn if I wish), but maybe I’m like any other ordinary woman who longs to be extraordinarily adored.

I’ll never be that pixie chick, no matter how many 12-step programs I go through or how much New York tries to drown me in bitterness. That hope still lives down inside of me, as it does in even the most conceivable cynic. The pixie girl, as much as she’s portrayed as uninterested, always becomes intensely interested before the movie is over, doesn’t she? Perhaps men lust after her because they like a good chase but I think what they’re really lusting after isn’t what it takes to claim her but the fact that she’s so intriguing that they want to claim her, instead of feeling forced into a relationship by another broad.

I think Mr. P’s friend will find sooner than later that she may just want more than what he bargained for. That manic side will rear its womanly head – and he’ll find that Ms. Pixie is beautiful and alluring but if he’s fortunate, she’s got a heart too. She just happens to be one of the savvy ones who knows how to play her cards so well, how to be so distant, that she gets just where she wants to be without seeming like all the rest.

I could take notes from her – but I think I’m pretty good one my own. Even if Mr. Possibility isn’t a fan of my new sense of urgency in our relationship (once your other ducks are in a row – ahem, my dream job – you stop worrying so much about being the dreamgirl and more about having the dream guy). Perhaps he’ll learn that we all want what we can’t have, but if we’re lucky we still want it after we have it. Ms. Pixie may make men wait longer or take more courage to win over, but I’d rather be myself from the beginning, demanding what I deserve from the get-go and trusting my heart, then to play a character that ultimately will end up just as I am already, anyway.

I Put My Heart to Sleep

When Mr. Fire and I parted ways, I was sincerely shocked.

He became ancy and distant in the matter of a weekend, and within a week or so, all was finished. He ended everything outside of the library on our campus and it’s been the only time I’ve been thankful for bug-eyed sunglasses. I never wanted him to see my tears. I believe I would have been fine, I would have overcome the split easier and with a bit more class if he wouldn’t have started dating someone the very next day. Facebook displayed pictures as a nice slap in the face to his “I just don’t want a relationship” excuse and I spent the weekend down by the North Carolina shore, drinking and talking to God on the beach.

The worst of it at the time, though wasn’t the weekend that followed. It was the next few weeks that just happened to be during exams and my final weeks before I moved to New York for a summer internship. If I was going to be on my A-game for Cosmopolitan, I had better get over this dude and get over him fast – I couldn’t let my career be in jeopardy over a rugby player, now could I?

And so I did what every girl does when she’s mulling over a man: I defriended him on Facebook (only to add him back a year later when we could entertain a friendship), I rekindled a workout regimen to get my mind off of things (and to look super-duper sexy), I used what was left of my meal plan to buy far too much candy and ice cream (so much for those miles logged at the gym) and I avoided him (and her) at all costs. I threw myself into the school newspaper and I prepared for my summer away like a crazy woman, setting up networking lunches, making lists of all I wanted to see and do while I was there, and sending my friends incredibly long emails that now, I just write on these pages.

All of these tactics worked in my favor and throughout the day, I appeared fine. I didn’t miss deadlines and I didn’t tear-up in class. I didn’t curse his name or their relationship (they are still going strong and from what I can tell from frozen faces on Facebook, they are happy) and I did all that I could to build up the confidence that’s always smashed when someone decides to pass you up.

But then night would come.

I’m not sure what it is about darkness that makes you retreat back into the darkness within yourself, but going to sleep was hell. After a few restless nights, I invested in Tylonel PM and my mom sent me calcium tablets which apparently make you relax. My body quickly rejected both of these methods and I was left again, tossing and turning, trying to calm my mind so my spirit would ease. This was one of the first times in my adult life that I experienced what it was like to go without sleep, yet be haunted by dreams that wouldn’t come true. But it wasn’t really my racing mind or my sore body that kept me awake, it wasn’t even missing Mr. Fire really. What kept me from falling asleep was my own heart. Now, I know that it was beating so hard I could hear it out of anxiety (normal reaction to a breakup) but at the time, I thought:

This must be what it sounds and feels like when your heart literally breaks.

No matter if I laid on my stomach or my side, my back or curled up as tightly as my 5’4″ frame would allow, my heart would pound out of my chest so vibrantly that I couldn’t catch a good breath. Finally, after a week or so of un-sleep, I decided to hold my own heart. It was almost like a motherly reaction, an instinctive move to place my palms on top of my chest, as if I’m soothing something fragile: Hush now, it’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay. Calm down. 

It didn’t surrender easily. It put up a strong opposition, continuing to race and threaten to bring tears to my eyes, though at that point, I was too tired to really cry anymore. But eventually, with some real effort on my end, I put my heart so sleep.

And once it gave in, once it relaxed and allowed me to sincerely get the rest I needed, I started feeling much better. I started sleeping regularly again, placing my palms on my chest nightly to insure it didn’t feel alone or abandoned. Like I needed to be reminded that I would love again, my heart needed to know that it could rest now, that it didn’t need to worry anymore, that the past person it loved was gone, but there would be more. It needed to know it was alright to let go, it was okay to sleep.

I got through those initial first weeks by holding my heart, and that’s how I get through anything that really upsets me now. Anytime I’m feeling anxiety or I’m really upset, I just hold my heart. I say soothing words until my body releases, my mind stops churning and my heart gives up its fearful rhythm. That was the first time I realized how much power I have over my own body. That no matter how much trouble it felt or how much pain I was going through, I could cope.

And I could do it alone with my own two hands.

If Memory Serves Me Right

They say when one part of your life starts to excel, another part will ultimately crumble. Maybe it’s the way the universe stays aligned and keeps its perfect order that never seems to satisfy anyone for very long. We can’t have all of the things we want just as we want them or we’d never strive for anything, there would be no reason to have a furious fight inside of you. He who is handed it all will never learn what it feels like to work for something, so therefore, he must struggle.

Even so, when things fall apart the heavens have a simple way of keeping us sane – they never let everything that’s important to us to falter at once. Lighting rarely strikes in the same place twice and there is always something, even if it is a tiny unremarkable thing, to help us maintain our dignity and confidence in the world. Sometimes they are in the comforting words of friends ever-so-dear or in the soothing touch of crisp, cold, linen sheets against your bare body. It comes in the form of unexpected billowing winds inside the subway platform or in the support you depend on from someone you may have not known very long, but feel as if you’ve known them forever.

For me lately, my peace has been found in all of the above along with some magical New York moments I can only accredit as blessings sent from places higher than the Empire State, but most significantly, my calm has been instilled by the power of memories.

Mr. Possibility and I have been going through a very difficult period the last month. With our age difference and the fact that we’re at opposing stages of our lives, we’ve been riding the rough waters, attempting to find an anchor to hold us steady so we can sail into bay safely. Anchors aren’t always to be found though, and sometimes taking a breather and some much-needed space is the best thing any couple can do. And so while my career has been flourishing and I couldn’t be more thankful to finally be doing exactly what I always dreamed of doing, the man who helped me through the ups and downs of the last year, isn’t as sturdy as he appeared.

But I do remember when he was. I can recall the exact moment I knew I loved him – way back in January, while talking on Gchat following the Dubai disaster, and something just clicked. We waited a while after that before we made anything officially exclusive but in those times we spent building up our relationship, building up our connection, he couldn’t have been more beautiful to me. He was attractive in a way that made him human – I saw his shortcomings and I knew his downfalls but I chose to love him anyway, to trust him against my better judgement. Time will only tell if my grandiose hopes about him will ring trite-and-true and prove all of those against us, wrong. And maybe, prove myself wrong too.

It isn’t memories of us that grant me a sweet stillness, though. It’s rather in memories of myself.

I remember those weeks when he was far away overseas, only available to me through the wonderous webs of the Internet, where I had no responsibility to him but to reply to an email or arrive on time to a Skype date. I remember when this city was my dating playground, when though I wasn’t very good at disconnecting my expectations from my emotions, I enjoyed seeing New York from various points of view. I remember when I would dream about a love I couldn’t imagine, about having a man admire me just as my father admires my mother. I dreamed of a great love story, of something that wasn’t complicated or difficult, of something that brought me that easy, peaceful feeling instead of making my heart beat so uncontrollably I couldn’t fall asleep until well into dawn. I remember these moments during this journey itself, even when I knew Mr. Possibility, even when he was sitting next to me as I typed, where I longed to be single, where I finally found that strength to throw caution to the wind and take a chance on finding something great – in a man or in myself. I remember taking myself to dinner and to the movies, to the museum and to the cafe, just to sit in the company of myself, watching the city circulate its people with car horns and buses serenading the developing scenes.

I remember when this city was like Spring to me and I, still without my toughness or doubtfulness, believed in the best of people, the best of Mr. Possibility, and the best of myself. It’s realistic now but it will always be closer to extraordinary in my eyes and far from ordinary. Because even with all that’s happened, all that I’ve given that I can’t get back, all the attempts I’ve made that may not turn into anything of significance, I have those memories of what make me me to recall.

And if I can do it all alone once, of course I can do it again. Only this time, I’ll be a little stronger, a little brighter and have more hope for what’s to come. After all, if memory serves me right, I’ve always had the ability to believe that falling in love isn’t limited to the man who lives on the corner of Hope Street and is ripe of possibilities. Love indeed, begins inside of me and because of that, I can find it anywhere I go.

You Can’t Screw Up What’s Meant to Be

Hard-to-get jobs and even harder-to-get men, high heels unintended for anyone but Ms. Lady Gaga herself, a city that allows few to make it before they break it, chances that have no reasonable shot in hell…. I tend to be pretty resilient and brave, a fighter who graces dresses and pearls while living up to the name I was born with.

But when it comes to gaining enough gumption to end a relationship…I suck.

Perhaps that’s not the most elegant of words to choose but it’s a pretty fair representation of how I view myself when a love affair turns sour. We all know when those boots should be made for walkin’, we know when the tension has turned from sexual to painful, and when nights are ruined by the presence of your partner, instead of brightened. The truth of any matters of the heart is that they are never easy. And if you’re anything like me, they are extended and lengthy, lingering around for far too long before they come to some immature, emotional and irrational head – leaving both parties destroyed and vulnerable, resenting each other for the past three hours of torture they endured. Not to mention, inflicted on one another. The end of a relationship is a great time-waster and mood killer. That’s when you know it is truly, completely over – when there is no hope for makeup sex because you just want…you need…to get away from one another.

God, it sucks.

My friends and family get to hear about this process the whole way through. They’re so lucky, aren’t they? As I wrangle with my exit strategy, make pro and con lists, go through periods of indescribable bliss that tease me into thinking things can change…only to be brought back down to reality the next day when the picture-perfect something I cooked up, boils over. It’s a nasty little ride I take myself on, a rollercoaster I not only pay for but add thrill to. Funny thing is though, it’s not thrilling but I entertain it anyway, waiting until the very last second before I finally push on the brakes. I barely miss a head-on collision each and every single time. My friend K says it’ll get easier as I date more New York men. I’ll grow accustomed to the process and it won’t be so difficult to turn on my heel and trot off. I’ll believe her when it happens, just as she had to experience it to believe it for herself.

For now though, I’m stubborn and falsely misled by fancy illusions of what a man could be, rather than really seeing, accepting and loving him for who he is. Possibility might as well be the middle name of any man I attempt to date -Lord knows I’ll be trying and trying again, until there is no more opportunity left to be found or piece of my heart to be shattered.

But when I get to that point, it is actually rather simple for me to cut my losses and tighten my ends. The decision becomes clear and my head stops spinning. I still experience the wallowing stages of misery that follow the death of love – after all, nothing dies more painfully or slowly than a dream, especially one that floated on Cloud 9 at one point. But when I decide it is time to leave, when there is no more fun to be had, no more fixing-up I’m capable of, no more squinting to try and visualize a future that never existed – I go. I swiftly get as far away as I can, severing contact and carefully tucking pictures with tattered, loved edges away for safe-keeping. For when it’s safe to look at them again without risking inexplicable sadness. And of course, without going up against the obsessive “What if” thoughts that attack the heartbroken spirit.

What if I would have tried harder? What if I wouldn’t have given up on him? On us? What if I would have been more understanding, more patient, kinder? What if I would have stayed around longer to see what could happen? What if I would have swallowed all of those things I wanted, just to be with him for a few more hours? Few days? What if we were at a turning point and I sealed our fate? What if all this is my fault? What if this is as good as it gets and I’m crazy for hoping for more? What if I walk away from him and he is my soulmate, and then I never find anyone else? What if I’m always alone?

What if I f***ed it all up?

When those thoughts disguised as fearful regrets won’t leave me alone, I remember my mother’s carefully selected words that she planted in my mind a decade ago when I felt so guilty for breaking up with Mr. Faithful after he had been so, well, faithful to me: Honey, you can’t screw up what’s meant to be. 

So tonight, with my two-piece fried chicken dinner from KFC because Southern food will always be my comfort food, a bottle of bubbly left over from ol’ Irene, a list of distracting movies from Netflix and some buttery, awfully bad for me popcorn for later on hand, I repeat her mantra in my head: Linds, you can’t screw up what’s meant to be. But I also add my own ending: you also can’t screw up what was never meant to be either.

You’ll Be Sorry

Last summer was a great debate – should I or shouldn’t I go back to Mr. Idea?

We both flirted with the option, I even made an impromptu trip to visit him in his new a zip code, where he had new friends, a new apartment and a new job. We spent hours on the phone that usually resulted in some sort of bickering – I wasn’t doing enough of this, he wasn’t jumping to that conclusion. We would talk about the good times like they were decades ago, when in reality we had barely known each other a year. In the duration of our relationship, the honeymoon period was brief and lack-luster, but I think we both held onto the idea of what could be. Hence his name in this blog.

I knew then – or at least I’d like to believe I did – that it would never work out. Maybe we hadn’t known each other that long but in that time, a lot happened in my life: my dad recovered from a six-year health struggle, I graduated from college, I moved back home, I moved to the city, I found my first job, I paid rent for my first New York apartment, I became an adult. And with all of those big, life-altering, character-creating, patience-demanding changes – I started to learn more about what I wanted.

I discovered that I needed to be with someone who was supportive of my career – Mr. Idea didn’t really care for my writing (to each his own), nor would he ever approve of this blog (I can’t tell you how many times he’s called me to tell me not to write about him. I always listen, can’t you tell?). I figured out that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with someone who enjoyed having sex and initiated it (to be blunt, I’ve never met a man –sans Mr. Idea – who didn’t want to jump my bones). I realized I wanted someone who wanted the same things I wanted, who lived in the same place, who shared my same set of values (He was always a little too self-centered, far too stubborn and completely indulgent in fantasies of himself that simply weren’t true). I came to believe that while a man who made me laugh gave him an amazing advantage, a man who I could trust enough to never worry or doubt their devotion was far more important (I’ll give it to the guy, he’s funny – but I care more about that kindness that comes from your soul).

On and off paper and no matter which way I tilted the picture, Mr. Idea was far from my ideal mate. I didn’t have that deep, intense longing to be with him or to rekindle something that died within the first three months it was lit. Even so – I wanted him to want me. I wanted to have that comfort, that safety net just in case my feelings changed. Just in case I could mold him into the Mr. Right I sincerely knew, in my heart-of-hearts, he wasn’t.

But there’s that thin line between love and hate. That line that produces thoughts we’d rather not entertain (or admit we have) – I want him to think I’m the one who got away. If I’m sad and it is hard for me to walk away, I want him to be sad and have trouble letting me go. If I hurt, he should hurt. And if he doesn’t hurt, I’ll wait until it will hurt him to jet set off into my new, bright, fancy life. 

Ouch – writing out those words makes them sound far crueler than they ring in my head. But truth is painful sometimes, and most of the time, it’s a lot to stomach. I’m not proud of feeling that way or being so venomous, yet I know I’m not the only wounded lover or hopeful woman who had her hope lost when the rose-colored glasses she wore, shattered.

After exhausting conversations with him, where I would ultimately have to get off the phone so I wouldn’t say something I regret (like those crummy sentences italicized above) – I’d close my eyes, tuck my knees into my chest and I’d dream up the perfect scenario:

Mr. Idea would be visiting New York – or maybe he would have just accepted a job that finally brought him here, after months of arguments on why he wouldn’t look in the tri-state for opportunities. He’d be strolling in Central Park and see me sitting alone, wearing something ultra-flattering and alluring, and he’d have to rub his eyes, just in case I was a mirage. I wouldn’t be of course – but I’d be more beautiful than he remembered. After all, it would have been years since he’d seen or spoken to me. Casually with an air of hesitation, he’d approach me and we’d exchange niceties, both saying a lot without saying anything at all. The Autumn air would then circulate the city and my hair would fall in my face. He’d reach to push it away, giving me those puppy-dog eyes of remorse I craved – but then I’d move my head quickly and smile at a man walking up behind me with two ice cream cones. It would be early September, right before my birthday, and this man would be treating me to sweets as I celebrated another year. He’d kiss my cheek, I’d reach for the cone with my left hand, giving Mr. Idea a glistening view of my lovely engagement ring, and say, “Sweetie, you remember Mr. Idea I told you about? It looks like he’s found his way to New York!” And then Mr. Idea would be filled with regret, so disappointed that he let me get away, that he was so awful to me that I couldn’t stand to be his lady anymore. He’d be…sorry. He would be oh, so sorry.

A year later, a year maturer, and no part of me wants to rub anything in Mr. Idea’s face (pun intended). I actually want him to be happy, to be successful, to find the love that’s right for him. To find peace in those things that bothered him, to release whatever troubles haunt him. I don’t care if I’m the one who got away or just someone he briefly cared about for a short period of time, and though we participated in heated fights that were very hurtful, I wish nothing but the best for him.

Visions of revenge and witnessing your ex envious of your happiness may be enjoyable past times when you’re getting yourself through a breakup, but when you wake up on the other side – where acceptance and compassion live -you won’t be wishing that he’d wish for you, you’ll be sorry for having wished him any awfulness, at all.