Walks Through the East Village

There’s that underground jazz lounge where the first champagne cocktail is free for blue-eyed girls with bright smiles. It’s where that older Polish man with a boa gave me and my friend A a feather to wear in our hair. My friend A, who is now married, living just a handful of blocks and subway stops away from me. It’s where I became hypnotized the first time by live music – watching the pianist dance across the keys, the saxophonist breathe and move deeply and creatively calculated. It’s where I sat in a Forever 21 dress at 19 years old, pretending I was old enough to split a bottle of wine with a man I didn’t really know, but was paying. It’s where I went when I wanted to feel classier and older than what I really was, where I wasn’t the girl from North Carolina who interned at Cosmo, but I was just a woman. A woman who somehow lived in New York fucking City.

There’s that hookah bar on St. Mark’s that never carded me. I wasn’t sure if I liked hookah all of the times I went and took smaller breaths than everyone else, but I knew I liked the sugary-sweet sangria, long before I knew what good alcohol tasted like. That’s the place where there are couches in the corner, cushions on the floor, where you can sit Indian-style or extend your legs long, far across to the other side of the table. That’s where I took my friends when they visited, to show them a new-something they didn’t know about, something terribly urban (though later I realized it’s not). That’s the place where just a few days ago, I brought a guy from Williamsburg to that very corner and though I didn’t know him, my red wine haze told me to kiss him. Right there, on the first date, with hookah saturating my hair and my breath. The breath that was making his glasses and the cold window behind us steam up.

There’s that movie theater on the east side that’s a hop, skip, Metro card and jump from Brooklyn. It’s where I saw that movie with a name and plot I forget, with Mr. Possibility, summers ago. It’s where we bickered between Sprite and Diet Coke and then snuggled through the movie, his hand on my thigh, my head on his shoulder, sitting awkwardly so we could touch, even though it’s uncomfortable and definitely unromantic. There’s the cheap Thai place a few doors down where we went once the credits started rolling, where we sat in that booth in the back, with polyester seats and fluorescent lighting. It’s where we talked about the future like it was our promise, where he leaned over to me while I was tactfully slurping a noodle I could barely hold with chopstick, and kissed my forehead. It’s where he said he wanted to always take care of me. It’s where maybe somewhere, deep down in his butchered heart, he thought he could mean it.

There’s that frat-tastic bar on Third Avenue that I absolutely hated going to. But I went the night after my birthday, with a terrible cold, barely able to speak and I waited for him. His sister and brother-in-law kept me company, bought me hot tea, tried to ease my worry. M showed up when he didn’t. Until two hours later. That’s where the man I thought I could love forever made me doubt if forever existed, for the first time. That’s where my then-highly-intoxicated boyfriend decided to go home alone instead of going home to work something out with me. That’s the street where I slammed that cab door shut and he didn’t look back. Around that corner, that’s where M promised me that he was just my first New York love, not my last. There’s where I walked myself home, bitterly sober and instantly lonely, wondering if I’d ever believe her.

There’s that bookstore where I curled up with a latte and my computer, writing about love and hoping for it. There’s where I sat for a few hours on late Saturday afternoon in the most brutal days of winter, reading through a book I didn’t intend to buy (but did). There’s the travel section where I met M for a day of shopping in the West Village for my birthday, and ended up bringing home an 8-pound puppy on a Sunday night. There’s the magazine section where I looked eagerly for the tiny engagement magazine I had a print piece in when I first moved to the city, where Mr. Possibility stood at the end of the aisle, smiling at me. There’s where he whispered in my ear as we looked at my bylined spread: “I would know you apart from anyone, just by the way you move so beautifully.” There’s where I listened to Adele while avoiding the self-help section, a year later, wondering if I needed a book about getting over someone or if I could just write the book myself.

There’s the park on Avenue A that I found so terrifying, hidden behind small rooftops and appearing out of nowhere in between the graffiti buildings along the east side. There’s where I stumbled in too-tall high heels in the cold with a friend, trying to hail a cab at 3 a.m. after a night of flirting and boozing, smearing lipstick and turning heads I didn’t care to see again. There’s where I wanted to sit down so badly, just to give some relief to my tired legs, but I didn’t, even more afraid of what lurked on the Manhattan streets I was still getting used to. There’s the address where, three years later, I fell in love with a new part of town while dog sitting for a friend who just signed a lease. There’s where the park felt so different and so much more welcoming, a place for coffee and running, a place that wasn’t so haunted, after all.

There’s just one small part of my home. Just one neighborhood in all of the eccentric zip codes of this island. Just a cluster of streets before Houston, where East Village turns into the Lower East Side, where Stuyvesant Town becomes Union Square. There’s just a few memories, a few local, dates and weekends at local pubs and restaurants, bookstores and theaters, I’ve Google mapped and others I don’t need to look up to find. There’s my walks through the East Village for the past few weeks, remembering the adventures, the love, the disappointment, the fever, the dreaming I’ve experienced in the short time I’ve been able to live where the 7-year-old me always knew I would.

And there’s the older me, the quarter-life-crisis-ing me, reminding myself that if so much can happen in just under four years, so many more beautiful, surprising things are surely still to come.

These Years of Freedom

Almost three years ago, I wrote a blog about a date with freedom.

I still remember that day vividly, and in my memories of moving to NYC and making it feel like home here, it’s one of those experiences that stands out. At the time, I was severely unhappy at my job at the business mag, friends with Mr. P (whom I called Mr. Unavailable) but making out with him on occasion, still talking to my ex, Mr. Idea, worried about developing friendships, a tad bit freaked out by my Harlem address, and attempting to write a blog about learning to love being single.

Three years later – I’m in a totally different place. My life has changed in ways I could have never predicted. And in ways that I didn’t know or didn’t really see until this weekend.

Friday was my last summer Friday (media folks get days off when the weather is nice because we spend endless amounts of time glued to the computer), and I made up my mind that not only would it be productive, but it’d be a day just for me. I woke up around nine, grabbed a coffee and the pup, and read in the dog park while she played for an hour, followed by a much-needed jog in the park. Then I walked from my apartment to the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I had been craving some Monet and O’Keeffe, plus they had a Civil Rights Photography exhibit I’ve heard rave reviews about. To top off the afternoon, I headed to literally the top of the museum, where the rooftop view is arguably one of the best in the entire city. I drank a glass of white wine slowly, thoroughly enjoying it to soak up the last of the August sun before heading back across to the west side, only stopping for 30 minutes for a power nap on the Great Lawn.






It wasn’t until I was riding the bus to my friend J’s apartment for a girl’s night out a few hours later that I realized my date with freedom three years ago seemed like such a big deal, such a huge stepping stone in my journey and in this blog, and “my date” today — which was quite similar — didn’t feel like anything important, at all.

Instead, it was just life.

My life as a single girl in New York City. Where on any given day, each and every choice is based on what I want. What I’m in the mood for. Whatever time I want to get out of bed or however long I want to run or hang out in the park. Whatever amount of money I want to spend or save, whomever I want to accept a drink from – or an invitation to dance – at the bar on any night I decide to go out. There are not grocery lists or budgets that I make with anyone else or decisions that require consultation. I can spend Thanksgiving in Paris or Rome if the mood strikes, or take a trip with another single gal to the Caribbean just because I’d like to. I have zero rules and only a few commitments and responsibilities that are part of my everyday routine. However long or short this anti-relationship status might be, it will be the only stretch of time when I can be as selfish and stubborn as I’d like. It’ll be the only time I’m this independent, this self-sufficient, this… alive on my own.

After so many heartbreaks and road blocks and experiences, I’ve learned that I’m not dating freedom — instead, I’m just free.

As much time (and energy and heart) that I’ve spent wanting, aching and hoping for love, I’ve forgotten just how much I do love this independence. Even though most single women fear being sentenced to bad (and worse sex) forever, there is something quite special about being a 20-something that hasn’t settled down yet. It’s easy to take it for granted, especially when you’d trade in a night in with the dog for a night in with a man, but if the last three years are any indicator of how quickly life can change, then it’s time to start cherishing these precious moments. And savoring them. Indulging in time and travel alone, trips to the museum and drinks for one outside underneath the street lights and siren sounds. Because there will be a moment when I look back at weekends like this past one — where I spent every second really, truly letting go and letting life fly — and miss these days.

When I look back at brunch in the park with the family that I’ve made in this beautiful city and remember when we were all taking it day by day. When we didn’t have to think past 5 p.m., where Saturday was simply spent laying in the sun and drifting to sleep to the sound of your best friend’s laughter. When our dogs (and maybe our mimosas) felt like our babies. When we worried about so many silly things that won’t mean anything in just a few years. In such a short period of time that we can’t even imagine it right now.

There will be a time when I remember what it was like to be free — and hopefully when I do, I’ll be proud that I soaked it up for all it was worth. I hope I’ll remember that I did what everyone should do: really, truly live as wildly, as beautifully as I can.

I hope I remember being almost-25 and taking so much time and investing so much love… into these years of being… free.


The Red Umbrella

It arrived in an unmarked package with no return label. The stamp on the front declared it was from a country not that far away, but one that isn’t on my list to visit anytime soon. If not for the reason that it seems terribly romantic, but because it’s where the man I was once in love with, currently lives.

I knew it was a gift from him— some token from his travels, some keepsake that would hold a double-edged sword full of meaning for me. A symbolic gesture to signify a special joke between us, a once sweet nickname that now is tawdry and pestering to forget. As I stood at my mailbox at work, feeling how light, and yet so very heavy, this package was, I considered two decisions: throw away this gift from Mr. Possibility or feed my intrigue and open this cryptic message that is as confusing as the intentions of the man who sent it.

As always, curiosity gets the best of this Tigar.

I took it to my desk and while my editor went to lunch, I tore open the envelope, preparing myself for tears and hoping an intern didn’t come upstairs with a burning question. I was careful not to rip anything because something in my gut felt it was delicate and precious. That is how Mr. P always described me — powerful and vivacious with an unquenchable spirit, but at my core, sweet and sensitive. Impressionable.

Inside the package, I pulled out a red folder with his school’s emblem on the front. The same school that I had edited his entrance essays while lying in just his t-shirt on his bed with the expensive down comforter that usually gave me more peace than his touch ever did. Fixing his comma use and vocabulary, we talked about me joining him on this overseas excursion, freelancing and exploring the world together. I could write this blog and pitch to magazines, while putting my dreams at bay so he could chase the elusive future that I doubt he has yet to figure out. That shiny folder, ripped at the crease and tattered at the ends, felt like what was left of our love, broken and shattered, but for whatever reason, hanging together by the single romantic thread of hope.

I ran my fingers across the page until I felt paper. There is was, the note. It would say something and nothing all at the same time, leaving me lingering on what he really meant to say. What he really wished he could feel.

Hey pretty Tigar. I saw this while in Prague and it reminded me so much of you. I hope you know I’m always thinking of you and missing our talks very much. I hope you’re doing well… you’re with me everywhere. Love, Mr. P.

I waited for my heart to speed up, for my throat to tighten and for that need to run as far away from the folder as possible. Usually, when faced with something emotional, I want to release myself from the pressure quickly. That way I don’t have time to think or to process, to obsess or figure things out. If I can get away from the problem, the problem ceases to exist. But this time, it was different.

His words felt emptier than they ever did, his feelings for me disappearing, just as his hold on me was weakening. I opened up the folder, turned over a black matted frame and found a hand-painted portrait of a couple standing near a bridge in Prague, kissing. You can’t see their embrace because of the red umbrella covering them from the gentle stroke of rain cascading down the paper.

It’s like the red umbrella that sits at the top of this blog.

And it’s similar to the red umbrella portrait that hangs in my room, shielding a couple caught in a kiss, standing next to a taxi cab. It’s a second-hand store beauty my mom found and had framed for me last Christmas. Mr. Possibility never saw it – he hasn’t been in my room in some time – but the two portraits matched each other, just in different locations.

Just in the two places where my heart lives – with a man who will never be what I want and in the city that makes me hope that one day, some man will be.

I received that gift from Mr. Possibility nearly eight months ago. For a while, I stashed it in the drawer next to my desk, forgetting about it until I went searching for a long-lost fork at lunchtime. When I needed to spring clean in March, I pulled it out and brought it home, careful not to look at it, and purposefully stuffed it in between big books to protect it. Every once in a while, I’d see the red corners of the folder sticking out and move my attention to something else. But I always knew it was there, haunting me, reminding me of this final gift that while it didn’t upset me wildly, affected me in a way that I didn’t like to admit.

But then over take-out and red wine with my friend J on a rainy Thursday night after work, I made a decision to come out from the umbrella. Knowing she’d protect me – along with my other supportive, honest best friends – from any storm that could come, I gave her that Prague portrait. I realized I didn’t need a romantic reminder of Mr. Possibility and I didn’t want one either. If I wanted to think of happier times, I could – those memories don’t disappear, no matter how much you try. I don’t want him back and I don’t need his dollar-short and months (and months)-too late expression of love to cloud my judgment.

So for now, until (or if) I decide to frame a reminder of my first New York love on my wall – that particular red umbrella will remain in the hands of a friend. Because really, the more I find myself standing underneath umbrellas, wondering when the rain will stop and the sun will come out, the more I find myself wanting to play in the downpour. The more I find the past trying to creep back into my life, the more excited I get for the future.

The more I’m reminded of the love I had, the more convinced I am that a better one is surely on it’s way.

The Best is Yet to Come

I finally caught that yellow chariot.

It whisked me away through Central Park, glittering past glowing street lamps and weaving through semi-windy roads. I sat alone, my purse laid by my side, listening to the cabbie mutter to himself. His stammering made me feel better about my tears at nearly two in the morning. He probably thought I was just another wounded drunk girl coming in from a Saturday night out where I spilled my beer and kissed a faceless boy at a bar.

But no, I was sober. And now, I was single. I mean, I am single.

It’s funny, I thought, once we reached Amsterdam and my heart released the anxiety that always comes from trusting a stranger to take you where you tell them to. A year ago, on this very day, I was crying in the bathtub, depressed over my birthday party where I didn’t get asked to dance, where I didn’t feel very pretty, where I was so sick of being single that I was an absolute mess. I hysterically cried and then made up my mind — I wasn’t going to feel this way anymore.

Am I right back where I started? Really Lindsay? I rolled my eyes at myself, glanced down at my silent Blackberry and felt the freshly Autumn air hit my cheeks. Here I was again, even with all this daily hard work for the past year, crying over some guy. At least it isn’t in that disgusting bathtub, huh? I thought and grinned. I also wasn’t an emotional wreck or crying because I hated being single. This time, they were movie-star tears that glistened through mascara eyelashes, and I wasn’t upset because I feared being alone but because I wanted to be.

That was the final straw, Linds. You really had no other choice but to walk away. You’d be selling yourself short and giving away yourself if you stayed, I reassured myself to gain enough courage to brave the face of the cabbie to pay him. My birthday had brought the next season, and with it, I was moving on to the next chapter. As much love as there is, as connected to my heart and my New York life as he was, Mr. Possibility didn’t turn back into Mr. Unavailable or grow into the only possibility, he just became impossible.

Maybe if you just gave him some more time or ignored him for a week or two, then he’d come around. Then he’d see you were worth it, the other side opposed as I turned the chunky silver key, allowing access into my safe haven, my home. I knew I could have stayed longer, I could have played the manipulation card as fiercely as he did – but there is a difference between being able to do something and wanting to do it. That was, after all, at the crux of our relationship: he may have wanted to give me what I needed but he couldn’t, and I could have stayed but that isn’t the type of love I want. It’s not what I deserve.

I deserve so much more.

Because I’m not that distraught girl anymore. I’m no longer afraid of being alone, but afraid of being alone in a relationship. There are worse things than being single, and unrequited love is one of them. There are worse things than having to go through the emotional warfare of a breakup, and settling for less, I can assure you, is much more painful. You’ve really come so far and you did the right thing, the rational voice came back with easy clarity. It hurts to essentially give up on Mr. Possibility but he needs to go through the 12-step program more than I do now. He has to love himself before he can ever love me, or anyone else, in any way that matters. I can’t love him enough to change him, and he can’t love me enough to change my mind.

So here ya are, Linds. You’re back to being single again and the blog is over, I thought as I looked out the window of my room, watching the lights flicker with the arrival of the morning. I couldn’t sleep, too much thinking going on. Too much aching for something I never quite had but know I’ll find one day. I’m different from I was a year ago. I’m much stronger, more settled. I’ve loved someone in New York and I’ve loved myself enough to walk away. If that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is, I sat up and felt my heart sink back into the bed. Sometimes the hard thing and the right thing are the same, and sadly, also the adult thing to do. Mr. Possibility isn’t a bad guy – he’s actually quite the opposite. He’s a wonderful man with so many possibilities but the past isn’t allowing him to have a future, and we’re in such different places that nothing between us makes sense anymore. It’s not worth fighting with someone you love, it’s better to love them enough to calm the fight by leaving.

And the fighting had been too much. We were starting to destroy what we had, the friendly foundation was turning into resentment. I couldn’t put my heart on hold or allow someone to love me with only half of their heart, and he couldn’t be there for me in a way that was constant and dependable. And so, on the corner of 12th and Third, I gave him one last opportunity to make amends, to step up to the plate, to prove his committment. But he passed and I turned the corner, only to look back and see him catch a cab in the opposite direction.

Well, looks like there’s no game of cat-and-mouse here, huh? I crumpled to the side of a building, wishing I hadn’t worn heels and covered my face, preparing for the flood. My friend M braced my back and promised me he was only the beginning of New York love, not the end. But the devastation didn’t come. Instead, I felt just a little bit of fear and longing, but mostly, I felt relief. Now I could be happy, he could find his happiness, and the happiness we had won’t be overshadowed by the disaster of the last month. After all, what I’ve wanted for him from the beginning was just to be happy, and now I see that I wasn’t helping him to happiness, I was just keeping him from really trying out those wings and learning to love himself as I have learned. I miss him, I will miss him but his brightest years are still ahead of him, just as mine are. We just won’t be sharing them together.

So does this blog end with the end of Mr. Possibility and I? Have I really completed the 12 steps because I found enough security in myself to not have to lean on a man for support? To not stay in a dead-end relationship because I couldn’t stand the thought of being single while all my Southern friends got married? How do you end something that’s been part of your life for the past year? How do you put that into words?

You don’t. So I’m not.

I won’t write every single day anymore, but I’m still going to write. Confessions of a Love Addict isn’t ending, it’s just changing. It’s going back to Step 1 to repair myself through the five-moods of a grief over impossibility. To learn how to put back together the pieces I lost of myself in the relationship, even if this time, they aren’t as scattered or jagged.

I wanted to blog for 365 days and I have – so now it’s not about meeting my own deadline. Now, it’s just about writing as I feel, sharing what I want, and starting the journey all over again. Really, the process of accepting and loving who you are is never-ending. Because just like the New York skyline is always changing, so are people, and so is time. Stages come and go, love grows and then it hurts. Friends go their different ways, luck comes around ever now-and-then. Sometimes you get what you want, but mostly you get what you need.

And I still need this blog. Because now, a whole new journey is about to unfold, and if the last year is any indication of the thrills ahead of me, I couldn’t be more excited. Especially since now I’ve traded that bathtub for a cab, those tears for a red dress, and that fear of being alone for the option of having something extraordinary. And that hatred for the word “single” into a thankfulness that through it all, I still have just what I’ve always needed:


And of course, a bottle of champagne, some great friends, a heart that’s still beating and believing, and the faith that the best is yet to come. Stay tuned.

Every Day a Post, Every Day a Lesson

In coffee shops, uptown a few blocks and here. On my bed, at my desk, on my friend’s phone. At my computer, on Mr. P’s laptop, in Penn Station waiting on a train. Sitting in the airport days before Christmas. In my living room, on the couch, at the kitchen table. In Bryant Park at night, at Columbia University, sitting cross-legged on the cold hardwood floors.

Wrapped up in blankets as the snow came down, while looking out dirty windows at some cafe in Williamsburg as I watched Mr.P concentrate with his tongue out across from me. In a rush, with days to spare, when it was way too rainy to set foot outside. Lounging naked in front of my air conditioner, rushing in after a busy day to beat the clock, standing in the corner on one leg so I could have enough signal in the back of a Southern-themed bar on the Upper West Side.

For the last 364 days, I’ve published this blog from dozens of places.

The ideas and the fodder have been just as diverse. From conversations with friends and family to experiences I’ve had with Mr. P and all the others. While trying to sort through emotions, while watching people in love, people falling apart, people being messy and complicated, as people often are. In dark instances where the world seemed too big, in bright, sunny days that gave me Louie Armstrong memories and made me feel like the world was actually quite small. During times I couldn’t understand and through days where I felt like I had it all figured out. While feeling my heart expand to welcome a possible love in and then while feeling it shrink when feelings weren’t mutual. Through months of feeling lost and uncertain, questioning everything I ever knew, and throughout the hours where everything felt so right that it was scary. When inspired by people I meet or books I read, or places I’ve been or things I’ve seen, but also when nothing at all made me want to write other than knowing I’d regret it at 12:01 a.m.

And now, as I write this, knowing that tomorrow will come and go, that the final post that I’ve yet to write will go live and then the day will pass, I can’t decide if I feel sad or thoroughly impressed with myself. To be honest, it’s probably a bit of both.

My intentions changed as the blog continued, as I progressed and I noticed loyal readers like Larry who comments nearly every day, and girls who remind me of myself, like Katie, Christina and Suzie. Or some beautiful soul who lives where it rains all the time, drinking coffee and giving superb, heartfelt advice. And then there’s the ladies from Tel Aviv and Ms. Lexamantis from South Africa. Or Jenny from Philly who is quite tweety, and Moose Michaels who inspired one of my most well-trafficked blogs. And Dear Ex-Girlfriend who provides cheeky, sarcastic advice from a real dude’s point of view. Or my San Fran gal who is talented and ever-so-kind, even sending me a real-life Valentine. And Kacey, Marlee and Stephanie who update Facebook regularly with cute pictures that remind me of my life in New York. And Lovephool from London and Cat from this city, and Divorcing Mr. Wrong who’s red dress I’d love to borrow. I couldn’t even begin to explain how many more there are, too.

This blog has been my personal journey, but it’s also been the journey of so many people. Most of which, I’ll never meet. But somehow, there is something about being open and honest, allowing my raw emotions and candid thoughts to have an open forum and space for people to relate…that has made LoveAddictNYC.com what it is. It’s the first domain name I’ve ever bought, and it was worth every penny.

I’ve grown so much over the past year, through each of those 12 steps, through all of the changes that have made my current life what it is, and I’m so thankful that others could find comfort in what I wrote. I can now promise without any doubt whatsoever that anything you’ve felt, anything you’ve wondered, anything that’s caused you tremendous pain or any worry you thought was ridiculous about love or about how you look or about being a 20-something…someone else has had too. And someone will again.

Nothing I’ve said on these pages is original or unique, they are just my struggles and my achievements, my analysis of the wonder and the bewilderment that love often brings. They don’t give insight into a true addict’s nature, just into the obsessive and scary dangers of being someone who tries for love, who tries to be their own greatest fan, who tries to be all that they can, and sometimes fails. Without those moments of crazy, we could never have those visions of clarity.

Thank you all for being there with me, for your honesty and your advice. For sharing my work with others, for helping me land my dream job (yes, this blog was part of it!), for sending me Tweets and emails, liking me on Facebook and liking me in real life. For being my friend, even though we may be oceans away. For helping me learn a lesson with ever post I wrote. This journey may be coming to a close in a matter of hours, but you will all forever be part of my journey.

And tomorrow, come back for your final daily visit at 2 p.m. EST.