What I Should Have Said

There are some perks to a blog – especially for a writer. It is a place for me to vent, for me to discuss topics in liberal opportunities, and a way for me to help others learn from the experiences I share. Blogging has been around over a decade and it has proved a successful platform for publishing companies, wannabe-authors, and anyone who could function on WordPress, Blogspot, or other platforms. While certain studies show the momentum behind blogging and being a blogger may have lost some of its cache  in an overly saturated market – if you want to find a community of supporters and other writers, it is rather simple.

If you’re not convinced, just ask me.

When I started Confessions of a Love Addict mid-September last year, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into. I clicked publish without a plan, without any intention of promoting the blog anywhere but Facebook to my friends, and came up with the idea as a way for me to work through past relationship issues. I became interested because I knew the way I approached love was unhealthy and I was allowing the presence or the absence of a man control the way I valued my self-worth. Because writing isn’t just my job, it is my passion, and in many cases, the best therapy I could ever invest in. And blogging, of course, doesn’t cost anything.

So why not? Why not blog?

What I forgot to consider when divulging the intimate details of my life to all who can click and Google was the fact that my personal life doesn’t just pertain to me. And the issue with a blog primarily about relationships is that the whole definition of a relationship is that it involves two people.

And thus, admittedly there are also two sides to every story. But my side, the way that I felt, what I thought, and what I learned is public knowledge. Sometimes, sadly, some of the things I’ve been comfortable enough to share on this space with mostly strangers, I haven’t been brave enough to be as honest about with the men the posts detail.

This downfall on my part is forgetting that the Mr’s read these blogs. Not so much with Mr. Possibility – for he’s known me since after this blog began – but with the men of my past. Some of which, months and years after the end of our relationship, discovered my insight into what we shared. While I’ve made a vow to never man-bash, but to only detail the benefit of each relationship, part of finding the good is discussing the bad. The things that weren’t enough, the things that I realized I didn’t want, the moments I knew when I was settling, those dreams that I knew would never come true if I remained in a stagnant, dead-end relationship with a Mr. Wrong that would never be Mr. Right.

And those things, for men I used to talk to daily, make love to consistently, and open up my heart, my soul, and my life to – are difficult to hear. Probably harder to stomach. No one wants to know that they couldn’t bring someone happiness or that contrary to every romantic comedy, storybook, and sitcom – love sometimes is not enough. No matter how many first stars or lucky pennies we wish upon.

I’m quite positive some of my exes will never dial my number or call me up when they’re in New York after reading the pages of this blog, that somehow has infiltrated and changed my personal life in vast ways. As much as it has helped me become a stronger woman, opened up new opportunities for me professionally, and given closure and a new friendship with certain former loves, it has also burned some bridges I wish still stood.

But that’s the thing about the truth – sometimes it hurts.

In fact, unless it is what we want to hear and improves our current situation, the truth is often the hardest thing to accept. When you realize you weren’t meant for someone and they realize it too – walking away becomes a game of roulette, who will dodge first and admit what feels like failure? When you know you’re staying in a relationship for the wrong reasons, but don’t want to cause pain to someone you once (and probably do, and always will) loved – how do you break it to them, without breaking them? When you understand someone is with you for the comfort you give them, not the undying knock-you-to-ground passionate love you deserve, how do you demand more or pack your bags?

Since these relationships – I’ve adapted the honesty is the best policy mentality. I’ll partly give credit to this blog, some to my own growing maturity, and some to the lessons I’ve mastered from the past and how they’ve translated into my present. Perhaps if I would have voiced my opinions, yielded to red flags when I saw them rise, and given up on a love I knew wouldn’t last – I would have saved myself some heartbreak. Or more importantly, come to the rescue to the men I wasn’t fair to, instead of thinking they were only there to rescue me. Maybe it is all of those honest, truthful things I should have said that would have meant more, in the long run, than all of the things that I said to save feelings, face, and heart.

Really though, the thing that will save us all, that will make our relationships meaningful and sincere is learning to say when enough is enough, when love is worth the fight and when it’s not, and when we realize there are better things that can be found. And accept that the person you need to focus on, the person you need to be the most honest with, the person who needs to read your blog the most – is you.

Because everyone else will always see what you say as a matter of opinion, regardless. No matter how honest you are. Even so – tell the truth anyways. They say it’ll set us free or piss us off – I think it’ll do it a little bit of both. And frankly, that’s better than hurting others and lovers more than is necessary. And more than a post on a blog could ever do.

Advertisements

My Never-Ending Story

I like my men tall, charming, and successful. I’m not picky about industry, though the majority of the dudes I’ve been involved with have been in the business sector. I’ve dated American and foreign, and a month younger than me to ten years my senior. I’ve fallen for a man in a minute, while some have had to grow on me. They have all been different in the matters that matter, but they have one distinctive common quality:

They’re all storytellers.

Some of them took this trait to the extreme – telling little white lies instead of entertaining tidbits, but most just had the art of captivating me with their tales. With inviting body language, energetic hand gestures, and wildly vivid eyes that change as the story continues – I’ve always had a knack for picking men who have factual (or at least I hope) anecdotes and want to tell me about them. The attraction I have to a storyteller may be due to my career or the fact that I try to listen more than I speak, but I think it could even be more juvenile than that. As simplistic as it may seem – I just like stories.

As a child, I became so fascinated with storybooks  and reading that I eventually started writing my own. They were bound with string and detailed the adventures of my childhood pets, Wilma and Indiana (after Indiana Jones, of course). Or about day-to-day errands, vacations, or what I learned in school. Though my life has changed since I was seven years old, I haven’t stopped cataloging what I experience or how I feel – it is the reason I have dozens of diaries and the reason this blog exists. So maybe a storyteller attracts another storyteller – even if the way they express their affairs differs.

Nevertheless, while the loves of my life have been talented in giving the whole story and always in a little-over-the-top way, I have always had trouble with one part of storytelling.

The ending.

Every writer, every speaker, every anything that delivers a message must have some sort of conclusion in mind. We all enjoy the beginning, the obstacles, the intrigue, and the passion that goes in the rising plot – but the question is always, what happened? Or how does it all come together? Does the guy get the girl? Does the girl find that man she thought she wouldn’t find? Does the lady land the job she wants? Does the man find something to bring him happiness that’s not his career? Did he cheat again? Did she forgive him? Does she die of some unknown disease? Does he get out of the tangled web of destruction? Do they live happily ever after?

No story is complete without an ending – or is it? Is there really such a thing as an ending at all?

In the next few months, my life will be changing, as I’ve observed it does in continuous three-month cycles. The start of May I will move into a new apartment – though because it is a New York market, I’ll have no idea where exactly I’ll be until a week before. Mr. Possibility will return yet again from a stint overseas and the plot we’re writing in our interesting story will continue to thicken as time and talks progress. I will travel extensively this summer with projected international trips and a homecoming to the South to attend my first of five weddings this year. And then there will eventually be an end to this blog. I’ve set a goal for a year of writing daily – which would make my last post on September 19.

Maybe with all of these transitions happening -leaving an apartment I loved, the final return of a man I adore, going on those trips I always lusted after, and knowing there will be a day without Confessions of a Love Addict – I’ve been thinking about endings. They say all good things come to a close – but I’d like to think that actually things really do last forever. And not in the sense that with each ending comes a beginning, but that anything that was ever important or significant doesn’t just leave you because it’s presence isn’t as prominent.

All of my storytellers are not acting across from me at the dinner table or sharing my bed as they once did – but I remember their stories. I remember their faces and they way they could make me laugh in all the right places. I remember what it felt like to fall in love with each of them and how it felt to fall out. And those apartments I’ve had over the years – from King Street in North Carolina to Manhattan Avenue in NYC – I remember the addresses. The keys have changed, the people who visited me have too, but there are certain things that never do.

And those are the stories.

Maybe that’s why I find myself as a modern-day historian – as all journalists are – documenting the world and my world as I see it and experience it. Remembering what was is the reason I’m where I am today, and why I’ll make it where I’m going tomorrow. The characters and the analogies adapt to our settings and the verbs that keep us going, but our stories remain. Chronicled in the back of our hearts where we keep the most intimate details, on the URLs of WordPress, or packed in cardboard boxes in our childhood homes – whatever we’ve experienced isn’t just deleted from our histories. It doesn’t end because those stories make us us. They give us the background for our foundations and the flashbacks we constantly entertain and learn from.

So why did I worry about happy endings with each of my storytellers? Why did I think I would have an ending at all? My story, much like the stories of every woman, every man who has ever been, isn’t based on the final sentence on the final page of the countless novels that make up my journey. It’s not about the moment when everything is concluded and decided, or when my future husband and I tell our story of how we met or got married or had children. Or when I achieved the corner office or the byline that I sought after. Or how the pieces finally came together and that was that.

Because my story is ever evolving, ever-changing, and never-ending. And it certainly isn’t concerned with such an ending, when it is only just beginning.

Worse Than Being Alone

At the time in our lives when we met one another, Mr. Idea and I needed one another.

He was in a job that didn’t respect him or give him the opportunities he deserved, and with a severe dislike for driving (especially curvy roads), North Carolina was no place for this native New Yorker. I was struggling to keep myself together my final semester in college, fighting away the fears in the pit of my stomach that I’d never make it where I wanted to be, and saving every nickel and dime that came my way. I had not been given the position at the newspaper I had eyed since I was a freshman, which kept me out of the office I practically lived for the last three years, and on top of wanting out, I somewhat felt like a failure and an outcast from the world that meant everything to me.

And so, Mr. Idea and I leaned on one another.

He reminded me of my talents and ensured that bigger and better things were waiting for me in the days and addresses I couldn’t imagine. I kept him confident that his Southern stay would come to a close and he’d find himself doing more of what he wanted in a place and a company that knew what they had when they had him. In a matter of weeks, we went from strangers who met on a semi-blind date to inseparable. I literally could not imagine my life without him and the way we clung to one another was definitely not healthy, but at the time, it was the only thing that felt right.

But that sense of need that so easily translates into a sense of urgency, kept me back more than it pushed me forward. I was so afraid of losing what I had found – Mr. Idea – that I did anything and everything I could to keep him around. I said all of the right things at the right time. I was never late but not annoyingly early. I supported him and stood by him, even when my heart begged me to question my intentions. I gave him the benefit of a doubt when he would say or do things that weren’t appropriate by my own standards. When he wasn’t interested in sex night after night, I tried not to take it personally and hoped he’d come around.

As our relationship progressed, I watched him turn more and more into someone that I knew I didn’t want to be with. All of the red flags were obvious, the signs were pointing to the exit, and I couldn’t help but wonder what else was out there. But for a while – I didn’t go. I didn’t leave. I didn’t walk away. I remained exactly where I was, miserable and feeling like I lost myself more than I had discovered some great love. But why?

Because it was safe.

When you’re in a relationship, when you finally find that man who isn’t deathly afraid of commitment, and actually wants to call you his and have you call him yours -there is a wave of relief. The guard can come down, the negotiations and convincing can stop. And that feels good. It feels comforting. It feels easy. Especially in my case, at a time when Mr. Idea and I were both unstable, it became a safe harbor, an arena where we could be accepted and not worry about “that part” of our lives, when all of the other parts were jagged.

And so, as many people do, I became comfortable. I knew I had someone there when I needed to be reassured. I knew I had someone to depend on. I knew that even if he wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I had wanted him at one time, and I thought maybe, he could grow into someone I couldn’t live without. I knew that I had prayed for love and I had been sent some sort of love, so why would I throw it away when problems and incompatibility outnumbered the good and the synced? Every time I felt the urge to hit the road, I remembered how difficult it was to be on my own, how much I hated being single, how much I didn’t want to face everything in my life alone – and I’d stay.

It wasn’t until right before I moved to New York that I had a great realization that I wanted to do my journey to the big city on my own. I wanted to say I did it just for myself, by myself, and in the right state of mind. And as much as I loved Mr. Idea and as badly as I wanted something to work out or for him to transform into my Prince Charming, I knew I couldn’t wait for it. No matter how awful being alone felt to me.

And what I found, after months and months of convincing myself I made the right decision about ending things with Mr. Idea, was there are worse things than being alone. One of which is being single in a relationship and having the only purpose of that union to be a bed of comfort, not a bed of joy. I was with Mr. Idea and I was committed, but my heart couldn’t get there because my mind was too worried about messing up the safety I found with him, and in return, I never was myself. And when he started becoming himself, I realized he wasn’t the man I wanted – but his presence kept me from facing the world single. Even if I was already singular as it was.

A few days ago, after a very long healing period for him, he extended a ring of friendship. He doesn’t read this blog (and I don’t blame him), and he doesn’t care to know about my Mr. Possibility – but he did want me to know what I meant to him and what I will always mean to him. In attempting to be a mature adult and explain to him verbally what I’ve discussed in this blog, he said:

“You never needed to be anyone other than yourself – you would have kept me even if you were a wreck – because Linds, you were at times. Or if you decided it wasn’t what you wanted sooner, I would I have forgiven you. Please, don’t ever be anyone other than the special person you are, because it is beautiful and I will always love that about you.”

So even with my charade, even with putting on my happy face to keep my comfort around, I had not fooled him. He had known my intentions in the relationship and what I hoped to gain. He wasn’t oblivious, even if I felt like I was being sly and strategic to keep my safety net around. Maybe he had felt single in our relationship too, or maybe he was at a different point in his life than I was, even if we both were unsteady.

But the thing about being unsteady and wanting to find structure in another person is that the more you look outside yourself to build the frame, the less dependable it will feel. But when you venture out into the shaky world, no matter how shaky you may feel when you’re single, you’ll come to find that while you thought you needed that protection or added support, the one thing you need more than anything else…is yourself.

And one day, you may just find someone who doesn’t need you to be comforted or vice versa, but they simply want you.

Undoing the Undo

Sometimes I wish I could take a week off from my computer. If I estimated how many hours I spend looking at a screen, from my job that’s primarily at a desk to this blog, which takes up some time to write, publish, and promote – I’d be embarrassed of the total.

But the truth is – a computer helped raise me. I can’t remember a time without one.

I come from a generation that’s always known what it was like to be connected to this digital creation and the World Wide Web. In elementary school, we took turns buying a bag of cotton balls so we could clean off our headphones for computer class, where we learned about home row keys and data entry. By the time I was in middle school, I had my own email account (latigar@aol.com, of course) and my parents let me chat in chat rooms before chat rooms needed a warrior like Chris Hansen to get the predators out.

In high school, I started really becoming a journalist with internships and mastering the Office Suite and how to effectively search on AskJeeves.com. I started to become interested in design and because I knew I wanted to work at a magazine, I started figuring out ways to contact editors – I even found interns in groups on MySpace. Time couldn’t change as quickly as the technology and college was full of Adobe and Facebook, Flash, and Google Analytics.

I’m well versed in the language of the web and when a computer challenges me, I fight back until I find an answer. Maybe because I’m so comfortable dancing across the keys or trying something new, but I’m brave to push my limits and explore the tech world, both socially and systematically. I’m not afraid of making mistakes because I know that there is always a saving grace, should I do something to throw the entire program or network off balance.

Undo.

It was a joke at the college newspaper I rose in the ranks of, that when in doubt, just hit undo. This miracle button could correct anything and it gave us the courage to test the waters of new, exciting pages, and scarily complicated CMS features. I felt a sense of freedom knowing I could do basically whatever I wanted to attempt and I’d be okay if something went awry. I wouldn’t be held responsible because I could just delete the action.

Ever since I discovered this free pass, I’ve found myself thinking “Edit, Undo” in my day-to-day when something goes wrong. Like when I’m walking the two blocks from my favorite coffee shop to my job and I spill a nice trail of Splenda-and-skim-infused Java down my blue blouse, five minutes into my work day. Or out of complete frustration and the onset of my monthly visitor, I snap at a friend who is only trying to make me feel better. Or when I say words I can’t take back, do things I can’t change, or leave people who will never return.

But the thing is – there isn’t an undo in life.

We make choices and we’re forced to stand by them. We make our bed and we lay in it. We meet people and we have the ability to decide (Heavens willing) how long they’re with us and how close they grow. We try things and they often don’t work out in the way we want. We take risks and we have trials, and there is no way to step back on that ledge once we’ve left it.

Though the backend of a computer and the Internet is vastly complicated – making those who understand it highly competitive and disgustingly wealthy – there is nothing more complex than the webs we weave. Life is a funny and beautiful thing, yes – but it is also better spent trusting in the decisions you make instead of wondering if there is a way to get out of them.

I haven’t decided if I enjoy black-and-white or shades of gray better, but I will say that it’s time to stop thinking by the ways of the technological world. Sure, it is the way marketing is going. It’s changing my industry daily. It’s going to continue to expand and there will be a boom that wakes us all up, I’m sure. But if we spent as much time in front of this computer, reading and writing these blogs, Tweeting to the world, and posting on Facebook – actually just living our lives – maybe we’d undo the undo.

We’d stop to think in terms of escape or safe merit. We’d understand that the decisions we claim are ours, even if they take us far from where we started with a hell of a long way to go. We’d click with other people and be more synced to ourselves instead of connecting our social media channels and tapping our mice. We’d see that while an easy-out is beneficial for our Apple or our Windows, it’d be better if we didn’t want to undo the life we lead.

Because while coffee stains are nearly impossible to remove, friends may hold grudges, and love may be lost – without those moments, without those incidents that can be significant or small– we wouldn’t learn. We wouldn’t come into our own. We wouldn’t learn to think before leaping, pause before speaking, or consider before leaving. We’d rely on an undo button to make our lives perfect instead of relishing in the imperfections that make life so worthwhile to begin with. Someone would make more money than Zuckerberg if they created something to give us the option to go back and correct the bad that didn’t seem to lead to good.

Maybe so – but as much as a computer-lover as I am, I’d never buy such a thing. I’d rather click publish in my own life than undo. Because, why would I want to undo…me?

The Bravery of a Fool

There are not many late-night, frantic, and ridiculous phone calls between women discussing the unpredictability of the typically predictable male that don’t involve questions concerning being a fool.

The adages are plentiful – only fools fall in love and everybody plays the fool without an exception to the rule. And the negativity behind this term is not just in a noun, but also a verb – fool me once, shame on you – but fool me twice, shame on me. While women may want to be beautiful and irreplaceable, a vixen, and maybe an officially official girlfriend – one phrase they never like to adopt is being the fool of a man.

Maybe I’m being too cliche in my perspective of this definition. But to me, a fool is someone who knows there is a chance for destruction with a man who has a reputation or has warned you of his troubles, and yet, against any recommendation or any red flag waving in the vast unknown – they willingly pursue and maybe even commit to such a character. Perhaps it is a lack of judgement or an inability to be prudent with those they date or open their legs for – either way, I think it’s a title we’ve all claimed at some point. Most of us, probably well knowing the role we were accepting before we took the stage.

But why would anyone want to be a fool for anyone? Wouldn’t we rather stay logical and collected, calm, and in control of the love we decide to share with only a someone who is willing to offer us the same? Isn’t being in a relationship only worth the wager if you know that while the stakes are high, there are two players playing on an even-playing field?

Call me crazy – but I agree to be in love, you must be a little foolish. It is not an easy task to openly offer up your heart, your emotions, and your hope to a person who may or may not handle such precious things with care. With a simple slip of the mouth, slip of the pants, or slip into a stranger’s bed – a man who you once trusted with your most intimate self could leave you waiting in the wings, covered in not just the dust of his speedy exit, but the residue of his countless lies. Sure,  all of these things are possible and no, they don’t always happen. But they could and they do. If such pain is plausible, we’d have to be irrational to rationalize love. Right?

Or is it that the thinnest line isn’t between faith and fortune. Or between flattery and fumbling.  Or loving and lusting. Or what we want and where we are. Or the beginning and the ending. Or  making love and making the dirty. Or exclusive and free.

But rather – the most blurred connection is between being a fool and being brave.

And if I follow the absurdity of fairytales or the blatant reality of my parent’s example of a relationship that can endure the test of time and health – being brave is the quality that made the dues payable. But to be courageous, one must always be a little asinine, or we wouldn’t realize what we were risking. And really, the largest investment we make in a relationship isn’t even in the person – however dreamy he may be – but the liability is in ourselves.

We must be brave enough to fall in love and absurd enough to trust someone other than ourselves with our most valuable assets. Because once they are out in the open, in front of the court to see and ridicule, there is not always a guarantee that a prince charming will ride our way. More often than not in times that are Millennial instead of Medieval – the knight’s armor is less than shining and more shunning. After all, the fool is not the princess or the lady in waiting or even a maiden of the most prestigious court. This character is rather the one who entertains, the one who hides their own face in an effort to bring joy to the lips of others. But the fool is no fool to her antics or her charm, to her words, or to the price she could pay for being honest or sarcastic. She knows the chance she takes, she knows the pieces that could shatter – but she does it anyways.

Because what we forget about being a fool is that to be one, you must realize your own value. And you have to know that if the crowd doesn’t take to what you present, you know there is safety and shelter in your own care. And in that power comes the ability to accept being a fool and knowing that though we get a wild card to play a prank on a friend on this day each year, there is never a holiday for deceiving ourselves.

Rather – it is something we do constantly, time after time, man after man. We convince ourselves he will be different. That it will be easy and just as we imagined. He will do those things we always wanted him to do. He will surprise us. He will love us unconditionally, if such a love is reasonable. We fool ourselves into falling in love again. And again. We accept the burden it carries when it doesn’t work out as anticipated and we bow to our audience, to the fates who tricked us again, and we go backstage to prepare for the next show.

For the next brave attempt at the foolish ways of love.

Following the Penny Lane

Once upon a time,  living in my sleepy North Carolina college town, a devastating emotional tornado swept the land, and left me in ruins in a place that was far from The Land of Oz.

It was more of a destination of isolation – where I could see the life I dreamed of, the streets I was meant to walk, and yet, I just couldn’t capture it. I just couldn’t get there. I didn’t have a miniature dog or miniature people to guide my way, nor a scarecrow, a tinman, or a lion. And though I hoped for the Good Witch of North to guide me to the direction of her name, I was stuck on Southern ground, worrying endlessly about my unwell father, mending the end of a love, and preparing for a summer in the city I had yet to determine if I could afford.

And yet, I found the courage, the heart, and the smarts to find the Wonderful Wizard that lives in a building with many windows on 57th and 8th. But not by following a yellow brick road, but rather by following the penny lane.

As if sent from a power beyond myself, during my sophomore year in college, right before my first internships in New York, I started finding pennies. Now, of course, I had stumbled across a penny before, and though it goes against tradition, my mother always made me retrieve them- heads or tails up. She claimed it was wasteful to discriminate against money because of the way Lincoln was laying. But unlike those times in grocery store parking lots where discovering a penny was a rare occurence, I started seeing them exactly when I needed them. No three clicks of my heel needed.

When I would start to stress over my lack of sleep and dedication to classes while working nearly 60 hours (or more) at the camps paper, I’d kick a penny across the tiled floor while grabbing lunch. When I went to the interview for the internship I’d be offered, I moved my stiletto to find a penny resting below it in the seat of the cab. As I pushed open the door to the building I would live in for the summer, I noticed a penny in the doorway. And when I returned to finish out my college tenure as quickly as possible so I could return to the Apple of Opportunities, the pennies didn’t stop falling in all the right places, at all the right times.

If I was upset over a someone who didn’t turn into a something, when I felt like I was never measuring up to what I convinced myself I needed to be, or when my insecurities outweighed my sense of intimate beauty – a penny would find its way to me. Most literally, at one point, when I threw up the sheets to make my bed after a romp I instantly regretted, a pesky coin flew its way to the center of my forehead, as if to say: It’s okay! You’re human, Linds.

And though it has been many moons since that Spring when I noticed the Penny Lane I unintentionally follow, these copper culprits still find a way to reassure me.

When I arrived at the doorway of my current job, a tiny triangle of three pennies pointed me inside the office. An hour after I signed my lease on April 2 the year I moved, I opened the giant bay window (the only perk of a completely sad studio) and knocked over a pile of pennies that were resting in the corner. The day I started this blog in a little cafe a few blows from my apartment on the Upper West, I went to unplug my laptop and someone walked by me and dropped a penny at my feet. They turned back to see what they misplaced, laughed, and said: “Well, I guess it is your lucky night, huh?”

And these one-cent wonders don’t stop at my career or my residence – they follow me in dating, too. When Mr. Idea and I decided to go bungee jumping together – at the point where we were diving right into love as well – on the platform, before I stepped 60 feet off into air, I reached into my short pockets and found a forgotten penny. When I met Mr. Unavailable for coffee in Bryant Park, the table we sat on had a few pennies laying casually in the middle. And when I met Mr. Possibility on that bus and we walked to Grand Central Station to catch the same uptown train, I picked up a penny crossing the avenue.

I had been putting off writing about pennies because my belief in their power that’s personal to me may sound a tad crazy to the outside world. People find pennies all day and we’ve all been taught they bring you luck – but that’s not what they give me. Well, perhaps luck is part of it, but mostly, pennies remind me that I’m always where I’m meant to be. That even if the road is jagged and it forks in places I’d rather it spoon, I know I’ll find my way to the top. And if not, I’m reminded I’m strong enough to pave a path where there is no road and create my own happiness. A penny may be just a penny to many, but to me, it’s a symbol that gives me strength. So yesterday when I found myself strangely plagued by pennies, I knew it was a sign to finally give them space on something they encouraged 193-posts ago.

Not feeling like my usual bubbly and energetic self, I spent the majority of work exhausted and pushing myself to prioritize and finish simple tasks. For weeks, I’ve felt a change-a-comin’ and unable to determine which wind will blow in a different direction, I haven’t just had a queasy stomach, but my mind has been sweating in anticipation, too. Knowing fresh air was the best cure for my daze, I took a break to soak up the energy I’m lucky enough to call my home. As I walked street-to-street, I looked down and saw a trail of three pennies pointing downtown, and so, excited by my copper angel’s appearance, I continued. Before my hour excursion was over, I found a total of five little friends. Reassured and humbled by the signs I felt were sent from fate, I returned to the magazine refreshed and ready to work.

And then, well-aware of my penny-obsession, Mr. Possibility who is currently overseas, sent me a picture with a caption that read: “Guess it is a day for finding pennies.”

Because I find them so frequently, which may be a testament to how much I waste time worrying, I’ve stopped picking them up. I figure, maybe someone else will find happiness in something so simple. Even if most of what we deem special in our lives is based on when it crossed our path. For me, pennies have become what clicking heels was to Dorothy – a way to feel comforted. To be transported into a place of peace.

I mean, when you’re not looking into Lincoln’s eye and turn the copper coin around, it says to trust in something higher than yourself. So when I come across them, as I do when I least expect it and never when I try to find them, I remember that while I may not know the rhyme or the riddle, or how long a season will last – I know there must be a reason. And if I doubt – I’m sure a penny will put me in my place and back on its lane that’s led me to right here, right now, right where I’m supposed to be.

Seven Minutes of Play & Plato

Everything I do is marked by momentum. Not always with precision – but most definitely with speed. I walk fast, I eat quickly, I write this blog in a half hour, I live by snap decisions, I make up my mind instantly, I change it just as easily, I fall in love without holding back, and I almost always kiss on the first date.

So when I was offered a chance to try speed dating, it seemed like a natural progression for a gal who’s always been on the go. With strict instructions from my single female co-workers to take detailed notes in case they wanted to take this type of dating for a spin – I headed to a little pub in midtown east right after work.

Truth be told – while this was my first experience going on seven severely short dates in one evening, the name of this game wasn’t just about going quickly, but having fun. After all, it was professionally titled ImprovDating – which really, if you ask me, is what it is all about anyways. Isn’t dating one large improvisation we happen to act out for years until we find someone who lets us play the most difficult character of all…ourselves?

The evening began with pretzels and brainteasers, followed by warm up exercises to get us all a little more comfortable with the strangers we would soon be chatting with. As the three wildly energetic organizers prepared us for the rotating dates, one of them, who I’ll call Mr. Plato, quoted the philosopher from which he received his name:

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

Before I started playing ring-around-the-singles with the rest of the fourteen 20 and 30-somethings in the group, I scribbled down those wise words for safe keeping. The rest of the evening, I charged myself with the mission of listening, being open and non-judgmental, and most of all – just enjoying the experience.

For far too long, with far too many men, I’ve been far too concerned with perfection. With finding a man who not only has his ducks-in-a-row and isn’t a quack, but also crosses off all of those things on my not-so-imaginary checklist. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to approach dates with the same preparation and strategic planning as I would an interview. I came with the goal of determining if I was a match with the man in question and I left with a definitive answer of interest or disinterest. I didn’t look back, I didn’t doubt my decision to let a dude go, and I most certainly never gave him the opportunity, if I found him not fitting my fancy, to even have a minute of fun instead of an hour of interrogation.

Now, however, because of this journey – I’ve learned to just let it go. Of course, I’m not settling for less than what I want or compromising my non-negotiables for the sake of not being part of the singles crowd, but I’ve stopped looking at dating as end-all-be-all and more like the-here-and-the-now. Mr. Plato also advised not to look for your future husband or wife in the faces we all carefully searched before the games began, but just consider if you’d like to chat with them for longer than seven minutes.

That under ten-minute span may not seem very long, but you’d be surprised how little you learn about a person and yet, how many laughs you can share when limited by time. Though I can’t remember all of their names, their professions, where they’re from, or any specifics – I do recall enjoying the improv challenges we were faced with. Though one guy had the unfortunate task of having to mirror my movements and another had to witness my poor artistic abilities, and another was asked to describe, in detail, what he would do with himself if he was a woman for a day – the whole two hours the group spent together, we spent it in high spirits. At the end of my rotating dates, I can’t say I was too interested in going out with anyone (my heart and hope is currently with Mr. Possibility, to be frank), I did find myself embracing the opposite of what had attracted me to the event in the first place.

Instead of speeding through a date to figure out the verdict to text your friends or call your mom with details, why not slow down, and discover the art of playing? Of looking at a person as a person, as someone to share an incredible moment with, even if it doesn’t mount into a lifetime of those moments.

There really is no need to determine a mate’s potential in the very first date, and perhaps that’s why speed dating is speeding up in cities around the world. Sometimes, all it takes to trigger a little play and a little healthy laughter is giving yourself the permission to play, as Plato suggested. To let go of what you think you want or even wanting anything at all. To look into the eyes of someone else for the sake of making eye contact, not for deciding if you see your future staring back at you. To not worry about what someone does because that’s not who they are; to not get too intense too soon because that’ll kill any sort of passion; and to not ask someone to put all their cards on the table right away because you most likely won’t do the same (and neither of you should).

While I’m not going to condone playing with the hearts of others for satisfaction, I will encourage a little more play and little less conversation. And if you haven’t already – check out a speed dating event in a place near you, it’s worth the time, the experience, and the seven minutes of play. And maybe, of Plato.