Uncomfortable With Comfortable

Mr. Possibility and I had a conversation about chopped garlic the other day. Yes, I’m serious.

We were getting ready to go out to dinner in his neighborhood, I was brushing my hair and he his teeth, and as if it was the most important topic of interest, he asked about the new container of garlic I bought. He remembered buying a smaller size a few weeks earlier and wanting to save space in a fridge that’s already crammed, he suggested combining the two garlic bottles to be more efficient. I paused and must have given him a strange look, so he carefully inquired about my attitude.

“Do you realize we just talked about garlic?” I asked. He nodded and grinned. “Could we get much more domestic?” I continued. He laughed and pulled me into him, and while this cooking essential probably shouldn’t signify anything, I realized how comfortable we are.

And getting comfortable makes me rather uncomfortable.

Every relationship reaches this point – where you stop being so careful about what you say, you’re openly yourself, and talks are less about getting to know someone on the surface level as the option to be a mate, but getting to know how they are as a person in their everyday habitats. You stop worrying about always looking put together and focus more on just enjoying the company of the person you’re with, and you learn how to live together, though not necessarily literally as I am through mid-May, but by synching your separate schedules to make time for each other, yourself, and your friends.

For me, I’ve known I’ve reached feeling comfortable with men at different stages and for different reasons, and each time, it has made me a little nervous. While this important milestone denotes a positive progress, it brings with it a heightened sense of vulnerability because you realize how much of your heart and your trust is on the line. Once you’re comfortable, those walls don’t seem so thick or so high, those dreams so far-fetched, and those words or intentions so questionable. The relationship becomes engraved into your normal activities, his presence becomes something you expect, and as independent as we are, we let ourselves be a tad dependent on this person. If for nothing else to help move heavy boxes, share our bed with us, and be a phone call, train, or text away.

But when you’re comfortable, you realize how uncomfortable it would be should things change. Or how uncomfortable it is to let someone in when you’ve kept romance at bay for so long. Really though, it’s more than that – it’s also uncomfortable because we’ve been here before. We’ve grown accustomed and laid down our guard, and soon after watched everything fall apart. We’ve felt that pain; we’ve felt that disappointment in another person, in ourselves, and in love itself. We know what it feels like and we know the steps to take to recover.

I’ve been lucky that each relationship I’ve been in is a step up from the previous. I’ve been smart to learn from the past and apply it to my present, and I discover more about what I want and what I don’t as I go and as I grow. And so, as Mr. Possibility and I settle into comfort, I also prepare myself for uncomfortable feelings that accompany the shift.

While I’m learning to trust and allowing myself to relax in the scariness of vulnerability, it’s easier to enjoy the progress because for the first time in a relationship, I trust myself. I trust my ability to take anything that comes my way, survive any heartbreak or struggle, and believe in other possibilities if this one ever turns impossible. I trust my strength and my heart, my decisions, and my mistakes – all of which make me capable of giving and receiving love.

Though I hope the majority of my conversations with Mr. Possibility don’t resort to condiment discussions or laundry that needs to be folded – I’ll enjoy the time spent side-by-side, comfortable and content with where I am right now, with or without him. Because for once, it isn’t that I’m uncomfortable because I think I need someone, it’s that I comfortable just wanting them.

The Starter Apartment

Today I handed over the keys of my apartment to its new tenant – making me officially homeless for the next two weeks until the lease starts at my next home. And while I was more than ready to leave and start at a new place, it was bittersweet to hear my voice echoing in the emptiness of the studio that was once so full of…me.

I outlined the curve of the kitchen area with cards from friends and family throughout the past few years. I hung my straw hat above my bed, sat empty antique boxes on a dresser that wasn’t mine then and still isn’t now, placed penny jars from the paths I’ve followed, and filled drawers full of makeup, playbills, and ticket stubs I’ve collected. This place housed my many dreams, the failures I couldn’t avoid but survived, and the one man who shared a twin bed with me. It took me in after the city had its way with me, it comforted me when I wanted to escape the hustle of the streets to look into the “backyards” of my neighbors a street over. It was my resting stop where I wrote most of these blogs and where I began to come into my own.

Maybe it wasn’t the start of my story, but it saw me through the many New York struggles I faced when I moved here, and now, it will do the same for a new tenant who happens to be my friend M, from college.

A few hours ago, her plane touched down at LGA, and with a suitcase, carry-on, and kitten in tow, she took a cab to her new apartment. In heels, of course. I helped her carry her bags and gave her a tour of the neighborhood, making suggestions, and giving warnings of things to avoid. I left a few items for her that she may need, dishes and towels, umbrellas and a blanket. The thing about starting over and creating a life from scratch is that no ingredients are provided. All of those everyday essentials that we so often take for granted are all of the things necessary to design a home: curtains and silverware, rugs and lamp shades, extension chords and power strips, a broom, and toilet paper. Taking a leap of faith requires more than just a hope and a prayer, but also savings to hold you over until the job arrives – especially when all the commonplace items add up quite quickly.

After a tour around uptown, M and I headed for lunch in Union Square at one of my favorite Thai restaurants. As we were talking and laughing, I noticed the light of her face – she was unable to hide her excitement topped with a healthy dose of nerves. In a sudden rush down memory lane, I remembered that feeling all too well. Like me, like my friends K, E, N, and J – she did what she had to do to make her dreams a reality. And while it is too soon to tell what her dreams will come (though I’m certain they will be remarkable) – she said she didn’t feel brave. Not moving wasn’t an option, not coming to New York was not even an idea to entertain, it was a make-it-or-break-it situation and even if she doesn’t make it big, she won’t be going home.

And everyone I know who has been in her same shoes, including myself, has felt the exact same way. It isn’t about the guts it takes, it is just about the gate that has to be opened to let life…begin.

But after it starts – then what?

Handing her my keys with a smile and a warm hug, I realized I’m past the starter stage. I’m not a New Yorker by anyone’s terms and especially my own, but I’m also not a newbie. I know the city, I’ve found my footing, I’ve been blessed with wonderful friends and a strong network, I’ve immersed myself into my industry, and I’ve been lucky enough to find a pretty great guy, too. Things continue to be new and I anticipate many new beginnings in my near future, and so when the new rolls in, the old must exit gracefully.

The apartment started me – it gave me a foundation. And that was its purpose – to be the starter. To ignite me and provide stability, and now with a little more street smarts, a little less liability, and some places to land should I fall, there isn’t a need for a starter. Like most of what brings us joy in our lives, it has its tenure and then we move onto the next thing, to the next dream to tackle, to the new empty space to make into a home. And in a year or so, M will find herself leaving the start to find her way to where I am now.

And that’s a place that isn’t defined by starting or ending, creating or growing roots. Instead, it is a place where New York is still just exciting, still gives me butterflies in my stomach, and still is the address I’d rather have than any other zip code in the world. But now, it’s more than that…it is normal. It has all of those everyday, commonplace things that add up but can’t be found in the grocery or hardware store. It is in the streets I know like the back of my hand, the subway map I hardly have to look at, the laugh lines of my friends whose faces I’ve grown quite accustomed to, it’s in the voice of the woman I buy my coffee from each morning without fail, it’s in the fact that every key I’ve carried for a year has changed this month except for my key to Mr. Possibility’s apartment, and it’s in the purse that’s battled through it all.

It’s in the fact that now, I’m out of the starter apartment, and I’m off to live somewhere that doesn’t need to ignite me because I’ve already lit myself up.

A Moving Timeline

Today’s post is quite short (and extremely late) due to a busy day of moving my things into the next apartment. The lease doesn’t start until mid-May, so Mr. Possibility is still housing me. However – the lack of writing is worth it, due to the lessons learned in preparation for a new place and having someone move you for the first time (he swears it will be the last, but we’ll see).

8:30 a.m. – Mr. Possibility wakes up far earlier than me, gets up, and goes to the grocery store for breakfast.

9:30 a.m.– Mr. Possibility wants me to get up, but I don’t. He brings me orange juice. I still disagree with his efforts to start the day.

10:15 a.m.– I smell bacon.

10:17 a.m.– I swoon over the smell of bacon.

10:20 a.m. -Mr. Possibility opens the door to announce he has coffee for me. The smell of bacon becomes far more intense. I retreat to the kitchen.

10:30 a.m.– We eat breakfast. I’m still half-asleep.

11 a.m.– He steals my last piece of bacon. I’m irked.

12:30 p.m.– We drive toward my old apartment and make a pit stop to meet an old friend of his. I discover Mr. Possibility’s contacts and I are actually connected in some odd degree of separation. Turns out the North and the South aren’t so far apart.

1:09 p.m.- Mr. Possibility is unimpressed by my packing skills. I had decided packing boxes would be far too heavy, so I started using several cloth grocery bags to store things.

1:34 p.m.– Mr. Possibility finds my straw hat. He wears it the rest of the move.

1:45 p.m.– We find parking outside of my new apartment, magically, in the middle of a beautiful Saturday day.

2 p.m. – All of my things fit into the elevator, must to the dismay of the other people waiting to go to their respective apartments. I guard the elevator while Mr. Possibility carries everything inside.

2:30 p.m.– We finish the first trip.

2:45 p.m.– We nap. And other things.

3:30 p.m.– I clean my old studio from top to bottom, picking dust out of my hair, and watching my feet turn black. I find things I didn’t pack and start another cloth bag of random things.

3:40 p.m.– Mr. Possibility snores.

4 p.m.– I’m utterly disgusted by the state of my studio. How many times did I clean in the time I was here? Why do I have yogurt from six months ago? Why does the back of my fridge smell?

4:15 p.m.– We carry down the last load and all ten bags of trash. Plus a table that’s not needed. And the straw hat, again. Mr. Possibility buys cookies before heading downtown.

5 p.m.– Finished with the final move and head to eat Chinese food, both of us tired, quite sweaty, and in jeans too big for us. I steal his last piece of beef.

6:30 p.m.– Sitting in the park, overlooking the water, watching the sunset, and recovering. Somehow, even moving all day long, things just feel good. And easy.

Lessons learned: Men are better movers than women. The best way to cure aches and pains is food that’s entirely wrong for you. Don’t use tiny bags to pack. Don’t let a man see your straw hat (he may fall in love with it more than he falls in love with you). Put your back into it. When in doubt, enjoy the possibilities of a new move, a new place, a new day, and an ever-evolving…possibility.

A Royal Reminder of Love

I did not get up early today to watch the wedding of Kate and William. I have not been following all of the blogs, scrolling through pictures, or admiring her beautiful heirloom engagement ring. I haven’t been up to date and I haven’t found myself submerged in Royal Wedding bliss and obsession.

But I’ve found all the hype refreshing.

And while we don’t know more than the glamorized surface level perception of their relationship, it is nice to have trending topics and stories about love. This nearly decade-long courtship that started at college, made its way through breakups and makeups, has now ended in what so many are calling a modern-day, real-life, fairytale. The bride, without titles or royal heritage not only finds the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with, but he happens to be an actual prince. The charming is negotiable.

She may not be Cinderella, but she is living and breathing the story so many little girls grew up reading over and over again, praying and hoping and wishing that someday, their prince would come too. Kate didn’t need rescuing and she’s always projected an independent, classy, sophisticated, and ambitious attitude. When they did split however many years ago, she admitted her sadness but wished him well and sought out on her own accord to pursue her own pursuits. And as things always do in one fashion or another, they worked themselves out, and here she is the new stunning Duchess of Cambridge.

As I went to write this blog, I found myself more interested in Kate herself than the wedding. I thought what it must be like to wake up and realize the vows you’re about to take – not only promising loyalty to a man but to a country and its people. She’s slipping on a new pair of shoes, handmade McQueen and lovely, that carries more than just a hefty price tag and heel. She stepped into a role she may have dreamed of being in, but never really conceptualized until she found herself there.

Go ahead and call me a romantic, but she accepted this part and is beautifully playing it all because of love. All because she met someone who forever changed her life.

Getting married to a non-prince may not carry as much weight and pressure as Kate probably felt today, but perhaps that’s why love is partly so scary. And why so many are quick to advise against marriage than for it – the skeptics are quick to deliver divorce ratings if you dare mention you’re interest in nuptials at some point in your life. They are right, it is a wager: when you agree to become exclusive or to ultimately promise to dedicate your life to someone else, you put a lot on the line. Not only your heart but your identity, your day-to-day choices, and your priorities. And if it doesn’t work out, say in the bittersweet story of Princess Diana, you must rebuild your old life back – though, you’ll never be quite the same again. Every lust and rush takes its toll and while I believe we can all find our footing no matter how severe the shatter, making a commitment and being vulnerable carries great risk.

So why do we do it? Why do we all admire the glowing bride and the gushing groom, rising so early to watch people we don’t know share their vows in front of the world? Why do we stand in front of TV monitors at Dunkin Donuts, blocking the line to sip coffee and watch the bride walk? Why do we admire a woman who is living out the fantasy we’ve all seen ourselves in at some point? Why do we tear up at weddings – royal and promoted on Twitter, with its own special section on People.com – or just the typical ceremony? Why do we buy into the buzz, even when we don’t always buy into love and all that stuff, anyway?

Because love is love. And resist it or not, wonder if you’ll lose who you are or find yourself buried in regret at the end of a relationship’s tenure – love is heavy in our hearts and hopeful in our minds. Seeing love displayed with such splendor in magic makes us remember what it felt like to be naïve and optimistic about the love we surely knew we’d find before we knew what it felt like to lose at the game. It makes us get back some of that faith that fairytales can come true, it can happen to us, if we are among the very young at heart.

If we are among those who would rather believe and be deceived time and time again, then to never believe at all. Because someday, maybe our prince will come and maybe he won’t – but I’d rather kiss dozens of frogs than never kiss anyone at all. I’d rather be scared out of my mind of being crushed than to never have a crush or take a leap of faith and trust someone almost as much as I trust myself.

And though I’m not sure I would sincerely want to be a princess and manage the pressure of possibly leadingEngland or any country– I toast to Kate and her prince, who have reminded us all that love doesn’t have to be legitimately royal to be spectacular. Love itself is royalty – something that should be prized and preserved, and with or without money, makes you richer than any jewel or Cartier bridal headset can.

Meet Me in the Middle

I’ve been lucky to be with men that don’t pick fights (let’s take Mr. Idea out of the mix in this statement). I have been careful not to get into relationships with people I don’t enjoy the day-to-day with because if I don’t get along with someone when things are ordinary, there isn’t any point to the extraordinary, unless we’re just talking an expensive first date or foreign one-week affair.

That being said – I’m also not one to keep my mouth shut (hence why I write a blog in the first place). I keep the secrets of my friends and sources, I protect the identities of the men in this blog, and I consider myself pretty low-maintenance. Still, if I don’t like something, I say it. If I want more, I request it. If I want less, I’ll push back. If I need something, I’ll demand it. I’m not afraid to push and pull and I won’t say everything is fine when it is not.

But to be in a relationship or to maintain friendships worth keeping – attention must be paid to the details of compromising. To get, you have to give. And sometimes what you give has to be things you really don’t want to offer. While at the same time, the needs you need to be met may not be easy for someone else to measure up to.

Current living arrangements with Mr. Possibility have gone surprisingly well and while we’ve never had a painful argument (knock on wood), we’ve both had to take the other person into consideration while sharing a cramped space. While the two bedroom, two bath condo is lovely (thanks to his roommate), there are often four people attempting to live comfortably while trying not to step on the toes of each other. I suppose that’s what a household is and though it is temporary, the time in the interim should be enjoyable, not debilitating to the sweetness a home creates.

Sitting on his couch sharing breakfast, he was rambling mindlessly as he usually does, and I asked him about plans for the week. Still wanting to keep our individual social calendars and have time away from one another since quarters are extremely close, I wanted an idea to plan around. While I thrive in spontaneity when it is in fact spontaneous, most of the time I do better with structure and concrete plans with times and dates. Mr. Possibility couldn’t be more different or entertain a contrasting mindset. He flies by the seat of his possibilities and when opportunities in the form of drinks or events arrive, he answers the call without much notice. I may do the same in some instances, but I also know my Monday through Friday, usually by that Sunday.

So you can imagine my inquisitive nature can sometimes get the best of him. He, however, realizes planning is part of my package and to cease a first argument before it began, he said, “Linds, why don’t you meet me in the middle?” That phrase can account for many things in our relationship, but on Saturday morning in sweats and a sports bra, drowning myself in coffee, Mr. Possibility actually made some sense.

Of course, to get along with a guy or anyone, really – you have to meet them in the middle. Planning two nights instead of five and relaxing instead of worrying about things that could fall through or could work out are healthy solutions to different approaches to scheduling.

But what about meeting yourself in the middle? Does compromise always have to do with two people? Or can we learn to compromise with ourselves and find that between our own extremes, there is a peace to be found? Is compromising yourself really living up to the negative connotation it carries?

I think it depends on how you look at it.

I tend to think of myself in very black or white terms. I’m either succeeding or failing, looking beautiful or looking awful, happy or sad, energized or tired, on-point or off, feeling inspired or dismayed. There isn’t a lot of in between and I often don’t give myself much room for other options of gray.

And yet, with friends, with Mr. Possibility or other men, I’m so willing to compromise what I want or my natural habits to find a common solution that satisfies everyone, including me. But maybe meeting in the middle wouldn’t feel like a task if we learned to be open to more things. If we gave ourselves as much leeway and options as we give others, we’d find life limitless instead of restricted. If we all spread our visions a little higher, the middleground may be a little wider.

If we meet ourselves in the middle, then maybe more people will meet us there, too.

What’s Age Got to Do With It?

There’s been a lot of talk in my life lately about age. Some people in my life are celebrating it gracefully, some really don’t care at all, and others are fighting it tooth-and-nail.

I fall into the oblivious category. I’ve never given much thought to how old I am and once 21 came and left, birthdays haven’t been that celebratory, except for an excuse to gather all of my friends together and pretend calories don’t count for an entire day…or week, sometimes.

Because I’ve never been one to make excuses for myself because I’m young or believe I’m too inexperienced to accomplish what I want to accomplish or go where I want to go, I’ve never made my age part of my opinion of myself. At fifteen, I had my first internship, I graduated college a few months after reaching the legal drinking age, and I interned in New York, without knowing anyone for three months at 19. I’ve dated guys my age, ten years older than me, and a year young than me. My friends range from freshmen in college to early 40s and I get along with them all the same. For all intents and purposes in my life, my age has been just a number based on the day I was born, not by my maturity level or experience.

But with a dear friend turning 30 today, I’ve found myself thinking more about what age has to do with it.

As a child, being in my twenties seemed like it would be so glamorous – I’d be a real adult. I’d have my own place. I wouldn’t have to listen to my parents. I would be able to walk around in pretty dresses and high heels and I’d actually have that curvy figure I always wanted. I would make real money and could buy whatever I wanted. I would work at some fancy magazine or The New York Times and people would love my articles and I’d be admired and filthy rich. I would go out on dates and I’d meet the man who made my dreams come true and we’d live happily ever after, in a beautiful home following an exquisite wedding, and we’d be happy for all the rest of our days.

Needless to say – my twenties haven’t been quite as rose-colored as I imagined them being and they are far from fabulously sensational, most of the time.

I don’t have my own place, but I rent with three other lovely girls and through mid-May, I’m sharing Mr. P’s place. I don’t have to listen to my ma and pop, but I take their advice closer to heart than anyone else’s. I do walk around in flowy and tight dresses with heels, but I also know the pain of frolicking on my tippy-toes and the reality that most of the clothes I want the most, I simply can’t afford. I do have the figure I hoped I would, but like most women, it is never quite up to the intolerable standards of beauty I’ve set for myself. I don’t quite work at a prestigious magazine and I’m far from qualified (or talented enough) to work for The Times, but I have no doubt my career will continue to excel. I have gone on dozens of dates, some dreamy and some quite the contrary. I’m not engaged or married and thrilled about it.

Maybe my expectations of what this age, this decade would look like were far-fetched and idealized, and though before I knew what being a 20-something was all about, I thought I wanted that picture-perfect existence. I wanted all those ducks-in-a-row and my future settled in stone by 25. But maybe that’s the thing about expectations, you expect to want something until you get there, and then you discover while your expectations weren’t met, you’re glad they weren’t. Though I thought I wanted more of the Upper East Side, heavy left-hand life in New York with bylines on demand, I’m enjoying my Upper West Side barehanded and constantly challenging city journey in ways my dreams could never predict.

Turning 30 doesn’t freak me out and I’m not sure I have a scary age, as some do. What I have about my thirties are the same ill-conceived notions I had about my current age, so how can I tell how I’ll feel about the decade change until I’m  actually there?

What I can say, though, is while there are certain things I’d like to do by then, certain people I’d like to meet, and certain places I’d like to add to my traveling Rolodex, if my twenties have taught me anything so far, if those things don’t happen, if I don’t meet those people, if my passport doesn’t get those stamps – I’m sure I’ll be fine. And more than likely, I’ll be better than fine, but happy.

Because when it comes to learning to accept the place you are in your life, wherever that may be, with or without someone by your side, and find happiness in what you have instead of what you wish for – age has nothing to do with it. But maybe if you’re lucky, the older you get, the more comfortable you grow in your skin, and the happier you find yourself because while aging is inevitable, finding happiness isn’t. It’s a choice you have to make all on your own – at 20, at 30, at 40, and every decade that you’re blessed enough to reach.

PS: Tell me a horror story from being a bridesmaid and you could win the Bridesmaids Survival Kit: Mesh bag filled with lip balm, mints, comb/mirror, nail files & shot glass engagement ring, in celebration of the upcoming movie, “Bridesmaids

How Wonderful Life Will Be

My hair soaked from a day spent soaking up the Southern sun and cool waters of a lake nestled in the valley of two mountain ranges. My arms tired from sailing and swimming, my lips chapped from the breeze that turns into wind when the direction catches you the right way. The smell of summer and the freckles that surprise me as quickly as they disappear when the season fades.

The contrast of cotton and water against my skin, my timeless zip-up jacket that’s fit me perfectly from age ten and beyond, the holes only noticeable to strangers, not to me. The sound of my dad’s contagious laugher as he tells me the same stories, sitting on the dock, watching the fireflys and the stars compete in the contest to see who can light up the dusk with the most sweetness.

After pitchers of lemonade made by my mother with help from Splenda and the fall of night, my head rests on my dad’s shoulder and I’m comforted by the smell of Old Spice. Unlucky catching fish, as we usually are, I find myself drifting to sleep as my dad quietly hums “Goodnight My Angel” into my ear, promising me of the days I’ve yet to experience. He sings me to sleep, telling me to dream of how wonderful my life will be, how wonderful it will be in the hours I can’t see passing, or in the moments that become memories as easily as they pass by.

And it is only with the reminder of morning sun shining in my eyes, walking down Broadway toward my job as my iPod plays that old familiar tune that I’m brought back to those endless summers growing up, where my dad was my best friend, and my greatest worry was being able to play in the water from early noon to night, and if we’d walk a mile to get ice cream sundaes on Sunday nights.

I never imagined my summers changing. When we’re living in whatever section of our life we’re in, it doesn’t seem like it will ever end, though. I would never be old enough to drive the golf cart by myself , much less a car. I would never be able to steer the boat without help from someone else, or take the Jet Ski out without parental supervision. I would never find myself going years without visiting the lake house that partly built me into the woman I am today. I would never see a summer without watermelon and hot dogs, dirty feet from the Georgia clay, and hair that hasn’t been washed in days because there was no need.

But I did. I took every vehicle for many rides, independently. I’ve only visited our vacation home twice in the last three years – my New York schedule and budget just hasn’t allowed more frequency. My days are often spent inside, at a desk, without feeling much of the beautiful weather that I could never stay away out of. Bills and boyfriends, savings and benefits, student loans and internships, trips and breakups, friends and falling outs, summer jobs and summer loves, seasons and reasons – they all come and they go, some with more longer-lasting affects than others.

I’m often reminded by my friends, my editors, my parents, of my age. I’m told how much I’ll change, how there are so many things that I don’t even know that I don’t know yet. It has irritated me beyond belief for a while, but I’m starting to accept it. They aren’t condemning me because I’m not yet in the deepest part of my 20s, but just kindly warning me of all that’s to come, of all I will become. Maybe not as sweetly as my dad serenaded me under the stars, but still, I dream of how wonderful my life will be. Even more wonderful than what it is now or as it was then.