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.

Another Manic Monday

After a crazy holiday weekend, this Monday is a Bangles one: manic. But, as I’ve tried to do each day for several years, I’ve started each day listing something I’m thankful for. My mother taught me the trick after a severely stressful senior year of high school and I haven’t stopped doing it since.

So this morning, when I woke earlier than usual for a work day, I thought of not the things, but the people I’m thankful for. Those who make my life brighter and fuller, who challenge me and convince me to step outside of my boundaries. Some of you I know personally and some I’ve only had the luxury of knowing on cyberspace. Nevertheless, instead of complaining about being busy, I’d rather thank you for all you bring to my life.

More details to come on what’s happening on this journey and with Mr. Possibility’s return. I promise.

Thank you to some of my very favorites: 

Courting Adell

DearExGirlfriend

From Falling Water

Medaniellemarie

Tallbrewnette

Jenn’s Blog

Binary Boyfriend

Cat’s City Life

Leila Castaneda

Kternes

iTiffTaffTuff

Kacey R. Wherley

BeReal BeHappy

From the Mind of Moose

Life of Sarah

Michelle Joni

Ahuvah Berger

Alesya Bags

Kuldeep Brar

Eternally Single Kelly

The Blind Leading the Blonde

Allison Gee

Opportunity Speaks

Jenny MD

Flickery

Lexamantis’s Blog

Bookspotting

Small Things. Big Dreams.

Simply Solo

Gathers No Moss

I Won’t Go Back to How it Was

To Be Incognito

Shay Rae’s Diary

Shades of Bright

Trains and Sunsets

Ever Perceived

Little Miss Graham

Lucy’s Entries

The Good, the Bad & The Kitsch

Lynaima’s Blog

Divorcing Mr. Wrong

Live for Each Moment

Slam Dunks

It’s The Pits

A Love Train

In Search of Serene

Food Law

Ava Aston

She Who Will Be Tamed?

If I missed you, please know I still appreciate your support. Shoot me an emailand I’ll add you!

Confessional With Love Addict: Feminism

At the McDonald’s playground when I was seven, a little boy guarding the ball pit told me girls weren’t allowed to jump in. Disappointed, I returned to my mother who was sitting, reading, and waiting for me to finish running as wildly as my adrenalin would allow. Without a word, I started eating my plain hamburger and confused with my tired spirit, she asked why I wasn’t playing. I informed her of the Keeper of the Ball Pit and because I was a little girl, I had to wait for him to leave.

My mother, a woman who has never let a glass ceiling or any pair of balls stand in her way, asked me if he owned McDonald’s. I replied that I didn’t think he did. She asked if I thought he was better than me because he was a boy and I was not. I replied that I didn’t. Standing up, my mom told me to put my hands on my hips, march up to so-called guard and let him know what I thought.

And so, I did. After putting him in his place, I then pushed him off his perch, and dove into the balls, without looking back.

I didn’t know then my mother was a feminist and it wouldn’t be until college that I claimed the title for myself, but I’ve never been one to discount my value because I’m a woman. I’ve often been amazed by the women who fought (and continue to fight) for social, political, and economic equality, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger, Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner  Truth. It was an early sociology of women class that sparked my inspiration in historical and modern movements, and eventually led to a minor in sociology, specialized in women’s rights.

My background and my interest led me to start the weekly Confessional with Love Addict on feminism, with Michelle from Washington D.C.You can find her blog here. Below, we chatted about feminism and how it relates to the 20-something of today and dating.

Lindsay: Thanks for submitting such a great idea. Let’s start with the basics. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Michelle: Absolutely! I studied Women’s Studies and worked on The Vagina Monologues all four years of college, and during that time I really realized the power and strength feminism has. Identifying with being a feminist has helped me realize so many things about myself, and it’s so empowering. I feel like I truly began to love myself when I started calling myself a feminist. I don’t understand how being called a feminist can have a negative connotation in some circles, when it’s something that should be celebrated and recognized as an incredible social justice movement.

Michelle: With feminism carrying a somewhat negative connotation at times, do you think being a feminist intimidates men?

Lindsay: I think it intimidates the wrong kind of man, yes. It is surprising to me the lack of guys who accept their positive viewpoints toward women. It is rare – even in progressive cities like New York and Washington D.C., where you live – to meet men and women who step up to the plate and call themselves a feminist. As you said, the word carries the idea of the stereotypical second-wave feminist who burns her bra and condemns men completely. But, if you’ve studied feminist theory, you’d know there are varying degrees and levels of feminism, and calling yourself a feminist in very basic terms just means you believe women should be treated equally to men and given the same opportunities in all areas of life. I think the wrong kind of guys can be scared of a woman who calls themselves a feminist because it means she’ll spark up a heated discussion if he asks her to wash the dishes. But really, that’s feminism in a nutshell – she just needs to be given the choice and not be asked to wash dishes because that’s her role or her place, but if she wants to wash, she can. If she doesn’t, she shouldn’t be told to do so because she has a vagina.

Lindsay: Since we’re talking about dating and feminism, do you claim your feminist values when on a date? Or in a relationship?

Michelle: I think that with my personality, it’s pretty obvious that I am a strong advocate for women’s rights. I definitely don’t mask my feminist beliefs while on a first date, but I don’t preach about them either. Although I am proud to be called a feminist, I don’t want it to be the only thing that defines me. I have never masked my feminist values while dating someone, and I have no problem calling out sexist behavior, but for a lot of people, they have never taken the time to think about women’s issues and the impact they have on our society. This doesn’t make them sexist–it just opens more opportunities for discussion and understanding (hopefully). I think that in a relationship, it’s necessary to talk about all kinds of topics that are important to each other, and for me, some of these topics are women’s issues. I have found that since I have structured my beliefs in those of feminism, I have become a better girlfriend. I care about the men I date, but I always have my values and goals put first–this focus has made me worry about things less, trust my instincts more, and appreciate my partner more. I feel like with my feminist values, I think of relationships less as a “I need my boyfriend! I need him to be happy!” mentality, and more so as “I really respect my boyfriend. I like how we work together to enrich each other’s lives”.

Michelle: Do you think feminism is hurting or helping women in the world of dating?

Lindsay: I don’t think feminism is talked about enough in relation to heterosexual relationships. We all know the marrying age is getting older, divorce rates are at an all-time high, and though we shy away from it in the media, domestic violence is growing too. Young girls are encouraged to believe they can have it all, but are we teaching them to fight for more than it all? To break through ceilings and to start relationships demanding what they want? Do women believe they can be in a relationship and be a feminist and attract a man who is okay with that? Or maybe, even date a feminist themselves? I’m not sure – it isn’t something my friends and I talk about consistently or something I write about, and I’m thinking needs more conversation. It doesn’t hurt the world of dating to be a feminist, but it means you’ll attract a different – and in my opinion, better – standard of men. I personally, will no longer date a man who doesn’t call himself a feminist.

Lindsay: I know I have dated a man who is the opposite of a feminist, though not for very long. What about you?

Michelle: I have actually been totally fortunate to have been in relationships with men that are respectful and supportive of feminism. This isn’t to say that I haven’t heard them say something derogatory or inappropriate about women, however. The best way to counteract that is to, of course, not ignore it. If someone you’re dating says or does something sexist, it’s important to point out their behavior and why it offends you. If you let something slip once, your partner won’t know it bothers you, and it could happen again. Honesty and respect is vital in all facts of relationship, not just when it comes to gender equality. Luckily, my boyfriends have always understood that I am a woman first, and their girlfriend second. I don’t think I could ever date someone who didn’t celebrate my fierce, independent, womanly self.

Want to have a confessional with Love Addict? Read how you can here.

Between the Me and the We

Right now, I’m sitting in a room that isn’t mine. I’m not paying the rent here. I didn’t buy the bedding I’m under or the lamp I’m using to keep a light. I’ve never worn the clothes hanging in the closet or read the books on the bookshelf across the room. I’m not in the photos and I didn’t visit the places that represent the artwork and treasures that decorate this space. My jacket isn’t hanging on the hook on the bedroom door and I didn’t pick out the window treatment.

This place doesn’t belong to me but it will be the place I come home to for the next three weeks. And once he comes back from his overseas excursion, Mr. Possibility will join me, here, at his apartment nearly 40 minutes away from my old brownstone. The inconvenience of a gap in between leases was lessened by his generous offer and though I usually prefer a bed all to myself, unless it is a California King, I can share his Queen with him for a short period, without much complaint. Or really any complaint at all.

I’ve never really lived with anyone before, though I’ve freelanced a few articles about the topic – something that’s interesting about the life of a writer, if you’re a good one, you can pen a piece on anything and sound intelligent with some research and interviewing. The most amount of consecutive time I’ve spent with a man under the same roof was a week-and-half with Mr. Idea, in a similar situation where I had to wait for the move-in date of my last apartment in college. This time period came at a more inconvenient time – within the first three weeks we knew each other – and truth be told,  it probably is the reason things got as serious and as comfortable as quickly as they did. I wouldn’t say it defined our relationship, but it definitely changed its course.

But Mr. Possibility and I have known each other longer. We’re better friends (and more than that). He won’t be here the whole time I will be and like adults, we’re respectful of one another’s need for personal space. Like him, I have a lot of things and probably far more than I actually need, but to keep him from tripping over my everything, I narrowed down what was necessary to a medium-sized suitcase, a bag of shoes, my laptop, and my purse. These things are neatly piled in the corner of his room, with a few dresses that tend to wrinkle hanging in his closet.

I was careful not to impose, as I already feel like I’m imposing by living rent-free for three weeks in a space that’s already small enough to begin with. I was invited and he was well-informed that I would officially transition from my old location to his today. I stopped by the grocery store, I unpacked what I felt I needed on top of my luggage, and left a few things in the bathroom – not too much, but enough to easily function day-to-day.

And yet, as I have many times before, I showered in his shower, used his toothpaste on a toothbrush he gave me, and tucked myself into his bed, something felt odd. While I know for a fact I’m no where close to wanting to be married, I thought about what a strange shift it will be when I stop labeling things as “his” and as “mine” and start thinking in terms of “ours” with whoever that “he” will be.

I’m a girly girl by nature and would never deny my admiration of all things soft, beautiful, and feminine, but unlike some of my friends, I haven’t picked out my dream engagement ring. I don’t know (or really care) about the colors I’ll use in my wedding. I haven’t Googled venues or flowers or anything of the sort. The closest I’ve come to thinking of my own wedding is flipping through engagement and wedding photos on Facebook when they pop up on my feed. But while I’ve never given much thought my wedding, I think I’ve given less thought to marriage – the reality of happily ever after.

After the glitz and the glam, comes the time when cohabitation stops becoming something you debate with your friends on if it’ll ruin your relationship, and it just becomes life. There is no more wondering if you’re imposing or having separate sleeping arrangements (unless you prefer, of course. Or if you can afford a two bedroom between two people in Manhattan). Suitcases are not used as a temporary dresser and shoes are no longer picked on how many outfits they go with, but the whole collection is displayed and stored. Apart from traveling or emergencies – you stop spending the night alone and while you may not opt for joint banking accounts, money is combined in some fashion to make ends meet.

I know all of these things should probably sound exciting and comforting to me – they don’t. Not now. Sure, I would always have someone to come home to, someone who would listen to me, someone to support and cherish me all of my days, all my lifelong. Finding The One is something all women talk about or at the very least think about, regardless if they care to admit it, instead of dreaming up this fantasy – they’d be better off to think of what life looks like with a partner. Sometimes it is cramped and complicated and finding a balance between developing your personal identity while creating a vibrant relationship is a beam you’ll teeter on continuously. Even my parents who have been married for 25 years, struggle with finding a happy medium.

One day, the reality of marriage will become what I crave and feel ready for – but today, I like the idea of visiting more than moving in. And if I’m going to be on vacation in the land of Mr. Possibility until my new humble abode is ready for me, I’ll allow myself to spread my things about just a bit. But not too much.

Not yet – I need to have some more books I’ve read, journeys and pictures I’ve taken, memories I’ve made, shoes I’ve bought, and stories I’ve written that only belong to me, before I can even think of belonging to someone else. Before I can transition from the me to the we.