When I’m 80

Last night, Mr. Possibility and I attended the preview party for the new location of the Copacabana. For those of you unfamiliar with the Copa, it’s the iconic nightclub that launched the careers of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, a place frequented by performers like Frank Sinatra, and the inspiration behind Barry Manilow’s song.

Basically, ask your grandparents – or ask me.

After fourteen years of piano lessons, I developed a certain affinity for playing the greats, both classically and the songs bore from the Rat Pack. There is something romantic and beautiful about that period – where love hung on strings and was cherished instead of something we all felt entitled to. I’m sure those in the era worried about finding their match like so many do today, but at least then there was a certain innocence to relationships, and class was still in style.

I was excited about the event because I expected to be brought back to the time of the Copa dancers, to courting, and to dancing that didn’t involve grinding in spandex with bump-its in our hair. Not to my surprise, the crowd was primarily older – I was probably among the youngest in attendance. The food was incredible and bountiful, the music continuous, and the sangria refreshing – but something was missing.

Even with a new location and the same owner, the Copacabana had lost its luster.

Sure, the space was beautiful and I’m sure will attract tourists near-and-far, but that’s the problem. As I sadly reiterated my opinion to Mr. Possibility, he said, “Well, it’s not that time anymore, clubs pop up and have their ride and then they’re gone. We’re onto the next thing.” In the age of over-demand, where everything is simply a thought and a Smartphone away, we don’t grow attached to things as we used to. Even nightclubs that gave some of the best singers their humble beginnings.

Toward the end of the evening, a handful of original Copa dancers, now well over 80, graced the stage and told their story. They each held more enthusiasm individually than the current group of Copa dancers did collectively. You could see, even from far away, the love they had for the Copacabana and for New York. This place symbolized their youth, where they grew into themselves and their sexuality, where they mingled with artists who would become legends. This was part of their story; the Copa was a place that helped define them as girls, and now brightened their eyes as seasoned women.

As Mr. Possibility draped his arms around me and kissed my cheek affectionately, I looked at him and asked, “What will my story be?” I wasn’t looking for a direct answer, he knew that and didn’t give me one other than a few sweet compliments and words of encouragement, but as we walked through Times Square to another bar for some more sangria, I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind:

When I’m 80, how will I view this time in New York? Will I look back and replace all my memories of being flawed as visions of me young, healthy, and beautiful? Will Mr. Possibility be a fleeting face that I call the first man I truly cared for in New York? Will my friends, the ones that took me so long to find in this city, still be my friends then? What will I think of this blog? Or of my writing style as it is right now?

I’ve always imagined myself growing older and one day having the wisdom that only comes from experiences. I see myself still active, still pushing forward, still thinking creatively, if my body allows. Like the majority of Americans who fear being alone, I don’t want to be by myself rocking in a chair on the front porch of an old plantation house in Charleston, but I also want to make sure I have that look.

That look that those Copa dancers had. That look that says, “I’ve lived a good life. I’ve seen many wondrous things. I’ve tried things and tested my limits. I’ve explored my sexuality and what it means to be a woman. I’ve liberated myself and traveled this world and I know this city. I’ve loved and been loved. And I’m here, at my age, to show my face and my cryptic smile that’ll never reveal all of the joys I’ve had with people and places that you’ll never see again or meet.”

Daily gratitude: Today, I’m thankful for the laughs I’ve had to give me the lines that already appearing on my face.

The Money Rule

Once upon a time, I went on a date with someone we’ll lovingly refer to as Mr. Jekyll. I met him while indoor rock climbing and somehow, I was mystified by his charm. After a few Facebook messages and some inappropriate sexting (though we never took it to the Weiner level), we met up for our first date.

It was casual and cool with semi-decent conversation and though I didn’t feel the “click” – I felt the need to see him again, if for anything but companionship. He however was so intrigued (or wanted to turn sexting into real-time, in-person sex) that he planned an elaborate dinner over candlelight at a semi-expensive Italian restaurant. He picked me up in his Jeep Cherokee circa-early 1990s, and even held my hand to help me step out in my tall heels.

After we shared an appetizer, an entrée a piece, and a bottle of wine, the server left the bill on the table. Going by the rule I have in the beginning of dating that “whoever asks who on the date should pay” – I left the check unattended and continued our conversation. After twenty minutes passed and he glanced at the bill and me a few times, I finally said, “Well, we should go if we’re going to catch that movie!” He groaned something inaudible under his breath and stammered, “I guess I’m paying,” and brought out a credit card. I thanked him and excused myself to the ladies room.

While pretending to relieve myself, I texted about six of my friends, asking if I was in the wrong by not offering to pay. They all excused me of financial responsibility for the date and I returned to the table to find Mr. Jekyll already in his coat, standing up, waiting to go. Mind you – he was doing this impatiently in a nice restaurant. Embarrassed, I hurried and he started walking before I had a chance to put my coat on.

On the way back to my apartment, he needed to stop for some beer but told me to stay in the car; he’d just be a second. When he returned (after not leaving the heat on for me in 20-degree weather), he literally threw a six pack (not bagged) in my lap and said, “Will you hold this?” Shocked he would so rudely throw something in my general direction, I gave him a hissing look and stared out the window, speechless. “Sure you want to go back to your apartment? We could have some free fun,” he coldly offered. I declined and he took me home.

Before I could step out, he asked, “Do you like rocks?” Confused, I asked him to clarify. He wouldn’t, just insisted I answer him. I replied with something along the lines of “Well, I like fossils and gemstones, but my favorite kind of rock is the one you can wear.”

I giggled. He wrinkled his forehead in disapproval and wishes me good night. I never heard from him again.

I hadn’t really thought of this dating story – maybe it was so awful I blocked it from my memory. Or because I never kissed the guy, he became quite unimportant on my roster of dates. It wasn’t until this weekend, as Mr. Possibility and I were walking around the Brooklyn Food Fair that the memory of that cold night returned to me.

Though Mr. Possibility brings in quite a bit more dough than I do, I always make an effort to offer to pay for things we do. When he joined me in North Carolina, I paid for our kayaking trip and for each visit to Dairy Queen that he insisted on. I’ll pay for lunch and he’ll pay for dinner if we go out. I usually take the inexpensive route, while he’ll cover the fancy things we do, and while it’s completely half and half, I think it’s important. He agrees – he claims he’s never (and would never) date a girl who didn’t at least go for her wallet.

So was I wrong with Mr. Jekyll? Should I have offered to pay, since he paid for our first date? Which, for the record, was at a little café and we split a pastry and two cups of coffee. Several years and boyfriends later, I still think I was in the right. My dollar rule is still true: if you intend to pay, you get to pick; if you don’t, you let them pick.

The reason I didn’t reach and the reason I didn’t pay with Mr. Jekyll was because not only did it catch me off guard, but he wanted a romantic meal, he wanted a bottle of wine, he wanted an appetizer – none of those items were my suggestions. I didn’t even pick the place! When I know I’ll be paying for two people instead of one or when it’s my event or my hometown, I’m in control of my finances. I’m in control of the bill and have the time to prepare and/or save for the occasion.

It’s not really a matter of who should pay or what’s acceptable or what’s supporting feminism – it’s about respect. Maybe with a little wisdom, I would have paid for half –but at that point in my life, that would have even been out of my budget. Mr. Jekyll may have been so annoyed at me that he never wanted to take me out again – or maybe he was doing what the majority of women do when they’re submerged in the dating circles: trying to get a free meal and a free ride.

Too bad his intentions were never met – at the table or in the bedroom. Let’s hope he’s found some rocks, wherever he is. In the meantime, I’m sporting a little one around my neck from Mr. Possibility and a littler one on my finger that I bought myself – now, that’s going dutch.

Daily gratitude: Today I’m thankful for the full-time job I have that allows me to have a fancy meal here and there, without running up a credit card.

A Time to Rub Feet

When your only wardrobe options are ugly panties and cocktail dresses, you know it’s time for laundry.

Deciding I couldn’t actually go to work in a little black dress tomorrow, no matter how sexy and curve-defining it is on me, I finally gave in and paid the extra $10 to have someone else do my laundry for me today. I became one of those city-folk who simply didn’t have the time: today is my only day without an “extra-curricular” activity after work, and if I needed to clock three miles before the gym closed, buy groceries, and write a few freelance posts – I couldn’t waste time at the mat.

I’ll give credit to my friend K who only had great things to say about sending her wash away, amazed I hadn’t given in yet – and welcomed me to New York when I agreed. It was a great investment of my hard-earned cash, especially since it’ll be ready tomorrow morning before work, folded, and waiting at the door for me. It’s because of this decision that I’m sitting, writing, in running clothes (only thing I have left), eating a delectable dinner consisting of humus, pretzel crisps, and orange juice, after a killer run and deciding if I’ll go to bed early or watch last season’s Project Runway.

After dropping off my 30-pound bag of separated whites and blacks, I called my dear friend L, whose voice always make me feel at home. Our bond, like the very best of friendships is one that knows no distance and has no boundaries. We pick up right where we left off and when I have an irrational fear or pestering doubt, her name is quick to appear in my phone. We get each other in a way that only best friends can get one another, and if I was to put it into words, it wouldn’t even hold a candle to the reality of feeling it.

As we try to each week (and usually fail miserably at with our respective busy lives) we caught each other on the ins and the outs of our day-to-day’s, with emotional, irrational outbursts sprinkled here and there, too. A newlywed, she talked about her new apartment, new town, new job, and the endless laundry that took four loads and five hours on Saturday. I talked about freelancing gigs, Mr. Possibility, my messy apartment and busy upcoming week, and the fun of the last weekend.

In response to my giddiness, she said: “You’re just a big ol’ black hole of happiness! I don’t even know if I can talk to you!” We giggled for a second and I reminded her there is bad in my life but that I’m trying to focus on what I’m blessed to have. Then, as I’m forever intrigued by the life of a married 20-something because it’s so far from what I want right now in my life, I ask her to leave the room so she can dish on the hubby. She instantly agrees and heads out, but less than a second later, she is distracted, exchanging some words with Mr. L and then says, “Well, we’ll have to talk about that another time.” Annoyed, I snapped back: “You don’t have to listen to him, he isn’t the boss of you!” She replied, “I was just rubbing his feet before you called. He had a rough day.” I probably said a few unkind words toward Mr. L and she asked if Mr. Possibility did sweet things like rub my feet instead of asking for the favor for himself, and then we eventually hopped off the phone.

While I was running, I couldn’t get the sour taste or visual image of Mr. L asking my friend to rub his feet while she was on the phone with me. It didn’t make sense why he couldn’t wait twenty minutes or why she obeyed him in the first place. I ran faster to distract myself, but by the end of my run, I still felt the need to call her and beg her to mouth off to him.

And then Mr. Possibility texted me from a meeting he had to attend for work: “What are you doing? I’m bored to tears.” Or translated into his language, “Entertain me! Humor me! Keep me awake at this stupid thing I have to go to!”

And so, while finishing up my to-do list, walking back to my apartment, making phone calls, and writing this post, I chatted with him. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to or that I minded, but it wasn’t my top priority. But I did it because he needed me to and because I care about him.

I wasn’t rubbing his feet – but I was comforting him. And while one is rather gross and requires me to wear gloves (ew, I do not like feet!), both tasks remind us to be unselfish. They also means knowing when to put aside yourself and do something for someone you love. I may not rub feet, but I’ll stroke ego and I’ll build pride, especially for someone who would do the same for me. Like for everything there is a season, there is a time to rub feet and receive text messages, and when to be of service to your partner or your friends.

So instead of igniting a fight between L and her Mr., I decided to bite my tongue. After all – it would be a little hypocritical of me. While I think he could have waited for her to end our conversation, I also interrupted their night with a ring, and while I came first in her life, he’s the one who sees her every single day. And who has promised to support her until her last breath – so I’ll hope if she asked for a nice rub down, he’d return the favor. Regardless if his friend fromNew York was on the phone or not.

Gratitude for today: I’m thankful for the clarity I find from the conversations I have with those who mean the most to me.

Let Laughter Live

When downtown Manhattan is wishing you well on your day trip to Governor’s Island, tousling the flaps of your faux-flapper dress in the wind on a sunny Sunday afternoon – it’s hard to have any worries. Especially when your addiction to Group-buying sites landed you a $35 deal including a three-course lunch, unlimited drinks, and the guarantee of a good time when you’re in the company of M, R, and K.

I write this post later than I anticipated -just under a hour and some change left to go until tomorrow – because today wasn’t about blogging. It wasn’t about love, dating, sex, relationships, men, or any of that jazz. Rather, it was about actual jazz at Governor Island’s biannual Jazz Fest Lawn Party where three of my friends and I dressed up in era-like costumes while mastering the unforgotten art of waiting in extremely long lines for the cause of getting boozy.

Blame the champagne cocktails, sangria, or chocolate ice cream cones – but we were all a little giggly. Our conversations evolved from historical discussions and debates to inappropriate candor on the train uptown at the end of the afternoon, with dirty glances from older women only making our laughter more contagious. When M and I rested at my apartment, asking the gods of the “Ask Me” cards (silly deck that gives you unassuming answers) and watching reruns of Sex & the City on low volume so we could add our own commentary – I thought about writing my blog, but then decided against it. M reminded me: “You’ve got until midnight! Won’t take you long!” And so, after cleaning my apartment and making the 100th poor food choice of the weekend with a giant cherry vanilla milkshake from Tom’s Restaurant and a handful of M’s cheesefries with blue cheese dressing (Yes, we’re very healthy these days) – I sat down to post something for June 26, 2011.

I had considered a few topics of interest that were suggested to me: “Write about how some think we’ll date a few more guys before getting married or how a few of us think the next one is it,” or “Write one completely about me and how wonderful I am since your last post made me seem like a bitch!!” or “Write about the changes with Mr. Possibility,” or “Write about how adorable men look in those suspenders and when they actually do The Charleston with their girlfriends – where do we find them?? Why are they taken or gay??”

All of those ideas are relevant and probably posts I could write and a couple I may actually flush out one day – but as I sat down to my computer, going through emails and preparing for the week ahead of me while putting Monday out of my mind for a few more hours – I couldn’t stop smiling.

I’m just so happy, damnit.

Things aren’t perfect but things are pretty great. I’m blessed to have a supporting, hilarious, free-spirited, adventure-trying, beautiful group of girlfriends (especially R who contrary to other blogs isn’t as crazy as she may seem), a job that makes me want to go to work in the morning, a byline that people remember and an impact to make, a boyfriend who often catches me off guard with his sincerity and kindness, and of course, a city that I will always be madly in love with.

Maybe blogging is easier or you get more traffic when you write about all the things that are wrong in your life. Maybe the best copy is bore out of grief, sorrow, longing, or disappointment. Maybe the writers who go down in history or have their books reprinted for lifetimes that exceed their own, are the ones who experienced the worse of the world and forced themselves to describe it. Maybe there will always be a hell of a lot of bad.

But, if you take a moment to take it easy, and let laughter live in your life, then you’ll discover the good is always there, too. With every opportunity we’re given that we don’t win, each love we leap to find and we end up falling, each friend we leave behind that we lose touch with, each passing day that we regret wasting – there is a second chance, an adventurous lover, a new best friend, and a new sunrise just a few moments away.

And so in my new quest to let laughter live more fully in my life as I continue this journey – I’ll end each post with something I’m thankful for. If I can find the reasons to laugh and cherish my life, maybe when the bad starts to shadow the sun, I’ll have the strength to brighten my own skies…with gratitude.

Today, I’m thankful for the friendships I’ve found in unexpected places and for the women who remind me each day to…laugh at life, at love, and most importantly, at myself. The me who wears 3-inch heels to a lawn party because it went with my outfit better than flats.

An Intimate Intimacy

I used to wait for the moment when dating someone where our belly buttons touched.

This, obviously meant we were A- Laying down, B- Had our tummies exposed, and C- Close enough to let them meet one another. To me, this symbolized a certain level of intimacy – especially since when your stomachs are rubbing up against one another, you’re not exactly sucking in and positioning yourself seductively. (You know, sheet draped about your body, exposing just enough skin to entice, as the sun colors your body at the right angle and you don’t move, pretending you’re asleep, until he comes in and devours you? We’ve all done it, I promise.)

The belly button moment came several, several months ago with Mr. Possibility. I wouldn’t say belly-button-touching was something we necessarily had a problem with – that part of our courtship was rather seemless. There were obviously other issues (which if you access archives, you can find) and it took a while for him to admit and for me to admit to the bounds of exclusivity. As I’ve said, having a boyfriend and calling it that didn’t sit well with me until I finally accepted it. And ultimately, announced it to the many lovely readers (and haters) of this blog (and me).

But as our relationship has progressed and I’ve continued to grow up – I’ve come to discover that intimacy has nothing to do with belly buttons. Or sex, really. It doesn’t have to do with the act of physically being naked and maybe this is a stretch, but I don’t think it has too much to do with being vulnerable. Intimacy – true intimacy – is based on being remarkably comfortable, having the framework of trust that’s tested and true, and has more to do with you than it has to do with them.

It is impossible to be intimate with someone (as in coming as you are, makeup and push-up free) without being secure in yourself. The majority of us have been wrapped up in the smell of sex and attraction the next morning, plotting the best track to the bathroom, without waking up the guy, so we could freshen up before he wanted round two (insert Bridesmaids opening scene here). I’ve admittedly felt that way far into dating, and even into a relationship. It wasn’t until I found peace in my looks and in the flaws that make those looks beautiful that I stopped caring if Mr. Possibility -or any guy who may come after him – sees me as less than perfect. I’m not perfect, but neither are they.

But being Clinique-free doesn’t define intimacy either – that’s just the part we most associate with reaching intimate levels. The real test of intimacy is a test we give ourselves, often encouraged by our friends who grow weary of our complaints, insecurities, and late-night texting sprees induced by Mr. Vodka and his old pal, tonic.

Being intimate with your partner means being stable enough to know when to stand up for yourself. When to say, “No, this is not enough for me. I need this from you because I know you and I care about you.” If you can’t ask for what you need with the person you’re the closest too, who sees your acne before it comes to the surface, who hears your irrational emotional outbursts, waits for them to pass and then holds you until you fall asleep – then you’re not really intimate with that person, you’re just keeping them around. If you can’t express your desires other than the ones that are sexual, then you haven’t reached a level of intimacy, you’ve only just orgasmed. And let’s be real – it’s easier to do that alone than it is to do with a man, until you train him.

It’s not simple to reach intimacy, I’d go as far to say some couples who race to the altar, haven’t found their intimate level yet. A big part of it is respecting your partner, but the most important element is respecting yourself. And if you know what it is that makes you tick, what you need out of a relationship, and what part of your body and your heart needs to correlate to the other person, then you know how to ask for it. You know how to express yourself in a way that will not only make falling in love easy, but make the tougher stage – staying in love – easier. And it’ll make the sexual part of intimacy…that much more…intimate.