5 Years in New York and… I Don’t Know

In October of last year, with my mouth full of tortilla chips and tequila on my brain, I was talking about how long I’ve lived in New York, when my friend Erin interrupted me, “Linds, it won’t be four years in March that you’ve lived here. It’ll be five years!”

In that moment – and frankly, in this one – I was in disbelief that half of a decade has passed since those black Target pumps marched out of JFK into what, at the time, seemed like the start of everything.

I didn’t know it then – but it really was. March 14, 2010 was the beginning of what has become not a journey or a roller coaster, not a blog post or a story, not some romantic comedy or book that’s yet to be published… but the start of my adult life. 

My first birthday in New York, before I started this blog a few days later. With Erin.

My first birthday in New York, before I started this blog a few days later. With Erin.

As I sat down to write this post, highlighting some profound lesson from many lessons and experiences in Manhattan (and Brooklyn and Queens), I kept coming up short. Every other year, I had a clear picture of what I wanted to write about: what it means to be a New Yorker, how the rain has followed all of my prized moments, how I almost gave up on New York (and myself) but didn’t, my own version of ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go’ – but this year…

…I drew one hell of a big blank. Continue reading

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28 Things My Parents Taught Me About Love

Twenty-eight years ago in Asheville, North Carolina, a woman with flowers in her hair married a man with so much love in his heart, he couldn’t keep it to himself. Only four months prior, they went hiking for their very first date and that man wrapped his arms around that woman – and she just knew.

Two years later, they had me.

I don’t know the first time I realized that my parents were in love. Sure, they had fights like everyone else, but what I remember the most from my childhood is seeing my father leave notes by the coffee maker in the mornings before he went to work. Or my mom leaving notes in his fireman gear – complete with a lipstick print to seal the message. My dad almost always had fresh flowers for my mom (a dozen for her, and a single rose for me because I was jealous). They would dance in our living room after dinner and when I was off in never-never land, playing make believe, I could hear the laughter of their beautiful reality from the living room.

While I’ve never doubted that my parents loved each other, I’ve also witnessed just how hard marriage can be. Through sickness and in health, when times are hard and when they’re good, with youth and then with age, with distance apart and too much time together, with a full house and then an empty one. It’s because of my mom and dad that I believe in both the magic of love and the difficulty of it – it’s not always romantic and idealistic, it’s also, well, work.

But at the end of the day, they pick each other.

Again and again, over and over, because they meant what they said at that altar. And though the NYC foodie in me is rolling her eyes that for their anniversary they’re going to Red Lobster and eating a chocolate cake (the first one my dad has ever made in his life) afterwards, I secretly think it’s actually kind of adorable.

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So, this one is for you, Captain Tigar and first mate Kim. Thank you for teaching me to not settle for anything less than a match that’s as perfect, crazy and wonderful for me, as you are for each other. You’re the reason I’m able to write about love with such sincere hope in my words, and I will be very lucky to have a love like yours.

Here’s what you’ve taught me about love, marriage and all that jazz:

1- Love starts as a feeling and grows into a choice you make every single day.

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2- Love isn’t about your wedding day, it’s about your marriage. (My parents’ wedding cost about $500, my mom’s — very, vey 80s — wedding dress was only $40… and they’re photos were $50 – and I treasure them so much.)

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3- Couples who have adventures together, stay together. (Even if the adventure is remodeling a house, painting a deck or having themed-dinner nights at home…)

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4- Never go to bed without saying “I love you.” You can go to bed angrier than a rattlesnake (as my mom would say) but make sure you (grudgingly) say those three little words before you do.

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5- Perfection is for sissies. It’s the hard times in your marriage that make you so thankful for the really amazing times. If it was always perfect, you’d take it for granted.

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6- Remind each other. That you love one another. That they’re a wonderful person, father, mother, employee, boss lady, dancer, bruncher, maker-of-the-best-spicy-chicken-ever…

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7- You only have to put one foot in front of other. You might roll out of bed and hate the person you’re laying next to, but tomorrow you might think they’re spectacular. Take it one day at a time, one step after the other.

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8- Always stay friends… with benefits. Your spouse should be your very best friend, your favorite companion, and yes, the love of your life. But don’t marry someone you wouldn’t want to be friends with if you were so wildly attracted to them.

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9- Your marriage comes first. Even before your children. Because without taking time to nurture your love, it will wither like anything else that needs sun to flourish.

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10- Take time apart. For the majority of their marriage, my dad was gone three-days a week for 24-hours. Though that’s not typical, because they were separated, they got to miss one another and look forward to when they were together again.

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11- Be a united front. I could never win at the “go talk to your mother, go talk to your father” game because they were almost always on the exact same page about raising me. As I grew up, I realized they made a pretty solid team (even if I never got that pony that I really wanted. Hpmh.)

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12- You got to keep that flame burning. (I can’t really type anything more on this because eww, my parents!)

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13- Give one another space to grow. I’ve never believed there’s an “ideal” time to get married – you just get married when you meet the person you want to share your life with, regardless if it’s 20, 30 or 45 when you find them. Whenever you do, realize they’re not going to always be who they are right now and make sure they have space to change. And that they give you some room, too.

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14- Forgive quickly. It’s normal (and healthy!) to fight with your spouse, but holding grudges is elementary.

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15- Don’t take gender roles seriously. In my family, my dad always cooked and both of my parents worked. If my mom wanted (and could have afforded) to stay home, that would have been cool too. Or if my dad wanted to. You have to let each other do what you’re good at and not force one another into stereotypes.

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16- Support one another. My dad is notorious for picking up hobbies, becoming obsessed with them, and moving on to something else. Even so, when he picks up a new-something-or-another, my mom is there cheering for him, whatever it is. And he returns the favor for her as she has moved from accounting to astrology to real estate to…

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17- Marry someone who makes you laugh. Even if both of you are laughing at something no one else finds funny. Actually — especially if both of you are laughing at something no one else finds funny.

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18- Dream together. When I was ten, my parents bought this run-down lake house that they’ve refinished for the last 15 years into a gorgeous home. It was their dream to have a second place and together, they achieved it. (And I’m insanely jealous of their ‘We’re just drinking margaritas on the porch in the sun, honey, how’s work?’ text messages…)

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19- You can’t change the other person, but you can love them. Sure, my dad has made my mom a little braver and my mom has given my NJ-raised dad a Southern accents, but they’re still themselves. If you don’t like who someone is when you marry them, you won’t like who they are five or 28 years later either.

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20- There will be sickness and there will be health. My dad has had lots of health issues the past ten years, resulting in my mom taking on a lot more responsibility than she used to have. Though it definitely hasn’t been easy for her, when I ask her how she gets through it, she just says: “He’d do it for me if it was the other way around.”

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21- Everything is going to sag one day. It’s okay. Just more skin to cuddle.

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22- Develop good couple friendships. My parents have always had couple friends that they go on double-dates with or vacation together. And now, that all of us kids have flown the coop – they’re having even more fun together.

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23- You are an example to your children. Take it seriously.

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24- Let them surprise you. Even if it’s just with a chocolate cake.

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25- Don’t parent them. Sure, you want to take care of one another, but that doesn’t mean you baby them. You’re partners and lovers and friends, but not parent and child.

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26- Admit when your wrong. And sometimes, even if you’re right, for the sake of peace and love and making up, just say you’re sorry. It’s easier that way.

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27- It won’t always be equal. Someone will do more housework, someone will do more with the kids, someone will spend more money, someone will make more money. It’s not always going to be 50/50, but that’s what keeps it interesting.

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28- Kiss every single day. No matter what.

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This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize pack of beauty products and a Home Goods gift card! Learn more here. Submit here.

Oh, The Lady You’ve Become

You’re moving to the city you always knew would be home.  And yes, my darling, you’ll be going alone. There will be many limitations, but no limit to what you’ll do. Or how difficult it will be to let go of all you knew. But this town built for millionaires and struggling artists alike, will change more than your address, it’ll change you. You do have those brains in your head and those kickin’ heeled-kicks on you feet, but realize you’ll have to make an effort to remain true.

Because when you first land on Northern ground, you won’t know it then, but you’ll go many places.

You will turn the heads as much as you’ll turn your back in an effort to forget the most charming of faces. On a plane, train, or automobile, you’ll find yourself going above and under water. And not just the waters to the east and to the west, but in ways you’d be ashamed to tell your father. When time moves slower than you had hoped and living on a prayer has left you penniless and broke, don’t sweat. There are opportunities and chance encounters on the next avenue over, and you’ll be thankful to the company you’ve kept. The ambition and fear of regret that brought you to Manhattan will keep you afloat, but it’s your heart that will make you shine. And shine you will my dear, and up that ladder you will climb.

To put on hats you anticipated too big or too small. And skyscrapers you were once convinced were too high and would cause too much of a fall. But on you will go and with each day you’ll grow. Not just into the woman you wanted to become, but into someone you’d be happy to know. The shoes won’t always fit, the zippers won’t always zip, and out of vanity there will be many parties you’ll miss. Because the image you see in the mirror may not be what you see in your pretty head, but pretty it is. So you’ll hold it high and you’ll march on. On and on.  You may worry and you may fret, you may be filled with less hope and more doubt. But you’ll soon rest easy knowing, yes, you’ll always find a way to figure it out. But you’ll still go left when you know you should go right. You’ll lose your heart to some stranger a time or two, and you’ll give him all of your might.

Because even with a pen in your hand and a byline in print – there are certain feelings the glossies can’t make. And that sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of love isn’t always something you can describe and certaintly nothing you can fake. But in the game you’ll play, there may be a charade of players dressed in charm, and nice guys disguised in armor that doesn’t fit your taste. You will date and you will sometimes mate, but most of all you’ll blame it all on fate.

And that little magic will bring you to your knees and wake in places you thought were dead. You will fall head over heels and heels over head. It’ll make you linger on each and every word he said. It’ll make you believe, beyond any reasonable doubt or higher education you achieved, that this feeling, this preciousness can never come to be again. You’ll conclude that while you’ve laid in lust before, this is unlike any romance that’s ever been.

Oh, my sweet, the people you will love.

And though it is a promise I’m sure you’d rather me not keep, you won’t just love once. Or twice or thrice.  You will fall in love on accident and on purpose, with mostly the naughty, but sometimes the very nice. You will change your opinions to fit his, you will let yourself be a fool. And that wildly beating heart, will again be forced to dive back into the pool. And so you’ll swim to chase the fish you’ve always heard were plenty and you may catch the tails of a few. And those you’ll try out for size, place them in your life and maybe in your memories of love, but at some point, you won’t like the view. You’ll grow tired and weary, frustrated with the love you’ve lost and the love you’ve yet to find.

And that’s when you’ll change your mind.

You’ll decide that if love is what you aim to achieve, it is time to start to believe. But not in happily ever after by waiting for prince from the storybooks – but accepting that it is you who will meet your needs. You’ll pick up the pieces of what you shattered, take the blame where it’s due, and forgive the mistakes that were made. And slowly, with a lot of work and more patience than you thought you had, those worries will fade. And even more you will change.

Choices will weigh more heavily than the ones you made the day before. And those adult like things like groceries and buying hosieries will stop seeming so much like a chore. They will become normal and commonplace, part of the routine you’ll make for you. And for the first time, you won’t let what you want be compromised for some dude. No matter how deep the dimple or blue the eye. Because you’ll realize your worth, your hope, your future is in your own rhyme. In the life you create. With maybe, a little help from Captain fate.

And though today is your something-year anniversary of when you packed your bags and moved to the city, the places you’ll go and people you’ll love will continue to grow way past plenty. Your days are always numbered and your twenties certainly won’t last forever, but you’ve found your footing and your balance against every odd. With every disapproving and encouraging nod.

So relish, my love. Thank those powers above. Go out and let your passion play. Listen and appropriately ignore all of those warnings I say. Because, today is your day. Have some fun and celebrate the lady you’ve become.