More Time With Me

It’s the second day of summer and I feel like a slacker. Those two words may seem to go hand-in-hand, but not for me – I had big plans for May through August. And now, I only have two months to make up for lost time.

Time I spent sitting in front of the computer writing this blog. Time I spent sleeping in because I crave the blissful sound of alarm-clock free wake-ups on the weekends. And time I spent sitting around with Mr. Possibility as he mulled over textbooks nearly as tall as me sans-heels, studying for a test he won’t know the results of until past my birthday, past the end of this blog.

It’s funny to me that even I’ve written a dozen articles about dating, vented each and every insignificantly significant detail about my personal life, and given advice to those in love-lemmas – and still, still, I can’t do what I tell other people to do. If asked, I’d always advise to make yourself a priority, to spend more nights a week in your own bed than in your boyfriend’s, and that nights with your girlfriends on the town are much more fun more times than not. I’d say to budget your time, put yourself first, and do your own damn laundry instead of lugging it across the river to his free washer and dryer to avoid the ever-disgusting communal Laundry Day scene.

And yet – with my piles growing consistently taller each day in the corner of my new bedroom, I’ve considered it. I’ve put off plans with my friends to make plans with Mr. P. I’ve gone against every dating rule I’ve read and ever adage I’ve endorsed. But that’s the thing about being a relationship blogger – especially one who called herself an “addict” – it’s hard to swallow your own words. It’s hard to listen when you’re in the situation, no matter how honest you may be with your readers.

With Mr. Possibility out-of-town last weekend, I finally was forced to look at my summer and my choices for what they are. Walking through the park with M (who has a great blog you should check out, I’m LT, if you’re curious), I thought out loud to her: “This is the first time I’ve laid out in Central Park all summer long.” She asked, surprised, “Really? I come all the time.” Maybe it was the green mini-rolling hills dotted with half-naked pale New Yorkers or the character of the park, but in that instance I realized it was time to make more time in my life…with me.

Overindulging myself in overanalyzing, I thought about why exactly I was deciding to spend so much of my moments outside of work with Mr. Possibility. I had invited him to happy hours with my friends, he went with me to North Carolina, his roommate is probably entirely sick of me at this point, and I haven’t spent as many nights as I thought I would in my new apartment -without him, anyway. Do I enjoy his company that much? Do we thrive off all those hours together? Is that what keeps us going?

No, it doesn’t. It causes petty arguments and makes things so comfortable that romance doesn’t have a chance to boil. I knew that going on, I still know that now – so what in the world was I thinking?

I think I was (and am) trying to integrate part of my life into our relationship: here are my friends, here is where I am from, here is what I think, here is what I need, here is how I sleep. And that’s not such a bad thing, in fact it’s rather normal – but it’s easy to get carried away. It’s easy to lose yourself…even on the way to loving yourself.

And so, with the request for a few nights off a week from being a girlfriend (well, you know, still exclusive but not tied to dinner plans or living together), I’m back on track to fulfill my summer to-do list. It includes, but is not limited to – a bubble-q (barbecue and champagne), a trip to Six Flags Jersey (yikes!), more Long Beach visits, sight seeing and bathing in Connecticut, a roaring-20s themed jazz fest, more Central Parking, more…life. More friend time. More time with me. More time to do what I set out to do – enjoy the time I have with me as much as the time I have with others. No matter how possibly wonderful that time can be.

Baby, I Need Space

I’ve never actually lived with someone, though I’ve written on the topic several times. For whatever reason, the two times in my adult life I’ve had a gap in between leases, I’ve been lucky enough to be dating men who offer their apartments. Both times, I went into the situation attempting to view it as a mini-vacation with someone I care about…minus still having to work 9-6.

And yet, though each relationship is vastly different and the arrival of the “homeless” period arrived in varying points of the dating duration, at the end of both of my staycations with Mr. Idea and Mr. Possibility, I’ve found myself arriving at the same conclusion:

Baby, I need space.

Don’t get me wrong – Mr. Possibility is truly wonderful. I won’t go into the history (if you’d like, you’re welcome to research yourself, is not impossible to find) but in the last few months we’ve made significant progress. We’ve developed into a functioning couple that has yet to have a knock-out, drag-down fight, and we’re respectful of one another’s needs. There is intensity and fire, but I’d also consider him one of my closest friends – which to me, is more important than butterflies and channeling Prince Charminglike similarities.

But he does things to get on my nerves. In fact, he does several.

He’s not the tidiest person I’ve known, though most men are not (with the exception of his roommate who keeps a remarkably clean abode). He has his own set of mood swings and preferences of how he choses to carry his day-to-day life, and how he likes his apartment to be organized. His idea of grocery shopping is getting what’s on sale, even it is two-for-one ketchup, regardless if he needs ketchup or not. He doesn’t rinse the sink after he shaves and when he needs to work, he spreads his things as wide as the living room will allow him, and if I dare touch a paper, I swear I may lose a finger.

These are not bad things and they do not change the way I feel about him because I’m no different.

I have a tendency to shed, leaving him with strands of reminders of me on his shirts, his briefcase, and his coat. I will use the same cup all day long, refilling it with orange juice, then pouring the last little bit out, and repeating. I want to sleep in on the weekends until at least ten and he is programmed to wake at eight, no matter what day it is. I packed ten pairs of shoes for a three-week stay, and they’re strung about his room unorganized, even though I’ve made several attempts to keep them straight. In an effort to be helpful, I shrunk some of his shirts when I did the wash, and when I decided to bake cookies, I forgot to check the cleanliness of the oven and set off not one, but two smoke detectors.

It’s not just the quirks either though – it’s sleeping under the same roof, eating the same dinners, having actual discussions about domestic tasks and purchases, and not only watching TV on a Friday night together, but going out together the next Friday. It’s constantly being connected to the hip and feeling like you’ve lost some part of yourself, even if you’ve gained the coveted key to your guy’s place. And that kind of closeness, though intimate and ultimately what marriage may very well look like, can bring a girl to her knees – or to a bar in Union Square, frantically telling her friends how badly she needs space.

Usually requesting space brings anxiety and fear into the relationship, almost as a signal that it is nearing the end or facing rocky waters. Such is not the case with Mr. Possibility because emotional room isn’t what’s on the table. Rather, it’s just literal space.

Keys that belong to me. A closet to fill with my belongings, freeing them from a suitcase and one mini-drawer. A bed to collapse on that I paid for, that I can choose to make or leave messy because it’s mine and I don’t have to share unless I extend an invitation. An area to sit and write endlessly, without being interrupted, without the sound of a television blaring in the background, or debates about going out or staying in.

A space to be alone.

In the past, I never could wrap my head around my friends claiming “space” was a good thing – but now I see their point. A couple can spend too much time together. You can be around one another far too much. Shared interests, friends, and pursuits help bring you together, but if you overdo them, it can be what tears you apart. Without demanding and sticking to an individual regimen that gives you what you need outside of the relationship, even a duo that barely argues will feel smothered and bothered. And from there it only leads downhill – heated arguments over silly things, miscommunication under stress, less sex and play, and at the very worse, breaking up just to find an hour to exhale in privacy.

So maybe I’ll give space a break. Sometimes it is the remedy that doesn’t separate you, but ultimately bring you closer. But not too close for comfort.

A Daunting & Determined Dresser

Finally, the time has arrived for my new apartment move-in.

While I’ve enjoyed my time with Mr. Possibility, there is something about having your own room to be…well, you. I rose early this morning, ate breakfast with Mr. Possibility and headed across the river and uptown to my Upper West Side dwelling. When I arrived at my new place, grabbed the keys that are now officially mine, and peered into the empty space that would soon be filled with my things, I felt the same sigh of happiness I’ve felt with every budding residential beginning. Somehow, it feels like a second chance or third or tenth, whatever it may be.

I waited for Ikea to deliver my things, chatting it up with my new roommate, and the sublet who will be leaving soon. He is tall and intelligent, a fellow blogger, and a dude who moved to New York partly for his girlfriend. He will start Teach for America next month and they will be moving in together, and it was nice to hang out with a heterosexual dude discussing our own relationships, lives, and backgrounds. It was even nicer of him to help me piece together my furniture – or at least my dresser – when two non-English speaking, quite rude delivery men came and went without any exchange of words, just nods. Maybe a grunt or two.

With time to kill and wanting to shape my bedroom into some sort of functioning space before I sleepover there for the first time in a handful of days, I decided putting together my dresser would be the smartest move. I have more clothes than I do books, so the desk and bookshelf could wait longer than my piles of t-shirts, bras, and sweaters. The bargain-priced $150 six-drawer dresser in black/brown came in two extremely heavy boxes that my new friend carried into the other vacant bedroom.

We opened the boxes, listening to Queen, and drinking beer, and when the first cardboard hit the wooden floor, my jaw went with it. There had to be at the very least, hundreds of pieces – if you count the screws, plastic-things (yes, that’s the proper name), nails, and rollies (again, proper name). I was instantly a tad overwhelmed but once the package is opened, you’re better to put it together or you run the risk of losing essential parts. As we discovered once the dresser was assembled, Ikea doesn’t provide extra-anything in case you lose or mess up. The Swedish, apparently, don’t make excuses.

But R reassured me we could do it and he was determined to put his “manly-skills” to use, while listening to Maroon 5, John Mayer, and a random assortment of music that we both happened to like. The further we got along, the more the dresser started to actually look like a dresser…

…and the more impressed with myself I became.

I have hung curtains by myself, along with photos and mirrors. I’ve built a tiny bedstand that came in a very light box from Target. I own a toolbox I was given for high school graduation and I’m pretty comfortable doing simple projects. But I have never attempted something as complex as a dresser. Yet to my great surprise and satisfaction, I had created (with help from R) a functioning, standing-tall and strong, ready for my belongings, dresser.

After situating it in my room strategically, thanking and friend-requesting R, and grabbing sushi because I was near-starvation, I caught the train back to Brooklyn to finish packing up my “vacation” suitcase at Mr. Possibility’s. Proud of my accomplishment and sending pictures of my “pet” dresser to my friends, to brag about my craftsmanship, I thought about how many times, even in a week, we experience the daunting feeling of an unassembled dresser. And yet, with determination, find a way to fit the pieces together.

Earlier this week, I received some disappointing news about a freelancing gig I badly wanted at a magazine. The byline would have been great for my career and ego, and no matter what anyone tells you, rejection always sucks. It may become easier to stomach the older we get, but if we’re human and heartfelt, our hopes will always rise. And with that email turning me away, I felt the same dread and daunting feeling come over me as I did when I first saw my unassembled dresser in its box. But I pushed through, I emailed the pitch to other publications and I didn’t give up or give in to that ice cream sundae I thought I deserved, and by Friday, I attracted another bite. Another opportunity. Or with Mr. Possibility who sometimes can be as moody as me, especially when he’s stressed. Though we’ve never had a true argument, there have been times when I’d prefer the company of someone else over him. But give it a day or two and I’ll find myself missing him.

Life is often in a million pieces and it’s up to us to find a way to make them all connect. Because daunting feelings only last so long, and it really is determination and visualizing the finished product or scenario that gets us through it all. If we can always have the will to make it to the end, that sense of pride never gets old. Even if it is just over a dresser you made with your own two hands.

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.

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.

It’s the Little Things

My apartment smells like cardboard and glass cleaner. I’ve been sneezing for the last twenty minutes and if I squint my eyes and look intently, I think I can see my floor. I can’t tell if my throw-away pile or my climbing mound of packed boxes is higher, and I really never noticed how white my walls were until right about now, sitting and wondering if this room was always this big, or if it somehow grew in the last few hours.

I’m moving to a different part of New York and I couldn’t be less prepared. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve moved in my life and unlike other things, it never gets easier. In fact, I’d like to think it gets harder because I continuously accumulate more and more stuff. But like an evening following a stressful day and cooking in a tiny kitchen – I prefer to pack alone.

So, with a discovered airplane bottle of Grey Goose in the back of my fridge and orange juice, a green masque from the dead sea (thanks Mr. P), and the Best of the 80’s with some Sean Kingston and Adele mixed in (no judging of my musical eclecticness) – I started pulling apart and piecing together the contents of my tiny studio.

Admittedly, I’ve only given my apartment a thorough and heavy-duty cleaning once or twice in the entire time I’ve lived here. As my life become increasingly fuller and I found myself distracted from my address, I let things sit around and I forgot my in-the-moment organizing habits. I collect antique cigar boxes for decoration and occasionally for storage, and such a collection usually leads to random discoveries as well as many searches that leave me empty-handed. In a rush and without a conscious thought, I’ve tucked away things for safe-keeping and then kept myself away from them for months.

But maybe that’s the fun with boxes anyways, you open them and never know quite what you’ll find. Luckily for me, the surprise has never been a cockroach in an empty wooden container, but some findings I found yesterday were almost as scary.

Or at least, when I first saw them, I thought they’d be.

Unknowingly, we all attach emotion and sentiments to objects. It is why we started having “ex-boxes” in high school, to keep us from lingering over a lost love. Or the reason why as children, we grow attached to a blanket, a teddy bear, or a doll and carry it around to give us the comfort a sippie cup or bottle simply can’t. It’s why the engagement ring is something so many lust after – the symbolic meaning that you’re taken, that someone wants to love you forever, that someone gave you such an expensive, beautiful, or historical thing that tells the world you’re to-be-wed.

But as time passes, our attachment to things changes. Or maybe, it just lessens.

As I was going through my jewelry, safely placing in padded pouches the ones that meant the most to me, I came across a necklace Mr. Faithful gave me, nearly a decade ago. Still in good condition and still the same mini spec of a diamond it was then, it glistened in the light of my lamp and I just smiled. When we first broke up, I couldn’t look at it,  but by the time college was over, I found myself wearing it without even thinking of him. When I packed up my pajamas, I came across a pair I threw on the night my mother and I had to rush my father to the hospital when he was ill. After a night from hell, spent worrying and pacing, and attempting to get some sleep on uncomfortable waiting room chairs, I almost threw away the cotton pants out of disdain. Once my dad recovered and returned to the same adoring man I always knew, the pants stopped being so difficult to wear, and eventually, I grew quite fond of them and even took them with me to New York.

I stumbled across all sorts of things, frames that have seen a cascade of photos, from boyfriends and friends to family and pets, year after year as new friends, men, or experiences changed. Outfits I bought for a specific purpose, ones I bought with the intent to be ripped off of me, sweaters I bought for the first day of school that somehow still fit, and jeans that will no longer fit, no matter how much weight I lose or miles I run.

I came across dresses I wore frequently when I very first moved, but now can’t bear the thought of wearing in public, much less in Manhattan. Books that I read while riding the subway to my internship or laying in the Great Lawn in Central Park or the quad at my college. Notebooks from interviews I can barely remember conducting and quotes from sources I can’t picture in my head anymore. Shoes with a half-way broken heel I meant to get fixed and a skirt I loved that ripped at the seam and I swore I would learn to sew for the simple fact I badly needed to wear the skirt again (that’s still on the bucket list of skills to master). Notes from Mr. Idea I saved because they meant something to me, the pennies I found in my window seal of this apartment, and to-do lists I never finished.

All of these things, in significant or insignificant ways, meant something to me at one point. Some words in books I read or places I went while wearing specific shoes, or people I met while sporting a tight number – changed my life. But it wasn’t the book or the shoes or the dress that made an impact, those are just reminders of the experience. And while those memories stay with us, the emotion we attach to objects that really didn’t matter too much to begin with, fade away. We pack them up in boxes to donate or to sell. We decide to give some things a second chance and we forget how good we looked in shorts and tights. We stop seeing items as things that hold meaning and see them for what they are: just things.

And like us, they will go on to someone else. Someone who picks it up at the library or bookstore when we donate books, or someone at a consignment shop who sees potential in an old scarf we couldn’t see. Not just stuff, either, transforms in the hands for a new person – my apartment will gain a different inhabitant in a few weeks. They will make this space their own, they will bring their own meaningful things, and set up shop differently than I did, and in a manner diverse from the dozen or more people who have called this place their home before me. In a brownstone that’s nearly 100 years old, there is no telling how many residents have made a home in the very place I’m sitting as I type this blog, in 2011 at an antique desk, someone else has sat, too.

But things don’t need emotion, really. Nor do apartments. They just need people to use them, to fill them up with life, to give them a purpose, and then to let them go. Onto to the next person or the next use or maybe put an end to their functionality. Even then, trash often turns into Earth that molds into something new decades later – but I digress.

The point is, the cycle continues. People come and go, and so do things – but won’t people always continue to collect things? Collect memories attached to those things? And then let them go as easily as they came? Of course. It is the little things that matter, but keep in mind, the little things will always change.

Me, Myself, and My Shadows

I’m usually not forgetful. Really, I’m one of those odd characters who remarkably recalls something that happened six years ago in a fleeting moment. But yesterday – I could not have been more absent-minded.

I won’t make excuses, but this week has been superbly busy. One of our biggest issues of the year is in the making, our office is moving to a new location next week, I’m on the mad search for a new apartment, I’m running daily, attending a happy hour or two, Skyping with Mr. Possibility extremely early or late my time or his, and you know, this, writing daily blog posts. Not to mention some Twittering, Facebooking, Tumbling, and when I’m lucky, maybe getting seven hours of sleep.

I’m not complaining – I consider myself extremely lucky and blessed to have a life that’s full, that’s ever-evolving, that’s full of the best things a city could offer: great friends and grand adventures. Nevertheless, sometimes with so much going on and residing in a place that encourages less rest, hard work, and more play – I’ve found myself a little off my A-game recently.

Case in point, after work and after viewing yet another vacancy on the Upper West Side, I made my way to the gym, excited about releasing all of my stress with a healthy four-miler. When I arrived, I was happy to see a moderately-empty place and a treadmill readily available for me. I rushed to the locker room to change so no one would take my coveted machine before I had time to dress down and throw my hair up. After putting on my running shorts, I discovered not only had I forgotten a sports bra, but also a hair tie and socks. For a successful, focused sprint, all three of these items are necessary – even if the ladies aren’t exactly luscious, they do deserve and need support.

Frustrated with my forgetfulness, I did a few reps to relieve stress on the abs, arm, and leg machines, and then decided I was brave enough to brave the semi-chilly weather outside. After dropping off my gym bag and Longchamp at my temporary apartment, I hit the pavement…well, running, of course.

Though the sound of my own feet beating the road matching the beat of the music usually soothes me and clears my head, last night, I just couldn’t get the rhythm. I wasn’t losing my breath, but I also wasn’t finding my clarity. Out of my zone and continuously burying myself further into my worrying fit, I felt someone behind me. Suddenly on guard and wondering if it was possible to be unsafe at what I consider an early hour, 8:30, I quickened my pace without glancing behind. Though it was only a few seconds, the moment that passed seemed to be in slow motion, but as I turned the corner, I realized the shadowing I noticed was not an intruder, but just my own shadow.

Somehow, on the edge of the park where I was running, the way the street lamps mixed with buildings hovering above caused me to not only have one dark reflection, but three: one behind me (what I saw), one to my left, and one in front of me. I’m sure this has happened to me a dozen times without my recognition, but on Central Park West in that experience, I couldn’t help but watch my threesome of shadows come together as the light changed as I moved.

Symbolically, I felt like I was witnessing my past, my present, and my future mold into what those things make up: me.

Twenty minutes later, walking back to my apartment and stopping for a much-needed Greek yogurt (current food obsession), I thought about how much of what causes me anxiety or worry is stressing about the things I can’t change. And most of those headaches have to do with wondering what will happen in times I’ve yet to experience. Like on May 1 when I move to an unknown location or when Mr. Possibility settles in New York for an extended period of time, after several bouts of traveling. Or where my byline will appear six months, a year from now, or the networking event I’m attending in a few weeks. And then my forehead scrunches up in such a way I’m sure I’ll have wrinkles there one day (we’re ignoring the fact I already sorta do) -I struggle with letting go of what was. Like the friendships that just aren’t the same anymore or the people I should call more, but don’t. Or the battle I have to apologize for pain I caused years ago, when in reality, the wounds are healed, and if not scared over, they’re most likely disappeared forever.

But worse than wrestling with all the places I’ve been and all the places I hope to go, I often forget to value the place I am today. Though I remind myself (and I’m often told) that the only path leading to peace is not really a paved road at all, but the spot I’m standing – I’m often too busy running away from it to realize its beauty. I’m too scared of the past sneaking up on me, too concerned with where I’m going, that I rarely see how all of the pieces come together, effortlessly, in their own way and right, without much trouble at all.

I don’t really believe there is a way to fully release our experiences, nor do I think it is healthy. We must take from our own educational past to continue to grow, and we must have something to go toward, if we’re going to get anywhere. But without accepting, and dare I say, loving the person we are right now- the past and the future don’t matter.

A few steps before my front door, on the phone with my mom, I stopped in the middle of my block, and took note of the shadow before me. Wildly stretched longer than I’ll ever be or would ever care to be, I saw the shape of my body. Without any distinctive features or coloring at all, I didn’t resemble myself – but I knew the street reflection was me.

It was me, myself, and my shadows. With the most important of the trio not the shades of dark and light surrounding my feet, but the part that was real. The part that would still be, even when I walk inside, and leave the rest behind.