The Bravery of a Fool

There are not many late-night, frantic, and ridiculous phone calls between women discussing the unpredictability of the typically predictable male that don’t involve questions concerning being a fool.

The adages are plentiful – only fools fall in love and everybody plays the fool without an exception to the rule. And the negativity behind this term is not just in a noun, but also a verb – fool me once, shame on you – but fool me twice, shame on me. While women may want to be beautiful and irreplaceable, a vixen, and maybe an officially official girlfriend – one phrase they never like to adopt is being the fool of a man.

Maybe I’m being too cliche in my perspective of this definition. But to me, a fool is someone who knows there is a chance for destruction with a man who has a reputation or has warned you of his troubles, and yet, against any recommendation or any red flag waving in the vast unknown – they willingly pursue and maybe even commit to such a character. Perhaps it is a lack of judgement or an inability to be prudent with those they date or open their legs for – either way, I think it’s a title we’ve all claimed at some point. Most of us, probably well knowing the role we were accepting before we took the stage.

But why would anyone want to be a fool for anyone? Wouldn’t we rather stay logical and collected, calm, and in control of the love we decide to share with only a someone who is willing to offer us the same? Isn’t being in a relationship only worth the wager if you know that while the stakes are high, there are two players playing on an even-playing field?

Call me crazy – but I agree to be in love, you must be a little foolish. It is not an easy task to openly offer up your heart, your emotions, and your hope to a person who may or may not handle such precious things with care. With a simple slip of the mouth, slip of the pants, or slip into a stranger’s bed – a man who you once trusted with your most intimate self could leave you waiting in the wings, covered in not just the dust of his speedy exit, but the residue of his countless lies. Sure,  all of these things are possible and no, they don’t always happen. But they could and they do. If such pain is plausible, we’d have to be irrational to rationalize love. Right?

Or is it that the thinnest line isn’t between faith and fortune. Or between flattery and fumbling.  Or loving and lusting. Or what we want and where we are. Or the beginning and the ending. Or  making love and making the dirty. Or exclusive and free.

But rather – the most blurred connection is between being a fool and being brave.

And if I follow the absurdity of fairytales or the blatant reality of my parent’s example of a relationship that can endure the test of time and health – being brave is the quality that made the dues payable. But to be courageous, one must always be a little asinine, or we wouldn’t realize what we were risking. And really, the largest investment we make in a relationship isn’t even in the person – however dreamy he may be – but the liability is in ourselves.

We must be brave enough to fall in love and absurd enough to trust someone other than ourselves with our most valuable assets. Because once they are out in the open, in front of the court to see and ridicule, there is not always a guarantee that a prince charming will ride our way. More often than not in times that are Millennial instead of Medieval – the knight’s armor is less than shining and more shunning. After all, the fool is not the princess or the lady in waiting or even a maiden of the most prestigious court. This character is rather the one who entertains, the one who hides their own face in an effort to bring joy to the lips of others. But the fool is no fool to her antics or her charm, to her words, or to the price she could pay for being honest or sarcastic. She knows the chance she takes, she knows the pieces that could shatter – but she does it anyways.

Because what we forget about being a fool is that to be one, you must realize your own value. And you have to know that if the crowd doesn’t take to what you present, you know there is safety and shelter in your own care. And in that power comes the ability to accept being a fool and knowing that though we get a wild card to play a prank on a friend on this day each year, there is never a holiday for deceiving ourselves.

Rather – it is something we do constantly, time after time, man after man. We convince ourselves he will be different. That it will be easy and just as we imagined. He will do those things we always wanted him to do. He will surprise us. He will love us unconditionally, if such a love is reasonable. We fool ourselves into falling in love again. And again. We accept the burden it carries when it doesn’t work out as anticipated and we bow to our audience, to the fates who tricked us again, and we go backstage to prepare for the next show.

For the next brave attempt at the foolish ways of love.

Following the Penny Lane

Once upon a time,  living in my sleepy North Carolina college town, a devastating emotional tornado swept the land, and left me in ruins in a place that was far from The Land of Oz.

It was more of a destination of isolation – where I could see the life I dreamed of, the streets I was meant to walk, and yet, I just couldn’t capture it. I just couldn’t get there. I didn’t have a miniature dog or miniature people to guide my way, nor a scarecrow, a tinman, or a lion. And though I hoped for the Good Witch of North to guide me to the direction of her name, I was stuck on Southern ground, worrying endlessly about my unwell father, mending the end of a love, and preparing for a summer in the city I had yet to determine if I could afford.

And yet, I found the courage, the heart, and the smarts to find the Wonderful Wizard that lives in a building with many windows on 57th and 8th. But not by following a yellow brick road, but rather by following the penny lane.

As if sent from a power beyond myself, during my sophomore year in college, right before my first internships in New York, I started finding pennies. Now, of course, I had stumbled across a penny before, and though it goes against tradition, my mother always made me retrieve them- heads or tails up. She claimed it was wasteful to discriminate against money because of the way Lincoln was laying. But unlike those times in grocery store parking lots where discovering a penny was a rare occurence, I started seeing them exactly when I needed them. No three clicks of my heel needed.

When I would start to stress over my lack of sleep and dedication to classes while working nearly 60 hours (or more) at the camps paper, I’d kick a penny across the tiled floor while grabbing lunch. When I went to the interview for the internship I’d be offered, I moved my stiletto to find a penny resting below it in the seat of the cab. As I pushed open the door to the building I would live in for the summer, I noticed a penny in the doorway. And when I returned to finish out my college tenure as quickly as possible so I could return to the Apple of Opportunities, the pennies didn’t stop falling in all the right places, at all the right times.

If I was upset over a someone who didn’t turn into a something, when I felt like I was never measuring up to what I convinced myself I needed to be, or when my insecurities outweighed my sense of intimate beauty – a penny would find its way to me. Most literally, at one point, when I threw up the sheets to make my bed after a romp I instantly regretted, a pesky coin flew its way to the center of my forehead, as if to say: It’s okay! You’re human, Linds.

And though it has been many moons since that Spring when I noticed the Penny Lane I unintentionally follow, these copper culprits still find a way to reassure me.

When I arrived at the doorway of my current job, a tiny triangle of three pennies pointed me inside the office. An hour after I signed my lease on April 2 the year I moved, I opened the giant bay window (the only perk of a completely sad studio) and knocked over a pile of pennies that were resting in the corner. The day I started this blog in a little cafe a few blows from my apartment on the Upper West, I went to unplug my laptop and someone walked by me and dropped a penny at my feet. They turned back to see what they misplaced, laughed, and said: “Well, I guess it is your lucky night, huh?”

And these one-cent wonders don’t stop at my career or my residence – they follow me in dating, too. When Mr. Idea and I decided to go bungee jumping together – at the point where we were diving right into love as well – on the platform, before I stepped 60 feet off into air, I reached into my short pockets and found a forgotten penny. When I met Mr. Unavailable for coffee in Bryant Park, the table we sat on had a few pennies laying casually in the middle. And when I met Mr. Possibility on that bus and we walked to Grand Central Station to catch the same uptown train, I picked up a penny crossing the avenue.

I had been putting off writing about pennies because my belief in their power that’s personal to me may sound a tad crazy to the outside world. People find pennies all day and we’ve all been taught they bring you luck – but that’s not what they give me. Well, perhaps luck is part of it, but mostly, pennies remind me that I’m always where I’m meant to be. That even if the road is jagged and it forks in places I’d rather it spoon, I know I’ll find my way to the top. And if not, I’m reminded I’m strong enough to pave a path where there is no road and create my own happiness. A penny may be just a penny to many, but to me, it’s a symbol that gives me strength. So yesterday when I found myself strangely plagued by pennies, I knew it was a sign to finally give them space on something they encouraged 193-posts ago.

Not feeling like my usual bubbly and energetic self, I spent the majority of work exhausted and pushing myself to prioritize and finish simple tasks. For weeks, I’ve felt a change-a-comin’ and unable to determine which wind will blow in a different direction, I haven’t just had a queasy stomach, but my mind has been sweating in anticipation, too. Knowing fresh air was the best cure for my daze, I took a break to soak up the energy I’m lucky enough to call my home. As I walked street-to-street, I looked down and saw a trail of three pennies pointing downtown, and so, excited by my copper angel’s appearance, I continued. Before my hour excursion was over, I found a total of five little friends. Reassured and humbled by the signs I felt were sent from fate, I returned to the magazine refreshed and ready to work.

And then, well-aware of my penny-obsession, Mr. Possibility who is currently overseas, sent me a picture with a caption that read: “Guess it is a day for finding pennies.”

Because I find them so frequently, which may be a testament to how much I waste time worrying, I’ve stopped picking them up. I figure, maybe someone else will find happiness in something so simple. Even if most of what we deem special in our lives is based on when it crossed our path. For me, pennies have become what clicking heels was to Dorothy – a way to feel comforted. To be transported into a place of peace.

I mean, when you’re not looking into Lincoln’s eye and turn the copper coin around, it says to trust in something higher than yourself. So when I come across them, as I do when I least expect it and never when I try to find them, I remember that while I may not know the rhyme or the riddle, or how long a season will last – I know there must be a reason. And if I doubt – I’m sure a penny will put me in my place and back on its lane that’s led me to right here, right now, right where I’m supposed to be.

Meet My Boyfriend

The thing I get asked the most by friends, readers, and fellow bloggers is: How do you write every single day?!

The answer has consistently been rather simple – it is easy. Partly because I consider myself someone who was lucky enough to always know what they were meant to do, and also due to the mere fact that I write about my life. And what else could be more natural to do than recording, dissecting, and describing every-day adventures? Or better yet – what could be more entertaining when those experiences primarily relate to relationships – something that everyone, no matter their demographics, can understand and relate to.

And while I write about personal experiences, most of the ideas that turn into blogs come from outside sources. From eavesdropping on two friends at the gym, by graffiti stained on my building, by a penny I kick across the pavement, by an exchange I witnessed that was only meant for that couple, by something I feel that I can’t explain, by a sighting or a viewing, by an argument or a profession. I try to listen while I linger, ask more questions than I make statements, and try to put myself in the shoes of strangers. Or the ones I know best – after all, fodder is frequent from my friends.

Unsurprisingly, as our pals often know us better than we know ourselves, this is where my claim of fluidity and simplicity in blogging becomes objected. As in the case of my friend J.

On Sunday, over burgers at one of my New York favorites, Corner Bistro, a group of us were catching up, drinking Blue Moons, and taking in more calories than the rest of the week allowed. I met my friend J in a way that can only be described as fate by the Internet –through a Meetup group that I was hesitant to join. However, it turned out producing five of my closest pals in the city, some of which are starting to get to know me pretty well. As J is telling me about her latest dating adventure and how the scene is different than the laid-back and sunny market in California where she’s from, I must have looked at her too hard because she said:

“You’re writing your blog right now in your head, aren’t you?” Stunned she could detect the writing wheels turning, I smiled a 4 p.m.-and-tipsy grin, and asked, “Um, how did you know that?” She took a sip of her wine (not a fan of beer), she laughed and replied, “Well, you know when you really like someone and they bring you happiness, you think about them all the time? Even when other people are talking to you?” I nodded. “That’s kind of what your blog is now. The blog is your boyfriend.”

Interesting.

A relationship, much like a blog, depends constant attention. You have to put in effort to make it work and be understanding when glitches out of your control cause trouble (like WordPress’ meltdown last night). The longer you’re with someone, the more people know about the person you’ve become exclusive with, and the more energy you put toward something – the harder it is to let it go. You become committed and involved, engrossed in what-could-be, and needing to know that person feels the same way. And if you’re anything like me before I started the blog, you become quite obsessed with the man of loving opportunity.

So, is my friend right? Maybe I have made this blog into my boyfriend. Or into an entity outside of myself, even though it’s primarily about me. I’m connected to it, I give it daily attention, I take time out of my schedule to make sure it is functioning, growing, and giving me what I need. But what is it that I need from a blog? If you asked me a few months ago, it would have been similar to my response to what I want from a relationship: something that helps me grow, gives me guidance, and lets me say whatever I want to say, without passing judgment.

However, like every relationship that experiences change with tide, waters have been rough with me and my boyfriend, the blog.

For a while, as much as I was writing about my exciting life, the majority of it was spent at work and at home. The weekends were sometimes full of outings and doings, but I had the energy and the dedication to put into the pages of this blog because it was my main concern and central source of entertainment. But like I’m learning to let love fall lower on my list of priorities, as my life started to become…well, a life – the less time I’ve had to focus on blogging.

My calendar has started to fill up, event invites continue to roll in, my friends rightfully demand my attention and my evenings, I’m running more, I’m planning trips, I’m further investing into the potential return of Mr. Possibility’s possibilities, and above all else, I’m still focusing on me. The 12 Steps continue to help me guide through the emotions that used to throw me. The essence of the blog is still alive in my life, but the availability I used to have to give it love is gone.

So do I stop writing? Do I break up with my boyfriend because he doesn’t fit into the life I’m making for myself? Do I put an end to the love I once found because I’d rather turn my attention to seemingly bigger and better things?

Nope.

Because when a relationship experiences trouble or things outside of the union start to expand and rise, that’s when you test how the connection. The commitment, the loyalty. That’s when you realize that love will never be everything that defines you or all of the things you’re made of. That’s when you remember the relationship that makes it – the one that’s worth all the hassles and frazzles – is the one you can maintain, even when the rest of your life becomes fuller and happier. I can’t make a man – or a blog – my everything. But if I can remember that love is just a part of life and this blog is about my life – the inspiration to pen another post will come just as easy as it once did.

As long as I just live, that is.

Happily Forever Me

It started out as just any other ordinary day.

As I usually do on the weekends, I woke up around 11, laced my running shoes, and went for a run in the park. It was one of those mid-afternoons that are rare in New York -the air smells strikingly clean, the noise is at a bare minimum, and distractions seem more like far fetched ideas than obstacles. After a brisk four miles, I settled into a local coffee shop for water and iced coffee while devouring that week’s edition of New York magazine. Unconcerned with my lack of makeup or my unwashed hair, I sat out on their patio, enjoying the spring sun and the tulips starting to bloom in the city’s versions of “gardens.” My North Carolina-roots, however, may always make me a snob to such greenery – especially with the endless rolling hills I grew up with in my backyard.

Once I was thoroughly filled with ideas, news, and midtown’s people-watching debriefing for the day, I caught the downtown train to the West Village, where my cozy and classic one-bedroom was waiting for me. Along with Henry, my miniature mutt I rescued from the Long Island animal shelter a year back. Not much of an athlete, but more of a hunter of falling leaves and city-street grime, he sadly doesn’t get to partake in my days-off rituals, but he’s there in spirit and dog hair. Following a much-needed shower, a conference call to the UK to set up the following week’s speaking engagement and travel arrangements, and a play date with Henry – my friend and fellow editor rang to make sure we were still on for the gallery viewing, along with our signature wine and Chinese food meal with the regular group of ladies. Still smitten that somehow, everything managed to work out in its own way – perhaps not as I planned – but here I was, living where I wished, able to call myself a real writer (and get paid for it), and have the most wonderfully dynamic collection of friends and adventures.

A few hours and cocktails later, I found myself seriously considering purchasing a painting in a new exhibit hidden away in Chelsea at a unknown, yet trendy establishment. This portrait, of a woman in a yellow sundress, with the city cascading infinitely behind her made me remember the days of my fresh beginnings in New York – and of the path I decided to take to reach the place I was now. Champagne in one hand and the other resting on my hip, with my head tiled slightly, I became so engrossed in memories of what was, that I let my program slip out my grasp.

And it was in that instance, where the sheets went flying towards the ground, catching me off guard, and I knelt quickly in my tall Louboutins to gather my mess – that he realized he had just laid eyes on the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Of course, he told me such a thing many, many years later when that first glimpse of luster hadn’t necessarily lost its effect, but had evolved into something more profound and meaningful: love. And not just love, but the love.

When I first started this journey, I had grown exhausted of romantic illusions. As quite the daydreamer with a highly overactive imagination, I could design the scenerio of fate’s course, like the one above, in a single moment. Anything and everything I did, each move I made, man I went on a date with, or stranger who locked eyes with me, had the potential to be part of this grand story that I so badly wanted. So thoroughly was convinced I needed.

Then, I decided that to be cured of the love addiction qualities, of these self-defeating thoughts that robbed me of confidence and worth – I needed to cut out the dreaming. I needed to learn how to be completely self-sufficient, completely independent, completely, madly, totally, fully, in love with myself. This way, I would never feel like I needed a man, I would never let anything a guy did or didn’t do rule my life, and I definitely wouldn’t waste energy and time when the man in question refused to do the same. I would let my emotions fall far, far behind and put my rational, reasonable, and mature self in the forefront battling all of the dating wars to come, instead of letting a little thing called desperation step up to bat.

But, in admitting the nature of my wrongs, I’ve realized as time and steps have passed…you need your heart as much as you need your head. And as important as actually thinking through and doing something is, dreaming and believing are part of learning to really live, and really love, too.

I used to get caught up in visions of what a grand meeting would be for my hubby-to-be and I and when days, weeks, months, and well, years would pass without anything spectatuclar really happening, I’d start to doubt the possibility that something so magical, so wonderful, so beautifully designed by the heavens themselves could ever happen. And then inevitably, I’d start questioning if I was worthy of such a thing, or if love and all of that jazz I’d hoped for since I was a little girl was even meant for me at all.

But maybe what I forgot to take into consideration was the central theme of all of my fantasies: when the charming Mr. Right found me, bumped into me, came to my rescue, or met me – I was happy. Or more specifically, I was enjoying my life, doing something I loved, and content with whatever point in time I was existing in. The reason this man, whoever he was or will be, found me irrestistble because I was radiating a confidence that derived not from him, but from me.

Perhaps in every version of happily ever after I’ve created, I forgot that romantic bliss started with self-love. And while my obsessions led me to believe it was all about the man, the reality of my longings were actually all about me. So when I became disappointed or intolerably lonely, it wasn’t due  to the fact a knight on a horse didn’t come riding up the subway tracks (though, I’d love to see that, just for giggles), but because I wasn’t searching or demanding happiness with myself. I was waiting and waiting for the ending, when I hadn’t even given thought to the beginning.

Do I still hope there is a true love out there, somewhere in this city I adore so much? Do I still find myself, from time-to-time brewing up a story I’d greatly enjoying playing out in real life? Do I still allow my emotions to overtake my practicalities? Do I still find myself delusional in illusions? Do I still occasionally feel quite alone, even though I know I’m not?

Yes.

But now, at least, I have a rather brilliant, mostly secure, and increasingly interesting prologue, that one day, if I’m blessed, will turn into an ending that no story, no movie, no book, no creation of my playful mind, and no blog, could ever portray effectively. Even if that conclusion, ends with me standing solo – because no matter what page in my story I turn, there’s already a love inside and a hope for a love that’s outside of me…that’ll never stop writing more.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently this year. We’ll make it more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.

The Non-Negotiables

I make incredible demands on myself.

Some may call me a perfectionist, others may coin the term “over-achiever”, and I can’t even begin to count the amount of times someone has told me they envy my bravery. But to me, none of these titles really fit who I am because I’ve never thought twice about pushing myself to the extreme or shooting for my dreams – no matter how unattainable they may seem. To me, the most terrifying risk is not giving the things that matter the most, my everything. I’d rather fail a thousand times than to never try once. My expectations are undeniably high for what I hope to achieve and where I want to go in life.

And the same level of elevated standards applies in my relationships, too.

In the past, as I would go on and on to my friends about a date gone awry, a relationship that fizzled quicker than it boiled, and how for whatever reason, it was impossible for me to find someone who wanted to stay on the same page as me – most of them, either out of frustration, wisdom, or from what they thought was the right thing to say, advised: “Well maybe you shouldn’t expect so much.”

Is going into a dating situation or even the start of an official relationship without any expectations the best solution? They say if we don’t really anticipate much, we’ll be happy and pleasantly surprised with anything we get…right?

Well, I don’t know about you – but I can’t seem to wrap my head around this idea. If we don’t have standards, if we don’t insist upon certain qualities or things that are absolutely non-negotiable, wouldn’t we only attract men who are completely wrong for us? Or even worse, end up with someone who isn’t right for us, but could be perfect for someone else? Or vice versa? Wouldn’t we miss out on someone who we don’t feel the need to change?

I believe there is this thin line between having unrealistic images and hopes for what a relationship or person will be, and demanding what you will and will not settle for. That regardless of how wonderful someone looks on paper or in person, if they don’t meet what we know we need to be fulfilled and happy, then entertaining a love affair is wasteful of our energy, heart, and time. Sure, men are people too, but so are we – and we have personal standards that we shouldn’t (and probably can’t) shake.

So yes, I have expectations, and no, I’m not willing to lower them just to be deemed someone’s girlfriend, have someone give me a Valentine’s Day card, or find my match that I’ve always been told I can’t live without. (Though, I’m pretty positive I can).

My ten non-negotiables are actually quite simple, in my opinion, anyways:

Ya gotta be employed

And legally, for the record. You could be a millionaire or make what I make, as long as you have a job and you’re not sleeping on your mother’s couch or in your childhood bedroom. If I’m going to be an adult, I want to date one, too.

Ya gotta be taller than me

I’ve only dated guys over six-foot, but I’m not opposed to seeing if a 5’10 man would fit my fancy. The only thing is I love high heels and always will; so if I can’t wear my highest ones and be at least a little shorter than you, I’m not interested. May be superficial, but absolutely true.

Ya gotta be self-sufficient

As in, it is not my responsibility to transform you. That’s up to you, bud. I don’t want to fix you, I don’t want to mend your every worry, your every self-defeating prophecy, or your every case of blue balls. I also don’t want to control every conversation or lead you through discussions – you should have opinions and charisma inside of you already, that are not because of me. Life is full of bumps and I’ll sit in the passenger seat, but you’re in the driver’s.

Ya gotta want to have sex (and it has to work)

Think all men are sex-crazed maniacs? They really aren’t, and I’ve dealt with the ones who never want to do the deed, who can’t seem to make it rise to the occasion, and who just don’t have a clue what they’re doing. At our age, we should know better. And if we don’t, we should make an effort to learn.

Ya gotta be honest

Being charming and funny are also recommended, but above all other things – you have to be genuine. A big part of my job is searching and revealing the truth, so I value it. Even if it hurts me, even if it isn’t pretty, even if it changes my mind about you – just tell me. I’d rather know than to be fooled or oblivious. And you should remember the one person you should never get on the bad side of…is a journalist.

Ya gotta have your own world

I’m not one of those ladies who wants to be the center of her man’s universe. Sure, I like to be doted on, admired, and reminded that I’m beautiful (who doesn’t?) – but I’m also very independent. Even when I’m married, I’m going to need some nights with the girls and nights just by myself. You gotta have buddies and interests and hobbies that have nothing to do with me, please.

Ya gotta have energy

I’m a fast walker, a fast talker, and always a gal on the go. While I enjoy a lazy  Sunday afternoon and will gladly sit through sports with you (as long as you’ll return the favor by going to a show), I mostly want to be doing something. And whoever I’m with, should challenge me mentally along the way. So if you’re going to date me, you’re going to have to keep up with me – this may mean you’ll need to have Red Bull within reach.

Ya gotta let yourself go

I don’t think I’m God’s gift to men – and I know you’re not God’s gift to women. But, we could be sent from the heavens to meet one another. So please, don’t take yourself too seriously. You don’t have to be the best dancer and you don’t have to sing on key – but if you can’t have fun in our living room or at a concert – I’m not going to crave having fun in other parts of the house.

Ya gotta be open-minded

Yes, I want you to have your own opinions, but I also hope you are tolerant of those things you don’t believe in, don’t like, and of those who are different from you. Brownie points if you’re addicted to community service and volunteering as much as I am.

Ya gotta like NYC, the kiddies, and the puppies

Sure – I’m not at the point where I’m ready for children, but I can’t be with someone who doesn’t want them…ever. Also, I can’t rationalize picking a mate who hates the city I adore. As for the puppies – who doesn’t love them? I mean really?

Maybe I’m being too stubborn and overly ruthless – though those qualities have served me well in my career – but when it comes to finding love, I choose to believe that I’m worthy of the best. And when or if I meet Mr. Right, he’ll know that he has someone who is more than precious – but irreplaceable, because I hold myself, him, and our love to great expectations.

And that will never be open to negotiation.

PS: I’m curious to what your non-negotiable list. Comment below or email me and I’ll tweet them!

When Venus and Mars Meet on Earth

I’ve tried not to make general assumptions about men or about women in this blog.

I feel like each of the sexes deserve as much credit as the other one and are about as different as North Carolina and New York City. Men deal with issues that women will never be able to wrap their head around and vice versa. I’m under the belief that unless you have sincerely walked a mile in someone’s shoes (where it be high heels or dress shoes or no shoes at all) – you can’t really say with certainty how it feels to be someone else. While there is a sincere contrast, and sometimes I’d like to pull my hair out and bang my head up against a wall to understand what a man is thinking – men are welcome in my clubhouse, and though some have cooties, most are at least tolerable to be around.

However, even though I recognize there are innate distinctions between the dudes and dudettes – I will admit that going into this journey, I was under the impression that it was only women who dealt with my self-proscribed love addiction.

I was convinced it was a woman’s issue to freak out not only about the duration between text messages, the unanswered and unreturned phone calls or dating a man who seems to be allergic to commitment- but also get upset and worried about the fact that, we are, in fact, freaking out. Because women aren’t really supposed to lose their cool – or at least in front of the guy they are dating or hoping to be exclusive with, right?

Furthermore, I was also under the assumption that it was just women who fed or played into the nagging voices in our head that constantly ask annoying and self-defeating questions like “Is he really out there?” “Am I wasting my time with Mr. Not Right?” “Should I go back to him, even though I don’t really think he is it?” or “Are all men really just jackasses?”

And while I’ve known and dated men who want families and marriages one day, I was even more confident in my belief that women are the ones who spend time analyzing until-death-do-we-part, and men spend time mourning until-random-sex-do-we-part.

I realize these notions are sexist and shed a very unpleasant light upon all of the men of the world, even when I know in my heart that there are great guys out there who often get overlooked. But recently, as he usually does, Mr. Unavailable opened my eyes to a side of the male population that I didn’t know existed.

We were walking about in the city, laughing and sharing stories, when we got on the topic of love. To be honest, it is something we talk about frequently since the whole foundation of our friendship is the result of diviluging some personal and recent heartbreaks with one another. Nevertheless, on this particular day he discussed a guy in his hometown who was once a successful banker in the city, then moved back to Queens, and does something-or-another for the chamber of something. He is also 40-plus, never been married, and childless.

After Mr. Unavailable described this man to me, he quickly shot back with “I just hope I’m not that guy one day.”

In the conversation itself, I of course eased his fears and promised him he would never end up without a Mrs. or a bulky resume and a house full of kids. While I was sincere when I said that to him, in the back of my mind, I was recovering from a state of shock. Here is this guy who is absolutely wonderful in so many ways with an incredibly bright future ahead of him, and he’s worried about finding a lady to love, and to love him in return?

Is he out of his mind? There is no reason under the sun that I would ever picture this man alone in the long-run. Sure he’s banged up and bruised and moving forward – but no one stays knocked down forever. And especially not someone who has not only drive and talent, but a kind soul and a positive aura. Not to mention, good looks and an independentadventurous spirit.

As he’s talking about something else and I’m effectively getting lost in my own thoughts, I realize wait, a second: didn’t I just describe myself? I have all of those alluring qualities and things going for me. I’m not a hopeless case, nor am I the only one, apparently, who has doubts and intense fears about happily ever after. (Though I’m still question what exactly is the before, the after refers to, but I digress)

Sure, I’ve heard all of my girlfriends at different stages in their lives and even now, share all of their apprehensions about love, but there was something different (and rather refreshing) about hearing it from a man. Because while Mr. Unavailable is a special person, I know there have to be other guys in this world and in this city who share some of his same anxieties and perplexities. And if that’s the case, maybe there is some hope, right?

Man or woman, gay or straight, married or single – we all just want love. And we want to never question if we’ll find it in this vast universe and endless sea of fish to bait, but just have the confidence that when the time and person is just-right, it will all fall into place.

So maybe, instead of placing labels on the emotional side of a relationship that dictate what’s a man’s responsibility and what’s a woman’s to lose sleep over, why don’t we come from the same understanding? Maybe women are from Venus and men are from Mars, but can’t we just meet on Earth and give each other love?

 

 

 

Star Light, Star Bright, First Wish I Make For Me Tonight

If you visit New York City, you will find several things: buildings that reach the clouds, people from every country on the planet (and in all stages of life), hidden gems that no tourist guide should ever get a hold of, and the next big thing on every corner.

You will also find love in the simple places and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch yourself wanting to take a picture of the city you’re buzzing around with – just so you can capture that feeling, that energy in something you can take back to your own zip code.

But no matter how many pictures you take, views you see, or places you scout out –one thing you won’t find in the city of dreamers are stars. Much, anyways. And as a gal who was raised in the south and spent many-a-nights laying in her backyard watching the stars compete in quantity with the fireflies – it just may be the one thing I miss about living in North Carolina.

I’ve seen the stars twice since I’ve lived in the city. The first time, in Columbus Circle, Mr. Unavailable was quick to tell me they were probably just planes. I glared at him and matter-of-factly responded with: Maybe you’re just a jaded New Yorker, hmm?

But last night as I was walking from the train to the gym, iPod on shuffle, 3-inch stilettos on foot, I saw a star. I looked around to see if there were any other stars showing their face and waited a second to see if it moved (I guess it could be from LaGuardia). But no, it was not only an actual star and the brightest star, but it was the first star of the night. (If it wasn’t, I’m pretending it was, anyway.)

Without hesitation, I closed my eyes and made a wish, smiled, and kept walking –just like I always have. It didn’t occur to me until I was on mile two at the gym that I had made my very first wish on a star that was a desire that had nothing to do with a man. And even better, I made this wish even though Michael Buble’s “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” happened to come on just as I saw the star.

Sure, I’ve wished to move to New York and to be a writer, but it was always coupled with another plea: find me a man or make me fall in love! I’ve even gone as far as giving stars deadlines when they should have this perfect person to me, and while I adore stars, they wouldn’t make great freelance writers because they’ve never met this time limit.

But last night, surrounded by the buildings I see daily, I made a wish that wasn’t about falling in love. Had nothing to do with romantic notions or happily ever afters or getting hitched or having babies. No part of my wish was about kissing in the rain or walks through Central Park.

Although I can’t give it exactly away (it wouldn’t come true!), the wish was for something that came from true bliss, complete happiness, and incredible personal contentment. For the desire to have something that comes from a place of thankfulness and bloom of sincere peace.

I don’t believe my over 20 years worth of making wishes on the first star I saw were wasted on men, nor would I go back and change my words – but there is something gratifying about making a wish independently.

And really, that’s what this whole journey is about. In so many ways, single women get lost in the instability and the uncertainty that comes with being a minus-one. We stand guard by our phones and put ourselves out there and we read every self-help book imaginable to try and figure out “what we’re doing poorly” or “how to attract the man we want” or “the way to lose ten pounds and get a husband in a year”. But in reality, there isn’t anything wrong with us, nor is there anything bad about desiring a remarkable love and person to share our lives with.

It’s not about how we look or what we say at a bar or how long we wait between the first email and the response – it’s about the feelings we have towards ourselves. If we love who we are, if we believe in what we have to offer, and if we trust that we really can’t screw up what’s meant to be (because, we’ve tried, right?) – the rest of it just falls into place.

Does this mean I’ll stop making wishes? No. It just means that if I’m always wishing for the same dream (or the same man) – maybe it’s time to take a risk and wish for something that’s just about me.