Almost three years ago, I wrote a blog about a date with freedom.
I still remember that day vividly, and in my memories of moving to NYC and making it feel like home here, it’s one of those experiences that stands out. At the time, I was severely unhappy at my job at the business mag, friends with Mr. P (whom I called Mr. Unavailable) but making out with him on occasion, still talking to my ex, Mr. Idea, worried about developing friendships, a tad bit freaked out by my Harlem address, and attempting to write a blog about learning to love being single.
Three years later – I’m in a totally different place. My life has changed in ways I could have never predicted. And in ways that I didn’t know or didn’t really see until this weekend.
Friday was my last summer Friday (media folks get days off when the weather is nice because we spend endless amounts of time glued to the computer), and I made up my mind that not only would it be productive, but it’d be a day just for me. I woke up around nine, grabbed a coffee and the pup, and read in the dog park while she played for an hour, followed by a much-needed jog in the park. Then I walked from my apartment to the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I had been craving some Monet and O’Keeffe, plus they had a Civil Rights Photography exhibit I’ve heard rave reviews about. To top off the afternoon, I headed to literally the top of the museum, where the rooftop view is arguably one of the best in the entire city. I drank a glass of white wine slowly, thoroughly enjoying it to soak up the last of the August sun before heading back across to the west side, only stopping for 30 minutes for a power nap on the Great Lawn.
It wasn’t until I was riding the bus to my friend J’s apartment for a girl’s night out a few hours later that I realized my date with freedom three years ago seemed like such a big deal, such a huge stepping stone in my journey and in this blog, and “my date” today — which was quite similar — didn’t feel like anything important, at all.
Instead, it was just life.
My life as a single girl in New York City. Where on any given day, each and every choice is based on what I want. What I’m in the mood for. Whatever time I want to get out of bed or however long I want to run or hang out in the park. Whatever amount of money I want to spend or save, whomever I want to accept a drink from – or an invitation to dance – at the bar on any night I decide to go out. There are not grocery lists or budgets that I make with anyone else or decisions that require consultation. I can spend Thanksgiving in Paris or Rome if the mood strikes, or take a trip with another single gal to the Caribbean just because I’d like to. I have zero rules and only a few commitments and responsibilities that are part of my everyday routine. However long or short this anti-relationship status might be, it will be the only stretch of time when I can be as selfish and stubborn as I’d like. It’ll be the only time I’m this independent, this self-sufficient, this… alive on my own.
After so many heartbreaks and road blocks and experiences, I’ve learned that I’m not dating freedom — instead, I’m just free.
As much time (and energy and heart) that I’ve spent wanting, aching and hoping for love, I’ve forgotten just how much I do love this independence. Even though most single women fear being sentenced to bad (and worse sex) forever, there is something quite special about being a 20-something that hasn’t settled down yet. It’s easy to take it for granted, especially when you’d trade in a night in with the dog for a night in with a man, but if the last three years are any indicator of how quickly life can change, then it’s time to start cherishing these precious moments. And savoring them. Indulging in time and travel alone, trips to the museum and drinks for one outside underneath the street lights and siren sounds. Because there will be a moment when I look back at weekends like this past one — where I spent every second really, truly letting go and letting life fly — and miss these days.
When I look back at brunch in the park with the family that I’ve made in this beautiful city and remember when we were all taking it day by day. When we didn’t have to think past 5 p.m., where Saturday was simply spent laying in the sun and drifting to sleep to the sound of your best friend’s laughter. When our dogs (and maybe our mimosas) felt like our babies. When we worried about so many silly things that won’t mean anything in just a few years. In such a short period of time that we can’t even imagine it right now.
There will be a time when I remember what it was like to be free — and hopefully when I do, I’ll be proud that I soaked it up for all it was worth. I hope I’ll remember that I did what everyone should do: really, truly live as wildly, as beautifully as I can.
I hope I remember being almost-25 and taking so much time and investing so much love… into these years of being… free.