How to Breathe

During the summer in New York, right around 8 p.m., as we’re heading off to indulge in sangria and sunsets, there is an orange shadow that cascades across the streets, beaming off the buildings, and leaving everything it touches with a crisp, bronzed haze. It is one of my favorite moments in the city all-year-round, and regardless of where I am or who I’m with, just seeing the amber reflection is enough to distract my attention and make me take a big breath.

I was thankful for a moment of clarity before meeting Mr. Unexpected for a celebratory sushi and sake date on Friday night, after a very long, very exasperating week. I had a hard time sleeping every night last week, my nerves never calming down from the many changes of the past few months circling in my head and enticing my heart to race. And though I always get a little anticipant to see Mr. Unexpected, once we start talking, he has a certain way of calming me down, too. Sitting across from him, with the citrus sun still radiating above us, I took another big breath of pure stress release.

In fact, I’ve been reminding myself to breathe a lot lately.

To say this year has been ripe with change, expenses and new experiences would be a vast understatement. If anyone would have told me all of the things that would happen in 2014, I would have never believed them.

Just to recap:

  • My dad had unexpected heart surgery at the start of the year.
  • I had my last day at iVillage – after three years – on a Thursday in April.
  • The next day, I left for a 10-day trip to Paris and Rome with my mom.
  • Two days after I got back, I started my exciting, challenging and entertaining job at WEtv.com.
  • Then I got in – via raffle – to the NYC marathon.
  • Two weeks later I met who I thought would be my roommate for an October 1 move date.
  • Then I realized my lease ended on September 1. (You know, when I’ll be in London visiting J for a week.)
  • Which means I would have to move by August 15.
  • Two weeks later, I met Mr. Unexpected.
  • 20+ dates later, we are an actual thing.
  • The roommate, who I thought would be moving with me, couldn’t anymore.
  • I decided that I couldn’t possibly train for the marathon, go on a big trip, do well in my new job and find an apartment and train for the marathon. So I backed out.
  • So with a month to go to find an apartment, I somehow found two roommates.
  • And a subletter for my current apartment – for just a month.
  • I signed a lease yesterday. To move to the East Village!

Whew.

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I Love it When it Rains in New York

It was raining when I moved to New York, exactly three years ago today.

I sat at the Charlotte Airport, resting my elbow on my overstuffed carry-on bag and my purse while nervously applying chapstick in small, mindless circles. My mind was everywhere. I had planned this day perfectly and now that it was here, everything that could go wrong, had. It was foggy and misty outside and in Manhattan, my destination and hopefully, my permanent location. My flight was now delayed almost two hours, and I spent every passing minute desperately obsessing over my decision to leave my family and take the biggest, greatest and most important leap of faith I had ever made. I didn’t have much in savings or any job offers or even job interviews. I didn’t have enough rent money for much more than a month or so and I currently only had a futon to my name. On loan of course, from a girl who technically speaking, I had never met before.

I grew anxious as we prepared for takeoff, silently saying a prayer that everything would work itself out. And that all those dreams I had invested in for so long would turn out to be more than just lofty, unrealistic ideas about a life that I’d never actually have.

Once I caught that cab from LGA and headed toward Brooklyn to meet the kind lady who was giving me my first break in the form of a comforter and shelves to put my minimal things on, it was still  ugly outside. I had never ventured too far away from midtown at this point in my New York journey and the thought of going to Park Slope — a place I had never read or heard about except for random Craigslist postings — was terrifying. I knew that I wouldn’t always have this friend around and I’d need to vend for myself — little did I know that the scariest thing about the zip code was the tantrums of the toddlers in their very expensive strollers.

I watched the droplets roll down the taxi’s window and I tried my best to soak up the moment instead of glancing at my phone and taking note of landmarks, trying to figure out where I was. Where I was headed.

What the hell I was doing.

I had similar thoughts six months later, walking home from the grocery store in Harlem to my studio a few days after starting the blog. The rain was just heavy enough to need your hood and not dangerous enough to warrant an umbrella, and yet I managed to go the entire day dodging them. It had been one of those difficult 9-6’s — too much work and too little time, so many questions and nothing on the subject matter of small business I cared to answer. I had made another decision and took another chance — overcoming my own love addiction — and I figured it was probably a terrible idea. I ached for love just as crazily as I wanted to work for a different publication or website. I had found footing here but it didn’t fit me quite right. I was showered with luck but somehow the fortune that was supposed to be in my favor, was off. I hadn’t found the love. I hadn’t found the job – so what had I actually achieved here other than much higher bills and boxed noodles?

“Oh my god, you really want dumplings and noodles aaaagain?” I implored Mr. Possibility. It was the third time we had gone to his place by his job in Rockefeller Center that month and in the middle of February, raining, freezing, and I had no desire to leave the comfort of my apartment to take a train 10 stops downtown. Let’s go, Tigar! I have a surprise for you,” he pushed and eventually, I threw up my hair into a sock bun, wrapped myself up in a white coat and snuggled with Mr. P until we reached 50th. But when we rose from the toasty heat of the underground cart, it had started to downpour.

And we didn’t have umbrellas.

He swiftly wrapped me in his arm and we ran, hand-in-hand from 7th avenue to 5th, to eat $5 shrimp dumplings and attempt to eat thin, stringy japanese food with chopsticks. Admittedly, neither of us were very good at eating properly, but with matted hair from the rain and his fancy loafers nearly ruined, we savored the dry space with florescent lighting. I’m all wet — are you happy now? I teased and though we had just officially made things official, he reached over, planted a big wet one on me and said, Ha! I love you! I’m always happy when I’m with you.

I wasn’t happy anymore, that was the sad truth.

And as I sat there in Williamsburg in late July, counting how many pairs of Hunter boots passed our window, watching him chew his mac ‘n cheese and go on about something I was no longer listening to, I summoned up the courage to tell him that something needed to change. He held me as I cried that night, promising to be better, pleading for another chance and I told him that chances were what I took and that I’d give it to him, but he had to really, really try. With my blessing that goodbye wasn’t coming just yet, I felt his body relax and drift to sleep, but I laid awake, listening to the rain hit his pane and trying so hard to convince myself it was louder than the pain I was feeling. And that somehow, the rain would drown out the fear in the pit of my stomach.

So. Many. Butterflies.

That’s what I told my mom when she asked me how my final interview went at iVillage. It was a hot August day and it had been raining off-and-on, causing my hair to frizz in ways I knew were not professional, but very-me anyway. I’m never quite fully put together in the way I look, but almost always in the way I express myself. And still, my tummy couldn’t have been more upset, excited or anxious detailing the highlights of my meeting with the company I so badly wanted to work for. I was standing in the phone booth near 14th street, protecting myself from the unpredictable summer showers and using my hand to cover my face because my grin was just that big. I couldn’t explain it — even to my mother who I could tell everything to — but somehow, the rain must have seeped through that glass of the booth and right into my bones, telling me that something amazing was about to happen. I was getting ready to run straight into the next best thing that ever happened.

What’s nextWhat could possibly be next? I wondered a few nights ago, walking home with my red raincoat pulled tightly around me, Lucy pacing at my side, intensely interested in everything we passed.

I could see the storm coming from the North, gray clouds were taking over the Upper West Side and I patted myself on the back for finally remembering to check the weather every morning. I checked to see if I brought an umbrella (I had) and considered how many towels I had in the closet — was there one to dry off the pup? Three years later — and the rain is still following me. But now I know how to prepare for it.

How to embrace it.

How to actually love it. Maybe that’s why a black umbrella is the shelter for all of these posts, surrounded by silly little red hearts, floating their way down the page. Maybe it’s why I moved to New York — to face the pressure, to face myself. To be overcome with challenge. To be pleasantly surprised with sudden down-pouring, infectious, love. To walk and make it through every weather this city can offer me.

Because honestly, I kind of love it when it rains in New York.

The glistening of the buildings. The sound of the droplets on the roof or the window. The sparkle on the street. The sound of kids splashing in the puddles and the sight of couples canoodling to stay dry. The best part of rain in the city is what’s so great about New York itself: after the storm passes — whatever it may be — everything that was bad or grimy or unsure from before is washed away.

And what’s left is up to you create. You just have to decide if you can put up with a little rain to get there.

The Best is Yet to Come

I finally caught that yellow chariot.

It whisked me away through Central Park, glittering past glowing street lamps and weaving through semi-windy roads. I sat alone, my purse laid by my side, listening to the cabbie mutter to himself. His stammering made me feel better about my tears at nearly two in the morning. He probably thought I was just another wounded drunk girl coming in from a Saturday night out where I spilled my beer and kissed a faceless boy at a bar.

But no, I was sober. And now, I was single. I mean, I am single.

It’s funny, I thought, once we reached Amsterdam and my heart released the anxiety that always comes from trusting a stranger to take you where you tell them to. A year ago, on this very day, I was crying in the bathtub, depressed over my birthday party where I didn’t get asked to dance, where I didn’t feel very pretty, where I was so sick of being single that I was an absolute mess. I hysterically cried and then made up my mind — I wasn’t going to feel this way anymore.

Am I right back where I started? Really Lindsay? I rolled my eyes at myself, glanced down at my silent Blackberry and felt the freshly Autumn air hit my cheeks. Here I was again, even with all this daily hard work for the past year, crying over some guy. At least it isn’t in that disgusting bathtub, huh? I thought and grinned. I also wasn’t an emotional wreck or crying because I hated being single. This time, they were movie-star tears that glistened through mascara eyelashes, and I wasn’t upset because I feared being alone but because I wanted to be.

That was the final straw, Linds. You really had no other choice but to walk away. You’d be selling yourself short and giving away yourself if you stayed, I reassured myself to gain enough courage to brave the face of the cabbie to pay him. My birthday had brought the next season, and with it, I was moving on to the next chapter. As much love as there is, as connected to my heart and my New York life as he was, Mr. Possibility didn’t turn back into Mr. Unavailable or grow into the only possibility, he just became impossible.

Maybe if you just gave him some more time or ignored him for a week or two, then he’d come around. Then he’d see you were worth it, the other side opposed as I turned the chunky silver key, allowing access into my safe haven, my home. I knew I could have stayed longer, I could have played the manipulation card as fiercely as he did – but there is a difference between being able to do something and wanting to do it. That was, after all, at the crux of our relationship: he may have wanted to give me what I needed but he couldn’t, and I could have stayed but that isn’t the type of love I want. It’s not what I deserve.

I deserve so much more.

Because I’m not that distraught girl anymore. I’m no longer afraid of being alone, but afraid of being alone in a relationship. There are worse things than being single, and unrequited love is one of them. There are worse things than having to go through the emotional warfare of a breakup, and settling for less, I can assure you, is much more painful. You’ve really come so far and you did the right thing, the rational voice came back with easy clarity. It hurts to essentially give up on Mr. Possibility but he needs to go through the 12-step program more than I do now. He has to love himself before he can ever love me, or anyone else, in any way that matters. I can’t love him enough to change him, and he can’t love me enough to change my mind.

So here ya are, Linds. You’re back to being single again and the blog is over, I thought as I looked out the window of my room, watching the lights flicker with the arrival of the morning. I couldn’t sleep, too much thinking going on. Too much aching for something I never quite had but know I’ll find one day. I’m different from I was a year ago. I’m much stronger, more settled. I’ve loved someone in New York and I’ve loved myself enough to walk away. If that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is, I sat up and felt my heart sink back into the bed. Sometimes the hard thing and the right thing are the same, and sadly, also the adult thing to do. Mr. Possibility isn’t a bad guy – he’s actually quite the opposite. He’s a wonderful man with so many possibilities but the past isn’t allowing him to have a future, and we’re in such different places that nothing between us makes sense anymore. It’s not worth fighting with someone you love, it’s better to love them enough to calm the fight by leaving.

And the fighting had been too much. We were starting to destroy what we had, the friendly foundation was turning into resentment. I couldn’t put my heart on hold or allow someone to love me with only half of their heart, and he couldn’t be there for me in a way that was constant and dependable. And so, on the corner of 12th and Third, I gave him one last opportunity to make amends, to step up to the plate, to prove his committment. But he passed and I turned the corner, only to look back and see him catch a cab in the opposite direction.

Well, looks like there’s no game of cat-and-mouse here, huh? I crumpled to the side of a building, wishing I hadn’t worn heels and covered my face, preparing for the flood. My friend M braced my back and promised me he was only the beginning of New York love, not the end. But the devastation didn’t come. Instead, I felt just a little bit of fear and longing, but mostly, I felt relief. Now I could be happy, he could find his happiness, and the happiness we had won’t be overshadowed by the disaster of the last month. After all, what I’ve wanted for him from the beginning was just to be happy, and now I see that I wasn’t helping him to happiness, I was just keeping him from really trying out those wings and learning to love himself as I have learned. I miss him, I will miss him but his brightest years are still ahead of him, just as mine are. We just won’t be sharing them together.

So does this blog end with the end of Mr. Possibility and I? Have I really completed the 12 steps because I found enough security in myself to not have to lean on a man for support? To not stay in a dead-end relationship because I couldn’t stand the thought of being single while all my Southern friends got married? How do you end something that’s been part of your life for the past year? How do you put that into words?

You don’t. So I’m not.

I won’t write every single day anymore, but I’m still going to write. Confessions of a Love Addict isn’t ending, it’s just changing. It’s going back to Step 1 to repair myself through the five-moods of a grief over impossibility. To learn how to put back together the pieces I lost of myself in the relationship, even if this time, they aren’t as scattered or jagged.

I wanted to blog for 365 days and I have – so now it’s not about meeting my own deadline. Now, it’s just about writing as I feel, sharing what I want, and starting the journey all over again. Really, the process of accepting and loving who you are is never-ending. Because just like the New York skyline is always changing, so are people, and so is time. Stages come and go, love grows and then it hurts. Friends go their different ways, luck comes around ever now-and-then. Sometimes you get what you want, but mostly you get what you need.

And I still need this blog. Because now, a whole new journey is about to unfold, and if the last year is any indication of the thrills ahead of me, I couldn’t be more excited. Especially since now I’ve traded that bathtub for a cab, those tears for a red dress, and that fear of being alone for the option of having something extraordinary. And that hatred for the word “single” into a thankfulness that through it all, I still have just what I’ve always needed:

Myself.

And of course, a bottle of champagne, some great friends, a heart that’s still beating and believing, and the faith that the best is yet to come. Stay tuned.

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.

When Time Turns the Tables

After the serendipitous meeting with Mr. Fire a few weeks before I graduated, where he confirmed my existence actually did mean something to him, he told me he’d let me know when he was in New York. He knew I’d be there and if he could help it, so would he.

Several years later, it looks like he finally made the move. Or at least for a job interview, that is.

Though it has been quite some time since I’ve laid eyes on the dude and I’m not interested in sprouting any new chapters with him – as I headed toward sushi for two on Wednesday, my mind couldn’t help but race.

After all, this was an evening, a moment, an opportunity I had dreamt of since the day he ended things far quicker than I thought he would. Following the late-Spring breakup in our college’s commons, I collapsed into my bed, equal parts shocked and desperately sad. A few hours later, with my puffy face and tired eyes and spirit, my roommate tried to console me, and though I’m pretty sure we both knew there was no magic phrase or surprising sentence that could alleviate my tears, something she said inspired me to move forward with a little hope: “It doesn’t seem like you guys finished anything. There are all these questions – he’s gotta have them too. I promise you, years from now, you’ll get the answers and you’ll see him again. By then, you’ll probably be happy and won’t care.”

I disagreed in that moment – how could I ever care less than I did then? How would this feeling ever leave or lessen? But maybe, if we were meant to cross paths again – say on Park Avenue South – it’d all make sense. Perhaps he felt just as broken as I did.

Come to find out, we both coined each other as the “one who got away” or the guy/gal who we’ll always wonder what could have been or what we should have experienced, but were too young to take a shot at. Since the split, we’ve never managed to be single at the same time. There’s always been someone else in the mix, another component to complicate any prospect of attempting to finish what we started or give another round to cards we laid many years ago. And up until that night, a part of me, even if it was just the tiniest sliver of silver-lining I had– I thought maybe, we’d end up together. That while I can’t be convinced I believe in fate in its indefinite definition, I do have faith in time.

And my love, my darling, time can do a gal many wonderful splendors in terms of love.

Walking to meet Mr. Fire, heels and lace-mini prepared to stun – I thought how my roommate was right. Here I was, living in the place I knew I’d end up, strutting toward my past, and other than a few butterflies, I was calm. And while I think there will always be questions left unanswered, love left unfinished, and ends left untied – it didn’t matter too much.

Because time, in its unpredictable ways, took me from lusting after this idealistic notion that Mr. Fire and I were destined, to realizing I didn’t want him anymore. In the seasons that had cycled, the tides that turned, and the feet that landed me in this city – I had changed.

And he hadn’t.

Sitting across from him, listening to him ramble and flush a sweet color of pink – I remembered the facial expressions I had adored, the gestures, and the stories I had fallen for. I still found him incredibly attractive – but had he always had that deep Southern accent that I was lucky enough to escape (Thanks Dad, from New Jersey)? I still found myself laughing at his comics, but that intelligent, witty conversation that I value in a man – does he have that? And yes, he was tall, but that stagger, that thirst to drink more than necessary – will he ever outgrow those silly habits?

Perhaps time can divide lovers for years and then bring them back together in some sort of romantic-comedy approved manner – but it also can make you see how wrong someone is for you. How while you loved them – or at least the idea of what they could be – when people grow, either together or separated, they end up in different versions of destiny than what they originally hoped. And perhaps, that ending is better than the happy one we once planned for ourselves.

Even if he was – or maybe always will be – the one who slipped through my fingers and pushed away the love I was willing to give him. Maybe the ones who do leave before we expect them too, were always meant to walk before closure could be granted, before reasoning and discussions could be completed. In some sort of twisted hand of Father Time, they are the ones who make us realize down the road, that what we think will happen, what we hope will come to be, who the people we can’t imagine living without – aren’t always what’s best for us. Or at least the us we become in this continuous progression we call life.

Sometimes, time makes you see that you love the you you’ve become more than the man who was. Or the we that was supposed to be. That while minutes or hours or days or even years may pass by so slowly -all that was, all that is, and all that will be, will work itself out, somehow, someday, along the way.

You May Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger

Right now, as I write this, and as you, whoever you are, reads this, a new life will take his/her first breath. Someone else will die. A woman will meet the man she will marry. Another woman in a courtroom will be face-to-face with the guy who attacked her many years ago. A child will finally take that first independent ride on their bicycle, without the training wheels. Some 16-year-old will look lovingly at their driver’s license. A middle-aged woman will pick at her gray hairs and analyze her wrinkles in a magnified mirror. Someone will say “I do.” Another couple will sign their divorce papers. A college graduate will land in New York. Someone else will leave the city in haste. A man will miss his train. A daughter will get the news her father has cancer. Someone will be given a few months to live. A man will witness a miracle. A woman will break her heel. Someone will be given their dream job. Two people will chat from across the world, while a couple will lay side-by-side with a world between them.

And then there’s me, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the downtown train, looking around at all of those around me, fascinated thinking of how quickly, how frequently life goes through highs and lows. And along the way, we see and sometimes meet people who shape the way we see the axis turn. I mean, who are these people I see everyday? The woman with the pretty coat and the red boots – what did she do this morning? The old man in the corner, reading his paper, looks so tired, why? The young, tall, attractive guy two seats down isn’t wearing a ring, but is he single? The teenage girl listening to her music so loudly I can hear it three-feet away, what is she struggling with?

Even though I do not know any of their names, here we are, connected, in this single moment because we decided to board the same train, at the same time, on this incredibly snowy Thursday morning. I’ll never say life is measured by the moments that take our breath away – but I will say sometimes, in the middle of an ordinary day, an unexpected revelation comes over you.

Like, how most every relationship is fleeting, but yet, sometimes the most significant of ones are merely based on a connection. And sometimes, a coincidence. It’s that realization – that as easily as someone can come into our life, they can simply, just leave. Just like the strangers on the train who I shared the same air with, held the same rail, smelled the same things, and then simply exited on my stop, completely forgetting their faces.

Maybe the reason a relationship is so scary and seems so necessary for happiness is because we know how easily it can just slip from our grasp. And so, finding the one person who we will never have to worry about leaving or losing a connection with, no matter what curve ball we’re thrown or diagnosis we’re given, becomes an endless search.

It’s like trying to find someone in a city of millions who you were intrigued by, but weren’t brave enough to ask their name. Where does one even begin? For a while, I’d say the bar, at the gym, taking a class you’re interested in, the park, or actually, at work – but with the knowledge that relationships are in fact, so fleeting, I think it’s more important to start with a connection you’ll never be able to fully break – the one that connects you to you.

Being sans-man is one thing, but when you feel like you’ve lost the essence of who you are – it’s time to stop looking around at the strangers, including the one you’ve become, and start realizing that people come and go, both lovers and friends, and before we can offer anything to anyone, even someone we’ve never met – we’ve got to offer the best we have to ourselves. If we get so lost looking for the handsome stranger we want to meet, we become darkened to who we are. Faces we’ll never see may surround us, but the worse thing we could ever be – are lost in our own reflections, relying on someone else to recognize us. Or a connection to bring us back to where we started. If this journey has taught me anything so far, it’s that the one person I can never give up on, never let go of, and never forget is me – and I simply can’t be a stranger to myself.

Because until (or if) we do meet this magical Number One man, every love, every spark, every could-be -is probably simply temporary. They are fleeting feelings that at times may seem so incredibly permanent we can’t stand to hold them. But, the ones that light us will pass, just like the ones that sought to destroy us. Much like the thoughts that come with being single, like “What if he isn’t out there?” or “Why can’t I just meet one decent man in this whole damn city?” or “Could I really be okay if I never got married?” Yet, when we do meet someone with possibility, gone are the worries of being stranded in our single boat, and a new set of question make their way to the shore: “Am I settling?” and “Could I really see him in the long run?” and “Is this how it is supposed to feel?” or maybe perhaps the worse of all, “What if he doesn’t feel the same way?”

But in between the ups and the downs, the yes’s and the no’s, the consistent and the inconsistent, the strangers I pass who turn into lovers, and the lovers who turn into strangers -I have to be secure enough to sit in the middle of a busy train, content with the knowledge that no matter how many avenues I have to cross, people who have to leave, or bumps I have to endure – I’ll still be just fine.

Before I know it, something or someone, or an ordinary moment will come along, and there life goes again  in its extraordinary splendor: forever, beautifully, changing, and preparing me for the next stop along the way. And on I will go, single and secure, ready for any fleeting (or maybe permanent) tall, dark, stranger I may pass.

Entitled to Be Single

When my parents were newlyweds, my father once made the mistake at a dinner party introducing my mother as “his wife.” While she was, and is, his partner – to my incredibly independent firecracker of a mom – this made her feel like she lost her identity.

Needless to say, she didn’t keep quiet about how she felt. On the ride home, as my dad tells the story: “She laid it out for me -I didn’t own her. If I was going to introduce her to anyone, I had to say her name first and then her wifely title. Or, I was just to say her name. Under no circumstances, was she ever to solely be my wife or was I ever to say ‘wife’ before her name.

Now – I don’t know how I would respond in the same situation because I’m not married, but I will say I think my mother demanded nothing out of her rights. Nor do I think it’d sit well with me if my husband dropped my first name just because I took his last. And really, just like my mom, I’ll never just be a “wife” or a “mother” – I’ll always be me, and there are not enough titles to represent who I am.

I’ve carried a few of them the majority of my life: female, daughter, and well, writer. Those have grown as I have, from girl to teenager to woman; from daughter to kid to adult; from writer to editor to blogger. And of course, I’ve gone from crush to girlfriend to lover, from single to attached, from hopeless romantic to love addict,  from committed to heartbroken.

But in relationships, title changes seem to carry so much more weight than the other ones. Somehow, we know that regardless of what happens we will still be people through any birthday, promotion, or change of friends, and we’ll still be able to call ourselves a woman, a person, a daughter – because those things can’t be revoked or erased.

So, maybe in terms of love it is less about title and more about entitlement.

As a lady who adores words (even when she isn’t the best grammar girl in the whole world) – when I edit articles and writers confuse “title” and “entitlement” – I always cringe at my desk. Much like I do about “they’re” and “their”, but I digress. You see, title is the name of something, say a book or a movie; and entitled means one is deserving of whatever they are getting.

By these definitions, when we approach relationships, though we think we’re seeking a title – aren’t we really seeking entitlement? To be told, to be reassured that we are in fact, worthy of being someone’s girlfriend? Or fiancée? Or wife?

Of all of the roles I’ve played and hats I’ve wore in my past, the one I wanted the very most was exclusiveness with a man. I wanted whatever dude who was stealing my attention, where it be Mr. Disappear, Mr. Fire, or even Mr. Unavailable – to view me as his dream girl. As this beautiful, irreplaceable creature who appeared from the dusty woodwork, and became as important, as vital, as necessary, as the air they breathed and the beer they drank. Maybe it was college, but I didn’t even know these men very long – probably just upwards of a few weeks – before I determined I had to do everything in my power to be that girl. That remarkable woman who caught them off guard and made them stumble in the game they seemed so good at playing. I had to be the different one, the woman who woke him up from whatever bachelor-daze he was stuck in and I had to persuade him to entitle me the title I wanted.

In pushing for a man to make me his, to be what he desired, and what I thought was attractive to him – I stopped focusing on if I actually wanted a relationship and became more intrigued by the challenge of roping in this character. Of being convincing enough by putting on a charade that I was calm, cool, collected, and aloof , when in all actuality, I’m anything but most of those things. In all of my dating experiences prior, as soon as I realized he made me nervous in the best of ways – I was ready to have the girlfriend title. In fact, it became much more important than any other title – friend, sister, daughter, student, editor, or employee – I may have had at the time.

But now, it seems the title I enjoy the most, that I feel fully entitled to – is single. Incredibly, proudly, surprisingly, happily solo.

Maybe the reason I feel a sense of entitlement to the single title is because I had to work for it. More so, because I really got to know what it meant to be single before I determined that yes, indeed, that’s what I wanted. I had to go through nights where I didn’t think I’d ever be able to fall asleep due to my heart that was pounding so hard, I was sure it would never stop hurting. I had to give someone every single bit of hope and trust inside of me, only to realize they weren’t deserving of it, nor did they really want it. I had to fall in and out of love, both with myself and with the parade of men who for a while, defined my life. I had to be willing to put myself through the very worse part of being in a relationship, take a chance on what felt like fate, and promise myself that no matter what happened, I’d still be able to stand again. I had to face some pretty harsh realities about myself, how I approach love, and the lessons I’ve learned from loving and losing, believing and grieving.

And most importantly, I had to get to a point where it didn’t matter whatsoever what title I had, as long as I stopped putting all of my energy toward becoming someone’s girlfriend. I had to turn away from searching for the love I thought would complete me, would make me a better person, would give me the confidence I wanted, and decide that that love is only possible from within.

Today, I know it isn’t about the man anymore. It’s about me. Instead of worrying about being entitled to a title, I instead try and determine if someone is up to my standards of being my partner, my man, my lover, my boyfriend, or even my man friend. They aren’t just entitled to a place in my life, my bedroom, or my heart – those are places that must be earned with something I’ve never given enough credit to…time.

So yes, I’m happy with my single title. And unlike other titles that must be given to you, this is one I decided for myself I was entitled to. But should you ever meet me, I won’t lead with “Hi, I’m single,” because though it is something that’s part of me, just like being a woman, a friend, and a writer – most importantly, I’m me. I’m Lindsay. And that’s a title that’ll never change.

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