Making It is Living It

Somehow, no matter how old I get or how diligently the city attempts to jade me – the simplest pleasures of life still outweigh the bad. Like yesterday morning when I took one step out of my brownstone and felt the soft snowflakes land on my face, and for the first time in a very long time, I remembered how carefree I used to feel.

The part of North Carolina I’m from was rarely blessed with snow days, and I can remember attempting to fall asleep as quickly as possible, and waking up incredibly early – just to see if maybe, just maybe, the weatherman was right. And of course, to determine if I was free from school for a day and could spend an afternoon sledding down the bumpy hill in our backyard, followed by my mother’s hot cocoa and my father’s chicken noodle soup.

It wasn’t until college that I really experienced what a blizzard could be like and if I’m honest, going to school at Appalachian State was probably a brilliant idea, for many reasons, but one huge one: to prepare me for cold winters in New York. Though it was surprising to have any classes cancelled because you knew what you were getting into when you signed your tuition check, but when we did – my friends and I tucked ourselves away in our apartments, watching America’s Next Top Model marathons, sipping on mimosas, and strategically putting off any homework. One of these monumential snows, Mr. Idea and I were snowed in, and though it sounds like I’m an old man exaggerating – we literally had to walk a mile to the nearest grocery store so we could eat for the week. He let me borrow his thick socks and pants that were way too big on me, so I wouldn’t freeze to death, and in return, I agreed to make his favorite cake. See, give-and-take, right?

But in Manhattan, having a get-out-of-work for free day doesn’t happen very often. To be a New Yorker, you must adapt the Postal Service mentality too – rain or shine, sleet or snow, we will arrive at the office at nine, frozen and already dying to go, yet making our boss the dough! With my high-heeled boots (yes, even in this weather), layered sweater dress, tights, gloves, scarf, and earmuffs – I walked a little slower to the train to enjoy the snow. I felt the incredible desire to spread my arms wide, raise my face to meet the cloudy sky, stick out my tongue, and let the flakes fall against me. I considered it for a moment, but then remembered my age, and decided I could just happily smile before going underground.

As I watched the people hurrying to escape the snow and ice, I thought about how I’ve spend the majority of my life reaching for and rushing toward something. I have never been complacent, stationary, or satisfied with the idea of just “being.” In a way – I have to figure, while I’ve lived, I have also been waiting for the life I wanted to actually start. Between sledding and studying for finals -I somehow managed to stop experiencing the freedom life offers and started focusing on tomorrow, more than today. In such a short amount of time, my life, who I am, what I want, and how I perceive my future has completely changed. Sure, I’m the same lady at heart, but I have to wonder – did I ever really enjoy those moments of peace? Of rest? When the snow gave me every excuse to do nothing, and now the same snow doesn’t give me any leeway? There has always been an end-goal, a plan, an unattainable person, title, or place I wanted to make available to me. There has always been a belief that once I reached this certain thing – whatever it may be – that’s when I could breathe. That would be when I made it.

And yet, as a 20-something who is now working as an editor, propelling her career, residing in the city she’s always loved – have I actually stopped pursuing the next big thing? Perhaps I’ve let finding Mr. Charming fall to the wayside (currently, anyways), but aren’t I still going and going, without a true destination in sight?

Do I feel like I’ve made it? Or maybe a better question is – what does “making it” even mean?

Since moving to New York, actually landing a job, and figuring the rest out as a I go – I haven’t remained still. There have been afternoons where I admired the city and all of its beauty; evenings wrapped around Mr. Possibility; nights spent pouring out blogs posts because I just can’t stop writing (even if I wanted to); – but there have also be all-nighters spent reading about how I can be a better editor, a stronger writer, and a profitable blogger. Though I’m very happy and proud of the things I’ve been able to accomplish in a remarkably short amount of time – there is always more that I want. And I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad quality to have – I would much rather seek more and therefore give and receive more, than to never help anyone (including myself). But if the constant pursuit for who I hope to be becomes more powerful than who I am right now – then I’m missing what will probably be one of the most brilliant decades of my life.

If I don’t stop to smell the roses – or play in the snow- am I fearing that success or love won’t come, and therefore keeping myself from believing that everything is really, truly, on the right track?

One of my dearest friends, L, when I get upset about a disappointing dude, a setback in my career, or when everything I thought was steady, crumbles, she tells me: “Linds, you just fake it until you make it.” This is her kind way of letting me know that sometimes, even when we don’t feel like we’re doing the right thing or heading in the right direction, if we have faith that all is well and going according to a divine plan, one day, we’ll stumble across what we we’re looking for. Or across something we never thought we wanted, but turns out to be perfect for us.

What if we don’t ever actually feel like we can stop pushing for something more or reach the decision to do absolutely nothing? Maybe “making it” is an illusion to keep us shooting for those things, those people, those addresses, those vacations or those faces of children we’ve yet to meet. Maybe to make it, we must realize and accept, we never really will.

And if we can just rest assured that if we keep going, if we don’t surrender when the days are long and discouraging, if we don’t stop being our own biggest fan – then we can also realize that in the middle of our going and pushing, hustling and bustling – it really is okay to raise our pretty face up high, close our eyes, and embrace the serenity of the now.

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Until We Meet Again

Yesterday morning, as I rolled (or dragged) my red suitcase up and down several flights of stairs on my way to the airport – I took a mini-trip back in time.

Almost a year ago now, I lugged this same suitcase (along with two additional ones) from North Carolina all the way to a friend’s couch in Brooklyn. I distinctively remember stepping out of the cab on my friend’s block and the March air hitting my face as if it was saying: “What the hell are you doing? Don’t you know you don’t have a job? Or a place to live for very long? Are you out of your mind?”

Maybe I was crazy (perhaps I still am) – but somehow, I found myself moving those same three suitcases into an apartment uptown and starting my first day at my job, three weeks later, on April 5. When I think of my journey to New York, I’m often dumbfounded by how, for whatever reason, by whatever twist of good fortune and faith, all that I wanted…happened.

The decision to move to the city wasn’t ever really a choice in the first place. I made my mind up a long time ago that I would live in New York (not a borough, but Manhattan), I would be a writer (magazine first, then an author), I would run in Central Park (except in the winter), and I would find the love of my life.

And I believe I have. If anything challenges me, brings me unsurpassed joy, makes me feel adored and lucky – it is the boisterous and beautiful island of Manhattan.

Leaving yesterday, I felt a sense of dread. Of guilt. Of sadness. Because here I was, leaving my love at such a special time of year. I could hear the city saying, “But Lindsay, don’t you still love me? Don’t you want to spend your Christmas here? Look at how much we’ve been through together, why are you going back to the South?”

Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to see my mother’s and father’s face light up when they see me walking towards them or celebrating the holidays with childhood friends. I could almost taste the sweet tea, the biscuits with honey, and the fried-is-fine-by-me seasoning. I was looking forward to having a puppy to keep me company at night, sleeping in until 10 in the morning, and of course – Christmas morning with those I enjoy the very most.

But as that airplane took off, as I watched the glittering skyline disappear behind the tailwind – it was as if I was abandoning a piece of my heart. While I didn’t tear up, I did sigh and dive into my New Yorker magazine which outlined 20 reasons why I should love New York. I did thoroughly enjoy the issue (as I do every year), and it inspired me to make a list of my own.

So, my dearest love, since I’m leaving you on your own for ten days, don’t forget just a handful of reasons why I adore thee:

1-     At any given moment, you can step outside of your office, onto the train, or just walk down the street and hear a few different languages.

2-     It harbors and caters to the artists, to the dreamers, to the crazies, and those who dare to light up the lives of others. The passionate and determined are the successful.

3-     While the single women may outnumber the single men, it is nearly impossible to not be bought a drink on a Friday night. Hmm – or really any night.

4-     I can go anywhere in the five boroughs for $2.25 (soon to be $2.50, sigh).

5-     Even though it has a bad rep, there is always someone there to open a door, help you carry something heavy, or hold the train or elevator door open for you.

6-     The moments on the train when you see another train on a different rail and catch the eye of a stranger – fully knowing you will probably never see them again, but in that second, you shared a moment that somehow, in a strange way, meant something.

7-     An entire afternoon can be spent in Central Park and there is never enough time to give any museum a justified tour.

8-     If you’re feeling down, upset, discouraged, or just frankly pissed off – walking through an un-crowded portion of the streets will energize you.

9-     Those moments where the city seems silent. And those where it is filled with so much enthusiasm you have to smile.

10- Heels are not only accepted, but highly encouraged and those fashions that were frowned upon in the south, are gladly gawked at here.

11- Heartbreak be damned – there are more than enough pastry, ice cream, cookie, and Gelato bakeries or cafes. Not to mention endless amounts of fantastic wine and interesting people to meet who will force you to forget about Mr. Yesterday.

12- Staring in the city is not only allowed, but supported. And the views, where they be characters or skylines, are beautiful and entertaining.

13- If you have a day where you stop believing in love, all you have to do is look around. There is kindness, compassion, and romance on every corner.

14- You can decide to be in your own little world with headphones and high heels or simply take them off and be welcomed back into the Manhattan universe.

15- The city forgives you if you curse it one minute and apologize the next. Doesn’t even ask why – it just gets it.

16- If ever in doubt, throw up a hand, get a cab, and go home.

17- Possibilities lurk even on buses coming to and from the airport.

18- There are a million and one resources to help you find not only friends, but people who have similar interests and passions that you do.

19- You can play tourist whenever you want and then decide they are the enemy the next morning.

20- After a while, or maybe just a short span, the lights, the wonder, the people, the food, the sights, the experiences – still feel just as magical, but even more so, they start to feel like home.

And that’s what it is. The love I always wished for, the address I used to doodle in my notebooks, the bylines I use to imagine – are not the dreams of a young girl anymore, but the reality of, the home for – a woman. Even better, a single woman, who has the freedom, the opportunity, the brilliance, and the bravery to tackle this location, this decade of being a 20-something – on her own.

Well, maybe not completely alone. This city will always be on my side, calling me ridiculous, yet sweetly reminding me: “You’ve got this, lady.

And just so you know, New York, I’ve got you, too. And I’ll be back – I may bring you a little sweet from the south to up your charm a notch. Until we meet again…