Committed to the Now

I once dated a tall, tanned, and chiseled Australian. Our affair, was indeed an affair: short-lived and insanely passionate. He had an art with enticing, a knack for titillating, and an undeniable way of melting me in the palm of his hand. I didn’t expect more out of what we shared than what we did, but when we played show-and-tell, it certainly wasn’t kindergarten appropriate.

Maybe it was his accent or his blasé attitude toward most everything or his talent of reaching the depth of my heart and other parts in the same stride – but from the second we laid eyes on each other, the light was lit. He was my Foreigner and I was his Southerner, no other title, no other commitment, and no other anything required or effective to describe us. While I thoroughly enjoyed being romanced and teased in the short time we indulged in the company of one another, I was also constantly fretting.

The thing about dating a sexy guy from down under who enjoys going down under is that they don’t really have a concept of time. And though I know it isn’t accurate, I would almost attest to the fact that they don’t understand how to use a phone either. In person, they will fill up the room and then some, but when they’re out of sight, they might as well be totally out of mind, or out of your own mind you will go worrying. Sure, you will mostly likely see them again, but they know they’re lying when they promise to follow-up, and if you expect a long, drawn-out texting conversation during the workday, you’d be as poorly mistaken as I was. Things ultimately fizzled with the Australian because I couldn’t let go of myself enough to appreciate the joint affinity for what it was then.

Years later and a few less entrancing foreigners later, I discovered a theme that the States – or perhaps, just me – doesn’t seem to adapt to. In European countries and obviously with the Aussies, plans aren’t meant to be so concrete. This is an over generalization of several populations, but as a sweeping statement that could be utterly inaccurate (excuse me if that’s the case), foreigners aren’t as much concerned with what they want forever more, but what they want right now. They see life as more in the moment than a year or so from now, or even a week, if you’re the Australian.

I haven’t traveled a significant amount and most of what I’ve learned about culture has been from conversations with tourists in New York, through anthropology and sociology classes in college, and from being an avid reader of current events, as well as history. I don’t observe the ways of life abroad – though I’d love to – and my language skills are limited to English and almost-conversational Italian. But I will say from people I’ve met, what I’ve read, and what I assume – Americans don’t live as beautifully as many in other parts of the world.

And lately, for better or for worse, I’ve been living a little less American.

I’ve been unconcerned with the big picture and more focused on making decisions day-to-day, significant or insignificant, affecting my life greatly or not at all. I’ve liberated myself enough to enjoy carbohydrates to the extreme without feeling too guilty and I’ve accepted last-minute invitations to drink or dine, or to run or to nap. I’ve entertained online and in-the-store  decorating dreams of my soon-to-be new apartment, without worrying about price or budget, what’s practical or what’s not. I’ve spent lengthy amounts of time lounging, often alone naked in my own skin, not caring much about what I should be doing, but about what I wanted to do. And not what I want to do that will get me what I want tomorrow, but what I want…now.

And what I want in the moment transforms with the moment. I’ve changed my mind endlessly, I’ve noticed a dramatic shift in my tastes and my preferences in just the last six months, and I’ve adapted to the New York life more so since I started this blog than before I ever frequented WordPress daily. I haven’t planned out my entire weekend in fear that if I didn’t, I would be stranded home, by myself, feeling unsocial and unloved because really, being in the quiet company of myself doesn’t seem like a punishment as much as it does a prize. While I can’t go completely Australian by waking up at noon to lounge aimlessly as my Aussie once described his life prior to the States, other than what work requires me to do after hours, my after hours have been open. To taking a jog, meeting with a new or old friend, or discovering the art of being free from a penciled schedule.

These choices and this shift in my maturity have made me a little less committed. Not to my career, to this blog, to my friends, or to Mr. Possibility, but to myself. The only thing I’m really committed to is the me I am, now. I still put my needs before much anything else, as I should as a 20-something, but I’ve learned how to be less rigid in my own ways. We know people get stuck in their routines and mindsets, and if I can help it, I’d like to be open to change and growth for as long as allowed, if not forever.

But forever is a funny word, isn’t it?

Once we say we’ll do something, love somebody, live somewhere, or be someone forever – you’re attached to whatever and whoever that may be. Or maybe not so much in America, where everything seems to be reversible, excused, or divorce-able. But, overseas in nations where they may live dreamily and think more about wanting in an instant than wanting for a lifetime – once they decide to devote a lifetime, it’s taken seriously.

Because while they were busy not taking themselves or the pressing matters of 10 years from now too seriously, they were learning to listen. To the world and its people, to what makes them happy and satisfied, and what’s easy to move away from. Maybe that’s the trick the Australian was trying to teach me and I never could quite understand until now:

Listen to what you want, don’t be committed to being someone or something forever, and don’t worry about the next time you’ll get what you desire or if you will get it at all, and learn to celebrate your life, instead of wasting it. After all, it is the little things or in the Australian’s case, the not-so-little things, that really do serve their purpose right then, right at the right moment, and though you yearn for more, you’re happy just to of experienced it at all.

A Choice Just For Me

I recently attended my first talk show as an audience member. Going to live or pre-filmed shows has always seemed like the New York tourist experience to me – something you do when you’re staying at the Mariott and you rise at an unreasonable 3 a.m. hour to wait in the cold (or hummidity or rain) just to catch a glimpse of Regis & Kelly. I’m also not the biggest fan of television in general – I don’t have cable and I only use Hulu for a handful of sitcoms.

But when your company offers you the chance to leave the office for four hours, take away an armful of freebies, and have the chance to meet (or view from afar) a celebrity – I thought, why not? Due to privacy restrictions, I can’t reveal which show I attended, but it was geared toward cooking and the host was quite the villain in the kitchen.

Before being seated and organized in the rows based on the color of our clothes, audience members completed forms asking basic information. With my blue blouse I prayed would pop on camera and my pencil skirt, I attempted to fill out the yellow sheets across my hosed-legs. (For the record, without a clipboard, this is a task in itself.)

As I’m going through the questionnaire, I happily check “single,” give my email address, let them know how often I view the show (never, woops!), and how many people are in my household – one of their inquiries caught my interest.

In your home, who decides ‘what’s for dinner’?

Now, I realize when a brand and a show is built by developing the quality of life inside the home, this is an appropriate question to ask. It’ll let those who finance and develop new products determine if me, the ever-clapping, cheerful audience member, not only cooks for her family, but has one stiletto forcefully over her (and whoever she resides with) wallet.

As I confessed I was the one who decides what I place in my stomach each and every night, it occurred to me how many simple, unimportant decisions I make every day as a single woman. These choices do not initially shape my immediate future and in the grand scheme of my life, I’ll probably forget tens of thousands of the day-to-day decisions I arrive at. From what time I set my alarm and if I actually listen to its obnoxious tune, to what I buy at the corner market and how I manage my money- I shape my life, and everything in it, primarily considering myself and my future.

And one day, whenever I enter into a relationship – and most likely, marriage at some point – all of these simple actions, these considerations that don’t actually seem like concerns at the time – will stop being so me-focused, and more we-geared. Though at times I may desire a relationship, the thought of losing such an innocent independence and having to interject another person’s tastes and desires into each step I take – sounds exhausting.

When we’re in a relationship, when we fall in love, when we seek to find a suitable suitor – must we leave our independence on the table to cook up a couple?

I’ve been in a slew of wonderful and incredibly confusing relationships – some of which I left and others that ended much earlier than I hoped they would – but through them all, there’s been a trending complaint of each man: You just don’t need me enough. You don’t need me, you’ll go on to do these things you want and you’ll forget about me.

I think one guy even warned me I’d become cold, bitter, and heartless when I moved to New York. I think sometimes natives would prefer me to take on those qualities – but I doubt my Southern graces will ever allow hopefulness to completely leave my core fundamentals.

Nevertheless – when it comes to my hesitation to give away my single standards, is it because I’m afraid to give my heart away or to lose the independence I often take for granted? Is it because sometimes my jealousy and my lust outweigh my drive and the courage it takes to say when enough, is enough? Or is it because I see and know so many women who stop needing themselves, stop making an effort to have alone time, or to focus on their own self-growth, the second a man enters into their life? Without a doubt, I’ve made a dude the center of my universe before – but it isn’t a mistake I’d like to make again.

I’m not sure if a relationship can be defined as successful – if so, how would we measure it? By the number of children it produces? How long it lasts? How you come out of the hard times and celebrate those moments you know you’ll never find again? I can’t say what I think makes a relationship worth the trouble or worth the potential pain at the breaking point – but I do know that a relationship is one institution – where it be fireworks set a blaze or not – that needs compromise. And more so – it needs more than one person deciding how the course is run. Or how dinner is made. Or how much effort, understanding, compassion, and passion is needed to make the relations continue to be relatable.

A lot of times, the moment a relationship ends or fails or doesn’t last – it’s because one of the pair, lost themselves along the way. They stopped developing and entertaining those things, those beautifully unique interests and qualities that while they may attract the other person, they don’t belong to them.  Those independent and true-to-self notions belong to you. To me. To every single woman who after watching Runaway Bride decided she needed to know what kind of eggs she likes, without the advice of her man’s tastebuds.

The choices I make today are choices just for me. My daily schedule, my intake and my outake, the trains I board and the ones I depart, the runs I make a mile longer just because, and the extra hours I put into work because I can – are all decisions I’m allowed to be selfish about. All determinations I’m entitled to make. And for now, I chose to be single. I choose to never let any man – or person – dictate my everything, anymore. Even if he thinks that makes me undateable because I don’t seem to need him. Maybe he’s right, but I’d rather have a partner who values my love for him, my desire for his presence in my life, then my inability to function without him.

And one who appreciates that what’s for dinner isn’t nearly as important as what’s cooking not only in our kitchen, but in the food from our individual souls that we both bring to the table.