Call This Girl

Once upon a time on a Saturday night in New York, four brunettes met in the East Village for champagne, whiskey sours and tequila. The foursome knew better than to mix their alcohol – they were all past the age of 21 – but they danced and laughed and accepted free drinks as they were presented.

(They would regret that choice in 12 hours over coffee and bagels, but that’s neither here-or-there.)

Off they went into the irresistible New York night, wearing black but painting the town red with their lips and their winter-burned cheeks. A cab was hailed, a fair was paid, and this Upper West Side lady stepped out into this unfamiliar land that she avoids past- 8 p.m. on the weekends because the commute is just far too strenuous. But the clock almost stroke 12 by the time she left the chill to embrace the warmth of a beer hall…

… in Brooklyn.

A place she frequents more often as her friends flee Manhattan for bigger apartments and smaller rents, who leave the familiarity of the west and the east, midtown and downtown, to explore the industrial, artistic ruins of another borough.

She knew the train ride home would be more than an hour, but when in Brooklyn, one might as well embrace the grunge and order a beer. So in her mini and heels with a blue plunging neckline – looking damned out of place among checkered-shirts and Vans – she wiggled into a table, thinking that as we all get older, so will girls’ nights out, picking the comfortable locations instead of the sparkling ones. Three years ago, they probably wouldn’t have stepped foot in such an establishment, but the atmosphere is calm and mature, sharp and smart, and she felt more relaxed than she would have pinned up against a wall with loud, blaring music, charging $15 a drink.

Maybe it’s just the place she could meet a mate.

A Pilsner pint later, she managed to leave the table – in a somewhat ladylike fashion while straddling a bench- to find the nearest restroom…. quickly. But in her mad-dash in her tall boots, she rushed right past four or five tables, weaved in between giggling girls and ran smack dab into a guy.

A tall, handsome, blue-eyed man with a nice button-up and a nicer smile.

But before she could flash her own pearly whites or say something witty, he beat her to get the first words out: “Wow.  You’re intimidating.”

She gave him a confused look with a half-laugh, anticipating a punch line, and when he just repeated himself, she formed a rebuttal: “I’m not. Not really. I’m very sweet.”

“No, you’re intimidating.”

“Why?”

“I mean, look at you. I’m at a loss. You’re so intimidating,” he said, yet again. And with that, she gave him her best playful grin and tried to walk casually into what she thought was the bathroom door.

It wasn’t.

It was a painted door next to the Ladies Room. (Whoever decided that must have wanted to watch tipsy girls, like herself, attempt to walk through an imaginary door. Naturally, only in Brooklyn would the irony be appreciated.)

A few minutes later, the Lady of Intimidation forgot all about the tall stranger who labeled her a vixen before meeting her, but he didn’t forget: as she headed back to her friends, he was standing waiting for another encounter. After some clever banter and the exchange of the basics (what neighborhood, where are you from originally, what do you do), he inquired about the lady’s number.

And though it was almost 1 a.m., she couldn’t exactly recall his name and she didn’t intend to date another guy who lived across the east river, she decided if he really thought she was intimidating, she’d live up to it.

“You’re not going to remember this conversation tomorrow or me, you know.”

“How could I possibly forget?”

“I think beers number 4, 5 and 6 will probably contribute to the downfall of your memory.”

“See, intimidating.”

“But I’ll give it a shot, give me your phone.”

Then, even though it’s not quite her personality to be so incredibly forward, she saved her phone number under the name, “Call This Girl.”

“So all you have to do is read it and well, follow instructions.”

“I like that. I really like that. I won’t forget.”

And then the girl with her liquid courage, curly locks and flushed cheeks, stood on the tip-of-her-toes, kissed him, turned and returned to her friends, feeling empowered, happy and more like herself than she’s felt in a long while. The next day as she described the brief encounter to her friends and roommates, she discovered that she didn’t really care if she heard from Mr. Tall Drunk Man or not.

She didn’t care if he actually looked at his phone the next day and decided to take a chance on cheeky girl he found a bit foxy (or Tigar-y?). She didn’t overanalyze if she said the right thing or didn’t, if she came on too strong or if not sassy enough. She didn’t hover over her phone (or turn it off), waiting for a text message from a stranger she worked up in her head to be more.

Instead, she just savored one very small, yet one very, very important thing: she got her dating mojo back.

It might have taken more than a year, a few too many cocktails, dozens (upon dozens) of terrible dates, wasted tears and angry Gchats – but on a chilly January night in all places — Brooklyn — she teased the next chapter of dating in New York… and it flirted right with her. 

And perhaps, when the lady tells the city to call her, it might just remember her number.

This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize pack of beauty products and a Home Goods gift card! Learn more here. Submit here

It’s About Him (Not Me)

I’d like to think one of my better qualities is my ability to self-motivate. I’ve been known to give myself mini pep talks –admittedly sometimes out loud –encouraging myself to keep truckin’. And when I get in cheerleading mode, I become super focused, zoned-in, and shockingly quiet. I’d rather the outside world leave me alone to have my own private song-and-dance, without anything like reality interrupting me.

The only issue with being in hyper-concentrated-let-me-be mode is that inevitably, you gotta’ deal with other people. And you have to deal with them when they get in that mode, too. Mr. Possibility has been leading a busy life recently, putting him in the get-s***-done state of mind. Studying for a very difficult test that will help his career when he passes it, he’s been stuck in coffee shops and his apartment, only glancing at his beloved BlackBerry from time-to-time, and keeping himself entertained with the giant highlighter I picked up for him. He’s easily amused, apparently.

Anyway – because he’s under a lot of stress and is worried about a pivotal certification and I can offer no guidance on the subject matter, we haven’t been spending as much time together. And when we have been, tensions have been a tad high. We even officially had our first knock-down-drag-out fight last week. Some of the knick-picks have been his fault and some have been mine, but I’ve had to accept a very important fact that I should have learned from He’s Just Not That Into You.

It’s really not me. It’s him.

And this test, sincerely has nothing to do with me. It’s hard not to internalize the influence of everything else outside of a duo. Our lives don’t circulate around our relationships and the sun doesn’t depend on love to rise, but when the person you spend your freedom with needs to be distant for their own needs, how do you stop feeling like it’s you they want to get away from? How do you stop thinking you’re the cause and if only you could say the right thing, you could take away the worry? When truthfully, the only fix to ease the ailment is letting them mend their own wounds or get through their personal hardship with their own will.

That’s the thing about being focused – when you need to complete something – the only something to shift your mood, is you. I’m the same way, so if I can’t accept Mr. Possibility when he gets in that rut, then I’m being dishonest about who I am, too.

And if I think about it, our arguments have stemmed from not being able to relate and from outside factors that neither of us can really control. So with some tough personal love, I’ve decided that space is the best thing I can give him. With that separation, too, comes the liberty for me to relax, get more sleep, see my friends, get caught up on things I’ve let slide, and enjoy my own company. It also prevents unnecessary disagreements and falling outs that don’t need to fall apart.

Because life, loving yourself, loving someone else, dating, and even sex – they all have to be balanced, as René Descartes would say, to make the machine that is your body, function. And if not everything that goes on in your mind, your body, your existence, has to do with another person, then you can’t expect your significant person to make you the center of their everything. Nor, in my opinion, should you want them to.

Sometimes, someone can care about you greatly, but parts of their lives…just have nothing to do with you. And really, it’s okay for it to be about him, not about me.

This is What I Need

There are several theories that say women talk three times more than men. There are other studies that contradict that finding. I’m don’t really believe either, as I think it really depends on the person, and my mother has partly convinced me it is reliant on their sun sign (Geminis are apparently the most talky). Nevertheless, after having a discussion with my roommate and friend, A, after we both bickered with the leading man of our lives – I’ve concluded that in arguments, maybe the ladies do use their words more.

I’m not an argumentative person and it takes something pretty drastic to anger me. I tend to be pretty level-headed and understanding, and while I may be emotional from time to time, I’m hardly ever furious. But when I get pushed to that point or when something happens that makes me rationally (or irrationally) rationalize anger, I have this uncontrollable urge to work it out. Mainly because, I don’t really like to be upset. And really, I don’t like to have a lingering disagreement above my head or worse yet, above the bed. Intimacy and connections don’t build on tangled sheets and dysfunctioning thoughts.

As we commiserated over our shared current state, we talked about how men often just want to shut off, shut down, and let the problem or the discussion come to a stammering halt, and then pick up the next day, as if nothing happened. They throw out accusations that we’re being “too much” or we’re “overreacting” or we’re being “emotional” – when it reality, we’re just trying to express how we feel. Perhaps we show our stress differently than they do, and maybe there is evidence to claim we go overboard from time to time, but that doesn’t make us women, that makes us human.

So when we’re not getting the answer we want or the reaction we need, we ask the question a different way. We try a new approach. Healthy or not, we play off what we know will get them, what we know will evoke a response, and we go from there. And as it always does, the conversation prolongs, the issue persists and expands, and we’re left thirty minutes later, crying and frustrated – yet damned and determined to put this sad baby to bed. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure your exes have told you the same things they’ve all told me: “I can’t do this right now, we’re just talking in circles, let’s let this go for now.”

Even though I recognize the never-ending circular pattern, for whatever reason, I can never release tension until it is resolved. Worse than that though, I can never get myself to say five simple words:

This is what I need.

I’m not the only woman who feels this way. As women do and as A and I did recently, we talk to one another. We talk and talk, analyze and dissect, reach conclusions, make notes and plans, and share in our experiences together, no matter how significant or minute. And yet with all that jabbering and going around and around – we can never just flat-out, blatantly say what we need from someone.

Why is that?

Why is it so difficult to emotionlessly express exactly and precisely what we need? Why do we feel guilty for requesting more out of a man? Have we all been through so many bad relationships, guys who leave without notice, guys who end solid foundations over silly bumps, guys who aren’t worthy of our time in the first place, that we’re all so scared to do the wrong thing or ask for too much… that we never really demand anything?

It really is alright to need something.

And the men I’ve dated never seem to have issue telling me exactly what they need from me or what makes them happy. Shouldn’t I do the same? If relationships are equal partnerships, if we’re playing on the same level field, and going at it 50/50 – why can’t I be clear about what matters to me?

After all, if a guy can’t provide the things or the support that you need as an individual, he’ll never be able to be a functioning, giving, and dependable mate. So why put all the energy into resolving something or being available, when the other party doesn’t put in as much effort?

So, I’m challenging myself. I’ll continue to be understanding. Continue to be open and honest. Continue to be independent and self-efficient. Continue to love myself, even when I’m “too much” or “overreacting.” Continue to talk.

But instead of going around in circles without an ending point in sight, I’ll start being frank about what I need. After all, don’t I frankly give a damn?

How Wonderful Life Will Be

My hair soaked from a day spent soaking up the Southern sun and cool waters of a lake nestled in the valley of two mountain ranges. My arms tired from sailing and swimming, my lips chapped from the breeze that turns into wind when the direction catches you the right way. The smell of summer and the freckles that surprise me as quickly as they disappear when the season fades.

The contrast of cotton and water against my skin, my timeless zip-up jacket that’s fit me perfectly from age ten and beyond, the holes only noticeable to strangers, not to me. The sound of my dad’s contagious laugher as he tells me the same stories, sitting on the dock, watching the fireflys and the stars compete in the contest to see who can light up the dusk with the most sweetness.

After pitchers of lemonade made by my mother with help from Splenda and the fall of night, my head rests on my dad’s shoulder and I’m comforted by the smell of Old Spice. Unlucky catching fish, as we usually are, I find myself drifting to sleep as my dad quietly hums “Goodnight My Angel” into my ear, promising me of the days I’ve yet to experience. He sings me to sleep, telling me to dream of how wonderful my life will be, how wonderful it will be in the hours I can’t see passing, or in the moments that become memories as easily as they pass by.

And it is only with the reminder of morning sun shining in my eyes, walking down Broadway toward my job as my iPod plays that old familiar tune that I’m brought back to those endless summers growing up, where my dad was my best friend, and my greatest worry was being able to play in the water from early noon to night, and if we’d walk a mile to get ice cream sundaes on Sunday nights.

I never imagined my summers changing. When we’re living in whatever section of our life we’re in, it doesn’t seem like it will ever end, though. I would never be old enough to drive the golf cart by myself , much less a car. I would never be able to steer the boat without help from someone else, or take the Jet Ski out without parental supervision. I would never find myself going years without visiting the lake house that partly built me into the woman I am today. I would never see a summer without watermelon and hot dogs, dirty feet from the Georgia clay, and hair that hasn’t been washed in days because there was no need.

But I did. I took every vehicle for many rides, independently. I’ve only visited our vacation home twice in the last three years – my New York schedule and budget just hasn’t allowed more frequency. My days are often spent inside, at a desk, without feeling much of the beautiful weather that I could never stay away out of. Bills and boyfriends, savings and benefits, student loans and internships, trips and breakups, friends and falling outs, summer jobs and summer loves, seasons and reasons – they all come and they go, some with more longer-lasting affects than others.

I’m often reminded by my friends, my editors, my parents, of my age. I’m told how much I’ll change, how there are so many things that I don’t even know that I don’t know yet. It has irritated me beyond belief for a while, but I’m starting to accept it. They aren’t condemning me because I’m not yet in the deepest part of my 20s, but just kindly warning me of all that’s to come, of all I will become. Maybe not as sweetly as my dad serenaded me under the stars, but still, I dream of how wonderful my life will be. Even more wonderful than what it is now or as it was then.