It started out as just any other ordinary day.
As I usually do on the weekends, I woke up around 11, laced my running shoes, and went for a run in the park. It was one of those mid-afternoons that are rare in New York -the air smells strikingly clean, the noise is at a bare minimum, and distractions seem more like far fetched ideas than obstacles. After a brisk four miles, I settled into a local coffee shop for water and iced coffee while devouring that week’s edition of New York magazine. Unconcerned with my lack of makeup or my unwashed hair, I sat out on their patio, enjoying the spring sun and the tulips starting to bloom in the city’s versions of “gardens.” My North Carolina-roots, however, may always make me a snob to such greenery – especially with the endless rolling hills I grew up with in my backyard.
Once I was thoroughly filled with ideas, news, and midtown’s people-watching debriefing for the day, I caught the downtown train to the West Village, where my cozy and classic one-bedroom was waiting for me. Along with Henry, my miniature mutt I rescued from the Long Island animal shelter a year back. Not much of an athlete, but more of a hunter of falling leaves and city-street grime, he sadly doesn’t get to partake in my days-off rituals, but he’s there in spirit and dog hair. Following a much-needed shower, a conference call to the UK to set up the following week’s speaking engagement and travel arrangements, and a play date with Henry – my friend and fellow editor rang to make sure we were still on for the gallery viewing, along with our signature wine and Chinese food meal with the regular group of ladies. Still smitten that somehow, everything managed to work out in its own way – perhaps not as I planned – but here I was, living where I wished, able to call myself a real writer (and get paid for it), and have the most wonderfully dynamic collection of friends and adventures.
A few hours and cocktails later, I found myself seriously considering purchasing a painting in a new exhibit hidden away in Chelsea at a unknown, yet trendy establishment. This portrait, of a woman in a yellow sundress, with the city cascading infinitely behind her made me remember the days of my fresh beginnings in New York – and of the path I decided to take to reach the place I was now. Champagne in one hand and the other resting on my hip, with my head tiled slightly, I became so engrossed in memories of what was, that I let my program slip out my grasp.
And it was in that instance, where the sheets went flying towards the ground, catching me off guard, and I knelt quickly in my tall Louboutins to gather my mess – that he realized he had just laid eyes on the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Of course, he told me such a thing many, many years later when that first glimpse of luster hadn’t necessarily lost its effect, but had evolved into something more profound and meaningful: love. And not just love, but the love.
When I first started this journey, I had grown exhausted of romantic illusions. As quite the daydreamer with a highly overactive imagination, I could design the scenerio of fate’s course, like the one above, in a single moment. Anything and everything I did, each move I made, man I went on a date with, or stranger who locked eyes with me, had the potential to be part of this grand story that I so badly wanted. So thoroughly was convinced I needed.
Then, I decided that to be cured of the love addiction qualities, of these self-defeating thoughts that robbed me of confidence and worth – I needed to cut out the dreaming. I needed to learn how to be completely self-sufficient, completely independent, completely, madly, totally, fully, in love with myself. This way, I would never feel like I needed a man, I would never let anything a guy did or didn’t do rule my life, and I definitely wouldn’t waste energy and time when the man in question refused to do the same. I would let my emotions fall far, far behind and put my rational, reasonable, and mature self in the forefront battling all of the dating wars to come, instead of letting a little thing called desperation step up to bat.
But, in admitting the nature of my wrongs, I’ve realized as time and steps have passed…you need your heart as much as you need your head. And as important as actually thinking through and doing something is, dreaming and believing are part of learning to really live, and really love, too.
I used to get caught up in visions of what a grand meeting would be for my hubby-to-be and I and when days, weeks, months, and well, years would pass without anything spectatuclar really happening, I’d start to doubt the possibility that something so magical, so wonderful, so beautifully designed by the heavens themselves could ever happen. And then inevitably, I’d start questioning if I was worthy of such a thing, or if love and all of that jazz I’d hoped for since I was a little girl was even meant for me at all.
But maybe what I forgot to take into consideration was the central theme of all of my fantasies: when the charming Mr. Right found me, bumped into me, came to my rescue, or met me – I was happy. Or more specifically, I was enjoying my life, doing something I loved, and content with whatever point in time I was existing in. The reason this man, whoever he was or will be, found me irrestistble because I was radiating a confidence that derived not from him, but from me.
Perhaps in every version of happily ever after I’ve created, I forgot that romantic bliss started with self-love. And while my obsessions led me to believe it was all about the man, the reality of my longings were actually all about me. So when I became disappointed or intolerably lonely, it wasn’t due to the fact a knight on a horse didn’t come riding up the subway tracks (though, I’d love to see that, just for giggles), but because I wasn’t searching or demanding happiness with myself. I was waiting and waiting for the ending, when I hadn’t even given thought to the beginning.
Do I still hope there is a true love out there, somewhere in this city I adore so much? Do I still find myself, from time-to-time brewing up a story I’d greatly enjoying playing out in real life? Do I still allow my emotions to overtake my practicalities? Do I still find myself delusional in illusions? Do I still occasionally feel quite alone, even though I know I’m not?
But now, at least, I have a rather brilliant, mostly secure, and increasingly interesting prologue, that one day, if I’m blessed, will turn into an ending that no story, no movie, no book, no creation of my playful mind, and no blog, could ever portray effectively. Even if that conclusion, ends with me standing solo – because no matter what page in my story I turn, there’s already a love inside and a hope for a love that’s outside of me…that’ll never stop writing more.
P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently this year. We’ll make it more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.