Without Any Apologies

Sitting across from Dr. Heart at my favorite Thai place near NYU on Saturday night, I caught myself sneaking a smile at him when he wasn’t watching. The restaurant, though not really known for their food but rather for the good cocktails and candlelit ambiance  is perfect for quiet conversation and a hearty, boozy meal. Which is exactly why I picked it for dinner, and because it was right near our next stop: Webster Hall to see Lindsay Sterling.

He caught me looking at him and asked about my intentional studying and if I had drawn any conclusions. I flirted back, telling him I would give my full assessment by the end of the night. This is how our canter is — quick and playful, then serious and deep. It’s really the best kind of start to something that could ultimately be something: half-fun, half-intense. He picked up and kissed my hand, called me gorgeous and went back to his sake. It was the start of a great evening that had followed a great day of sledding in Central Park’s beautiful blizzard and eating pancakes at a cheap diner near my apartment.

We were going to build a snowman until Dr. Heart took a freezing fall into a hidden puddle at the end of a hill, leaving him soaked and very cold and leaving me laughing the whole 10 blocks home. We walked hand-in-hand while admiring the snow and popping a kiss here, racing each other up steps there. I had enjoyed every little, single detail of that day and our meal so far except for one thing.

His hat.

It seems like a petty thing really, especially now as I sit down to write this blog. Though Dr. Heart normally has a good sense of style, for whatever reason, he selected a brown hat to prance around town in — and well, I really didn’t like it. So while I was admiring his devilish good looks (as my grandmother would say), I was also secretly wishing that brown paper-boy looking thing on his head would have stayed at my apartment. And Lucy would have somehow snagged it and you know, do her dog destroying dance.

But no, it was there in our cozy little corner of the restaurant and it was there again, in our cozy seated VIP table at the concert. While we were sipping on Stella and watching the crazy light display below, he let me know he was going to the bathroom to take off the hat because he was hot. I tried not to smile too eagerly, but I’m sure he could detect me grin from the other side of the hall where he was headed. At the end of an amazing set, we started to layer on the half-dozen winter pieces that make New York City bearable in February, and as I reached for my gloves, I noticed that hat hanging out on top of my purse. I offered to hold onto it for him — yes, probably with grim intentions floating in my head — and as he went to retrieve it, I must have frowned.

You don’t like this hat, do you? He asked as a sly smile wrapped up his cheek. Surely blushing from pure guilt, I shook my head and confessed, I kind of hate it. He pulled me closer to him, nibbled on my forehead and laughed, It’s okay, you know, to say how you feel. In fact, I want you to.

There are a lot of things about my experiences with Dr. Heart that are very (very!) different from my relationship with Mr. Possibility, and for me, the biggest one isn’t exactly the doctor himself, but how I at like myself around him. Now, a hat isn’t exactly a deal-breaker (though if you saw it, you may disagree. Ugh), but other things could be for me. And while I really am starting to care about Dr. Heart, I also have no problem being very honest not only about what’s going on in my head, but also about what’s important to me.

In other words, I’m finally speaking for myself in a relationship instead of catering to the every wish,  desire and demand of the man I’m wooing. Instead — I’m letting him woo me, first.

It really doesn’t sound like such a novel concept and really, it’s not. But for me — the girl who wanted to be the dreamiest dream girl that ever walked the streets of Manhattan — letting go of being perfect and being strong enough to show someone what I really think, what I really want and what I really need is a huge step in the right direction.

In the past, I needed to hold onto a guy so closely that I wouldn’t dare test his feelings by spending time apart from him. But with Dr. Heart, when I need a “me” night because I’m stressed from work and aching from pushing myself too far running, I let him know and lets me have my space (and provides a bottle of wine, just for me, to relax). I used to agree with ideas or let behaviors that I knew could turn into bigger annoyances down the road (ahem, not cleaning up after oneself) brush off my shoulder instead of addressing them. And yet, with Dr. Heart — we aren’t afraid to sweetly explain to each other what’s bothering us — even if it’s as simple as, Hey, those boots covered in snow, don’t put those in my doorway. I have always tried to make a guy feel extremely comfortable by making sure everything was just-right: my look, my apartment, my manners — but now, I don’t always fetch water for Dr. Heart (he knows where the Brita lives), I don’t have to wear makeup 24/7 (he does need to know what I look like without it) and if everything isn’t in it’s assigned place in my bedroom, well, then it’s not (it might be cleaner the next time he comes over).

Sometimes, being this at ease and being able to really just let myself be myself and speak for myself makes me feel like I’m not trying that hard. And you know what? I’m not. I’m still sweet and playful. I do little things like leaving surprise notes in pockets and Thinking of you text messages. I still cook dinners and sometimes, come straight home to cuddle in bed. I’m still supportive and understanding, kind to the bottom of my heart and yes, selfish from time to time. I’m not always in the best of moods or always in the mood but I still a girl worth dating.

Because that’s just who I am — and maybe, showing all of those characteristics will lead to a relationship where it’s fine to be… me. Without any apologies, at all.

(And hopefully, without Dr. Heart’s hat, too.)

Only TWO more days left to submit your Valentine!!!! Get to it — you deserve a love letter from yourself :)

Champagne & Pretty Things

Tonight is a New York wonderment – Fashion’s Night Out. It’s the brainchild of the iconic Ms. Wintour and the headache of every editor who had anything to do with fashion or beauty. The idea is that everyone should have access to fashion, and while we can’t all be front row at Chanel’s show, we can go to the Chanel store in Soho and drink the bubbly and admire things we can’t afford. Last year, I met Vera Wang and my desire to meet a fashion designer was fulfilled.

This year, I’m taking it easy – only hitting a few places with M, including a Barbie Bus that I’m super-duper excited about. This season FNO holds a special place in my heart, reminding me of the fun I’ve always had in New York and giving me a break from the melodrama that’s been my life the last few weeks.

Tonight is only about two things: champagne and pretty things. And for the next few hours, that’s all I really need.

PS: I’m looking for other Love & Sex bloggers to participate in an exciting thing for my REAL job. Email me your deets.

Much Ado About Nothing-Ness

As you read this, I’m somewhere in the country where it’s very quiet and neither my cell phone or my Wifi works.

Yep, y’all – I’ve apparently gone back to my roots, yet they seem to be stuck in the North instead of in the South where I thought I left them. Mr. Possibility and I have gone away for the long holiday weekend and as I sit here on Thursday, scheduling out blogs and attempting to pack for the mountainside where I’ll apparently be sipping something cold and fruity, my stomach is churning.

I always wanted to “go away” with a boyfriend. It had such a cache to it – just the two of us, somewhere not too far away, but far enough out of the city to escape the noise and New Yorky-smells. And yet, with a suitcase void of heels and cocktail dresses, fancy jewelry, or rouge of any sort, I’ve accepted that while I’m good at many things, relaxing isn’t one of them. This trip is supposed to be casual and cool, no expectations, no plans, no deadlines, no blog, no distractions, just nature and the sound of sweet stillness to put us to sleep early with full bellies and hearts at ease. It’s not about rushing or attending trendy events together or testing how far I can walk in six-inch heels on Manhattan sidewalks. Though that’s not as taxing as silence, if you ask me.

And I haven’t left yet, so maybe I’ll feel differently this time tomorrow when I’m being serenaded by crickets underneath a shiny blanket of stars – but right now, I’m a little worried. What will I do with all that….nothing-ness?

My mother, all of my friends, Mr. Possibility, and my boss all tell me I have to learn to relax. It’s a trait that I’ve never been able to master, though I admittedly haven’t really given it my best effort, either. I like having a million things to do, I like taking on time-consuming and demanding tasks (say, writing a blog every single day for a year, even when the country steals you away and you crank out four in one day), being really involved in things I’m passionate about, and never tiring of excelling in every avenue of my life. I love a full calendar, I love feeling busy, I love being able to fall right to sleep because I worked all day long. Because I used my brain, I used my body, I used my energy to put enthusiasm into all that I did. I’m the girl who goes-goes-goes and when it’s time to just stop, to breathe a little, to have a mini-vacation with her possibility, it’s a challenge.

I’m not sure why exactly I’m this way. Maybe in ten years, I’ll lose some of the ambition or that adrenaline that’s fueled me from a small town in Western North Carolina to one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Maybe children will slow me down or maybe I’ll decide to be one of those women whose responsibilities include brunching, serving as volunteer chair on a charity, and being the ideal Pilates student. Who knows. But my semi-tired bones aren’t interested in relaxing – they want to keep pushing.

Because when I relax, when I sleep in until the middle of the afternoon, when I take a night off from networking, mingling, and gym-ing – I feel lazy. I feel like I’m missing opportunities, I’m missing events, I’m missing the lifestyle that I moved to create, that I pay so much in rent to be a part of. Why waste it by spending time doing nothing? I feel guilty getting manicures or pedicures, buying facials or massages because the time I spent laying still, I could spend making waves or improving my life. I could write articles or pitch stories, volunteer more, meet more people, have more sex – and here I am, just being stationary?

Sigh.

But, perhaps I should give relaxing a shot. Even if I can’t pack anything glamorous or studded. Even if most of what’s in my designer red suitcase is cotton. Even if I’m not high maintenance and actually enjoy fishing and walking barefooted in the grass, yet would prefer to wear a cute dress while doing it. Even if Mr. Possibility probably has no idea what he’s getting himself into by taking me to the woods for a weekend…

…he just thought he was dating a true Southerner. Turns out, this girl is a little more New York than she (or anyone else) thought.

Daily Gratitude: Today, I’m thankful for my energy, my spirit, and the drive that always takes me a little bit too far. 

Be True To Yourself

My very first girlfriend in New York is a gal named E.

We went to the same college, though she’s seven years my senior, so at different times. When I moved, I emailed anyone and everyone I could, asking for job leads and to introduce me to people they knew in New York. As desperately as I wanted to be an editor, I also didn’t want to be alone in my favorite place either. A college newspaper alumnus put me in contact with E and ironically, on the day I was offered my first job, E and I had plans to meet for dinner and drinks.

As a designer who has pieces currently available at Anthropologie and an impeccable sense of style, E may be tiny in stature, but she’s big in heart and personality. When we first met, I was amazed at the easy flow of the conversation and by her tenacious spirit; not to mention she shared the same affinity for the city as I do – a quality that will never be old to me.

We now have drunken memories and inside jokes, trips we’ve taken and friends we’ve introduced one another to – but she’ll always be the first lady I called a girlfriend on this island. For that reason, she’ll always be part of my life.

And also because she’s totally, always, completely herself. She never makes excuses and she does what she says she’ll do, doesn’t do what she says she won’t. Call it stubborn, I call it brilliant and beautiful.

Case and point, this Sunday when E, M, R, and I headed to Long Beach for a day of bathing and bubbly goodness. The weather could not have been more perfect and though the day started with M’s mad dash to catch the departing train (she made it with a minute to spare), it was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon: burning our skin into a nice shade of pale/tan and chit-chatting in girl speak. After four hours of laying out, cheeseburgers the size of my face, and ice cream cones overly priced at $3.75 for a single scoop, we caught the train back to Penn.

To pass the hour trip – which we were never charged for luckily enough – we decided to play “Would you rather?” in true mature, 20-something fashion. Of course, this was my idea as I can’t stand idle quietness during any trip, unless its 12 hours long or something absurd like that. Does that make me an obnoxious traveling companion? Probably so. But does that make for good conversation? Totally.

Someone proposed the question of: “Huge diamond or designer dress?” We all traded a very large rock for the gown, but my friend E added in: “You know, I have no desire to have a wedding.” Disgusted, my friend R stammered, “Whaaa? How could you not want a wedding?? You don’t want to have a big party and get married in front of all your friends and family?”

Calmly, E replied, “I want a reception to celebrate, but I don’t want a wedding. I don’t have any need for it. I’m more concerned with the marriage.” R continued to quiz her, asking if she wanted a wedding dress (sure, but it doesn’t need to be white or long, just nice), and who would be her witness (you can have friends and family in the courthouse), and if something had happened to her to wreck her dreams of having a wedding (nope).

R and E are obviously very different and at times, I’m surprised they get along with one another – but as M and I sat and listened to their conversation, I felt a certain affinity for E. Not wanting to have a big, ol’ fat wedding – Greek or not – isn’t the norm today. Especially in an age where the grander the wedding, the better, and if you’re not registered at three places you’re damned, and if you don’t have a wedding website, all of your friends on Facebook are annoyed they can’t stalk you (even if you haven’t talked for years). People go into debt for weddings, they take out loans, and they become bride and groom-zillas. Couples break up because they plan a wedding. Women go into depression after it because there is nothing spectacular left to look forward to.

But that’s where the wedding industry has it wrong and where E has it right: it’s not about the wedding day. It’s about all the days that follow it. It’s not about being the bride, it’s about learning to be yourself while being a wife.

And in her true self, she spoke that simple wisdom so many tend to forget, and maybe something I’ll eventually have to remind myself of should that happily-ever-after ring my buzzer. As for E, I have no doubt she won’t have a wedding with a man who is much himself as she is herself, and I can’t wait to drink her signature Jack & Coke at her non-reception…reception.

Rough Around the Edges

A few weeks ago, I was out for happy hour drinks with the clan when my attention turned to an attractive brunette entering the bar. Wearing an off-white Diane von Furstenberg dress and peep-toe Jimmys, she gracefully found her table and tossed her locks as she sat down. The little makeup she wore highlighted her natural rosy-tint and her group of friends matched her easy elegance. She carried a Balenciaga clutch that she carefully sat on the table, reaching in to find her lipstick and apply it subtly without anyone noticing.

But I noticed. And I was surprised my friends didn’t see me turn green in envy as I watched her from across the room, wondering when I’d finally feel how I imagined that woman feeling. She seemed completely together, confident and assured, stable financially and otherwise, and beauty radiated around her.

Me, on the other hand? On the other side of the bar, away from the reserved tables she was welcome to join with sparkling wine and towers of expensive liquor, sipping on my signature pineapple and vodka (with a cherry) or house Merlot, I’m not like that woman. I’m not refined and utterly comfortable in my own shoes, though I often lust to walk a mile in someone else’s designer ones. I’m not a polished Manhattanite with a high-paying job, trust fund, or the ability to save every penny.

I’m rough around the edges. And sometimes, as much as I attempt to hide it, I know it shows.

I don’t always think ahead and I sometimes see each decision as the end-all-be-all to my future and definitely to my present. I freak myself out more than I calm myself down, and when it comes to thinking about the big picture instead of letting the little one weigh me down, I’m guilty as charged. I don’t keep my purse organized and clean, my clothes are not sorted by color, and my dishes are hardly washed before bed.

And while I’d like to think I’m quite poised, I don’t sit calmly and laugh in a not-too-high, not-too-soft tone, and I don’t (or at least I don’t think) I exude a sense of maturity and elegance. I don’t think about how I’m perceived or if I’m stomping in my heels instead of cascading, and if I’m greeting friends, I almost always insist on a hug. I’m even starting to get used to this Northern kiss-on-the-cheek salutation that’s not customary in the South.

I can’t decide if I like the way I am or if I’d rather be a smoothed out. Could I chisel away those pieces that keep me feeling like the woman I know I am, just don’t always show? Or is it that like a good wine, I’m really just going to get better with age? With more experiences and more trials that give me the skills and know-how I need to find my own footing. To find grace?

Is it better to be a little rough or finely polished? Or is there ever a happy medium between the two? Between maturity and immaturity? Between taking note of the little characteristics that go into making a person, and learning which of those qualities to tuck away until appropriate, or if appropriate at all? Between not feeling like you have to have the right thing to say, the right thing to do, and just saying what you want and doing as you please?

Am I a diamond in the rough….or just jagged?