I walked from 50th and 7th west to Hell’s Kitchen, listening to old music on my iPhone and silently reminding myself that yes, Frankie, the best is yet to come. I carefully avoided that street where Mr. P used to live — or rather, crash on some girl’s couch — in the months after we broke up. It’s on that block where my favorite South African wine bar with pretty white lights outside is. It’s on that block where I tried the only piece of sushi that’s ever made me sick. It’s on that block that on a smoldering summer day last year that I gave away yet another piece of my dignity to a man who never earned it.
I cursed those thoughts away last night, going uptown only to go back downtown, just so I wouldn’t have to walk past that door. It’s good exercise and it’s finally beautiful outside, I reminded my racing mind. Once I arrived at the Thai place, ordered a glass of wine and waited for my friend K who was stuck on a bus in traffic, I exhaled, relieved and finally, sat down for the first time in what felt like a long time.
I looked around the dimly lit place with overpriced entrees and acceltic decor, analyzing the scene before me. Groups of people still dressed up for the derby, others on first dates, one couple who barely shared a word, another who couldn’t stop laughing. Ladies in tight dresses like mine, men who shouldn’t have another shot of sake at 8 p.m. Champagne in the corner, cocktails to my right, a pile of menus to the left.
Sitting alone in a busy place, getting lost in a whirlwind of considerations and forgetting, again, to consider myself. I’ve had a hard time admitting it — much less writing it — but I haven’t been in the best of moods lately. I’ve felt guilty for being unsatisfied, for being even the least bit sad, for not being so extremely thankful for everything I’ve achieved, everything I have in my life. I’ve beat myself up over the fact that I’m bored, that I’m flustered, that I’m incredibly frustrated and yes, scared. I’m not the girl who backs down from a challenge and never one to face something without a little questioning, but when nothing is exactly wrong, yet nothing feels right, what’s a girl supposed to do?
I’m not sure, but I’m starting with tonight, I thought as I closed my eyes and I took a sip of wine. With the majority of my friends in budding or settled relationships, I’ve had to try harder to push myself to be social. To go out and mingle, to get out of my cozy little apartment with my cozy little dog so I didn’t cozy myself into complete solitary confinement. And luckily, my lovely — and freshly single — friend K was up for trying a singles mixer. The cure, I’ve found, for feeling funky, for not having what you want, for feeling trapped or suffocated by your own life, is to do something different. I’m not sure if my diagnosis or my prescription will work, but at least it’s better than Chinese and another Netflix movie I won’t actually like at the end of an hour and 31 minutes.
After dinner, we walked through Times Square and giggled at the lights and the tourists instead of rolling our eyes. If we were braving the crowd of a “20s and 30s Cinco de May Singles Party” just a block from the chaos of Broadway, we might as well be in good spirits. As expected, the guest list wasn’t very impressive and obviously far past 39 than what we hoped. While the men were primarily much (much!) older or very (very!) short, there were a few who hung around us long enough to pitch in a margarita and hold at least somewhat decent conversation. We didn’t care though — we were busy trying on sombreros and shaking maracas, listening to the odd collection of music and attempting to dance.
One overzealous man who was nice enough, but not enough to make me want to see him past the bar, kept trying to pull me into him to sway along. He’d try to get my attention or wrap his arm around my waist as I tried to move away, until finally, he pushed my Southern manners too far and annoyance won over. With one more tug, I turned around and said:
I just want to dance!
And there, with a glowstick wrapped around my head, three margaritas and a glass of wine in, people dancing around me and a drum booming, I nailed what it is that I’ve been feeling. I’ve been so terrified of nothing in my life ever changing. Of never making enough money to live by myself in an apartment I love. Of never feeling beautiful in my own skin. Of never meeting someone that’s special, of letting Mr. P haunt my memory forever. Of being the last single girl when everyone around me finds what they are looking for. Of never doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do, where I want to do it.
Of not being able to get away from the wall and dance. Of not being able to let go of all of these silly little fears to find my own beat. My own pace and my own moves. All this time spent worrying and fretting over what’s next or what’s not, of holing myself up in a tiny room I pay too much for, of exhausting myself with trying to be perfect. Of trying to figure out the answers before I know what questions I even want to ask. Of trying not to the do the wrong thing and writing off everything that was good in the process. All of this time wasted anxiously awaiting for my life to begin…
…when really, all I needed was to dance. And all I really wanted was to dance alone. For now. Until I find my own rhythm and can let someone in for a spin.