When You Suddenly Feel Lonely…

This weekend was one of those perfect ones in New York: full of celebrating, wine and laughter. I bounced between birthday dinners and themed parties, had long walks with Lucy and long talks with my closest friends. After two full days on-the-go, I was excited about a relaxing Sunday to check off my to-do list for the week.

I started with a light brunch with my friend A, catching up about her European travels and then grocery shopped for my new diet, weaving in between the crowded aisles at the (cheap and totally worth the hassle) Fairway on the Upper West Side. I even held true to my unspoken New Year’s resolution to make more eye-contact and small talk with attractive men, casually asking for help reaching the salad dressing and where to find the frozen chicken. Neither conversations resulted in anything, but did boost my ego for .05 seconds. After trekking on the train and cuddling with Lucy, I looked out the window by my bed at the blue, wet city below and I…

…suddenly felt very lonely. 

Instead of giving into the random sadness, I took a deep breath and analyzed the situation: I’ve had a full weekend of fun and excitement and even relaxation, I have nothing to be upset about, so why do I feel this way? I took another deep breath (they truly help with everything) and counted just a few things I’m thankful for (this apartment, this puppy, my family, my amazing friends, this banging booty that helped me pull off a Beyonce costume on Saturday night) and got myself up out of bed with determination: I was going to distract myself and not let myself fall into a funk like I did in 2013. Not this year, not this time.

So I meal-prepped for the entire week. Then I swept and mopped all of the floors. I gave Lucy a new chew bone. I made myself some hot tea. I emptied out my inbox. I wrote down ideas for blog posts. I hung a fun sign on our front door that encourages happiness. I responded to some messages on OkCupid. I took out the trash. I tidied my room and made my bed. (And I would have gone running if it wasn’t raining and very cold.)

And at the end of all that, I came out to the lemon-y smelling living room with my chamomile tea while Lucy slept on the dog-hair-covered futon, and I still felt a little sad. I took yet another deep breath and admitted what was bothering me: I wanted was someone to cook dinner with, watch something on TV, snuggle in bed, maybe have some lazy sex, perhaps split some wine and fall asleep. I’ve gone on many dates, but I haven’t had that level of comfortability in quite some time — nearly two and a half years, to be exact. I do long for that, I do want that, I won’t settle for less than that, but on rainy Sunday nights, it’s easy to feel cold and alone.

What helps (for me) is remembering that I’m always exactly where I’m supposed to be, that I’m always the person I’m supposed to be at this point in my life. I remember that I’m so very lucky and most of the time, so happy with the life I have. I remember to write down my dreams and to remind those I love just how much they mean to me. I try to do a good deed (even if it’s just letting Lucy run in the rain). I try to remember that most everything is temporary, and that this feeling will pass and another one — splendid or terrible — will come. I change something small or I make sure my living area feels homey with a candle or some tea. I take a long bath or close my eyes and think of things that make me smile without hesitation.

So as I write this blog on Sunday night, texting my friends for their advice, I do feel a bit lonely. Somewhat sad. But I’m riding the wave of lonely – and so can you. Here are how my dearest do it:

“I try to do something nice for someone else… write a surprise card, send an encouraging text message, or just call someone I haven’t talked to in awhile. I go for a long run. I write it all down for me — not to share. I mindlessly surf Pinterest. I succumb to the glory that is retail therapy. And sometimes, I watch a documentary about people who have it worse than I do.” -M

“I do a lot of self-care. I clean everything – up and out. I throw away a lot of things. I do yoga, take long deep breaths, and  long walks where I just pay attention to every detail. I guess my big thing I do (thanks therapy) is trying to identify the source of the problem, and then I try and cut myself some slack and decide how and what I’m going to work on. It’s all about the process.” – A

“I have a music playlist or have a mental pep talk with myself in a quiet (but public) spot… like in a park, on the river, outside on my stoop. Or I go to this bar where I’m a regular, it’s my happy place. But… going to a bar is not the most constructive…” -E

“I exercise. I read uplifting material. I remind myself that this is just one day and that everything works out in the great divine order. I also go to bed. I look at nature. I think about how big God really is and how much we are loved and taken care of. Also count my blessings for all of the good in my life. Just takes practice.” -Mama Tigar

“I try to do something productive, something that gets at the cause of that loneliness, which is really just fear that I’ll never have a full life unless I meet someone. Putting extra money into my IRA or finally comparing my health insurance options isn’t exactly a feel-good experience, but it reminds me that I’m a capable adult who is going to be fine no matter what. Not to mention, my white knight’s arrival is a lot less urgent if I have medical coverage and enough money to pay for my own retirement.” -K

“I pray and I read the Bible.” -N

“I think about how lucky I am for the things and people in my life.” -J

“I kinda just let it ride out until the mood or the thought passes, like what the little girl says in The Tree Grows in Brooklyn: ‘Let the hurt waves pass through.” Also, I take a hot shower, ride out the thoughts and listen to some happy pop music.” -K

“I get my nails or hair done, buy a new dress or something pretty to make me feel good. I also change something as simple as the curtains or the pillows or do something that I’ve been meaning to do. You never want to over-analyze. If I feel down, I do something that brings a little joy. I think the key is getting your mind off of it.” -M

“I have a photo album on my phone that I call my ‘Be Happy’ file. They’re pictures of quotes. Quotes I found on Pinterest or see on Instagram or statues I like on Facebook.  Quotes about uncertainty and fear and bravery and being vulnerable or other things I’m lacking or I’m afraid of or that inspire me.” -R

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! Learn more here. Submit here

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The Love Club

There are certain parts of New York – say the West Village, Soho, and even Williamsburg – that give the feel of a small town in a big city. The buildings are shorter, the streets are less crowded and frantic, and the people, seemingly calmer and happier. It’s reasonable to spend all day lounging in a cafe drinking coffee, that somehow, they don’t charge for refills – and still stay in business. There are more couples and families, and yet the singles still roam wild and free. You see less and less corporate and more and more locally owned and there’s this greater sense of community that can’t be found in Meatpacking, Chelsea, or even the Upper West/East sides.

To me, the characters of the villages seem like the ones who have found themselves established and secure, comfortable and at home in a place that entertains transplants, commuters, and tourists day-end-and-day-out. These residents of micro communities, usually dressed in black and boots, hair partially dried and unnamed bag in tow – have done what any NYC-wannabe aims to do: they’ve become New Yorkers. They’ve created little worlds inside of a huge ones, homes within the perimeter of industrial, and codes of conduct that don’t apply past West 4th or north of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Quite like the boroughs and the districts that divide and designate the many lands of Manhattan – something happens when two become one, when casual becomes serious, and when fear of commitment subsides to the need to just be. For whatever reason, in an unexplained manner to outsiders, being in a relationship does more than eliminate your single status, it creates an alternative universe of chemistry-specific coupleness.

Being in a relationship, in a lot of ways, is like being in a whole new world (mind the trite Aladdin reference here) – and if you’re lucky (or is it unlucky?), being in love turns your schedule and your life upside down in the most blissful of ways.

Yesterday, I spent a great deal of time navigating downtown, a hundred streets away from my apartment, observing the energy and the interactions of inhabitants. And what I discovered, beyond any reasonable doubt, is couples of every shape, form, age, race, or mood – blend into one another. Perhaps I mainly saw those who had been together for years or were just madly in love, but somehow, those I walked by, seemed as if they were happily lost away, out of the city, out of the village, and deeply engrossed in each other – in their own personal sphere.

They walked in sync, step-for-step. They discussed topics of no particular interest in an interesting fashion. They sipped coffee and laughed, held hands, and peered into each other’s eyes. They sat cuddled on the bench, in the corner booth, by the exit of the train. They sat side-by-side, across from one another, and shared sentiments I’d never be able to decipher. Glances were hidden but clear, touches were stolen but remembered, and thoughts were shared, but secret.

In the way that becoming a New Yorker means settling into a community, finding your way among thousands upon thousands of people, and being comfortable enough to really not give damn about how you look while fetching the morning paper- is the appeal of a relationship due to having a partner who gets you? Who you can be a little freak with, dispense those characteristics or mannerisms that others may not understand, and at the end of the day, be accepted just as you are?

Is being in a love a way to establish yourself? A way to prove to the strangers you pass, the fathers who continously ask for grandchildren, and all of those silly married friends who found love many moons ago – that yes, I’m not defected, I’m not unlovable. There is someone who wants me, someone who I can be myself around, and see life through not only my eyes, but their perspective too?

Is being a couple like being in a super-secret, difficult to be admitted into, only for the privileged, membership program? Is love like a club for two?

If so – for a long time, I was doing all that I could to be sent my acceptance letter to the School (or city) of Love.

Had I pranced around the streets, chasing the pigeons as I usually do, say, six months ago – as happy as the energy of the streets made me, I would have still felt sad. Passing double doses when I was a single serving, seemed to always rub me the wrong way. The simple reminder that others had found love, had found someone who wanted them, had this immeasurable power to instantly make me feel awful. To give me the impression and the sense that I wasn’t worth the love, that I wasn’t part of this unknown world I had rarely passed, that this highly desired title of taken, just wasn’t meant for me.

By judging myself against the women I wanted to be – those who were dazzling in the loveliness of love – I just didn’t measure up. My standards must had been too low or high, my scores on the girlfriend test had failed below average, and the uniform I was to wear as someone’s lady, just didn’t hug me in all the right places.

I had, in fact, been rejected from the very place I wanted to be. Access had been denied.

But now, with a little focus on self-love and a lot of patience with myself, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that love isn’t a microcosm or alternative universe left to be traveled. It isn’t just found on McDougall, Prince, or Park Slope. It isn’t an all-exclusive resort that few can afford and some can enjoy the lavish luxury of. It isn’t meant for those who are the best or for those who give and take love with the most ease.

Like the neighborhoods of New York – that many of us cycle through during our time on this island – being in love isn’t limited to our address or even our final destination – but it is found in each and every step. In whatever place we happen to find ourselves at. Because even when we do stumble upon a man who actually wants to be exclusive, a person who is worth rearranging our calendar for, or perhaps just someone who knows the best way to make us laugh – we still remain part of the world. The West Village is still part of New York, and being an an individual is still part of being a couple. No matter how much we escape from the bigger picture to focus on the smaller.

If there is a club of love – we should all rest assured that we’re all accepted. We’ve all passed the tests with flying colors and we’ve all failed miserably. And after all is said and done, after we move away from the relationship or away from the brownstone, we’re still part of the world. Part of the universe that forever, without question, will always let us back into the love club, time and time again.

Mr. Creepo and the Boyfriend Card

My first and favorite romance, New York City, has been quite the tease lately.

Monday, the day that reminds us our lovely weekend is over, the sky opened up and revealed an easy, sunny and lustful day where my red sweater dress was entirely too much. And then, as we transcended from one extreme to the other, Tuesday through Wednesday were unbearably cold. We finished the week with temperatures that enticed Spring’s arrival.

So on Friday, in an effort to encourage my lover in his warm embrace, I dressed for the occasion in a tight, light blue dress, thin leggings, and my old forgotten friend, The Open-Toe Stiletto. Perhaps my outfit was a tad inappropriate for mid-February, but I’ve never been one to adhere to regulations, where they be imposed by the Fashion Week goddesses or not. However, my attempt to tempt the heavens to keep the weather airy and breezy…backfired.

My favorite morning café, where the coffee is self-serve and in actual pots instead of economy-sized drippers, is merely a block away from the magazine – but those 40 or so steps can seem like a lifetime, when you spent a night almost completely absent of sleep. Not in the mood to discuss anything with anyone, I avoided eye contact on my narrow-focused path to fuel up for the day – but one man, with his bald head and short-stature, sought to match my pace.

Listening to the click of my heels, anticipating the pick-me-up I was getting ready to pick up, I barely noticed this at least 45-year-old whisper loud enough over my shoulder, “Excuse me?” Automatically turning on city-slicker mode, I quickened my pace, confused by this businessman walking way too close for a stranger. Especially one who was obviously way older than me.

I’ve just gotta say, you’ve got it together. From your heels to your hair, everything is spot on. Right on. I’ve never seen someone so beautiful, so together at 9 a.m. Great job,” this man complimented. Still exhausted, but gracious enough to give him a smile and a simple “thank you,” I continued toward my destination. But Mr. Creepo wasn’t finished yet.

He pulled his way closer to me as I nearly stumbled into the brick building to my right and a flash of fear wondered, “Nothing can happen in broad daylight in Chelsea, right? I mean, it’s a Friday morning, not 3 a.m.”  As if he thought I was somehow intrigued by him, he bargained with a wink, “If I promise you to do everything right, and I mean everything, will you just give me your number?

Caught off guard and slightly afraid, I straightened my posture, jerked my head around with a glare only possible from extreme-tiredness and blurted the first defensive semantic that came to mind: “I’m sorry, I can’t. I have a boyfriend.”

When the door slammed behind me and I made a distinct effort not to watch the man continue past the cafe, I caught my breath, flattened my hair from the wind, and there, in the entrance, scrunched up my forehead, utterly confused. Not necessarily by Mr. Creepo, but by myself.

Why is it that when I’m uninterested in someone or feeling insecure or unsafe, I automatically throw out the boyfriend card? The you-best-leave-me-alone or my big, bad man will come and show you what he’s made of and what I mean to him? How is it that being taken, having someone to watch over us – where it be the truth or a little white lie – makes us feel like whoever it is that’s bothering us, will back down?

Is commitment protection? Or is it just easier to say you love someone else instead of get-the-hell-away-from-me?

After nearly spilling my coffee all over my clingy dress (alright, well perhaps a few drops dribbled down) – I burst into the office, ready to share my story with my editor and J. By this time, I had a shot of energy from the Columbian blend and was being far too outrageous than what pre-10 a.m. allows.

“I am appalled by Manhattan men! Seriously, who is this creepo who thinks it is okay to just march up to me, interrupt my morning, and tell me he’ll do ‘everything right?’ He doesn’t even know me or what would be right by my standards. And he complimented everything from my heels to my hair – gross! He may not be old enough to be my father, but he could be some twice-removed uncle. Easily,” I discussed in disgust with J, who plainly nodded along, while adding in his own tidbits of experience with the street gawkers.

Tossing my hair and sighing heavily into my fat-free crème cheese and half-bagel, my co-worker H, the witty sales associate who’s timing is always on-point, matter-of-factly said, “Linds – let’s be real. If he was wildly attractive, young, and said all of those things, you would have smiled and probably given him your card.”

Sassy in my own respect, I replied, “Not if he was going all Biz Markie on me telling me he’s got what I need.” She laughed, agreed, but threw in one final chip: “Even so, you wouldn’t have told him you were in a relationship and if he would have asked to buy you that coffee you’re drinking – you would have allowed him.

Ah, the gal’s got a point.

I tend to find myself a pretty confident and incorrigibly honest with most everyone and everything in my life. I have my moments of blatant insecurity, but for the most part, I’m pretty straight-forward and as a Virgo, a tad critical – in the most loving of ways. But when it comes to being hit on and purposefully sought after by someone I’m not interested in – I almost always play the card of taken, instead of being direct and letting a guy off the hook by showing him he had no chance at hooking me.

Bluntly put – I hate rejecting guys.

I’m not a fan of hurting anyone’s feelings, even the hearts of those who’ve mangled mine, and also – I don’t want to be argued with or attempted to be persuaded, when I can tell in five seconds my interest is lost. Or it never really arrived in the first place. Especially when it comes to men, who for whatever reason, think it’s appropriate to go after women 20 years their junior. This girl, Mr. Creepo, is not a gold digger and will build a mountain on her own instead of hiking up a trail of deceit.

Though I realize my double-standard, as H so cleverly pointed out, I also know what is crossing the line for me or popping my personal space bubble. And regardless if Mr. Creepo had been a foot taller with a full head of hair and subtracted a dozen candles off his last birthday cake – anyone who tells me they’ll do everything right isn’t Mr. Right in my book. I’d like to think I’ll end up with a guy who is far from perfect – and perhaps even far from perfect for me – but rather, a human being who doesn’t declare his sexual righteousness within the first ten seconds of seeing me.

Next time, instead of using an imaginary boyfriend as a defense, I’ll try to take the higher road of honesty and say, “Sorry, buddy. You aren’t strong, dark, handsome, and available in a 20 oz cup for $1.75. And really, that’s the only thing that’s right by me, right now.”

 

 

Margaritas, Mayhem, and Meagerly-Dressed Men

What happens when you mix three pitchers of highly-intoxicating margaritas, five flirty friends (including a wonderful gay work hubby), free blowouts and styling, unlimited drinks, and half-naked men dancing within three inches of you?

One hell of a hangover and one fabulous lesson about being a single gal in New York City.

With the kickoff for New York’s Fashion Week (where I enjoyed a lovely presentation from Timo Weiland), an online women’s magazine and deal/coupon site, The Luxury Spot hosted a Bachelorette Party that instead of celebrating the fact someone was ending their days of singleness, they invited people to commemorate that flying solo could just be beginning.

Intrigued by this spin on a typical girl’s night out that involves tiaras, phallic shot glasses, and bridesmaids drinking themselves into a depressed oblivion, I gathered a group of my favorites and headed to Chelsea to play tribute to my unaffiliated with a man relationship status.

Like most great evenings, the gang hit up a spot the work hubby, J and I discovered a few months ago where prices are cheap and the tequila is abnormally strong. Well, stronger than usual, anyways. In my leopard print pencil skirt that’s probably a tad too tight (but I rock it like its not), we devoured chips and salsa while discussing current events that really matter – like the Biebs and our anticipation for the Grammys, sexual positions that hit the right spot, and LLilo’s latest disaster. Filled with warmness – both from the great company and the green magical liquid – we hopped a cab to Juliet Supper Club, where we were greeted with many women (and men) dazzled to dance away and toast to The New York Singleland.

Once one of The Luxury Spot’s leading ladies led us out of the crowd and into the festively decorated space, the group found its way to the open bar – where all of the Southerners squealed over a drink named Scarlett O’Hara. The intention of the drink was rather clever and by about number two, when you swear a male dancer is locking eyes with you, you frankly, don’t give a damn.

Or at least I didn’t and that’s when from across a bedazzled room, as a Remington stylist curled my hair while I sipped my red concoction, I started doing The Look at a man I’ll call Mr. Thong.

Oh dear.

Of course, its part of his job to flirt with the lovely, eligible or taken ladies who feel a little less guarded than normal, but Mr. Thong formed some sort of strange attraction to me. Maybe not strange, but by my somewhat reserved upbringing in the rolling hill of North Carolina, seeing a man roll his peak in such an enticing (and hilarious) manner, was quite the experience. And being a newfound lover of my single title, was curious to nail the story. I mean, I heard this particular has his own bobble head and all – though I’m pretty sure my friends and I were more distracted by his other gyrating one.

After posing for a few pictures with us, where Mr. Thong attempted to liplock with me, I returned to my seat, where my friends and I, captivated by our first experience with nearly nude dancers, continued to snap pictures and well, giggle, continuously. As I was looking at the shots with my friend E, Mr. Thong came over to our booth and cuddled up next to me.

“So, my name is Mr. Thong. What’s yours?” He smiled, as the light reflected off of well-oiled, chiseled, and tan body. Even in my haze, I made a plea to someone (not sure who, at the time) that he didn’t get his goo (from any place) on my silk top. Ew.

Never mind my distraction of his stickiness, I was stunned by the fact this dancer-dude was speaking to me, I somehow managed to tell him my name, what I did, and hand him my business card. You know, the one with my phone number, email address, and link to this blog?

Smart move, Linds. Smart move.

My friends, equally tipsy from Scarlett O’Haras and the residue of margaritas a few hours earlier, found themselves hysterical over my willingness to entertain the entertainer and we cheered again to the absurdity of the evening.

After gathering our goodie bags and coats, and splitting a cab uptown, I thought about how long it took me to get to this place. To a place where I could freely let myself and my inhibitions go. Where I could enjoy an evening without expecting a phone number, without wondering if someone would hit on me, without hoping Mr. Right would be at the next door, the next bar, or the next street corner. That an interaction with Mr. Thong didn’t mean I’d met my match, but that I just had an interaction for the books. Or the blog, I suppose.

That instead of focusing on the fact I was alone, I relished that I had the opportunity to be selfishly fabulous with my friends and enjoy their smiles as much as I would ever enjoy the grin of a stranger. That without a man, without the desire for one, without valuing the validity of anyone’s approval or interest, I was still happy. If anything, I was happier to not be obsessing and not be upset about things that fate has a hold on anyways.

Walking a block to my apartment, shivering in the cold, my hair curled up something fierce, and designer stilettos carefully avoiding New York’s influx of black ice, I realized I was actually living a phrase I’d always sang and quoted, but never really embraced:

Sometimes, girls just wanna have fun. And J, too, of course.