Stop, Drop, and Roll

Recently, I made my first trip to Ikea.

For those of you outside of New York, Ikea is kind the place to go for young professionals with a little budget and the need to find furniture for their tiny apartments or rooms. Though I’ve been in the city for a while, I had yet to make the trip to Brooklyn to see the massive warehouse of  boxes filled with a million parts. The reason for the cheap price point is partly because everything you must assemble yourself – an experience I’m sure I’ll blog about when all is delivered to me soon.

Mr. Possibility and his car (a rarity for someone to have here) made the journey to Ikea with me, and after taking a trip down memory lane eating in the Ikea cafeteria, which is similiar to the food and feel of college, we walked around the maze. I carefully checked off the furniture I needed to buy, deciding how functional it was, and how much space it would take up. I thought about my color scheme and I considered the investment I wanted to make into something I’d ultimately put together with my own two hands. I wondered how long I would have the items and how reasonable I needed to be versus how trendy or modern I wanted to be. We went from bed to bed, laying on each, deciding which one was too soft or too hard. I briefly looked at frames until I decided I didn’t quite need one, but could do with risers. I fell in love with a dresser with a lovely Victorian mirror, but then realized it wouldn’t even hold half of my lingerie, much less my t-shirts and such.

Four hours, several unexpected and great phone calls, two hot dogs, and a denied card later (cashiers shouldn’t try and charge you four consecutive times for a large sum of money), I’m riding back to Williamsburg with Mr. Possibility and my mind is racing.

It’s running as quick as the cars speeding by us, but not nearly as swiftly as he’s driving. It’s running through a series of memories I’ve experienced over the last few years, through all the changes I’ve endured, and the many places I’ve called home. It’s running through all the men that have been and the love I’ve been lucky enough to experience. It’s running through the purchase I just made, the money that flew away in a split-second, and it’s worrying about one day not having enough. It’s running and running and part of me wants to scream at Mr. Possibility to stop. To pull over. To come to a screeching half. To let me get out and let me run and run, run far away from wherever I am, and wherever I’m going, and just rest.

To stop making decisions and stop wondering if they are right. To stop spending money and maybe even stop making it. To stop putting my heart out on the line for someone with possibility because with that, they have the possibility to rip the line underneath me. To get this fire out of my heart by stopping, dropping, and rolling into a miniature ball that’ll protect me from any pain. Any anxiety or lack of hope or disappointments.

But as he looks over and puts his hand on my knee, stealing a kiss on the side of my head while traffic comes to an actual stop – I smile at him and breathe a sigh of relief. Fire isn’t so bad. The flames have varying intensities and the best ones aren’t extinguished instantly. They may burn and they may scar, but fire keeps us alive. It’s why we worry. It’s why we doubt or we question. It’s why we feel vulnerable and why we cherish each day.

Without fire, there can be no life. So you can stop and you can drop. You can roll away from growing up or distract your mind from racing. But wildfires don’t stop or drop, but they do roll. And they will catch up to you, somewhere along the way. Even if it is on the expressway back to an apartment you’re living in with someone for just a few more days until the next chapter of your life begins.

With possibility.

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Committed to the Now

I once dated a tall, tanned, and chiseled Australian. Our affair, was indeed an affair: short-lived and insanely passionate. He had an art with enticing, a knack for titillating, and an undeniable way of melting me in the palm of his hand. I didn’t expect more out of what we shared than what we did, but when we played show-and-tell, it certainly wasn’t kindergarten appropriate.

Maybe it was his accent or his blasé attitude toward most everything or his talent of reaching the depth of my heart and other parts in the same stride – but from the second we laid eyes on each other, the light was lit. He was my Foreigner and I was his Southerner, no other title, no other commitment, and no other anything required or effective to describe us. While I thoroughly enjoyed being romanced and teased in the short time we indulged in the company of one another, I was also constantly fretting.

The thing about dating a sexy guy from down under who enjoys going down under is that they don’t really have a concept of time. And though I know it isn’t accurate, I would almost attest to the fact that they don’t understand how to use a phone either. In person, they will fill up the room and then some, but when they’re out of sight, they might as well be totally out of mind, or out of your own mind you will go worrying. Sure, you will mostly likely see them again, but they know they’re lying when they promise to follow-up, and if you expect a long, drawn-out texting conversation during the workday, you’d be as poorly mistaken as I was. Things ultimately fizzled with the Australian because I couldn’t let go of myself enough to appreciate the joint affinity for what it was then.

Years later and a few less entrancing foreigners later, I discovered a theme that the States – or perhaps, just me – doesn’t seem to adapt to. In European countries and obviously with the Aussies, plans aren’t meant to be so concrete. This is an over generalization of several populations, but as a sweeping statement that could be utterly inaccurate (excuse me if that’s the case), foreigners aren’t as much concerned with what they want forever more, but what they want right now. They see life as more in the moment than a year or so from now, or even a week, if you’re the Australian.

I haven’t traveled a significant amount and most of what I’ve learned about culture has been from conversations with tourists in New York, through anthropology and sociology classes in college, and from being an avid reader of current events, as well as history. I don’t observe the ways of life abroad – though I’d love to – and my language skills are limited to English and almost-conversational Italian. But I will say from people I’ve met, what I’ve read, and what I assume – Americans don’t live as beautifully as many in other parts of the world.

And lately, for better or for worse, I’ve been living a little less American.

I’ve been unconcerned with the big picture and more focused on making decisions day-to-day, significant or insignificant, affecting my life greatly or not at all. I’ve liberated myself enough to enjoy carbohydrates to the extreme without feeling too guilty and I’ve accepted last-minute invitations to drink or dine, or to run or to nap. I’ve entertained online and in-the-store  decorating dreams of my soon-to-be new apartment, without worrying about price or budget, what’s practical or what’s not. I’ve spent lengthy amounts of time lounging, often alone naked in my own skin, not caring much about what I should be doing, but about what I wanted to do. And not what I want to do that will get me what I want tomorrow, but what I want…now.

And what I want in the moment transforms with the moment. I’ve changed my mind endlessly, I’ve noticed a dramatic shift in my tastes and my preferences in just the last six months, and I’ve adapted to the New York life more so since I started this blog than before I ever frequented WordPress daily. I haven’t planned out my entire weekend in fear that if I didn’t, I would be stranded home, by myself, feeling unsocial and unloved because really, being in the quiet company of myself doesn’t seem like a punishment as much as it does a prize. While I can’t go completely Australian by waking up at noon to lounge aimlessly as my Aussie once described his life prior to the States, other than what work requires me to do after hours, my after hours have been open. To taking a jog, meeting with a new or old friend, or discovering the art of being free from a penciled schedule.

These choices and this shift in my maturity have made me a little less committed. Not to my career, to this blog, to my friends, or to Mr. Possibility, but to myself. The only thing I’m really committed to is the me I am, now. I still put my needs before much anything else, as I should as a 20-something, but I’ve learned how to be less rigid in my own ways. We know people get stuck in their routines and mindsets, and if I can help it, I’d like to be open to change and growth for as long as allowed, if not forever.

But forever is a funny word, isn’t it?

Once we say we’ll do something, love somebody, live somewhere, or be someone forever – you’re attached to whatever and whoever that may be. Or maybe not so much in America, where everything seems to be reversible, excused, or divorce-able. But, overseas in nations where they may live dreamily and think more about wanting in an instant than wanting for a lifetime – once they decide to devote a lifetime, it’s taken seriously.

Because while they were busy not taking themselves or the pressing matters of 10 years from now too seriously, they were learning to listen. To the world and its people, to what makes them happy and satisfied, and what’s easy to move away from. Maybe that’s the trick the Australian was trying to teach me and I never could quite understand until now:

Listen to what you want, don’t be committed to being someone or something forever, and don’t worry about the next time you’ll get what you desire or if you will get it at all, and learn to celebrate your life, instead of wasting it. After all, it is the little things or in the Australian’s case, the not-so-little things, that really do serve their purpose right then, right at the right moment, and though you yearn for more, you’re happy just to of experienced it at all.

Could I Be Happy?

Last night, as I was picking up groceries that make up my diet – orange juice, humus, grapes, bananas, Greek yogurt, and dark chocolate – I was forced to wait in a ridiculously long line. The grocery store by my current apartment is new and attracts customers from dozens of blocks away, and therefore, is always crowded. I usually don’t mind – it gives me the opportunity to eavesdrop and people watch.

Curving around the escalator, I noticed a good-looking man in front of me. He looked early to mid-30’s, was well-dressed and groomed, and had a simple basket full of good food and good beer. Not really inclined to say much of anything to anyone, when he looked back and shared a grin with me, I returned one, and then took my eyes in a different direction. A few moments later, as I casually looked his way again – a family had appeared. His arm was around a lanky young boy in soccer clothes, and a pretty curly-haired blonde in boots was laughing with a little girl whose face mirrored her’s.

The children had been in the bakery, picking out the one sweet treat they are allowed to have with their mom, and when they returned – so did the light in the man’s face. As the kids were somehow entertaining themselves with a display of sugar cookies (seeing who could reach the top), the man leaned over and kissed the side of his wife’s face, and as she probably has since they met, she warmly laughed, and looked into his eyes. They were about the same height but she looked tiny next to him and their body language was so easy and so loving, I noticed the others behind me watching them too.

As any child would do, the brother and sister duo returned, begging for cookies on top of their goody from the bakery. The man automatically dismissed their pleas but mom chimed in by teasing, “But Dad, they are peanut butter. Your favorite.” Blushing at what seemed like an inside joke, he agreed they were his top pick, and allowed the kids to have them – under the condition that they couldn’t have eat any tonight. At 8 p.m., I thought that was a smart decision on his part, having baby-sitted and mistakenly given sugar way too late. Excited, the siblings returned to pick out the best dozen, and mom teased again asking, “But I want one tonight, can I have one tonight?” Dad wrapped his arms around her waist, squeezed her hand, and in a sweet-and-sexy tone promised, “Oh yes, you can have one tonight.

I had zoned in so deeply to their conversation and watching the family interact, that I hadn’t noticed my arm had fallen asleep holding a heavy basket, or that I was next in line. Minutes later after selecting debit and thanking a cashier that didn’t say anything to me, I walked the two blocks back to my packed-up apartment and for the first time, in a long time, I felt sad.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m really happy with my life. My weeks are spent writing articles and blogs, attending events and happy hours, trying new foods and neighborhoods, and spending time with friends I love and a Mr. Possibility I adore. Soon, I’ll be able to run in Central Park and this summer is filled with trips I’m counting down to, and within a few weeks, I’ll move into a new place on this island. My life is constantly in transition, I have more freedom than I know what to do with, and much of the beauty of my 20s is that they are unplanned, unknown, and uninhibited.

I’ve spent 203 posts – or 203 days – reaching this point of content. Of being ale to feel secure in my single shoes, of not feeling like a man is the end-all-be-all to my existence, of not feeling incomplete without admiration from the opposite sex. I’ve developed a security in myself and should Mr. Possibility and his many possibilities walk away tomorrow, I would be upset, but I would be fine. His presence isn’t the most important component of my life, it’s just a bright one. I’m no longer defined by a man and I don’t feel this incredibly intoxicating urge to be in a relationship or to be reminded of how wonderful I am by a guy. I think I’m pretty great without someone telling me, as I should – I’ve worked hard and loved long to get to where I am.

So why did I feel sad after witnessing a healthy, engaging, and adjusted family? Why did it leave a poor taste in my mouth and make me feel like my life was hollow – filled with boozing and blasé brunching? Even though I know I’m nowhere close to wanting or being prepared for marriage and children, why did I instantly want both of those responsibility-ridden things in that moment?

Well, because I want them. One day, that is. And while I can push at the American dream and work as hard as I can to raise myself up from my heelstraps, move to the city I always knew I belonged in, and go on countless amazing and awful dates – I cannot control success in love. Or in creating a family.

And maybe that’s what is the hardest about being single – the lack of control. Even if you do all of the right things, find a peace inside yourself, and love the life you lead – if you want children and you want to get married one day, you want it. It isn’t something you can or you should change, it is just part of who you are – encoded in a DNA that few understand. And if we observe the world around us, the women who have found it and the women who have not, we realize which category we’d like to end up in. Sure, happiness isn’t defined by if you get Cartier or if you are able to produce offspring, and there are splendors a career can give that nothing else can match -but for me, and the life I hope to have, I don’t want to kiss or be kissed goodnight by my byline forever.

The question is – if I’m not among the lucky who finds someone they can tolerate and agree to share a bed and bathroom sink with until death parts us, or if I can’t carry a baby or afford to adopt or if my eggs becoming infertile by the time I become ready for that chapter – then what?

Can I still be happy? As satisfied and blessed I feel to be where I am today – miles and miles away from needing to even worry or think about such things – I can’t answer that question. I’d like to think I could find happiness anywhere with anything – but I also know that I wouldn’t want to do it without anyone. I’d rather have a someone and few little somethings.

No Almost About It

Similar to the dating scene in New York, when you find something that’s incredibly tasty, surprisingly no-hassle, and relatively inexpensive in the city – you keep coming back for more. Such is the story of Corner Bistro.

Tucked away in the West Village at West 4th and Jane, Corner Bistro is the definition of a hole-in-the-wall joint. It’s dark, even mid-day, only accepts cash, and you’re lucky if your waiter does more than grumble at you. It is always, always packed – as it should be. Out of any burger I’ve had in my life, it is the absolute best. It even beats my dad’s – and to pin the olive on top of the bun, their signature burger is a mere $7.

When I discovered this well-known, not-so-hot spot, I instantly became hooked. A week or so ago, when I found myself with a craving for their menu, I gathered three friends and caught the train downtown. A few Blue Moons, three orders of burgers and fries, and an hour worth of catching up later, my friend J decided the next destination would have to be a gay bar less than ten mini-village blocks away.

Happily filled with booze and burgers, the crew trotted toward a hidden address, bumping into Sarah Jessica Parker along the way. While we were appropriately star-struck, it didn’t last long – this is New York after all. If you didn’t pass a celebrity here or there, then you obviously are not going out enough and spending far too much time in your far too small apartment. On the way, we stopped by a pet store to admire the $1,000 frenchies, the $1,200 Cock-a-Poos or Bossi-Poos or Cava-Poos, and then finally made it to the one place to admire the trendiest of all – the Village Drag Queen. With eyelashes curled to the 9’s, liner that goes on for miles, and a push-up that pushes whatever-that-is higher than my ladies are resting – this Mr/Ms was a force to be reckoned with.

Not to mention, s/he was the Bingo keeper. Yes, gay bar bingo. Apparently, sweets, it is the newest thing.

It is also a serious game, even if the commentator walks around flirting with anyone who doesn’t have a vagina, which luckily for him/her is the majority of those in attendance. When I casually asked a neon-wearing gaggle of gay men where to get Bingo stampers, they promptly informed me they brought their own and that I could find golf pencils on my table. Oh, well excuse me  – I thought i looked pretty slammin’ in my blue sweater dress and heels, but apparently not. At least in terms of gay bingo, anyways.

My group pitched in together and bought three cards to split amongst the four of us. We decided if we happened to win the $1,300 jackpot, we’d split it evenly. A few days before, I had given in to the pleas of one of my closest friends to watch The Secret, which is great for giggles, if you feel inclined. While I think the message is true- tell the universe what you want, believe you’ll get it, and you will – the documentary was not well-done. With beer and three mimosas swirling in my tummy thus making my lips a little looser, I encouraged my friends to believe we would win the money. I figured if I’m going to lead my life by a secret I already knew, why not let my friends in on it, too? In my early evening haze, it seemed like a strategic approach to gay bingo.

Twenty minutes later, we were one little box away from winning. By this time, I had told them my reasoning and all of us were suddenly on board, convinced that by having faith, we suddenly had a super weapon against the rest of the players. We had intentionally placed the universe on our side. As if we were waiting to meet our unborn child or on that phone call, offering us our dream job, we lingered on the bingo board, each gripping our inadequate pencils and drinks eagerly.

And then Mr/Ms Village Drag Queen called B9. A man with a high-pitched voice and a blue stamper screamed “Bingo!” We needed B8. We almost won. We almost had the universe at our fingertips.

But what good is almost? The Southern saying, after all, says almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. There are rare  things in life where not hitting the goal, but getting close to it, is just as powerful as reaching it.

In thinking about our loss, I considered all of the things I’ve experienced that were best defined by almost. Mr. Idea was almost the right guy for me, minus a few vastly important characteristics and interests. I almost had that national freelancing gig at a consumer publication, but my tone wasn’t right for the mag. I almost fell asleep at midnight, at one, at two, but couldn’t stop stressing out from my overflowing to-do list. I almost ran five miles, but I gave out at 4.8 out of nothing but utter boredom. I almost achieved that toe curling orgasm, but couldn’t get right there, right where I needed to be.

Almost: It is almost worse than failing in the first place because you know how near you were, and yet, so terribly far away. And yet, it is a word I use constantly.

“Yes, I almost went to that show, but…” “Oh, I almost went out with him, but…” “Well, I almost got that byline, but…” “I almost signed up for that race, but…” “I almost came home early, but…” “I almost initiated The Talk, but…”

Almost, but what? Is almost an excuse or something that we actually experience? If something doesn’t work out, if we don’t sincerely care to do something, if something is not quite what we want, if something is not within reach – then it doesn’t work out, we don’t do it, we don’t have what we want, and we don’t reach it.

It isn’t a matter of almost, it is a matter of fact.

But it doesn’t mean almost doesn’t count – in fact, I’d like to think it always does. Thinking about almost is a way to realize our worth and what we’re capable of. If we just about got there, if we just about found the right person, if we were the forerunner for a great Bingo board win, if we knew we probably could have gone longer and harder – then we know what we’re made of. We know and we believe what’s inside of us – because if we can just about get there, one day, we can definitely get there. No almost about it.

(That is, as long as we have a fancy stampy thing)

Thank You, Mr. Wrong

As it usually is on Monday mornings, yesterday the downtown train to Chelsea was packed. I’m one to stand near the door and let others grab a seat, a gracious tactic that usually results in a quicker exit and entrance. This quarter past eight in the morning decision landed me squished between an elderly man reading The Times and a pair of matching tourists, complete with fanny packs and “I love NY” shirts and all.

Nearing my stop, my cart started to disperse and as I turned to catch a spot closest to the parting doors, I caught a whiff of an old familiar smell. Unable to keep myself from turning away, I subtly followed the scent to find the trail. A few mini steps clockwise, I came face-to-face with a 15-year-old with shouting headphones, who was not amused by how uncomfortably close I was to his sideways-cap.

Embarrassed, I grinned at him (he didn’t return one to me) and left the subway quickly as I couldn’t keep my head from buzzing with memories Axe Deodorant Spray. Scent is, after all, the strongest sense tied to memory, and for me, that scent will never represent anything or anyone but Mr. Faithful. My very first boyfriend, my puppy love, the man whose heart I shattered, and the dude who I lost my virginity to.

And that same fragrance takes me back to all of those things – laying with belly buttons touching as I wondered if sex would get better; if he was the man I would marry, if I would be the one who ended up with her high school sweetheart; if this was what real love felt like; if I would ever meet anyone I felt as strongly about. If it got better than this.

But if I could have reassured  my 15-year-old self about how much I had to look forward to and how much love I was actually capable of giving and receiving, I would have never worried. I would have enjoyed those moments of innocence, toes dipping into the warm lake at twilight, gleaming into the eyes of a guy, who three years later, would be far removed from my life.

Because in those hot summer nights and the cold winter evenings we spent together as two kids, feeling what we thought was love for the first time –we were each other’s right person. If you would have asked me a few months into our relationship – maybe up to the first year, even – I would have told you I’d go the rest of my life smelling that Axe spray every morning and be perfectly content.

Or when Mr. Fire introduced me to gnocchi – something that always reminds me of him when I see it at the grocery store – in his tiny kitchen in our tiny college town. Dancing  (and sliding) in our socks to Dave Matthews, laughing, sipping wine we were too young to buy, and our hearts racing in anticipation of the love we hadn’t made yet. With those wild eyes that always seemed to get me – he rubbed his nose against mine, scooped me into his arms, spun me around, and dipped me toward the ground, playfully asking: “Do you trust me?” In that instant – I would have proclaimed to the whole world I would trust him with my everything, would have given him anything, and would have said whatever I needed to say to stay in his grasp forever.

In thinking about this ever-elusive Mr. Right character – I’ve thought about all the guys who didn’t fit the bill. All of the ones I loved or the dudes he didn’t fall for me as fiercely as I intended them too, and all of the suckers in between.

Because while Mr. Curls, Mr. Faithful, Mr. Fling, Mr. Idea, Mr. Disappear, Mr. Unavailable, and Mr. Rebound all have names specific to my experience with them – their ultimate titles are all the same: Mr. Wrong. Even if at one time, they had the opportunity be Mr. Right or were Mr. Right Now when they stood by my side.

I’m not convinced there is only one right companion for every person, but I do think it’s important to remember the guys who weren’t right. The Mr. Wrongs, after all, will never be completely gone – because if they were, then what would have we gained from their love – or lack of? Would we be able to understand what works for us and what doesn’t? What it takes for someone to be what we need and what will never measure up to fulfill us?

How can we know when it’s right if we don’t know what it feels like when it’s not?

The Mr. Wrongs ended up not to be the men I decided to lead with, but they all served their purpose. I’ve learned the lessons I’ve decided they’ve taught me and with all of them, I’ve released the “what could have been” thoughts that always attach themselves when love goes astray. I’m not interested in rekindling any flame that’s burnt out, bur rather excited about what’s next.

Because if history truly does repeat itself, then I’m lucky. I’m blessed to be strong enough to overcome heartache, to choose what I need over what I want, and to be loved by a few incredible men. And though at the time, I didn’t always realize what was waiting for me is better than what I’ve felt before – I know it now. And without dating, loving, losing, and leaving the Mr. Wrongs, I would never have the confidence that a Mr. Right – or maybe a few Mr. Rights – await for me in the days, the months, and the years to come.

It is sometimes those unanswered prayers that are answered against what we thought we longed for, those memories that were once bittersweet but are not just fond, and those men who were right at one time – that teach us more than the one who ends up being right, right now. They may have broken our hearts or steered us in the wrong direction or we could have stepped all over them on the way to our own happiness and personal gains – but without them, we wouldn’t be one step closer to finding the love that doesn’t bite the dust.

So, thank you Mr. Wrongs – for a lot of things, but mainly, for being wrong.

The Design of the Universe

Last night, the moon was the closest to the Earth it has been in the last 18 years.

And according to my astrological mother, it fell at 29 degrees Virgo, and because that’s my sun sign…that’s a good sign. The next two weeks as the universe twists and turns as it always does, the people I meet, the opportunities I’m given, the decisions I’ll make, and the places I’ll go will dramatically influence my life. It will be a time where I’m forced to the front of the stage, put on the chopping table, made to change my tune, and turn toward the light. The next fourteen days are the most important dates of 2011, so far, for me, specifically.

No pressure, or anything.

I’m not sure how much I buy into astrology but it has always been up for discussion at the house that built me. I don’t know if it is part of the materials that have made me into a person or if I really trust the stars with my destiny – however, sometimes it has merit I can’t deny. Maybe because she’s my mother or because she’s an astrologer with a sixth sense, but my mom is rarely wrong about my life.

More often than not, she’s completely right. Even if at the time, I don’t want to admit it or walk away from the guy she says is bursting with red flags. Her first question when I meet someone is never about his name, what he does, what he looks like, or how I met him. It is always: “When’s his birthday?” She often pesters for the exact time (on a birth certificate) because astrology in its technical state isn’t accurate without it, but I continue to remind her it’s a little awkward to ask a guy such a personal (and odd) question on the third date.

Astrology is far more complex than reading your horoscope in the paper or signing up for an email newsletter that’ll let you know if the planets endorse a major investment or a trip to Brazil. While we all know our main sign, if you believe in astrology (or are entertained by it), you will know you have a handful of other signs that make up the pieces of who you are. For example – my sun is in Virgo and the sun represents the essence of who I am. However, my Venus is in Leo and Venus represents how I am when I’m in love and when I’m in the home. So really, if I wanted to “predict”  love-to-be by reading horoscopes, I should read Leo instead of Virgo. The rest of the planets all represent different faucets of life too – like Mars is indicative of my career and my sex drive, and Mercury is higher learning and travels.

Bear with me – I realize this sounds crazy.

My mom says adults don’t come into their charts fully until the reach 25 – an age where I guess, everything just falls together. Up until then, we may not relate to the planets or buy-in to how they transition our lives day-in and day-out. I don’t lead my life on the principles of astrology but I’ll agree with mama that I have reached a place where I identify more with the ways of the universe than I ever have before.

But for me, the beauty in the zodiac isn’t in reading something that’ll make me relax about a situation or be fearful of a planet that’s in retrograde (I’ve yet to figure out what this means exactly), but it’s the idea that really, nothing is completely explainable. Even with the the compartments of the solar system all representing different things and ideologies, my mom and all of her friends will always emphasize the strength of free will and that astrology is merely a guide. It’s an outline, but not the whole story.

The universe is specifically designed but so are we.

When a relationship ends or when we’re passed by for a job that we were certain was perfect for us, or friends grow apart – we can blame it on the tides turning or the sickening slow rotation of the planets. Some of us may blame it on fate – though I’ve yet to determine where I stand on the validity of “supposed to” or “meant to” be. A vast majority often blame it on other people, outside sources, and sometimes, in a blue moon (or a very close one), they may even take the responsibility themselves.

But what I decided, while walking through Williamsburg, keeping an eye on the sky that apparently, was created for me for the next two weeks – was to live. To realize that not everything has an answer or a reason – in fact most things don’t. To know that the path I picked may not be the right one or the one to bring me the most happiness – but there is always a chance to take a right. Or a left. To understand that who I am right now, in this instant, typing this blog, and preparing for the day ahead, is not who I will be a few months from now or a few years.

And regardless if I’m in a city where seeing the stars is rare or surrounded by an illuminated and dotted sky in the South or maybe in the Middle East, they don’t all shine for me. Or for you. But they glow as a reminder to all who look up only to close their eyes and make a wish, that all is moving . All is growing, changing, and adapting – no matter if the planets are in Virgo or Taurus or Pisces. The stars let us know the world is alive.

And so are we.

The Blackberry on the Bedstand

Like a penny and piece of paper that’s not wasted – a relationship has two sides to it. If it takes two to tango, there is always the guy’s side to what went awry, the lady’s opinion – and then there’s the truth.

While we may never know the real reasons behind why our past loves burnt out or why the connections faded between our current man and his last girl, it isn’t so much a question of what happened after, but what went on, during.

And it’s easy – once all is said and done – and we’ve moved on to brighter and better futures that may have us single or taken, to speculate the past and give it a definite reason. It may be simpler to determine that the girl who laid with a man we’re seeing wasn’t anything like us or wasn’t right for him – hence why she’s not in the picture, and we are. But like it gets the best out of felines, curiosity also has a way of sneaking its way into our minds, too.

I mean, who was the last girl? Is there a way to meet her or know her, without actually doing it? Would we like her if we did? Why do we care who she was or why it ended? Does their past really affect our future? Is this inquisitiveness healthy?

When I went to meet Mr. Possibility after his long stint overseas, he stood waiting patiently on the LIRR platform above me. When he smiled at me, a flash of intensity struck thru my heart in an instant. I knew I missed him but I also wondered what in the world I was walking up to. When we embraced, it was one of those moments out of a trite romance novel, where you rush to one another and the man kisses your forehead, your cheeks, your nose – and all at once, you remember what it felt like before he left.

Following a welcome home party of sorts and an intense conversation, I found myself, again, entangled with him, falling asleep to the sound of our joint breath. When I woke up the next morning, still intertwined with this severely jet-lagged gentleman who was peacefully knocked out, I noticed his Blackberry on my bedstand.

In all of the time he stayed over before, he always placed the contents of his pockets, including his phone and nifty pen he never forgets, right next to where we slept. When I needed to know the time or use a light to navigate the mess that is my apartment, I’d often use his dated 3G to do so.

But this time, as I blinked my eyes open and thought to reach out and determine how much damage those last shots had done, I found myself unable to move. Suddenly, his Blackberry seemed dangerous.

I have never been a gal to go through anyone’s phone – especially a man I’m seeing. I’m private (believe it or not) with my own cell and selective about who I save in my address book, so I’ve respected the same preference with others. I also tend to believe if you go looking for trouble, you will find it. Even if it’s in a picture or a text from three years ago that alludes to something you’d rather not know or something that even matters.

And while it never dawned on me, even that morning, to flip over his phone and parade through it, I also couldn’t bring myself to touch it.

I realized, not for the first time really, but in a profound way – I’m not the first to lay here. I’m not the first to touch that phone or be stored in it. I’m not the first woman he took a picture of, sitting across from him at a café in the Village. I’m not the first texting conversation he’s had for a straight eight-hour period. That Blackberry isn’t just a Blackberry on my bedstand – it’s all of the beds he’s laid in with women I don’t know.

As I’m staring, attempting to muster enough courage to look at the time, he reached across me, kissed the curve of my neck, grabbed the phone and said he couldn’t believe we’ve slept so late. He haphazardly placed the phone back and pulled me closer into him, wondering if I slept well. And with the phone light illuminating my room, I started to wonder about the girls before. Maybe when they say happily ever after, they are referring to the end of dating or the end of previous relationships – but do they ever really go away? Is there truly an after, when you know the before?

If all of the he’s and the she’s we meet make us who we are, then those we date are made up of the same influences. They just come in different forms and with varying faces. But when it comes to love – while I may show and tell, I don’t like to share. What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours – even if what’s mine, used to be yours.

Mr. Possibility’s Blackberry may keep every woman he’s known – maybe even the ones he could be exploring – but if I consider them part of the equation, there may be no way to add up parts that lead to love. If we remain stuck in what was, there is no opportunity to create a could be that can be.

However – in the spirit of feminism (or maybe just the matter of female language), it’s best not to condemn the women who once held a man’s heart. Without knowing them, without their angle of their relationship, there is no way to determine the pieces of the puzzle that eventually didn’t fit together for them. In most cases we will never know and it will never matter – but if he loved them and he loves you, there is a good chance you are quite similar. Or that you’re vastly different. Either way, it doesn’t make or break the relationship; it just gives a different perspective to the past. Because maybe, if for whatever backhanded twist of the universe, we did come face-to-face or word-for-word with the woman he was once with, we may find ourselves not only liking the gal, but considering her a friend. After all, if we all have some sort of a type, so do the dudes, even if he doesn’t categorize it that way in his Blackberry.

A phone, for all intents and purposes, keeps our lives together. It makes everything and anything easily accessible, especially with the technology available to those who can afford expensive policies. But what a phone doesn’t hold or isn’t able to access is the life of the person when they are without it. When buttons aren’t dialing, when texts aren’t being sent, when calls aren’t being made.

When the Blackberry is on the bedstand, the man is in the bed. Without his phone, without reaching out to the world outside of the frame that contains you and him. And within the space, within the perimeters that make up a bedroom, lives a relationship (where it be exclusive or not).

And while within reach is every woman he’s loved or the ones he could be with one day, for a moment, a year, or a lifetime – the only one that matters is you. Because eventually, within a few minutes, the light goes out on the berry. The room dims as it was. And it is there, in the dark or in the rays that make up the morning, that you figure out if you’ll be just another number stored away for safe keeping and bittersweet memories. Or the one who remains on speed dial.

Regardless, just like it’s near impossible to not have a cell phone, it is just as improbable for a man to not have a past. The question is – can you accept it? Embrace it? Or will you stare blankly, afraid to know what’s stored in the memory, the database, and the heart of someone who is just within reach.