Beautiful Little Fool

I’ve decided to dedicate this summer to re-reading great classical literature. I came to this decision after helping Mr. Possibility clean out some bookcases and stumbling across an original 1925 copyrighted edition of The Great Gatsby.

Thinking back to the first time I read it in high school and then again in between years of college, I instantly remembered where I was at those points in my life. That’s the thing about good books; they leave your forever impacted, remembering just where you were just when you read their pages.

And so, in addition to my long list of magazines and websites I read daily, I decided to make New York memories reading some of my favorites throughout the summer. After all, what’s better to do in Central Park or on the train then get lost in a novel that’s so old, so lovely, that the sentences flow together with such ease you’d swear that type of writing doesn’t exist anymore? (It doesn’t really)

Flipping through Fitzgerald’s vivid description of the 20s, I fell in love with this line: “I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Daisy’s words never meant anything to me until now, after being the beautiful little fool a time – or two or three – in my adult life.

While Daisy isn’t the best leading lady in literature, she makes an interesting accusation. Is a fool really the best thing a girl can be?

Looking back into relationships I’ve had, both those that ended far too quickly and those that lasted way too long, I’ve admittedly played the part of the fool a few times. And as I’ve said before, to be a fool you have to be a little brave; for being foolish means opening yourself up to ridicule or failure.

But when you’re starting to date someone new – should you be foolish to red flags so you get to know who they really are before passing judgment? Should you be foolish before you make it official, putting it out of your mind that they are free to date and to sleep with whomever they please until titles are concrete and promises promised? Should we be foolish to believe that no matter how many times we’re hurt, we can get back up and try it again…and again?

Or can you only truly be a beautiful little fool until the first time you’re fooled? Like the same way patience runs dry the first time you’re passed by?

I’m not sure – some of the best relationships I’ve witnessed are based off of an encouraged oblivion. My parents, as an example, have never discussed their past. Neither know how many the other have slept with or why past boyfriends/girlfriend bit the dust. When they said “I do”, they said “I don’t” to the past – and never brought it up. Does it matter 25 years later what happened 26 years before? Nope, not in the slightest.

So is foolishness beautiful or is it a way to process things without thinking too much or reading in between lines that you can’t define? Should we be beautiful little fools or maybe in today’s speech, pretty little liars?

Only though, if we’re fools or if we’re liars, are we fooling and lying to ourselves? And is that healthy? Is that…beautiful?

It’s the Little Things

My apartment smells like cardboard and glass cleaner. I’ve been sneezing for the last twenty minutes and if I squint my eyes and look intently, I think I can see my floor. I can’t tell if my throw-away pile or my climbing mound of packed boxes is higher, and I really never noticed how white my walls were until right about now, sitting and wondering if this room was always this big, or if it somehow grew in the last few hours.

I’m moving to a different part of New York and I couldn’t be less prepared. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve moved in my life and unlike other things, it never gets easier. In fact, I’d like to think it gets harder because I continuously accumulate more and more stuff. But like an evening following a stressful day and cooking in a tiny kitchen – I prefer to pack alone.

So, with a discovered airplane bottle of Grey Goose in the back of my fridge and orange juice, a green masque from the dead sea (thanks Mr. P), and the Best of the 80’s with some Sean Kingston and Adele mixed in (no judging of my musical eclecticness) – I started pulling apart and piecing together the contents of my tiny studio.

Admittedly, I’ve only given my apartment a thorough and heavy-duty cleaning once or twice in the entire time I’ve lived here. As my life become increasingly fuller and I found myself distracted from my address, I let things sit around and I forgot my in-the-moment organizing habits. I collect antique cigar boxes for decoration and occasionally for storage, and such a collection usually leads to random discoveries as well as many searches that leave me empty-handed. In a rush and without a conscious thought, I’ve tucked away things for safe-keeping and then kept myself away from them for months.

But maybe that’s the fun with boxes anyways, you open them and never know quite what you’ll find. Luckily for me, the surprise has never been a cockroach in an empty wooden container, but some findings I found yesterday were almost as scary.

Or at least, when I first saw them, I thought they’d be.

Unknowingly, we all attach emotion and sentiments to objects. It is why we started having “ex-boxes” in high school, to keep us from lingering over a lost love. Or the reason why as children, we grow attached to a blanket, a teddy bear, or a doll and carry it around to give us the comfort a sippie cup or bottle simply can’t. It’s why the engagement ring is something so many lust after – the symbolic meaning that you’re taken, that someone wants to love you forever, that someone gave you such an expensive, beautiful, or historical thing that tells the world you’re to-be-wed.

But as time passes, our attachment to things changes. Or maybe, it just lessens.

As I was going through my jewelry, safely placing in padded pouches the ones that meant the most to me, I came across a necklace Mr. Faithful gave me, nearly a decade ago. Still in good condition and still the same mini spec of a diamond it was then, it glistened in the light of my lamp and I just smiled. When we first broke up, I couldn’t look at it,  but by the time college was over, I found myself wearing it without even thinking of him. When I packed up my pajamas, I came across a pair I threw on the night my mother and I had to rush my father to the hospital when he was ill. After a night from hell, spent worrying and pacing, and attempting to get some sleep on uncomfortable waiting room chairs, I almost threw away the cotton pants out of disdain. Once my dad recovered and returned to the same adoring man I always knew, the pants stopped being so difficult to wear, and eventually, I grew quite fond of them and even took them with me to New York.

I stumbled across all sorts of things, frames that have seen a cascade of photos, from boyfriends and friends to family and pets, year after year as new friends, men, or experiences changed. Outfits I bought for a specific purpose, ones I bought with the intent to be ripped off of me, sweaters I bought for the first day of school that somehow still fit, and jeans that will no longer fit, no matter how much weight I lose or miles I run.

I came across dresses I wore frequently when I very first moved, but now can’t bear the thought of wearing in public, much less in Manhattan. Books that I read while riding the subway to my internship or laying in the Great Lawn in Central Park or the quad at my college. Notebooks from interviews I can barely remember conducting and quotes from sources I can’t picture in my head anymore. Shoes with a half-way broken heel I meant to get fixed and a skirt I loved that ripped at the seam and I swore I would learn to sew for the simple fact I badly needed to wear the skirt again (that’s still on the bucket list of skills to master). Notes from Mr. Idea I saved because they meant something to me, the pennies I found in my window seal of this apartment, and to-do lists I never finished.

All of these things, in significant or insignificant ways, meant something to me at one point. Some words in books I read or places I went while wearing specific shoes, or people I met while sporting a tight number – changed my life. But it wasn’t the book or the shoes or the dress that made an impact, those are just reminders of the experience. And while those memories stay with us, the emotion we attach to objects that really didn’t matter too much to begin with, fade away. We pack them up in boxes to donate or to sell. We decide to give some things a second chance and we forget how good we looked in shorts and tights. We stop seeing items as things that hold meaning and see them for what they are: just things.

And like us, they will go on to someone else. Someone who picks it up at the library or bookstore when we donate books, or someone at a consignment shop who sees potential in an old scarf we couldn’t see. Not just stuff, either, transforms in the hands for a new person – my apartment will gain a different inhabitant in a few weeks. They will make this space their own, they will bring their own meaningful things, and set up shop differently than I did, and in a manner diverse from the dozen or more people who have called this place their home before me. In a brownstone that’s nearly 100 years old, there is no telling how many residents have made a home in the very place I’m sitting as I type this blog, in 2011 at an antique desk, someone else has sat, too.

But things don’t need emotion, really. Nor do apartments. They just need people to use them, to fill them up with life, to give them a purpose, and then to let them go. Onto to the next person or the next use or maybe put an end to their functionality. Even then, trash often turns into Earth that molds into something new decades later – but I digress.

The point is, the cycle continues. People come and go, and so do things – but won’t people always continue to collect things? Collect memories attached to those things? And then let them go as easily as they came? Of course. It is the little things that matter, but keep in mind, the little things will always change.

What I Should Have Said

There are some perks to a blog – especially for a writer. It is a place for me to vent, for me to discuss topics in liberal opportunities, and a way for me to help others learn from the experiences I share. Blogging has been around over a decade and it has proved a successful platform for publishing companies, wannabe-authors, and anyone who could function on WordPress, Blogspot, or other platforms. While certain studies show the momentum behind blogging and being a blogger may have lost some of its cache  in an overly saturated market – if you want to find a community of supporters and other writers, it is rather simple.

If you’re not convinced, just ask me.

When I started Confessions of a Love Addict mid-September last year, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into. I clicked publish without a plan, without any intention of promoting the blog anywhere but Facebook to my friends, and came up with the idea as a way for me to work through past relationship issues. I became interested because I knew the way I approached love was unhealthy and I was allowing the presence or the absence of a man control the way I valued my self-worth. Because writing isn’t just my job, it is my passion, and in many cases, the best therapy I could ever invest in. And blogging, of course, doesn’t cost anything.

So why not? Why not blog?

What I forgot to consider when divulging the intimate details of my life to all who can click and Google was the fact that my personal life doesn’t just pertain to me. And the issue with a blog primarily about relationships is that the whole definition of a relationship is that it involves two people.

And thus, admittedly there are also two sides to every story. But my side, the way that I felt, what I thought, and what I learned is public knowledge. Sometimes, sadly, some of the things I’ve been comfortable enough to share on this space with mostly strangers, I haven’t been brave enough to be as honest about with the men the posts detail.

This downfall on my part is forgetting that the Mr’s read these blogs. Not so much with Mr. Possibility – for he’s known me since after this blog began – but with the men of my past. Some of which, months and years after the end of our relationship, discovered my insight into what we shared. While I’ve made a vow to never man-bash, but to only detail the benefit of each relationship, part of finding the good is discussing the bad. The things that weren’t enough, the things that I realized I didn’t want, the moments I knew when I was settling, those dreams that I knew would never come true if I remained in a stagnant, dead-end relationship with a Mr. Wrong that would never be Mr. Right.

And those things, for men I used to talk to daily, make love to consistently, and open up my heart, my soul, and my life to – are difficult to hear. Probably harder to stomach. No one wants to know that they couldn’t bring someone happiness or that contrary to every romantic comedy, storybook, and sitcom – love sometimes is not enough. No matter how many first stars or lucky pennies we wish upon.

I’m quite positive some of my exes will never dial my number or call me up when they’re in New York after reading the pages of this blog, that somehow has infiltrated and changed my personal life in vast ways. As much as it has helped me become a stronger woman, opened up new opportunities for me professionally, and given closure and a new friendship with certain former loves, it has also burned some bridges I wish still stood.

But that’s the thing about the truth – sometimes it hurts.

In fact, unless it is what we want to hear and improves our current situation, the truth is often the hardest thing to accept. When you realize you weren’t meant for someone and they realize it too – walking away becomes a game of roulette, who will dodge first and admit what feels like failure? When you know you’re staying in a relationship for the wrong reasons, but don’t want to cause pain to someone you once (and probably do, and always will) loved – how do you break it to them, without breaking them? When you understand someone is with you for the comfort you give them, not the undying knock-you-to-ground passionate love you deserve, how do you demand more or pack your bags?

Since these relationships – I’ve adapted the honesty is the best policy mentality. I’ll partly give credit to this blog, some to my own growing maturity, and some to the lessons I’ve mastered from the past and how they’ve translated into my present. Perhaps if I would have voiced my opinions, yielded to red flags when I saw them rise, and given up on a love I knew wouldn’t last – I would have saved myself some heartbreak. Or more importantly, come to the rescue to the men I wasn’t fair to, instead of thinking they were only there to rescue me. Maybe it is all of those honest, truthful things I should have said that would have meant more, in the long run, than all of the things that I said to save feelings, face, and heart.

Really though, the thing that will save us all, that will make our relationships meaningful and sincere is learning to say when enough is enough, when love is worth the fight and when it’s not, and when we realize there are better things that can be found. And accept that the person you need to focus on, the person you need to be the most honest with, the person who needs to read your blog the most – is you.

Because everyone else will always see what you say as a matter of opinion, regardless. No matter how honest you are. Even so – tell the truth anyways. They say it’ll set us free or piss us off – I think it’ll do it a little bit of both. And frankly, that’s better than hurting others and lovers more than is necessary. And more than a post on a blog could ever do.

My Never-Ending Story

I like my men tall, charming, and successful. I’m not picky about industry, though the majority of the dudes I’ve been involved with have been in the business sector. I’ve dated American and foreign, and a month younger than me to ten years my senior. I’ve fallen for a man in a minute, while some have had to grow on me. They have all been different in the matters that matter, but they have one distinctive common quality:

They’re all storytellers.

Some of them took this trait to the extreme – telling little white lies instead of entertaining tidbits, but most just had the art of captivating me with their tales. With inviting body language, energetic hand gestures, and wildly vivid eyes that change as the story continues – I’ve always had a knack for picking men who have factual (or at least I hope) anecdotes and want to tell me about them. The attraction I have to a storyteller may be due to my career or the fact that I try to listen more than I speak, but I think it could even be more juvenile than that. As simplistic as it may seem – I just like stories.

As a child, I became so fascinated with storybooks  and reading that I eventually started writing my own. They were bound with string and detailed the adventures of my childhood pets, Wilma and Indiana (after Indiana Jones, of course). Or about day-to-day errands, vacations, or what I learned in school. Though my life has changed since I was seven years old, I haven’t stopped cataloging what I experience or how I feel – it is the reason I have dozens of diaries and the reason this blog exists. So maybe a storyteller attracts another storyteller – even if the way they express their affairs differs.

Nevertheless, while the loves of my life have been talented in giving the whole story and always in a little-over-the-top way, I have always had trouble with one part of storytelling.

The ending.

Every writer, every speaker, every anything that delivers a message must have some sort of conclusion in mind. We all enjoy the beginning, the obstacles, the intrigue, and the passion that goes in the rising plot – but the question is always, what happened? Or how does it all come together? Does the guy get the girl? Does the girl find that man she thought she wouldn’t find? Does the lady land the job she wants? Does the man find something to bring him happiness that’s not his career? Did he cheat again? Did she forgive him? Does she die of some unknown disease? Does he get out of the tangled web of destruction? Do they live happily ever after?

No story is complete without an ending – or is it? Is there really such a thing as an ending at all?

In the next few months, my life will be changing, as I’ve observed it does in continuous three-month cycles. The start of May I will move into a new apartment – though because it is a New York market, I’ll have no idea where exactly I’ll be until a week before. Mr. Possibility will return yet again from a stint overseas and the plot we’re writing in our interesting story will continue to thicken as time and talks progress. I will travel extensively this summer with projected international trips and a homecoming to the South to attend my first of five weddings this year. And then there will eventually be an end to this blog. I’ve set a goal for a year of writing daily – which would make my last post on September 19.

Maybe with all of these transitions happening -leaving an apartment I loved, the final return of a man I adore, going on those trips I always lusted after, and knowing there will be a day without Confessions of a Love Addict – I’ve been thinking about endings. They say all good things come to a close – but I’d like to think that actually things really do last forever. And not in the sense that with each ending comes a beginning, but that anything that was ever important or significant doesn’t just leave you because it’s presence isn’t as prominent.

All of my storytellers are not acting across from me at the dinner table or sharing my bed as they once did – but I remember their stories. I remember their faces and they way they could make me laugh in all the right places. I remember what it felt like to fall in love with each of them and how it felt to fall out. And those apartments I’ve had over the years – from King Street in North Carolina to Manhattan Avenue in NYC – I remember the addresses. The keys have changed, the people who visited me have too, but there are certain things that never do.

And those are the stories.

Maybe that’s why I find myself as a modern-day historian – as all journalists are – documenting the world and my world as I see it and experience it. Remembering what was is the reason I’m where I am today, and why I’ll make it where I’m going tomorrow. The characters and the analogies adapt to our settings and the verbs that keep us going, but our stories remain. Chronicled in the back of our hearts where we keep the most intimate details, on the URLs of WordPress, or packed in cardboard boxes in our childhood homes – whatever we’ve experienced isn’t just deleted from our histories. It doesn’t end because those stories make us us. They give us the background for our foundations and the flashbacks we constantly entertain and learn from.

So why did I worry about happy endings with each of my storytellers? Why did I think I would have an ending at all? My story, much like the stories of every woman, every man who has ever been, isn’t based on the final sentence on the final page of the countless novels that make up my journey. It’s not about the moment when everything is concluded and decided, or when my future husband and I tell our story of how we met or got married or had children. Or when I achieved the corner office or the byline that I sought after. Or how the pieces finally came together and that was that.

Because my story is ever evolving, ever-changing, and never-ending. And it certainly isn’t concerned with such an ending, when it is only just beginning.

The Non-Negotiables

I make incredible demands on myself.

Some may call me a perfectionist, others may coin the term “over-achiever”, and I can’t even begin to count the amount of times someone has told me they envy my bravery. But to me, none of these titles really fit who I am because I’ve never thought twice about pushing myself to the extreme or shooting for my dreams – no matter how unattainable they may seem. To me, the most terrifying risk is not giving the things that matter the most, my everything. I’d rather fail a thousand times than to never try once. My expectations are undeniably high for what I hope to achieve and where I want to go in life.

And the same level of elevated standards applies in my relationships, too.

In the past, as I would go on and on to my friends about a date gone awry, a relationship that fizzled quicker than it boiled, and how for whatever reason, it was impossible for me to find someone who wanted to stay on the same page as me – most of them, either out of frustration, wisdom, or from what they thought was the right thing to say, advised: “Well maybe you shouldn’t expect so much.”

Is going into a dating situation or even the start of an official relationship without any expectations the best solution? They say if we don’t really anticipate much, we’ll be happy and pleasantly surprised with anything we get…right?

Well, I don’t know about you – but I can’t seem to wrap my head around this idea. If we don’t have standards, if we don’t insist upon certain qualities or things that are absolutely non-negotiable, wouldn’t we only attract men who are completely wrong for us? Or even worse, end up with someone who isn’t right for us, but could be perfect for someone else? Or vice versa? Wouldn’t we miss out on someone who we don’t feel the need to change?

I believe there is this thin line between having unrealistic images and hopes for what a relationship or person will be, and demanding what you will and will not settle for. That regardless of how wonderful someone looks on paper or in person, if they don’t meet what we know we need to be fulfilled and happy, then entertaining a love affair is wasteful of our energy, heart, and time. Sure, men are people too, but so are we – and we have personal standards that we shouldn’t (and probably can’t) shake.

So yes, I have expectations, and no, I’m not willing to lower them just to be deemed someone’s girlfriend, have someone give me a Valentine’s Day card, or find my match that I’ve always been told I can’t live without. (Though, I’m pretty positive I can).

My ten non-negotiables are actually quite simple, in my opinion, anyways:

Ya gotta be employed

And legally, for the record. You could be a millionaire or make what I make, as long as you have a job and you’re not sleeping on your mother’s couch or in your childhood bedroom. If I’m going to be an adult, I want to date one, too.

Ya gotta be taller than me

I’ve only dated guys over six-foot, but I’m not opposed to seeing if a 5’10 man would fit my fancy. The only thing is I love high heels and always will; so if I can’t wear my highest ones and be at least a little shorter than you, I’m not interested. May be superficial, but absolutely true.

Ya gotta be self-sufficient

As in, it is not my responsibility to transform you. That’s up to you, bud. I don’t want to fix you, I don’t want to mend your every worry, your every self-defeating prophecy, or your every case of blue balls. I also don’t want to control every conversation or lead you through discussions – you should have opinions and charisma inside of you already, that are not because of me. Life is full of bumps and I’ll sit in the passenger seat, but you’re in the driver’s.

Ya gotta want to have sex (and it has to work)

Think all men are sex-crazed maniacs? They really aren’t, and I’ve dealt with the ones who never want to do the deed, who can’t seem to make it rise to the occasion, and who just don’t have a clue what they’re doing. At our age, we should know better. And if we don’t, we should make an effort to learn.

Ya gotta be honest

Being charming and funny are also recommended, but above all other things – you have to be genuine. A big part of my job is searching and revealing the truth, so I value it. Even if it hurts me, even if it isn’t pretty, even if it changes my mind about you – just tell me. I’d rather know than to be fooled or oblivious. And you should remember the one person you should never get on the bad side of…is a journalist.

Ya gotta have your own world

I’m not one of those ladies who wants to be the center of her man’s universe. Sure, I like to be doted on, admired, and reminded that I’m beautiful (who doesn’t?) – but I’m also very independent. Even when I’m married, I’m going to need some nights with the girls and nights just by myself. You gotta have buddies and interests and hobbies that have nothing to do with me, please.

Ya gotta have energy

I’m a fast walker, a fast talker, and always a gal on the go. While I enjoy a lazy  Sunday afternoon and will gladly sit through sports with you (as long as you’ll return the favor by going to a show), I mostly want to be doing something. And whoever I’m with, should challenge me mentally along the way. So if you’re going to date me, you’re going to have to keep up with me – this may mean you’ll need to have Red Bull within reach.

Ya gotta let yourself go

I don’t think I’m God’s gift to men – and I know you’re not God’s gift to women. But, we could be sent from the heavens to meet one another. So please, don’t take yourself too seriously. You don’t have to be the best dancer and you don’t have to sing on key – but if you can’t have fun in our living room or at a concert – I’m not going to crave having fun in other parts of the house.

Ya gotta be open-minded

Yes, I want you to have your own opinions, but I also hope you are tolerant of those things you don’t believe in, don’t like, and of those who are different from you. Brownie points if you’re addicted to community service and volunteering as much as I am.

Ya gotta like NYC, the kiddies, and the puppies

Sure – I’m not at the point where I’m ready for children, but I can’t be with someone who doesn’t want them…ever. Also, I can’t rationalize picking a mate who hates the city I adore. As for the puppies – who doesn’t love them? I mean really?

Maybe I’m being too stubborn and overly ruthless – though those qualities have served me well in my career – but when it comes to finding love, I choose to believe that I’m worthy of the best. And when or if I meet Mr. Right, he’ll know that he has someone who is more than precious – but irreplaceable, because I hold myself, him, and our love to great expectations.

And that will never be open to negotiation.

PS: I’m curious to what your non-negotiable list. Comment below or email me and I’ll tweet them!